Hello, and welcome!
I am a registered provisional psychologist working in private practice in Edmonton, AB. In 2011 I completed my MA in Counselling Psychology at the Adler University in Vancouver, BC. I am currently in the final phase of completing my doctoral degree at the University of Alberta where I am researching why adult male survivors of sexual abuse so seldom report their abuse. I work predominately with adults, individuals and/or couples, who are struggling with issues associated to:
- Bullying and Harassment in the Work Place
- Cancer/Chronic Illness
- Grief and Loss
- Childhood Abuse/Neglect (male and female)
- Male Survivors of Adult or Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Issues Associated to Life in the Police and Military
- Establishing Healthy Sleeping Habits
- Faith/Christian Counselling
- Couples Counselling
While some stress and anxiety can be helpful, many people experience debilitating anxiety about future events or find themselves having ruminating thoughts. Perhaps you lie awake at night, wake in the middle of the night and/or wake up early and worry about your day ahead or something that happened in the past? If this is the case, I will provide you with ideas and ways to manage your anxiety when it arises and help you to develop healthy sleep promoting habits.
As we explore the complex thoughts, emotions and behaviors that sometimes keep you stuck, I will provide you with tools to help you to make important decisions, insight about common problematic ways of thinking and common strategies for managing your stress; strategies which can help prevent you from experiencing debilitating anxiety in the future.
Sometimes life’s circumstances can get you down. I will help you find hope, provide you with strategies to overcome your sadness, and support you as you work to increase your sense of fulfillment in life. My goal in therapy is always to assist you to live a happier more satisfying life.
Bullying and Harassment in the Work Place:
In my former capacity as a police lady I witnessed and experienced bullying and harassment in the work place for 7 years. At the time I felt powerless to stop it since my abusers were also my superiors. If you are in a similar situation at work I can help you to weigh out your options, set healthy boundaries and be informed about the potential consequences of whistle-blowing, taking action and not taking action. If you are already a whistle-blower I can help you to make sense of how you got to where you are and to make plans of where to go from here.
I completed a 1600 hour doctoral internship at the Cross Cancer Institute in the Department of Psychosocial and Spiritual Resources. I am comfortable supporting you in your cancer journey and I am aware of the issues that many cancer patients face. These include, but are not limited to, making decisions about medication and treatment, managing long wait periods, being away from work, returning to work, a change in priorities and values, feeling unsupported by your friends and family and/or facing a terminal diagnosis.
Grief and Loss:
Whether you have lost a spouse, family member, friend, or your identity due to life transitions, illness, suicide or homicide, I am comfortable supporting you on your grief journey. I will create a safe space for you to explore and experience your thoughts and emotions.
Childhood Abuse/Neglect (male and female).
As children your parents are responsible to protect you, teach you to soothe yourself and nurture your mental/emotional, physical and spiritual growth. When this doesn’t happen it can diminish your sense of self-worth and leave you feeling lost, hopeless and even lacking in identity.
Perhaps you grew up in a loving home but did not feel like you could discuss abuse that you experienced outside the home with your parents. Many children do not discuss abuse with those they love to protect them from the truth, when they feel their parents could not handle the truth, and when they believe that exposing it may break up their family, etc.
I have several ways to approach processing memories of abuse, depending on your comfort level and your ability and desire to explore these deep issues. See my section on EMDR for one way I can assist you to cope, process and get past troubling memories of abuse.
Male Survivors of Adult or Childhood Sexual Abuse:
I was introduced to male victimology while working in the ICE Unit (Integrated Child Exploitation Unit) of the Behavioral Sciences Unit of the RCMP in BC. At a private training seminar in Ottawa former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy, discussed the sexual abuse he suffered under Coach Graham James. Although this was already public information I was shocked to learn how prevalent male sexual abuse is, particularly in organized sports and especially among junior male athletes. Of equal concern was the obvious lack of reporting. I thank Sheldon Kennedy for his courage to come forward before anyone had and for his honesty. He inspired me to work in this area.
As a former police lady, registered provisional psychologist and researcher I have spent several years studying abuse and attempting to recognize and understand the grooming process as well as the reasons why victims often do not discuss their abuse until years later.
In 2004 I researched and organized the data/exhibits associated with the RCMP’s first sex tourism investigation. For 3 years I managed thousands of exhibits and thematically organized/analyzed the electronic data associated with this complex investigation involving 97 victims and 39 crime scenes. This gave me intimate exposure to observe the psychological processes associated with grooming, victimology and sexual abuse.
In 2010/11 while completing my MA, I worked at the BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. I counselled men struggling with issues associated to childhood and adult sexual abuse in both individual and group settings.
In 2011 my unique professional experiences and intimate exposure to this topic compelled me to conduct research examining why men so seldom report sexual assaults. I have now competed my research and am in the process of reporting my findings. I have come to understand many of the reasons why males do not report abuse and how society has failed to meet their needs. I have also learned to see that male abuse is far more prevalent than I had previously been aware of. Once I have completed this work I will be finished my Ph.D.
