mindfulness for life

mindfulness for life

kind therapy. effective therapy.
mindful therapists.

our approach

Each therapist will bring their own style, personality and unique training to how they will work with you.

Our clinic prioritizes creativity and education that produces effective, informed and skilled therapists. We go beyond counselling basics and textbook CBT, with an emphasis on mindfulness, compassion, embodiment, empowerment, trauma specific and culturally sensitive therapy.

therapy approach

As human beings, we long to be accepted for who we are.  Mindfulness is the practice extending this unconditional friendship to ourselves, through a process of attending to here-and-now experiences with acceptance.  This approach is about coming to feel at home in our own bodies and our minds – even in times of pain and confusion.

Often, when difficult experiences arise, the struggle to avoid or control them actually increases the difficulty.  In a fight to win the battle against “the problem” – be it depression, anxiety, craving, shame or procrastination – we are setting up a situation where we are our own enemy. Unfortunately, in a war against ourselves there is no way to win. Mindfulness is a different strategy.

Mindfulness involves connecting to the reality of our experience, and being willing to open to things as they are. Acceptance involves allowing our thoughts, emotions and body sensations to arise and pass without fighting them – not necessarily evaluating them positively, but letting go of fears and self-judgments about them.

The practices, perspective and insights of mindfulness help to build the capacity to:

  1. Recognize and disengage from destructive mind states
  2. Accept ourselves, by accepting our own emotions, thoughts, sensations

  3. Be more vulnerable and build genuine relationships

  4. Act intentionally in line with our values, rather than act reactively out of fear or habit.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) are examples of mindfulness and acceptance based therapies.

It can be difficult, especially when we are in pain, to feel at home in ourselves. In addition, there are some experiences it is hard to address with words – such as complex emotions and difficult or early memories. To develop empathy and confidence in our felt selves, Somatic Psychotherapy invites the body into the therapeutic process. Some ways the body can be brought into therapy involve working with breath, movement, self-touch, visualization or guided meditation.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing and EMDR are examples of somatic trauma therapies. Generative Somatics, Bodymind psychotherapy and Focusing are other somatic therapies.

Sometimes we realize that we’ve lost track of ourselves, feel inauthentic in our relationships, alienated from our own values or spontaneity. These therapeutic perspectives focus on taking action to be connected to yourself, the people, and the values that are important to you, even (especially!) in the midst of conflict and uncertainty.

Grounded in our own aliveness, we have more capacity to connect meaningfully with others. Questions of meaning and values, philosophical and spiritual dimensions of experience are welcome in the counselling room. Rather than merely talking about a problem, Gestalt and existential therapies focus on experiential encounters with change in the therapy session.

Trauma can impact us in profound and persistent ways. The non-verbal effects and can be difficult to pinpoint, let alone reason with. They include sudden intrusive thoughts, images or emotions; feeling numb, closed off or shut down; avoiding people or activities, finding ourselves overreacting with fear, anger or impulsive behavior.  It can feel like your emotional life fluctuates between feeling out-of-control and completely shut down. There can also be a deep feeling of shame and isolation. 

Trauma can originate in a single life-threatening event, but also emerges out of the chronic experience of being threatened or unsafe: experiencing or witnessing violence, neglect, abuse, poverty, war or discrimination.

Trauma-informed therapies understand that working with trauma means working with the body-mind, and taking care to help you feel empowered, safe and in charge of the process. We practice targeted methods to address trauma in the nervous system, informed by somatic trauma therapies like Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Polyvagal Theory.

We tell ourselves a lot of stories about what is wrong with us. Postmodern and feminist anti-oppressive approaches apply critical thinking to the social forces that influence the way we feel and see things. This approach identifies that many of the things we interpret as evidence of personal failure can instead be seen as forms of coping – or acts of resistance – to sickness in our culture. Rather than shame ourselves, we can claim the power to tell a different story, and to respond creatively to obstacles.

Postmodern and feminist therapies are based in an egalitarian and collaborative relationship between the counsellor and the client that focuses on what works: building on your strengths, your inherent wellness, and your capacity to find empowered responses to problems.

therapy expertise

some issues we work with

These are only some common things that bring people to therapy. Review our therapist profiles and use a no-cost introductory call to find out about your therapist’s skills and areas of expertise.

We can find ourselves having grown up learning limited tools for dealing with difficult emotions like anger, grief, or insecurity.  Sometimes life throws so much at us, our resources to cope become depleted. We may feel ourselves shutting down around the negative emotion, acting out impulsively, or overwhelmed. 

Anxiety and depression are related, and generally involve negative thoughts or feelings crowding out other things that are important to us, like our relationships, work, hobbies and health. When we are struggling with anxiety or depression, we may find that we are spending more and more of our time trying to manage our negative thoughts or feelings and less and less of our time engaged with other areas of life.

You may feel anxiety most in your body, in the form of tension, agitation, stress, difficulty sleeping, breathing, or other health issues. You could notice it more in the way you are thinking: worrying, obsessing, panic, procrastinating, difficulty in concentrating or making decisions. Emotionally, you may feel high strung or irritable. Sometimes it can be hard to notice anxiety, until you realize that you are missing out on things you value because you are trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings.

Depression may involve feelings of sadness, numbness, hopelessness, guilt, shame, or smoldering anger. You may find that your thoughts are stuck in a negative loop. You may have difficultly concentrating or making decisions. Physically, depression can involve changes in sleep, eating, intimacy, and a lack of energy or interest. You may find that you fluctuate from numbness to agitation and back again. You may be experiencing thoughts of self-harm. You may notice that you are retreating more and more from the things you care about and that your range of emotions is shrinking.

