YOU ARE WELCOME HERE:
In my practice, you are welcome here. Whether your background and how you identify yourself is the same as me, or different … you are welcome.
Regardless of your race, your ethnic background, your religion (or lack thereof), what country you are from (or your family is from), your sexual orientation, your gender, how you identify yourself (or how you choose not to identify yourself) … you are welcome in my practice.
In our work together, I promise to do my best to understand you, so you feel safe, seen and heard. If there is something I don’t understand—because your background and identity are different from mine—I will ask you. And if I don’t ask, and it feels important to you, I invite you to please tell me.
My commitment to diversity and inclusivity is grounded in the understanding that one’s own search for freedom is ultimately tied to the freedom of each one of us. The barriers that separate and divide us only serve to create pain and suffering. Nowhere in this Universe does true separation exist. The knowing that we are all intimately connected guides my commitment to dissolving the barriers between us.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
∼ Audre Lorde
MY PSYCHOTHERAPY APPROACHES:
Excerpt taken from Dynamic Attachment Re-patterning & Experience website: www.dianepooleheller.com
Everyone can attain deeper connection, meaning, and passion in adult relationships by working to heal early attachment wounds or disruptions. Unconscious dynamics block our capacity for intimacy, but they can be overcome to achieve better communication, trust and closeness. Early patterns developed within our families may obscure our innate ability to bond and result in an “insecure attachment style”.
Our wounds can be healed and our body has a biological, intrinsic predisposition for healthy attachment that can be re-activated and brought back online. We are all inherently hardwired to heal – we have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma and unleash the core aliveness we all possess.
Attachment re-patterning can help you to:
- Identify how over-coupling dynamics between early childhood “family of origin” attachment patterns may play out in adult relationships.
- Understand your predominant attachment style.
- Resolve fixed attachment patterns.
- Return to healthy Secure Attachment by repairing and healing early bonding wounds.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) uses a variety of techniques and draws from a number of different approaches to therapy. CBT involves bringing attention to thoughts and behaviours and modifying or reframing them to create a different experience or shift perspective.
Christine rarely uses CBT techniques as a stand-alone approach to therapy. Typically, Christine will use CBT techniques to increase awareness, as an educational tool, or in conjunction with other approaches to enhance their effectiveness.
An important point to note, is that CBT is based on the premise that a person’s presenting issues are a result of dysfunctional thinking. Christine does not support this belief, and rather, supports the notion that our thinking arises for a number of reasons, all which are understandable and make sense based on a person’s past experience. Christine’s experience has led her to understand that thinking is rarely the root of a problem, but instead, is merely another symptom. Bringing awareness to thoughts can be helpful, but typically, thoughts, beliefs and perspectives shift as a response to more intrinsic work being done on the level of the emotions and the nervous system.
Emotionally-Focused Therapy for Couples
Excerpt taken from The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) website: www.iceeft.com
As an approach to couples therapy, EFT is usually short term (8-20 sessions). It was formulated in the 1980’s and has developed alongside the science on adult attachment and bonding to expand our understanding about what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists. In the last fifteen years, Dr. Johnson and her colleagues have further developed and refined the model and completed numerous studies. EFT is also used with families and individuals. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. For more information on EFT research, please see the EFT Research Menu. The major contraindication for EFT is on-going abuse in the relationship. EFT is being used with many different kinds of couples in private practice, university training centres and hospital clinics and many different cultural groups throughout the world. These distressed couples include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness.
Emotionally-Focused Therapy for Individuals
Excerpt taken from Emotion-Focused Therapy Clinic website: www.emotionfocusedclinic.org
Emotion-focused Therapy (EFT) is a unique empirically-based approach, based on methods designed to help people accept, express, regulate, make sense of and transform emotion.
Most fundamentally, emotions tell us what is important to us in a situation and thus act as a guide to what we need or want. This, in turn, helps us to figure out what actions are appropriate. Emotions are basically adaptive and guide attachment as well as the tendency toward growth. EFT focuses on helping people become aware of and express their emotions, learn to tolerate and regulate them, reflect on them to make sense of them and transform them. Learning about emotions is not enough; instead, what is needed is for clients to experience those emotions as they arise in the safety of the therapy session, where they can discover for themselves the value of greater awareness and more flexible management of emotions. Emotion-focused therapy systematically but flexibly helps clients become aware of and make productive use of their emotions.
EFT works on the basic principle that to change, people cannot leave a place until they have arrived. Clients therefore need to reclaim disowned experience before they can be changed by or change that experience. In this process, it is not that people simply discover things they did not know but rather that they become aware of and experience aspects of themselves they have not consciously felt or may have previously disclaimed, dismissed, or pushed away.
Based on emotion, attachment, and growth theory, EFT helps people identify which of their emotions they can trust and rely on as adaptive guides and which of their emotions are residues of painful memories that have become maladaptive to the person’s current context and need to be changed. With the help of the therapist’s empathic understanding and the use of experiential methods, clients learn how to make healthy contact with feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations that have been ignored or feared and avoided. By accessing adaptive emotions such as healthy grief, empowering anger, and compassion, people are able to use these as resources to transform maladaptive emotions such as fear, sadness of abandonment and shame of inadequacy that have developed from past negative learning or traumatic experiences.
