Values & Ideas That Guide My Work
The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem. Thinking and talking about problems as separate from persons can be extremely helpful.
Problems delight in making people’s strengths invisible and in becoming the only story that gets told about a person’s life.
Therapy delights in shrinking problems and making people's strength and knowledge visible.
Spirituality, sacredness, and religion are key areas of human experience and should be included in the creation of solutions and growth.
Problems sometimes dissolve when we stop searching for the "root cause," and begin to focus on solutions instead.
It is a sacred honour to be a safe witness to the multiple stories of people's lives: pain and suffering, abuse and oppression, hope and courage, resilience and resistance, and change and triumph.
Those seeking counselling have often made significant steps to finding solutions before they ever come for counselling.
Problems often disconnect people from those whom they share love and care for. Sometimes people and families need community more than they need counselling, and part of my role is to assist people to reconnect with others.
The most intense problems in living can offer us the greatest opportunities for growth.
People are the “expert” about their own lived experience and often have clear ideas about the process of change they want, or that they are in. My expertise is in helping people change, by honouring their ideas and goals, and collaborating with them in the co-creation of solutions and new possibilities. This is very different than offering expert specific advice and answers (in fact people rarely follow advice).
Solutions are often found within us, rather than outside us. Part of my role is to assist people to uncover knowledge and wisdom that has been hidden, stolen, or forgotten, by the presence of problems, or discounted as unimportant by well-meaning individuals.
Learning new skills can be a helpful addition to the change process. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an effective way to offer new skills. Clinical counselling is both science and art. The science of counselling is found in the use of conversational techniques and ideas about change that have been researched and found to be helpful. The art of counselling is found in the crafting of conversations that weave together the science, the therapist’s intuition and creativity, and the client’s own inner wisdom and strength, in such a way that clients are assisted in moving towards their goal.
The smallest change can make the biggest difference. Catching the change can be a lot of fun.
Feminist ideas, which pay attention to power and privilege in relationships, form the lens used to make visible the “invisible” assumptions about gender and cultural inequalities and differences. The use of feminist ideas also creates space in conversations for the unique lived experience of women.
Patriarchal ideas and practices that support and maintain the superiority, privilege, and dominance of men over women, bring pain and suffering not only to women but also to men. Through respect, accountability, and compassion, men can liberate themselves from the patriarchal ideas and practices that constrain their lives and bring hurt to the women they care for.
Power within relationships is constantly being negotiated, overtly and covertly.
The full appreciation of another’s lived experience only occurs when the social context of their lives is considered. Power differences in relationships, need to be included in the understanding of all relational problems.
Applying labels to individuals and people is not often helpful and only adds to experiences of being misunderstood and marginalized.
You don’t have to be an "alcoholic" to have a problem with alcohol.
Substance misuse is often a way to cope with the distress, dis-ease, and the pain of loss, oppression, abuse, trauma, or exploitation.
There are many paths to freedom: the 12 Step program is just one of them.
Language is powerful: the words we choose matter.
We understand our lives and make meaning of our experience, through stories: stories we tell out loud, stories others tell about us, stories we tell in our heads, stories we long to tell, and stories we hope never get told. We make sense of the world by constructing and telling stories, narratives, about our relationships and ourselves. The telling, and the compassionate witnessing, of stories in communities of respect, is how we come to understand ourselves, others.
Sometimes the stories that define us are not what we would prefer. Therapeutic conversations are opportunities to re-author our life stories according to our preferred ways of being, and according to our hopes, and dreams.