View of Self

Many of our struggles come from our view of self. How I see myself is core to how I do in life. Are you interested in joining a small group of either men or women to experience support as we walk through struggles that have hindered our self esteem? If you are please contact me and I will give you more information.


Shame is so painful to the psyche that most people will do anything to avoid it, even though it’s a natural emotion that everyone has. It’s a physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system. You might blush, have a rapid heartbeat, break into a sweat, freeze, hang your head, slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact, withdraw, even get dizzy or nauseous.

Why Shame is so Painful

Whereas guilt is a right or wrong judgment about your behavior, shame is a feeling about yourself. Guilt motivates you to want to correct or repair the error. In contrast, shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws. The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation — from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else. Shame induces unconscious beliefs, such as:

  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m not important.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I don’t deserve to be happy.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I’m a phony.
  • I’m defective.

Do you struggle with shame? You are not alone. If you want to talk with someone in a safe environment please give me a call.

Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

Learning about your spouse’s infidelity can be emotionally and physically devastating. The emotional damage is reflected in what some mental health professionals call Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD), for the stress and emotional turmoil experienced afterward.

In Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), re-experiencing the trauma repeatedly is the first of three categories of symptoms described. The disorder is marked by flashbacks of war for veterans, nightmares of the accident for car wreck survivors, and painful memories of abuse for survivors of intra-familial trauma.

So too, in PISD husbands and wives will replay the painful realization of betrayal. Even after the initial fall-out, people will have recurring thoughts of their partner with another.

Psychologist and certified sex therapist, Barry Bass, adds, “Like trauma victims, it is not unusual for betrayed spouses to replay in their minds previously assumed benign events,” those times when their spouse became defensive when asked a simple question, or the late nights at work, or the text messages from unnamed friends, all of these become viewed as possible deceitful acts.

The second category of symptoms for PTSD, avoidance and emotional numbing, is seen in PISD as well. Rage or despair that comes after the initial shock of discovering the infidelity can be followed by a state of emotional hollowness. Formerly pleasurable activities lose their appeal. Those who were cheated on sometimes withdraw from friends and family and describe feelings of emptiness.

The last category of PTSD symptoms, hyper-vigilance and insomnia, can also arise for those dealing with infidelity. Sleep patterns become erratic; and concentration becomes a challenge, affecting work performance and family life.

PISD can have physical consequences as well as emotional ones. The stress of discovering infidelity can lead to what has been dubbed broken heart syndrome, also termed stress cardiomyopathy. The American Heart Association describes symptoms such as sudden chest pain, leading to the sense that one is having a heart attack. Physical or emotional stressors, such as a loved one passing or major surgery trigger a surge of stress hormones that temporarily affect the heart. The condition typically reverses within a week.

Despite the stress, there is life after an affair. Due to the symptomatic similarities, therapists are now beginning to use PTSD counseling techniques to help couples either stay together or move on.

Counselors use these “trauma focused” explorations with clients, sifting through the distressing memories and aversive feelings, to help build the client’s self-esteem and confidence in dealing with the betrayal or loss of the relationship.

Therapists are also working with their clients to help them understand the unique reasons that led to the infidelity. Understanding why the affair occurred can help both people.

 Does this sound familiar to you? Do you experience any of these symptoms? If so therapy can be very helpful. Call for a free initial consultation about work through the trauma of infidelity.(604-312-6674)



The Fragmented Child

Are my symptoms a result of a fragmented childhood?

Dissociation is a phenomenon most people have the capacity to experience. It is a coping mechanism used to manage stressors as minor as over-stimulation or as severe as sexual abuse.

As a way of coping, dissociation occurs when the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep people from feeling too much pain, be it physical, emotional, or both. When dissociation occurs, you experience a detachment from reality, like ‘spacing out.’ Part of you just isn’t ‘there in the moment.’

Children who suffer from problematic dissociation can often display symptoms that can be misinterpreted as other psychological problems. According to the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, children with dissociative disorders are prone to trance states or ‘black outs’ where the child becomes unresponsive or has a lapse in attention. They may also stare at nothing, forget parts of their life or what they were doing a moment ago, or act as if they just woke up in response to being called to attention. Coupled with sudden changes in activity levels (like a child being lethargic one minute and hyperactive the next), these symptoms are often misinterpreted as Attention Deficit Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.

Other dissociative symptoms like dramatic, abnormal changes in mood, personality, or age, acting in socially inappropriate ways, or insisting on being called by another name can also lead to misdiagnoses of psychotic or behavioural disorders.

Underlying all of these symptoms is a tendency for the child to separate parts of themselves, or ‘fragment.’ This fragmentation is often the result of already experienced trauma. In children, the traumatic situation is often a form of abuse or neglect in the home, either as a witness or victim.

Though no single cause that has been identified explaining the phenomenon of dissociation, it is believed by some clinicians that the attachments formed between the child and their caregiver could play a substantial role in the risk of developing dissociative symptoms.

In attachment theory, the caregiver ideally serves as a secure base from which the child can receive comfort and support (secure attachment). Their responses to the child’s actions determine how the child will come to see the world and view relationships in the future. One particular form of attachment, disorganized attachment occurs when the caregiver mistreats the child, frequently frightens the child, miscommunicates feelings, and has highly unrealistic expectations of the child (e.g., relying on the child for care).