Psychotherapy provides a safe supportive environment to get closer to the difficult emotions, learn about them, and build compassionate habits of self-care that can transform the role emotions play in your life.

Trauma involves reactions that happen in our nervous system when we have survived or witnessed a life-threatening or deeply disturbing experience (or series of experiences). In response to trauma, our bodies and brains undergo changes designed to keep us safe. Unfortunately, the changes that evolved to protect us have troubling side effects. They leave us anxious and easily “triggered” into acting out or shutting down. We will experience unwanted flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive thoughts about the event(s). We may avoid activities and relationships and have difficulty connecting with ourselves and with others.

It can feel incredibly isolating, thinking that no one will want to hear about your experience or be able to understand it, feeling shame about it, frustrated that you can’t seem to “get over it and move on.” You may feel that something in your past experience or in your body needs attention, but not know how to approach it without being overwhelmed.

Recovery from trauma involves working with these physical and neurological reactions to gradually retrain the body-mind to feel safety and trust. Psychotherapy provides a safe environment and a safe relationship to do this. A trauma therapist will help you cope with the effects, and target the trauma that often underlies other issues including depression, anxiety, self-esteem or relationship problems.

In the face of racialized, discriminatory or sexual traumas, it is a revolutionary act to embody joy.

Living in a culture that surrounds us with judgment and exploits insecurity, we internalize these judgments in the way we learn to talk to ourselves. Inside of us are negative messages absorbed from our upbringing, education, media, bullies and ongoing microaggressions, perpetuating feelings of shame and self-doubt. This is especially the case when we have survived assault or abuse, or when we experience discrimination. 

While validating the harms we have experienced, it can be transformative to start responding differently to these thoughts, and actively practice self-kindness and self-trust. Psychotherapy can help you stay in contact with your goals while treating yourself with love and respect.

Change is a fact of life, and sometimes it is something we welcome with open arms. Often however, it can leave us in a lurch, confused about who we are and what we want, unsure, upset or angry about our choices, or lack of choice. We lose loved ones. We struggle when a relationship ends, when we experience a change in health or ability, a change in employment, or we when move to a new city or a new country. We will often struggle with what we tend to think of as “good” changes such as retirement or the birth of a child.

Life transitions will involve some grief, a period of uncertainty, and also a creative process – getting to know yourself again and nurturing a new identity.

Whether with partners, family members or others, relationships are powerful mirrors that show us where we excel and also where we feel most stuck, hurt, or confused. Relationships stir up questions of trust, power, identity, and life goals. They dare us to be vulnerable and also to develop and communicate our boundaries. One of our greatest human challenges is to negotiate conflict while maintaining loving respect for one other.

Therapy offers a unique environment where these questions can be addressed and these skills developed.

what to expect

It might not be easy to reach out for the first time. 
Here are some things to keep in mind about the purpose, process and cost of starting therapy.

When you are thinking about psychotherapy, you may not always have words for what you are feeling. You may feel stuck, be wrestling with troubling emotions or thoughts, or notice that you are having difficulty engaging with things that are important to you. These struggles may be coming up in relationships, around work, or making decisions. You may be feeling them most in the way you talk to yourself, or feel in your body.

As much as we may wish otherwise, these negative feelings are a normal part of human life. They are natural reactions to difficult circumstances, and are intelligent ways that we struggle to get through these circumstances.

Therapists use terms such as anxiety, depression, trauma, self-esteem, or grief to categorize common ways that human beings struggle.  We specialize in helping you recognize, understand, and work with these responses in order to navigate safely through them, and keep moving towards the things that are important to you.

Along with your struggles, you also come into therapy with all your unique strengths, connections, abilities, insights, values and creativity. These resources are where healing and growth can begin.  Therapy is also about supporting positive emotions, creativity, healthy relationships, curiosity, exploration and positive action.

There is evidence that psychotherapy is most effective when you feel like you have a good relationship with your therapist. An initial consultation can help you get a feel for whether a therapist is a good fit, and for the therapist to make sure that they have the right skills to meet your particular situation. A good therapist will refer you to someone with the right skills and experience if they don’t feel able to meet your needs.

You may also want to research different therapeutic approaches.  Read on this page about our overall approach as a clinic and common issues we work with.

When you first contact us, we will schedule an introductory telephone consultation. This will take about 10-20 minutes, where we will briefly go over what is bringing you to therapy, what you are looking for in a therapist and any other questions you have. We will also discuss fees and scheduling. There is no cost for this process.

As a second step, we will schedule an initial appointment, which is a time to get to know one another further. Your therapist will work to understand your situation and together you will collaborate on a plan for the focus and length of therapy. You will get a sense of how  the therapist will work with you and if that approach feels right.

You are entitled to information at any time about the cost, length and methods of therapy, and can of course end therapy at any time.

Our therapists have different rates based on experience, from $100-$180, see their profiles for rates. To make therapy more accessible, we have limited access to an affordable rate of $60 to those who would not be able to access therapy without financial relief.

Appointments are 50 minutes in length. Frequently people come to therapy once per week, but many choose an alternate schedule.

If you plan to use insurance, we do not do direct billing. Payment is due at the time of service and we will issue a receipt that can be used for your claim.

Please check whether your specific benefits plan covers services provided by Registered Psychotherapists. Psychotherapy can be provided by different mental health professionals, most commonly Psychologists, Social Workers and Registered Psychotherapists. Our therapists are Registered Psychotherapists (R.P.), with a Master’s level education.

R.P.s have an education entirely focused on the interpersonal art of psychotherapy.  R.P. (Qualifying) means that the psychotherapist is in the earlier part of their career and is required to practice with the support of an experienced supervisor.