Counselling Approach

At the Good Life Therapy Centre our clients are our top priority.  We take the time to match your therapeutic needs with the best therapist on staff.  We believe that everyone deserves a good life, however you may define it. We put you first because you matter. Our approach to individual and couples therapy is holistic meaning that our focus is on the healing of your whole person not just your symptoms (such as your substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or relationship troubles). Your emotions, thoughts, beliefs, sensations, and behaviours make up your whole experience and are all connected.

Your Initial Counselling Consultation

In your initial session we will determine where to begin your therapy, knowing that a positive change in any one of these areas of your life will positively impact the whole of you. For example, if you are still struggling in an active addiction, that is the behaviour we will address first. Or, if you have recently experienced a trauma and are struggling with its emotional impact on your life, then we will begin there. Or perhaps you are experiencing difficulty in your marriage or primary partnership, in which case we will set relationship goals so you can create the love you want.

Our primary attitude is that no matter how devastating events in your life feel at present, we are certain that you can find the skills necessary to heal with confidence and optimism. No matter how affected you have been by traumatic events in your life, past or present, we truly believe that it is possible for you to move beyond it and to live with joy and purpose.

Together in Counselling, we can Form a Relationship that will Help you Heal

Neuroscientific research has shown that a positive outcome for therapy is determined, to a large extent, by the ability of your therapist to connect with you & repair relational injury. This doesn’t mean that your therapist should not be highly trained in understanding human behaviour and the art and science of healing. However, it is in this “relationship attunement” that helps you get to the underlying pain that is often driving unhealthy decisions.

The “feel good” effect of a positive relationship between a client and his or her therapist is not just an opinion but a well proven scientific fact. Dan Siegel, a leader in the field of brain research, calls this relationship-building “interpersonal neurobiology.”

Developing strong, caring relationships has a positive neurological and biological effect on our brains. Throughout your therapy with us, we will pay particular attention to developing this relationship attunement, in order to establish the healing environment necessary for change.

 

Your brain cannot grow outside of a relationship and it’s your brain’s healthy functioning that determines your:
  • ability to overcome addiction and avoid relapse
  • positive self image
  • capacity to embrace and manage emotions
  • ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships
  • sense of being connected to something greater than yourself — of being part of a larger whole
While building this relationship of change with you we will:
  • create a safe, nurturing environment
  • create structure that will help guide you in the rest of your life
  • be consistent and reliable
  • be attentive and listen to you with care
  • validate your experiences in a non-judgmental manner
  • stimulate, encourage and support your personal growth

From this place of connection we will examine the issues that are bringing you to therapy, set attainable and realistic goals and develop a plan for your growth and well being.

“I feel a great sense of trust and honesty…”

Working with you I feel a great sense of trust and honesty and a kindness. I don’t question your motives. I trust that you have my well being at heart and you also have the skills and knowledge not to misdirect the process.

– K. V.
“You’re the only one who really ‘gets me’.”

I feel understood by you and supported. It is so comforting.

– D. F.
“You have helped me to change.”

I so badly want to be better so I take to heart your words. You are professional and you have helped me to change. When you relate your own experience I sense that you know – not just from books. You brought the humanness into it and I felt you could really understand me – that we were similar in this way.

– M. G.

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Recovery from Addiction

Addiction can be defined most simply as the loss of control over a substance or behavior that causes negative circumstances in your life.

You can be addicted to alcohol, drugs (both illicit and/or prescribed), internet sex, food, work, or gambling, to name a few. Most people know intuitively that they have developed an addiction. Unfortunately, by its very nature, this reality is often obscured by ‘the lie’ addict’s repeat to themselves that “my addiction is not that bad.”

No one can beat addiction alone! And why would you want to? There is no need to stay isolated in your own world of deluded thinking and unsuccessful attempts to control your behavior. If you seek help and support you will be much better able to move on with your life than if you try to do it alone.

Addiction recovery begins with abstinence.

Abstinence can commence by attending a 12 step support group or by going into a treatment centre or a recovery home. Once you have begun your journey in sobriety, counselling can provide the necessary support on your path to emotional sobriety, or well-being. We will assess together any addiction concerns and we will assist you to find the best first step for you.

