Refresh Counselling in Calgary, AB with tips and advice to help individuals, couples and families with life changes and growth! They aim to provide a safe, supportive and encouraging environment for clients to gain personal insight, build new skills and strategies and achieve their goals.
We have all experienced some kind of hurt, pain and discomfort in our lives and it’s because of this commonality that we can relate to one another.
Whether it is pain in the form of having your heart broken by a loved one, facing rejection in school, at work or among friends, loss of some kind, mistreatment or a lack of support when it’s most needed, we have each faced some form of such difficulties.
How we cope with undesired relational events can truly impact us. Said another way, the ways in which we handle such pain can be relieving or healing.
An important question to ask is, what’s the difference?
Relief can be understood as a temporary pause from pain. For instance, when I twisted my ankle several months ago, the throbbing pain would pause for a moment when I found the right position to rest in. When I moved my ankle an inch in the wrong way, I was reminded of the root cause of the agony I felt; torn and overstretched muscles. As I needed to learn how to properly care for my ankle in order to bring healing to my muscles, emotional pain requires proper treatment as well.
Healing can be seen in many ways. There is physical healing our bodies naturally engage in when we are unwell. Emotional healing, on the other hand, does not come in a one-size-fits-all package.
One person can find healing via spiritual connection, whereas, another may feel the root of their emotional distress best addressed through supportive conversation with friends, or family. Others, need their time in nature and in a process of inner reflection, they begin to feel their inner wounds to shift in a helpful direction.
Within the counselling context, I’ve often worked with clients whom are looking to explore the deep waters of their emotions. ‘You need to feel it to heal it’ is a common phrase I refer to in explaining the most often difficult process of identifying, sitting in and processing a feeling or emotion.
On the flip side, some clients navigate their pain in doing some cognitive based work. We work together in learning about how painful external events can bring about harmful thoughts and beliefs that we hold to be true about ourselves. Digging deeper and focusing on creating helpful changes in our mindset about ourselves is a big part of cognitive-based work.
For most, it seems that healing is a multifaceted process, involving perhaps all of the above or bits and pieces of such factors.
From my own personal experience, I have found that what feels both relieving and healing combined, often begins by sharing and speaking out what has been kept inside.
Contact us today with one of our psychologists to begin, or perhaps, begin again, on your journey of healing.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Karyn Zhudhof, R. Psych
Every therapist works from a different theoretical approach, and though this is probably one of the more boring things to read about, it can be important when you’re choosing a psychologist who fits for you. Contrary to what might be portrayed in the movies, your psychologist does more than listen, and even when it feels like we’re holding a normal conversation, we’re actually asking questions and making comments with a purpose — the support we offer is different than a friend’s so it needs to be more purposeful than a conversation between friends. You don’t need to worry about this, this is part of our role and we’re happy to point out when and how we’re doing this if you’re curious.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a popular therapeutic technique, and my favourite. You may have heard about it from your GP, and the reason they recommend it so often is because of the research supporting its effectiveness. It’s not the best approach for everyone, so if it doesn’t fit for you, that’s okay.
CBT — when we break it down, it means we’re looking at how you’re thinking about something and what you’re doing in connection with how you’re feeling. Let’s look at a low day for example. Picture it with me, I suspect we’ve all had a day like this before — We mope around the house, we don’t have any energy and we’re stuck in a thought pattern feeling around being incredibly alone and maybe a bit sorry for ourselves. We feel down and lonely. When we’re feeling down, it’s pretty normal to isolate, spend time alone and get lost in our thoughts. The feelings are down, the behaviour is isolation, and the cognition is focused on feeling lonely.
To help you move past these low feelings, my first few courses of actions would have you leaving the house (as simple as a walk), and focusing on something you can be thankful for. There is probably something, no matter how small, that you do enjoy or is going well in your life at the moment. Taking action, as well as changing how you’re thinking is what will make the big difference in having you feeling more connected and less down.
As you share your story with me, and you fill me on what you’re looking for help with, these are things I’m paying attention to. Offering empathy and support as well as helping you decide if the current patterns are realistic and good for you, or if there are changes we can make to help you live your best life. If you have more questions about CBT, book in for a meet and greet, myself or one of my colleagues would be happy to answer these for you, to help determine if CBT is a good fit for you.
I still remember sitting in the waiting room, imagining a chaise lounge waiting for me in the therapist’s office on my first visit. Instead, I found an office not unlike my own and a space that made me feel safe and empowered. Even so, I didn’t tell anyone about my appointments for weeks — not even my partner.
Despite initiatives designed to break down the stigmas associated with mental illness, openly discussing mental health continues to be an uphill battle for us as a society.
Once I got past the irrational shame and sense of failure I felt, my weekly session became the best hour of my week.
After an emotionally turbulent year spent dealing with illness and feeling overwhelmed with my professional and personal responsibilities, I hit a wall. I took a six-week leave of absence from my work after my blood pressure soared and I couldn’t get to sleep at night. I dialed into my company’s Employee Assistance Program to request counselling and felt like a failure.
It took about six weeks before I felt confident enough to share that I was attending weekly sessions with a counsellor. Once I got past the irrational shame and sense of failure I felt, my weekly session became the best hour of my week. It made me a better mom, a more loving partner, a more balanced employee and a more resilient woman.
Every four weeks, we revisited a series of questionnaires that had initially ranked me as severe in anxiety and stress, high in depression, and moderate in confidence. On my final session, I ranked low in the first three, and high in confidence.
And I felt it.
Counselling isn’t about complaining about your life; it’s about enriching it and uncovering strength you didn’t know you had.
Contrary to popular belief — and even my own belief before I began my sessions — I rarely talked about problems I was having with my counsellor. Instead, I focused on goals, self-improvement and ways to improve the many relationships in my life. There were days I needed to vent about the challenges of co-parenting, the political power plays at work, or the fact my partner and I hadn’t been as intimate lately, but often I found my counsellor guiding me to a place where I could be kinder to myself.
Counselling allowed me to fill my proverbial toolbox with every tool for the job. It meant I could get things off my chest without necessarily burdening my loved ones. We role-played for important conversations I felt I needed to have with my ex-husband, my manager at work, my son.
I don’t attend weekly sessions now, but I know I’ll go back and, more importantly, I know I can go back.
I recommend counselling to everyone I know now, regardless of whether they feel they’re working through something or not. Counselling isn’t about complaining about your life; it’s about enriching it and uncovering strength you didn’t know you had.
You can expect it to feel a little weird at first, and it might take a few tries to find someone you click with. Once you allow yourself to open up and make a connection, however, I promise only good things will come of the practice.