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.

Therapy Process

Therapy begins even before the first session — it begins when you start to think about seeking help from a psychologist. People often report that they begin to feel better just making a phone call to book an appointment because they increase their hope that change can happen in their lives.

The first contact is typically a phone conversation, where I gather enough information from clients to clarify what their concerns are and to ensure that I am an appropriate choice to work with them. We begin to develop a therapeutic relationship with the first conversation. Then, in the first therapy session, we continue to gather information, finalize the goals of therapy and make a plan for how the therapy goals will be achieved.

My approach to therapy has evolved over the years. I engage in regular professional development and consultation with peers to continually enhance the way I work with individuals and couples. With input from clients, I structure therapy sessions in a way that best meets their needs. Sometimes it is helpful to review an experience that has happened between sessions, to identify what has worked and what could be changed to work better. Sometimes it is helpful to teach a new skill (e.g., communication skills, relaxation training). It is exciting when clients have those lovely "a-ha" moments, when they begin to see things in a different, more helpful, way. Gaining insight is the beginning of making behavior changes.

Although there are similarities in the issues that clients bring, each person and situation is unique. It is difficult to predict how many sessions clients might need to achieve their therapy goals. Some clients require only a few sessions to get back on track. In other situations, particularly if the individual has experienced a significant trauma, a longer therapy process may be more appropriate. After reaching their therapy goals, some individuals or couples like to have ongoing check-in sessions as part of their maintenance plan and ongoing personal growth.

In the paragraphs that follow, you can learn more about the therapy process, session format and other details.

Therapy Relationship — Partners in Change

Taking a collaborative approach to therapy, I strive to facilitate change by creating a counselling relationship that is a partnership. Clients have knowledge about their own lives, and I have knowledge and expertise about the therapy process. I encourage clients to be actively involved in their therapy as they work toward the goals they set for themselves.

I have found that clients benefit most from the therapy process if they engage in some form of self-help between their sessions. For this reason, I assign homework in order to maximize the effectiveness of the therapy. At the end of each session, I invite clients' input to determine what would be the most useful things for them to do between sessions.

What happens in a therapy or counselling session?

Counselling sessions are normally 50 minutes long, although some clients prefer to schedule longer sessions. Clients can expect me to do some or all of the following during their sessions:

  • listen to their concerns and allow them to express their feelings;
  • help them to identify their strengths and resources;
  • help them to identify thoughts, feelings, behaviors or circumstances that may be interfering with meeting their goals;
  • help them to set goals and develop concrete action plans for managing or overcoming the obstacles to their well-being;
  • help them examine their issues in context, taking into account the influence of gender, culture or other factors;
  • use a specific intervention if it is appropriate for meeting their goals (e.g., Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Relaxation Training, Clinical Hypnosis);
  • provide relevant information;
  • conduct formal or informal assessments;
  • suggest some reading or writing assignments to help clients gain insight into their concerns.

Client Rights

Clients have the right to ask questions about treatment methods so they can make informed decisions about what methods are most suitable for them.

Clients have the right to stop therapy if something about it is not working for them, and to ask for a referral if that is in their best interests. I have a network of excellent colleagues to whom I can refer clients if I am not the best match for them.

Risks of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy involves a degree of risk. Clients sometimes experience uncomfortable emotions as they talk about the issues that are concerning them. Sometimes therapy involves talking about unpleasant aspects of their history.

Psychotherapy is focused on facilitating change according to the goals that clients set. Any change — even good change — can affect a person's established system. Sometimes clients may meet with some resistance from other people in their lives as a result of the changes they make.

Confidentiality

What clients disclose during therapy sessions is kept in strict confidence. My session notes are kept in a locked filing cabinet, and I am the only person with access to them.

If a client and I agree that it would be helpful for me to share information about his or her therapy with someone else (e.g., a physician), then I ask the client to sign a form that gives me permission to release and/or request information.

In keeping with good ethical practice for psychologists, I seek guidance from mentors and consult with colleagues for peer supervision. In this way, clients benefit from the combined wisdom of a team of psychologists or therapists. When I consult with my colleagues, I discuss clients' situations without giving any identifying information, assuring anonymity. At most, first names are used. The colleagues in my peer supervision team are all registered psychologists or social workers who are bound by the same ethical codes regarding confidentiality as I am.

There are some exceptions to confidentiality. I discuss these with my clients when we meet in person to ensure that they understand these limits.

Client Forms

When clients call to schedule a therapy session, I ask them to complete a Client Information Form and some other checklists and bring these to their first session. With clients' permission, I send these forms out to them ahead of time by email or by mail so that they have ample time to read through the material before coming to their first session. This helps clients to be more prepared for their session and to clarify for themselves what they want to achieve in their therapy.