Addiction counselling will have a dual focus:
  • Assisting and supporting your recovery from addiction
  • Facilitating healing of your trauma and unresolved losses
“I have lasting results that build on one another.”

I came to counselling to get help parenting my teenage daughter. We were fighting all the time and I felt overwhelmed. I needed serious help with all my relationships, starting with myself, my family and friends. The quality of my life was declining. I was using alcohol and drugs to manage the anxiety and inner turmoil I felt most of the time. I had trouble setting boundaries to keep myself safe and would end up in abusive relationships over and over again.

Today it is very different. I have an easier time reaching out and accepting support. I spend less energy with people who drain me. My relationship with my daughter is really wonderful now. I am moving towards the things I desire with greater success and joy. The most important difference is that I don’t feel so overwhelmed by life anymore. That is because I have boundaries today and I won’t accept unacceptable behavior. I feel that I can manage and move towards what I desire. I can take charge without taking control. I have to admit, being honest is hard – I had to face that I had an addiction when I believed it was socially acceptable recreational use. My alcohol and drug use was a way to mask my anger. As long as I was in this pattern I couldn’t grow.

Getting therapy has worked better than anything I’ve ever tried before. It is holistic. I have lasting results that build on one another. Rather than coping with symptoms we’re getting to the root of the symptoms and moving towards health. I love that it is a collaborative approach and non-intrusive. The work I’ve done has been extremely powerful and useful in my everyday life.

– K. V.

Helping You Resolve Trauma

The field of trauma counselling has changed enormously in the past few years. We know now that the effects of trauma are not just ‘psychological’ or ’emotional’, but that ‘the body remembers’ and stores the memory of these events. For this reason, talking about your trauma alone will not help you to resolve it. It is essential that your therapy also address the “trauma energy” that is trapped in your nervous system (body and brain).

Body-centred therapy is a form of mind-body integration therapy that does just that.

It is a safe and natural form of therapy that allows you to reduce anxiety, depression, and other common trauma symptoms in order to become more balanced and present in your life. We will do this by tracking your body sensations and working with imagery, which is the language used by the primitive instinctual brain. You will learn to pace and support yourself, while beginning to discharge accumulated stress. In addition, you will create a sense of meaning that allows you to integrate your experiences into a positive sense of self.

You will learn to reconnect with your survival wisdom and incorporate this knowledge for your optimum functioning in the world.

Our society overvalues the use of a left brain, logical, and verbal approach to life. While this is an important aspect of our whole self, it is only half the story. Many clients say that working with their right brain, which is intuitive, non-verbal, and connected to body sensations, feels quite ‘weird’ initially. That’s because we have little experience with it. Once it is practiced, however, there is a sense of being present, of being in charge, of being “embodied” (connected to your self in a grounded way) that feels incredibly empowering.

 

“You have helped me to believe in myself.”

I have to admit that when I first started working with you I thought what you did was quite strange – never having been to a therapist that worked with sensations in the body. But I decided not to judge before giving it a try. And you were right – it really works! Look at me – I’m so much calmer. I also found myself saying for the first time in as long as I can remember, ‘I deserve better than this.’ You have helped me to believe in myself.

– S.R. (former Downtown Eastside resident,
now in a recovery home and on his way to a new life)
“I feel on top of the world!”

You know when you first told me about this method of changing from the inside out… I thought to myself, “I hope you know what you’re doing because I’m not sure it’s possible… I mean is it really possible for me?? I lived my entire life focused on making the outside look good.” Then the other day I was at the gym and I was stretching – just simply stretching, and I felt so connected to myself and to how good it felt. I was fully present in my body and then I knew, “This is what she meant.” I hear the birds singing now, I feel the sunshine on my back when I’m at my desk, I feel my muscles working as I climb the Grouse Grind, and I love every moment of awareness. It’s so good!

Being present allows me to fully enjoy everything I do, especially the simplest things that I totally missed before. I no longer focus on what others think or try to keep up to what I think others want me to be. I live for myself today and for the sheer enjoyment of my life. I feel on top of the world!

– J. L.

 

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We look forward to hearing from you.