March 15, 2018

The Invisible Elderly

Recently, I had the sad misfortune.. wait let me correct that, my father had the sad misfortune of coming down with the flu and needing to be hospitalized. When I arrived at the hospital, it seemed there were a disproportionate number of elderly suffering from dementia there – apparently also with a flu bug. It’s been epidemic this winter. My father suffers from vascular dementia. He has been on a steady decline for well over fifteen years now. I feel compelled to say I’m lucky because my father is compliant, easy to care for, not moody or aggressive, does not wander, yet, and in general has been more or less stable. He lives in a residence for like-afflicted folk who […]
February 27, 2018

Expanding our view of Depression

This post comes on the heels of reading Johann Hari’s brilliant book “Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions“.  Hari, J. (2018). Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions. London, Bloomsbury. Here’s a link to it at   And here’s the link if you use Chapters/Indigio. In the book Hari delves into the many causes of depression – veering away from the medical/pharmaceutical model, and into, finally (for me), a much more systemic model. He posits nine causes of depression and anxiety – all around the axis of disconnection: Disconnection from meaningful work, other people, meaningful values, childhood trauma, status and respect, the natural world, a hopeful and secure […]
February 20, 2018

Opposites attract .. right?

There’s a lot of truth in the old idiom that opposites attract.  Back in the day, there were huge evolutionary advantages to having a partner with skills that you didn’t have. This way we covered all the bases in our project of surviving.  But if opposites really do attract, why do so many couples, spend so much time, trying to make the other think/feel/act more like themselves? I often meet couples (and can reflect on my own experience too!!) who like to  complain that their partner “just doesn’t do it the way I want it done” or “why can’t they make a decision the way that I do?”  When couples argue they often say “I just don’t see it the […]
February 14, 2018

Sandboxes and stones

Often in my work, as many therapists do, I use metaphor to help clients access and articulate emotions that otherwise they could not express. Recently, I came across one that I found moving – it was the metaphor of a sandbox, and how a partner, the boy, could not get in to the same sandbox with the girl – who was sadly, instead, throwing stones and keeping him out. I found that powerful. It spoke to me of child-like longing for connection (on both sides!). It spoke to me of loneliness – I saw this boy wanting to play, wanting to join his love in the sandbox – but being prevented from doing so out of a need to protect […]
January 30, 2018

The Power and Freedom of Choice

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl I love this quote by Dr. Frankl. It speaks to me of the great power we all inherit to determine how we deal with the world. When we feel helpless in the face of someone’s behavior, we can remember Dr. Frankl’s words and take solace. We are not victims to our reactions. We are not powerless in determining the outcome of an exchange. We can in fact choose, specifically, and deliberately how we will engage with someone – regardless of their behavior.  I was told a story by a […]
January 16, 2018

Projection and us…

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. ( I have a sneaking suspicion that if many of us understood more about projection – and its use as a defence by the person in front of us, we would be a lot happier, and communication would be a lot easier. And the thing that we need to hang on to about projection, is it’s the root of why different people see you in a different way .. because most of what they are seeing is a reflection or aspect of THEMSELVES. As therapists, we are taught about […]
January 7, 2018

Some important information about depression and medication

As a psychologist, I was trained to think systemically. This means, that no matter what a client presents with – depression, anxiety, mood struggles, relationship difficulties, –  you have to understand the context from which they come, the context of the family they grew up in, what their lives mean to them on a day to day, who are the important relationships in their lives …… and so much more. Depression, just like anxiety actually, is often a very appropriate response to something going on in your life. If all we do is treat the symptom (which is NOT a systemic way of working) – i.e. the depression – with medication, then we stand a huge chance that this “symptom” […]
January 1, 2018

A New Year’s Wish .. Honour the Small Things…

Hello and Happy New Year Dear Reader. I hope January 1, 2018 finds you happy, excited about all the possibilities before you, and surrounded by those that encourage you to bring the best of yourself forward. At this time of year, I think all of us are tempted to consider great changes in our life, the turning of a new page onto which we project all the wishes we have for ourselves – how we might be better, wealthier, stronger, thinner, happier, more industrious .. God knows the list goes on. I find many of us have a tendency to overwhelm ourselves with the grandness of the change we are seeking …. probably why a lot of that initial energy […]
December 18, 2017

Getting through the holiday season …

Holiday seasons are tough on a lot of people. Those of us with “special” families have our share of Christmas horror stories …. too much drinking, too much drama, too much expectation. The media doesn’t help. We are bombarded from mid November on with the expectation that this is a time to be happy, to be connected to family which is supposed to be in and of itself a good thing, that we should buy, buy, buy, … Little wonder why the Help hotlines are overwhelmed at this time of year.  Those of us with out of step families feel, well, out of step. We ask ourselves how is it that we don’t have the pie in the oven, the […]
December 4, 2017

Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression and feeling down …

I want to take some time to talk about the change of season and what we can expect, how to potentially help ourselves, what is it exactly that is going on. In the more Northernly hemisphere where we live here in Canada, November is a tough month for many of us. The shorter daylight, the colder temperatures, the oncoming holiday season, the long road before Spring that follows… can make it tough for some of us to feel good. In yoga class some years ago, we always talked about November as the time for turning inward, for slowing down. It is of course the time of the great hibernation for some animals. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s easy to feel […]
November 21, 2017

The Seduction of Stress…..