Caregivers who act in ways that give rise to disorganized attachment may behave very inconsistently (for example at times they are intrusive, at times they withdraw), which creates confusion for the child. The child may end up with multiple, incompatible views of the caregiver (seeing the caregiver as a source of protection and danger at the same time) and incompatible views of themselves (feeling confusion about whether they are good or bad). These incompatible views are very difficult to reconcile and hard to combine into a coherent structure.

The child is left with confusion about who their parents are, and who they are, making it difficult to establish a coherent sense of self. This sort of fragmentation lays the groundwork for dissociative experiences.

Even more confusing, the child faces the dilemma of both protecting themselves from a caregiver and maintaining a relationship with them. Jennifer Freyd explains that the betrayal trauma, the sense of betrayal often found in children abused by their caregivers explains why many children forget the abuse, or rather, put it out of their minds.

If the child copes by dissociating, it makes it easier to continue daily life with the parent than if they were fully aware of the traumatic past experiences.

Caregivers at risk can help prevent such developments in their children by participating in therapy designed to examine and resolve traumas experienced in their past. Psychotherapy can also help teach parents how to interact with their children in a consistent and responsive way, and control their emotions to prevent harmful actions.

In this way, it is possible to not only help the adult come to terms with their childhood experiences, but also help create a healthy family environment for the child’s future.

 If you have suffered traumatic events or lack of attachment as a child and want to talk about this with someone who is safe, please feel free to contact me.



-Jennifer Parlee, Contributing Writer

Interracial Relationships

Recently Statistic Canada reported that 4% of all relationships are interracial. In Canada, most of these couples are Canadian-born (as opposed to foreign-born). They may experience opposition and resistance from family, community, and even strangers, yet many find ways to overcome these obstacles.

When Arlene, a Filipino-Canadian woman, and Kay, a Tamil-Canadian man, entered into a relationship, they understood it would not be easy being an interracial couple. They began seeing each other five years ago, but only recently decided to introduce each other to their families.

In a recent interview with The Trauma & Mental Health Report, Arlene and Kay shared with us the challenges of being an interracial couple and how they overcame various obstacles.

Kay: We got together because of our personalities and not because of our differences. Those in denial are going to have to accept that these are naturally occurring things and they have to learn to accept it.

-Rachita Saini, Contributing Writer

To view the entire article please visit the Trauma and Mental Health Report.

Often starting a relationship with a solid foundation can help avoid pitfalls. Part of this foundation is knowing the obstacles and strengths. A therapist can help facilitate your self awareness as an individual and as a couple.

Managing with Chronic Pain

“Many of us know someone suffering from chronic pain. In Canada, as many as 17% experience some kind of non-specific chronic pain. The cost in lost income, lost productivity and medical expenses are over $10 million a year, yet misconceptions and stigmas overshadow facts.

Defined as any physical discomfort that persists beyond expected healing time, chronic pain can be caused by injuries, failed or unsatisfactory surgeries, and illnesses such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and lupus. Some conditions produce physical changes like joint inflammation or nerve damage, but in others like fibromyalgia there are no clear physical sources for the pain. Lack of clear physical evidence can lead many to question whether the pain is real, but to sufferers it certainly is.

Rates differ among types of chronic pain (e.g., headaches, musculoskeletal, lower back, or joint pain). Regardless, it can be debilitating, limiting people’s abilities to live a full life; leaving many unable to work, engage in social activities and complete basic daily activities. As individuals come to center their world around pain, they withdraw from friends and family, becoming pessimistic about the future and feeling insecure.

Among chronic pain sufferers, the prevalence of depression or anxiety is much higher than in the general population. About 50% of those with chronic pain suffer from some kind of mental illness.”

This article is from the Trauma and Mental Health Report out of York University. You can view the complete report at the Trauma and Mental Health Site.

Stigma and mental illness can make things worse. Without a cure, management strategies are critical so that sufferers don’t let pain take over and ultimately define their lives.

Working with a counsellor can help with your management strategies.


Many of us feel sad but this is not depression. It is bigger than feelings and is not a sign of weakness. More than 4% of us deal with depression so as a therapist I will work with you and possibly your doctor to move past the hopelessness that you feel. Distorted thoughts, emotional numbness and sometimes body chemistry can lead to depression. Therapy works on all those areas.

Symptom of Depression can include:

  • A sad anxious or empty mood that will not go away
  • Loss of interest in what you used to enjoy
  • Low energy, fatigue,
  • Changes in sleep patterns that are not related to hormones
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thoughts of death of suicide or self harm

I will help you by listening empathically, probing for the root cause and giving you tools that will help you with the needed skills to reactivate your life, think realistically and solve problems. You will some away learning to deal with the thoughts and emotions productively.

If you would like support in this are please call me today at 604-312-6674

Anxiety – Oh no not again!

“Why now? Why is this happening to me? I feel like I am going to die.”

There is nothing worse than the sudden onset of heart palpitations, churning in your stomach and the feelings of wanting to faint.

You say “oh no, not again!” “Why is this happening to me?”

It can stop!

This is all part of the body response to a trigger. During therapy I help you identify your triggers, give your tools to deal with them so that in time those feelings that overwhelm you and embarrass you will stop. Don’t listen to those inner voices that say ‘this is stupid, I should be able to stop it’.

You are not alone in experiencing these feelings of panic or anxiety. Many of us have dealt with these horrifying experiences and sometimes we are afraid to go out in case a trigger happens and the panic begins. I understand this because I have been a victim of panic in my life. Do you want to begin to change your experience? I can help you.

For more information please call today for an initial free consultation. 604-312-6674