Receiving a diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, both for parents and their children. It is important to understand that there are ways to cope. There are many people with these diagnoses who are successful in their adult lives, and starting counselling early is an excellent way to manage feelings and behaviours.
My focus is on helping children and families understand one and cope with the different causes of mental health problems such as:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s
- ADHD & ADD
- Bullying (including cyber bullying)
- Video Game Addiction
- Social Media Addiction
- Learning Disabilities
- Chronic Health Conditions
- Other Mental Health Challenges
Trying to support a child alone can be overwhelming for parents. I can help you:
- Better understand your child’s challenges as well as their strengths
- Understand the unique parenting strategies that your child may need
- Navigate the school system to ensure your child is getting the support they are entitled to
- Deal with the mental health challenges that parents often experience when their child is struggling
You are not alone! Children and parents all over the GTA are likely struggling with the same challenges as you. Meeting with others and sharing your experiences are often great ways to find support and solutions. Group counselling provides:
- Ways to meet others that share your concerns
- New friends for your children
- Sources of insight
- New ideas to help you better manage your situation
My Therapeutic Approach
Therapy works best when the client can find value in the approach being used. The primary therapeutic method that I use is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT works by focusing on how thoughts, emotions, and behaviours influence each other. While we may feel that our thoughts are “real,” often we will think things that are not supported by any evidence. A teenager could think that nobody likes him, and when he sees a friend walking past his house without greeting him he could react in anger. But did his friend even know he was there?
Other approaches that I employ include Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Mindfulness and others. Supporting all of these approaches is Active Listening – making my focus the client and what they are communicating. I firmly believe that any solutions to a client’s challenges can be found within the client, and the best way to bring this out is by actively listening.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
- Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)
CBT focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviours where each of the three parts influences the other two.
Figure 1: CBT Focus
CBT identifies three layers of cognitions. Core beliefs, which are the hardest to change, impact how we see ourselves. Our Underlying Assumptions are based on our core beliefs, which help us predict how we will interpret the way in which the world operates. Automatic thoughts (AT) are thoughts that we have, which might not be noticed by us, throughout the day and are based on how our core beliefs impact our underlying assumptions.
If a child’s core belief is that they are a failure at school, then their underlying assumptions will be based on that belief. They might feel that regardless of what they try they will not succeed, which then can lead to negative automatic thoughts such as “I’m about to fail another test.”
Figure 2: Core beliefs to automatic thoughts
DBT was created to treat borderline personality disorder and also can help people suffering from depression and trauma. For people who have difficulty in regulating their emotions and communicating effectively, DBT can improve their distress tolerance abilities and help them find a balance in their lives.
Within DBT there is the concept of the Three Minds:
Our logic, use of facts, and focus come from our rational mind. It is what helps us make intelligent decisions that take into account the different variables that we need to consider.
While important, if we live solely in our rational mind, our emotions get held inside us and start to fester. If not released, they can erupt like a pot boiling over.
Our Wise Mind balances our emotions and intellect and helps us make decisions supported by facts as well as in line with our gut feeling. Living in our Wise Mind gives us a sense of stability and peace between our emotions and logic. It helps us regulate our emotions by using our logic. Striving to exist in our Wise Mind is a very natural complement to Mindfulness.
Passion and feelings, anger and ecstasy rule in our Emotional Minds. This is the reactive part of our personality and is often the source of our immediate responses.
As human beings our emotions are a part of us and without them we could not function. Living too much in our Emotional Mind prevents us from using our cognitive abilities and leads us to stress and conflict.
Solution focused therapy (SFT) is an approach that puts its focus on achieving specific goals rather than the reasons that a problem exists. In other words, if a teen is having problems completing their homework or is having trouble sleeping, a SFT approach would focus on a solution to their problem rather than the cause.
One area that SFT can benefit students of all ages, from the early grades to university, is by helping them structure their school assignments and projects. Often, whether a student has a developmental challenge or not, school projects can be daunting. The work can seem overwhelming and procrastination is common. This leads to anxiety, which further delays starting the project, which then makes the work even harder.
Typically, when dealing with this kind of problem, the solution can be working with the student to “chunk” their project into smaller pieces. By doing this, a student learns to see their work as a collection of smaller pieces that are easier to tackle. As a result, their anxiety can be reduced and their school performance improved.
Being aware of the present. Acknowledging what is happening in the moment. Taking your focus from the past or future and anchoring it in the here and now.
Being Mindful Means:
Embracing the truth about your present. Experiencing with renewed curiosity everyday activities.
Paying attention to your feelings and thoughts while understanding that there is no right or wrong way to feel or think at any particular moment.
Experiencing the gifts in your life that you have even when facing challenges.
Not judging the present when trying to make changes for the future.
Mindfulness for Young People:
Allows them to discover strengths and talents that may be buried by their challenges.
Teaches them to control their anxiety by focusing on the present rather than worrying about the future.
Supports their efforts to deal with the past by providing ways to live in the present.