It’s standard practice for any doctor to ask what level of stress a patient is under. I have begun to wonder how people might come to understand the answer to that question. Most of us work hard, have kids, busy lives, complicated families, difficult co-workers and the list goes on. Add to that – many of us live in noisy, crowded cities with lots of traffic, construction and pollution. We are bombarded daily by television, email, advertising, pressure to spend, save, buy, advance, get educated, get richer, parent better, be a better partner and the list goes on… feeling stressed yet? The funny thing is many of us experience all of the above, on any given day, and do NOT […]
November 8, 2017

What Love Looks Like..

What did love look like when it first came to you? Was it anxious? Was it cool and remote? Was it warm, protective and soothing? Was it chaotic? Was it overwhelming? I have been pondering of late what happens to us as we grow up with our different models of love. Do we seek out the same? If the love that you received as a child was wrapped up in anxiety, do you recognize that in your adult love relationships? Is your present day love interest aloof – like your caretaker in your youth may have been? Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships in our adulthood that are “comfortable”. Sometimes we say we “click” with someone, it’s like an old […]
October 30, 2017

The problem with the Narcissist

Some time ago, I was invited to discuss the psychological themes in the play Lies My Father Told Me, with the director for a production at a local theatre. Without getting too much into the story – “Lies” revolves around a family growing up in post-depression Montreal, where the father could be classified as suffering from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”.  According to the DSM IV, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is described as being “excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power and prestige and includes a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy”; this lack of empathy being the hallmark, in my opinion, of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In Co-Narcissism: How We Accommodate to Narcissistic Parents by Alan Rappoport, he states that a large […]
October 24, 2017

Speaking from the Heart

What are you really saying when you’re saying what you’re saying….. Ah, communication. Is there anything more necessary, and yet more convoluted as honest communication? We have so many ways of expressing our unhappiness, our needs, our longing – yet for the most part we fall into unconscious, unauthentic, and fearful ways to say what we really want to say. This kind of communicating usually results in us not getting our needs met,  creating resentment, and building greater and greater obstacles to loving, respectful, and supportive relationships. Couples often present in couple therapy arguing about a specific situation: money, child-rearing, sex, yet almost always, the underlying issues are about attachment. “I don’t trust you about money” can be translated into […]
October 16, 2017

On Receiving Care

There is a whole population out there of parentified, uber-responsible, probably over-functioning people who have missed the boat on being taken care of. One of the hallmarks of this population is the absolute misery experienced when asking for help ….if they even permit themselves to do that. That’s kind of a sin isn’t it, this asking for help? It demonstrates some sort of flaw or weakness when we finally face the fact we can’t do it alone. And it never ever occurs to us that we shouldn’t face it alone! And if any one of our loved ones presented themselves to us the way we present ourselves to the world (stoic, self-contained, but suffering, miserable) we would tell them why aren’t you asking […]
October 12, 2017

The Precipice

I’ve been listening to Tony Robbins lately. He’s pretty inspiring I have to say. He is also exhausting to watch and to listen to if you ask me. On the other hand I felt that way after a Paul McCartney concert – please, stop, I can’t handle any more! Where do some people get their drive? How do they get the energy to do the things they do? It’s obvious these men are living out their passions. They believe in what they do with every fiber of their being – they know they are doing what they are meant and want to do. But that’s Tony Robbins and Paul McCartney… I want to figure this out for us ordinary folk. […]
September 27, 2017

The Language of Connection

In Gary Chapman’s, New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages: the Secret to Love that Lasts, he explores the different ways couples communicate their positive feelings for each other. He rightly argues that knowing your own and your partner’s preferred way of communicating love significantly improves your relationship’s chance of survival. Can you recognize yourself among these five approaches? Remember, while we probably use a bit of all, there is usually one approach, one language that is dominant: Do you let your partner know you care through affection or physical touch or do you tend to show your appreciation and care through gift giving? Some of us do so by offering service or taking care of; some of us through […]
September 20, 2017

Some help for depression…

For those of you struggling, there are voices on the internet that can help, that can reflect your experience and perhaps pull you out of feeling so alone in this struggle. I hope some of this is useful. Click here for an account of someone’s experience. Click here for a possible approach to moving out of depression. Share this post:   
September 18, 2017

All about My Daily Dose…

The My Daily Dose project on this site, or here on Instagram, is really all about looking everyday, for what makes me grateful, for what keeps me healthy, for what is beautiful in the world. I choose to do this because I want to be able to get through life without anxiety or depression at best, and without the need for medication for these afflictions at worst. And I am so very fortunate that it works for me. How I understand what I am doing is this: I am intentionally looking for something to be grateful for, and then reporting – whether to you, the world, or myself. Doing the work of looking – actually keeps me in the moment. Whether looking […]
September 12, 2017

A question of intent ..

Intent… intent can be understood as the motive, not necessarily conscious, behind our behaviour and communication. Often times in challenging relationships there appears to be a tendency towards ascribing intent which may not necessarily exist. A common enough complaint in relationship is that our loved one is ignoring us. It is sometimes easier to believe that than to come to an understanding that we were never thought of in the first place. In order for the intent of ignoring me to be there, my partner needs to be thinking of me, and dismissing me to some extent.  In order for me to be ignored, someone has to be doing the ignoring… that’s a conscious act. Rather than consider you and your needs, […]