Counselling Services in Calgary

Sometimes, on the pathway of life, you may encounter challenges or obstacles that interfere with your enjoyment of the journey. At times like this, it can be very helpful to work with a psychologist – a travel companion – who can help you discover new ways of looking at things, new skills to manage situations and new resources that can add to the richness of your experience.

Individual or couple therapy can be a gift you give yourself. I would welcome your call if you would like to speak with me about how I might be able to help.

Anger Management Counselling – Preventing Family Violence

My introduction to anger management counselling in Calgary was in 1988, when I began co-facilitating therapy groups for men who were physically and/or verbally abusive to their wives or partners. I soon discovered that it was very rewarding work and I felt privileged to be part of such an important change process. Some of the men sought therapy because their partners had given them an ultimatum: Either get help or I'm leaving you. Many of the men were there at their own initiative because they recognized that their behavior was very damaging to their partners, their children and themselves. In many cases, the men had grown up in violent homes, witnessing their fathers hit their mothers. They desperately wanted to break the cycle of violence and change their behavior. It was exciting to witness such positive transformation as the men in the group increased their trust in one another and began to talk about the things they had done and the harm they had caused. A key factor in their success was learning to take others' perspective and increasing their awareness of the impact their actions had on the people they loved. With good intentions for wanting to be better partners and parents, they were ready to learn important skills in being more assertive, rather than aggressive, in their interactions.

Many people find that anger can be a very uncomfortable emotion. Obviously, not everyone resorts to physical violence when they feel angry; however, some people may find that the intensity or frequency of their anger, or the way they express their anger, can be problematic. If individuals take out their anger and frustration on others, they usually find that it has a negative effect on their relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Because I have been involved in anger management counselling for so long, I have learned effective strategies for helping people change how they express their anger. It is very important to address anger issues and to intervene before there is an escalation to family violence or violence in the workplace. Sometimes, it is helpful to explore the underlying issues that might be contributing to a person's aggressive behaviour. Even if those contributing factors are not fully understood, people can still take steps to change their behavior in ways that can help them feel much better.

Does Anger Management Counselling Work?

Anger management counselling can be very effective. As with most issues, people must first acknowledge that they have a problem with anger before they will be ready to make changes. Sometimes people discover for themselves that their anger is harming them and that the way they express their anger is hurtful to others. In other cases, it is a friend, family member or co-worker who helps a person recognize the problem. Sometimes anger can be very useful because it is an indicator that something isn't right. It can be a good motivator that helps people make changes in their work or personal lives or in the way that they look at things. Sometimes, the changes that need to happen are external and sometimes they are internal. Anger management counselling can help people distinguish between the things in the environment they can't control and the things they may be doing that contribute to their own problem.

The change process can be challenging and even frustrating, at times, but the rewards are very satisfying when people begin to feel better about themselves and their relationships. If people have had long-term habits of expressing anger in aggressive or passive-aggressive ways, it can take some time to develop new habits and to make lasting change. When dealing with anger management issues, the first step is to make a commitment for change. Part of the process is to clarify and understand what might be contributing to the anger. It is very common for people to believe that it is their spouse, their boss, their job, their enemies, their health issues, their stress level or some other external factor that is causing them to be angry. They may believe that it is other people who need to change so that they will be less angry. In reality, the cause of the anger is more likely to be the meaning a person gives to someone else's behaviour. It can be very empowering when people discover that they may be creating their own angry feelings. It makes it easier to begin the change process.

I have worked successfully with clients from all walks of life with serious anger management issues so I can likely offer valuable input into your situation and help you identify the changes you want to make. As well, I am fortunate to have a strong network of very qualified psychologists in Calgary who have complementary areas of expertise. If you have an issue that would be better addressed by someone else, I will enlist the services of one of my colleagues to ensure that your therapy goals are met (e.g., assessing for ADD, dealing with addictions, addressing family dynamics).

Family Violence Counselling in Calgary

Unfortunately, family violence continues to occur in our society. Even with excellent resources, community agencies and counselling available in Calgary and across Canada, this continues to be a problem. If you are experiencing violence in any area of your life (personal, family or workplace), and you are ready to work with a professional psychologists to address this issue, you are making an excellent choice. You may be a child or teen witnessing violence, you may be a child or adult on the receiving end of violence, or you may be the one inflicting violence on others. Family violence can be stopped; it can be turned around. Although it is a difficult and uncomfortable topic, a decision to stop the violence and learn how to cope with problems more effectively is the beginning of positive change. Violence is never the answer. There are much better ways to solve problems.

If you are experiencing violence in your household, I encourage you to contact me to discuss the situation. If you are in a dangerous situation right now, and believe that you are at serious risk of causing harm or being harmed, please phone emergency services, 9-1-1, and ask for help.

Living Intentionally:
A Study of Non-Violent Men Who Witnessed Spousal Violence as Children

In my doctoral research, I was privileged to interview men who witnessed violence between their parents as they were growing up, but were successful in breaking the cycle of violence. These men made conscious choices in order to escape the patterns of their childhood. Their steps to wholeness and health included becoming aware of the negative impact of violence, becoming aware that there were better alternatives, resolving to make different choices from the negative models of their youth, and acting on their resolutions.

Not everyone is lucky enough to grow up in a nurturing environment. Not everyone has good role models in their family home. A tiny sprout that can grow in a hostile environment is a metaphor for resiliency. Similarly, the human spirit can be amazingly resilient, allowing children to grow into healthy adults in spite of having considerable negative influences. Although the ideal is that all children have fertile soil in which to grow to maturity, many people have not had the benefit of loving and nurturing homes. In this case, we need to find ways in which to enhance resiliency.

I would welcome calls from individuals who have grown up in violent homes, who wish to share their stories of resiliency or to hear more about my research findings. If you have grown up in a violent home and are struggling with trying to break the cycle of violence, you might be encouraged to know that the cycle of violence can be broken.

To discuss anger management or family violence counselling, please contact Calgary Psychologist Dr. Beth Balshaw.