Working with male survivors and their partners has been the highlight of my career to date and is a primary area of interest for me. I have attended the bi-annual Healing and Hope for Male Survivors International Conference in New York 3 times. I have also attended training at The Men’s Project in Ottawa and at the BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.
I have several methods to treat PTSD depending on the nature, severity and symptoms you experience. I will work to help you diminish your recurring physiological symptoms, change your dysfunctional thought patterns and help you feel better about yourself.
I experienced PTSD due to years of bullying and harassment in the workplace. I have recovered from this debilitating disorder and I am confident your symptoms can be reduced too. I will do my best to help you on your journey to recovery.
Police and Military:
As a medically retired Mountie I have 13 years of experience working in the field. I understand the challenges, rewards, high expectations, disappointments and tragedies that you face on a daily basis. I investigated crimes in the undercover capacity (1112) and in the municipal drug, child sexual exploitation, gang and homicide units. I am comfortable working with police and military as well as those on the opposite side of the law attempting to make change.
Establishing Healthy Sleeping Habits:
In 2014 I developed a 5 session sleep hygiene class which I facilitated twice at the Cross Cancer Institute. All of the participants who were experiencing a lack of sleep reported either an improvement in the sleep time or quality as a result of attending this class. Many became able to sleep without the use of sleep aids. Attend a group or discuss your sleep issues with me individually during session.
As a Christian I am comfortable bringing faith in to our sessions. Together we can explore your faith issues. I can assist you in exploring your options and discover grace as you make decisions in difficult times. Some of my favorite scriptures are as follows:
Isaiah 26:3-4 "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." NKJV
Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your path." NKJV
"Be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." NKJV
Although I am Christian I am comfortable working with people of all belief systems and with those who do not prescribe to any faith.
There are times when couples may need the help of a trained professional to work through the problems that arise within their marriage. Issues I help with include infidelity, life transitions, role changes, or simply learning how to fight fair and fight less. Together we will take a collaborative approach to rebuilding trust and to develop healthy patterns of communication in your relationship.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):
Although scientists do not know for sure how EMDR works, it appears that the bi-lateral brain stimulation techniques used in EMDR have a specific effect on memory retrieval, encoding and storage. Specifically, the eye movements, tapping, etc. appear to stimulate the brain to process information in a way that is similar to that which occurs during REM sleep. This brain stimulation appears to facilitate and enhance information processing which allows negative experiences to be discharged from our nervous systems and our belief systems. EMDR is a structured 8 phase approach to psychotherapy that addresses past, present, and future aspects of any traumatic or distressing issues or memories. EMDR uses specific procedures to access existing information, introduce new information, facilitate processing and unblock areas of the brain that inhibit accessing and processing of stored memories. It incorporates elements of psychological, cognitive, psychodynamic, adaptive information processing, somatic, and humanistic approaches to therapy.
In a broad sense EMDR is intended to alleviate suffering. Early and disturbing experiences, unmet interpersonal needs and traumas can have negative and long-lasting effects. Information, including negative beliefs about yourself that you develop early in life, can get locked in or trapped in your memory systems and can affect the way you see yourself and the world around you. EMDR helps your brain to process unresolved experiences/issues by making the appropriate cognitive and emotional connections while the information is being accessed. EMDR has the ability to facilitate profound therapeutic change in much less time than other traditional therapies and without the need to discuss issues in intimate detail.
What EMDR Can and Cannot Do:
EMDR can help your body to adaptively process somatic (bodily) distress and release the physiological pain that gets trapped within your nervous systems after a trauma occurs. It will not make you forget painful memories; however it can reduce the vividness and emotional intensity of those memories making you more able to tolerate them. EMDR may help immediately or it can take up to several (8-10) sessions before isses are resolved in this fashion. Many issues are complex and require attention to many specific details before they can be resolved.
What to Expect During the Process of EMDR:
During the processing phases of EMDR you will be asked to focus on the disturbing memory or issue. I will do either multiple brief ‘sets’ of eye movement or alternate hand-tapping. Following each set I will ask you what new information arose during the process. You do not have to share the details of your thoughts with me if you don’t want to. However, we will use this new material as the focus of our next set. During this activation phase you may re-experience aspects of the original event, which may retain high levels of sensory and emotional intensity, even though many years may have passed. I will ask you to observe them from a distance.
EMDR works directly with your memory networks and enhances your information processing by forging new associations between the distressing memory and your more current adaptive information contained within your current memory networks. It is thought that distressing memories are transformed when new connections are forged with more positive and realistic information. This results in the transformation of the emotional, sensory, and cognitive components of the memory; when the new memory is accessed the individual is less distressed. Instead he/she recalls the incident with a new perspective, possibly even new insight, and with the resolution of cognitive distortions, elimination of emotional distress, and relief from the previous physiological arousal.