March 21, 2019

Anxiety

It’s pretty standard fare to have clients come to my office because of anxiety. I’d like to talk about one small (not small) aspect of anxiety. In Martha Beck’s wonderful book Finding Your Own North Star, she talks about how we all have an essential self and a social self – and that the further “apart” these two selves are, the higher and more intense the experience of anxiety. The Essential Self is the ‘you’, you really are on the inside – the one who has dreams and passions and a vision of what their life could be. The Social Self is the ‘you’, you show the world – the one who accommodates others’ expectations of you, the one who […]
March 4, 2019

Our Stories

What defines you? Your past? Your present? Your future ambition? For those of us who have had a rough start in life with our families, we can sometimes fall into a trap of being defined by what happened to us. We grow up into adults with a story – and yes, while that’s the case for everyone – some of us stay a little stuck in one story. We don’t necessarily grow out of a story, we don’t move on to a new one. What I find is that those of us who haven’t yet “processed”, “resolved”, “come to terms with” our story, have a tendency to find ourselves trapped. We recycle the same narrative, same thoughts, same feelings that […]
February 8, 2019

Culture’s Impact

I would like this blog post to begin a conversation among (but not limited to) clinicians/therapists/psychologists about the impact of culture on our selves and in turn, our clients. It’s a conversation that is long on questions and not so long on answers. This is so vast and broad a topic, it’s impossible to cover it with any depth in one post, or two or five. So I’ll begin somewhere…. As an example of what I am talking about… if you were born and raised in Quebec, are you aware of the impact that the Quiet Revolution in Quebec had on our culture and by extension on you? How do you imagine the new sense of independence and freedom from […]
January 21, 2019

The Struggle with Family

Most of us show up in therapy because of complicated and painful family relationships. Sometimes it’s about our family of origin – the one where I was a child, and sometimes it’s about the families we have created where I’m the partner and/or parent. Family relationships are tough. Those of us that have grown up with dysfunction – addiction, violence, divorce, mental illness – have had to figure out how to tease apart what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to relationships. A common problem I often see is “wanting to help” – our alcoholic parent, our mentally ill child. We want to end their suffering. We want to stop feeling “held hostage” by their misery. We want […]
January 4, 2019

Big Feelings

What happens to us when our feelings feel too big to handle? When we are not sure of what the expression of what’s inside should look like? I would like to share a story that shows how unexpressed feelings can push behavior. I’d like to introduce you to Levi. Levi is 8 and a half. He is truly the apple of my eye. He’s bright and funny and let’s just say perfect! (I know, I know but I’m his grandma!)  I have just spent the past month with him out West. It’s our last day. We are meant to have a quiet morning together before we leave. Levi is bouncing off the walls. He is making a ruckus. His mom […]
December 31, 2018

Some things are worth repeating: A New Year’s Wish .. Honour the Small Things…

Hello and Happy New Year Dear Reader. I hope January 1, 2019 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 23, 2018

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 […]
November 14, 2018

A voice in the struggle with body image

Dear Reader… as you may remember, I sent out an invitation for colleagues to be guest bloggers. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get such wonderful, warm, heartfelt words written to share with you. But here we are! So this month I’d like to introduce you to Terri. Theresa Rindress, is my personal trainer at the NDG YMCA. She is also a group fitness instructor there as well as the coordinator of fitness programs. If you are looking for someone who is devoted, inspiring, dedicated to her career and craft, who will surely bring out the best and the beast in you – then give her a call 514-833-4799. She is a wonderful, wonderful young woman […]
October 28, 2018

Let’s talk about sex!

I have been approached by a number of women of late, mostly my age-mates (I’m a tail-end boomer, and front-end Gen Xer) wanting to understand what’s happening to them sexually. Some of us seem to be confused. We feel vibrant, energetic, and even young. And yet we are also struggling with a waning libido. Some of us feel that letting go of that part of ourselves is what will define us as “old”. We want to have sex not because we necessarily want it but because we think we should. And please, let’s agree that there is enough variability in the world to know that not everyone feels this way, and not everyone feels that way … enough of us […]
October 8, 2018

How to Choose a Marriage/Couple Counsellor

Hello Dear Readers! I’m so excited to share with you that after sending out an invitation to a number of colleagues, we have a guest blogger this month! I am thrilled to open up the conversation and add more voices for well-being to the Blog. So let’s begin. Let me introduce you to Tom Caplan, MSW, MFT : (click on the link for more information about Tom) By way of introduction I am a licensed Social worker (OTSTCFQ), Marriage and Family Therapist and Supervisor (AAMFT/CAMFT), and Psychotherapist (OPQ) in private practice who works with individuals, couples, families and groups.  I was a consultant to the McGill Domestic Violence Clinic, am the founder of Montreal Anger Management Centre and the Caplan Therapy […]
September 26, 2018

The Power of Empathy

When you stop to contemplate what is in “your bubble” – what occurs to you? On a tough day, for me, it’s often thoughts of my kids and grandkids. I wonder how they are doing, I struggle with missing them, and I sometimes misplace that “missing” into blaming my husband for the yucky feelings. Sometimes that’s the stuff in my bubble. That being said, from Monday to Friday I am offered a fantastic way out of that bubble: my work! I count myself as extremely lucky in that my job absolutely requires me to get out of “my bubble” and join you in yours! So for 6 – 8 hours a day I don’t miss anyone, I am not angry, […]
September 11, 2018

Putting Social Media into Perspective

I wonder how we all survived the years before the Internet. Early this summer I was at a “pottery event”. I met old friends, fired some Raku, and generally had a good time – even though at that point I was still struggling with my grief over the loss of my father in April. And also to note, despite that loss, I still posted to the “My Daily Dose” project – meant to share how I get through the tough times by exercising, being creative, communing with nature and so on. Please note – I’m sharing the tool to feel better, not the challenging state I’m in on any given day. During the clay day, the wife of one of […]
August 14, 2018

Creating the habit to thrive

“The habits you created to survive will no longer serve you when its time to thrive.” Ebonee Davis Do you have memories from your childhood about how you coped? How you coped when you saw your parents arguing? When you felt threatened or overwhelmed or sad? When things felt chaotic? When you had feelings but weren’t supported in expressing them? As I write this I realize I am using adult language, adult thinking, to look back at what we might have experienced in childhood. As children though, we never had the vocabulary to say, “I feel threatened”, or “I’m confused”. So, being the resilient creatures we are, we, as children, developed habits to deal with our environment. So many times clients […]
July 4, 2018

The things we believe

I am not sure where I read it but I learned a while ago – that we all behave in ways and make choices that reinforce unconscious beliefs we have about ourselves. We need to think about the ramifications of that. Oprah Winfrey grew up believing in her child’s magical thinking mind – that God, yes the God, the big guy, was her father. If you grow up thinking that God is your father, and that He has your back, and the He is benevolent and good and loving – then you must grow up thinking you can handle pretty much anything. You must grow up thinking that you don’t really need to be afraid of too much. Now I’m sure that Oprah […]
June 20, 2018

This Week at Work …

It never ceases to amaze me how on certain weeks most of my clients come in with the same “story”. And it’s not so much that each of their stories is the same, but our conversations are the same, there’s a running “theme”. 18 out of 20 people this past week talked about narratives we have inherited from our family of origin! That’s more than just coincidence no? I get I am the common factor in all these discussions, but I don’t necessarily direct the traffic in our sessions and I find this fascinating. As I mentioned, this week’s theme was about how we sometimes get caught up in our family of origin narratives. By this I mean most of […]
May 28, 2018

The Hard Work of Couple Life ..

Sometimes couple life can get downright hard and ugly. We can spiral down to a place it seems we will never get out of. We find ourselves angry, hurt, and disconnected and it’s lonely. Partners in a distressed couple sometimes describe how they walk on eggshells. When doing so, I am not bringing my full self to the relationship, out of fear. So I hold back in an attempt to manage or maybe even control your behavior. But that never feels good or right, and it never provides satisfactory results in the long term. When we work harder at trying to mitigate a partner’s behavior rather than our own, we know we are in trouble. Some of us use shaming […]
May 7, 2018

The New Dating Game…

It’s an understatement to say that much has changed in one generation. There are memes going around on social media showing how my generation played differently – outside, without much supervision, drinking from hoses, romping around till the park lights came on – the sign we needed to go home for dinner. We were safe because we were in numbers, with the other neighborhood kids. Many of us went to Sunday school, or Brownies, or Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Church, played Little League Baseball, and the list goes on. It’s in those places we did the big job of learning how to meet, engage, and get connected with each other. As we got older, we met people in school, at […]
April 11, 2018

Confessions…

All right. Time to come clean. I deeply believe one of the reasons I’m relatively successful is because I aim to walk my talk. I don’t hold any belief that I am any better than anyone else, especially my clients. I am human and struggle too. Which leads me too .. So I don’t know how many of you follow My Daily Dose. It’s a daily reporting of what I am doing to not fall into the grips of either anxiety or depression. It’s also about how to stay healthy and somewhat focused, or strengthen my inner resources so that when times get hard I have them to lean on. That’s what my daily dose is all about really. And […]
March 29, 2018

An Epidemic of One

There is an epidemic going on that is finally starting to get some kind of attention in the media. That epidemic is loneliness. Many people are showing up for service and after a few meetings it’s clear that they are too isolated in their lives. Isolation and loneliness are creating a significant amount of distress in the population. A blog or two ago, I wrote about Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections, where he espouses a theory that it’s the loss of meaningful connection to a number of things – not the least of which is other relationships – that is at the root of depression.  The headline article of the April 2018 edition of Psychology Today is also focused on […]
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 […]