Excerpt adapted from Centre for Mindfulness website: www.umassmed.edu/cfm
Mindfulness is the intention to pay attention to each and every moment of our life, non-judgmentally. It is a practice of present moment awareness which increases our ability to see things as they arise clearly without judgment. While there are many possible definitions, the key aspects of any definition of mindfulness involve purposeful action, focused attention, grounded in the current experience, and held with a sense of curiosity. Mindfulness facilitates both focusing and widening our attention as we become aware of ourselves and the world around us. The “goal” is to be more fully present in our lives and the direct benefit is living our lives in this moment with awareness instead of “on automatic pilot” or solely in the past or future.
Practitioners of mindfulness often report greater joy for the simple things in life. We begin to realize that there is more “right” with us than “wrong” with us as we become more engaged in our lives. Many of the side effects of mindfulness meditation found in scientific research include decrease in psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression as well as greater stability in physical symptoms such as blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
Excerpt adapted from Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (SETI) website: www.traumahealing.com
Trauma occurs anytime a defensive bodily reaction fails to keep us feeling safe and prevent us from being harmed. Something that might completely overwhelm one person, might not affect another person. Examples of traumatic events include falls, car accidents, electrocution, fevers, poisoning, minor medical procedures, surgery, strangulation, suffocation, drowning, witnessing or experiencing violence, war trauma, natural disasters, sexual violation, torture, childbirth, abandonment, early deprivation or neglect, loss of a loved one, and financial loss.
Defensive reactions naturally occur to defend against a perceived source of threat, but when these responses are incomplete, they become habitual responses to non-threatening situations, resulting in feelings of shame, defeat, and humiliation. This results in keeping people stuck in the past and disconnected from the present moment. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.When we experience an overwhelming event, a person may become “stuck” in the fight, flight, freeze, or collapse response. SE provides a gentle and effective way of resolving these fixated states.
Trauma may begin as acute stress from a perceived life-threat or as the end product of cumulative stress. Both types of stress can seriously impair a person’s ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, birth trauma, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
SE teaches that trauma is not caused by the event itself, but rather develops through the failure of the body, psyche, and nervous system to process adverse events.
In his studies, Dr. Levine found that prey animals in the wild are rarely traumatized despite routine threats to their lives. Yet human beings are readily traumatized. Since humans and other animals possess nearly identical brain- and body-based survival mechanisms, Dr. Levine worked to identify what was interfering with the human threat-recovery process, and to develop tools for restoring people’s innate capacity to rebound following overwhelming experiences.
All mammals automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Under threat, massive amounts of energy are mobilized in readiness for self-defense via the fight, flight, and freeze responses. Once safe, animals spontaneously “discharge” this excess energy through involuntary movements including shaking, trembling, and deep spontaneous breaths. This discharge process resets the ANS, restoring equilibrium.
Although humans are similarly designed to rebound from high-intensity survival states, we also have the problematic ability to rationalize, judge, shame ourselves, make ourselves ‘wrong’, and experience fear of our bodily sensations, which may disrupt our innate capacity to self-regulate. When the nervous system does not reset after an overwhelming experience, sleep, cardiac, digestion, respiration, and immune system function can be seriously disturbed. Unresolved physiological distress can also lead to an array of other physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.
SE facilitates the completion of self-protective responses and the release of excess energy bound in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This is approached by gently guiding clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
SE does not require the traumatized person to re-tell or re-live the traumatic event. Instead, it offers the opportunity to engage, complete, and resolve—in a slow and supported way—the body’s instinctual fight, flight, freeze, and collapse responses. Individuals experiencing anxiety or rage then relax into a growing sense of peace and safety. Those stuck in depression gradually find their feelings of hopelessness and numbness transformed into empowerment, triumph, and mastery. SE provides an opportunity for corrective bodily experiences that contradict those of fear and helplessness. This resets the nervous system, restores inner balance, enhances resilience to stress, and increases people’s vitality, equanimity, and capacity to actively engage in life.
Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology
Yorkville University | 2015
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Queen’s University | 2002
Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association (CCPA)
Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) | 2016
College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)
Registered Psychotherapist (RP) | 2016
Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) & Assistant
Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute | 2016
Strategic Intervention Coach
Robbins-Madanes Centre for Strategic Intervention | 2014
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Core Skills Advanced Training
Cambridge | 2017 | Gail Palmer & Marlene Best
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Externship
Toronto | 2015 | Sue Johnson & Gail Palmer
ADDITIONAL TRAINING & EXPERIENCE
EFT’s Attachment Injury Resolution Model (AIRM):
A Path Beyond Forgiveness: Repairing Broken Bonds and Rebuilding Trust
Toronto | 2016 | Lorrie Brubacher
Emotionally Focused Family Therapy: Restoring family bonds and promoting resilience
Toronto | 2016 | Gail Palmer
Attachment Mastery Program
Online | 2015 | Diane Poole Heller
Emotionally Focused Therapy: Stage 2 Training
Toronto | 2015 | Marlene Best & Kathryn Rheem
Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training
Barrie | 2014 | Canadian Mental Health Association
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Barrie | 2014 | Center for Inner Freedom
The Hoffman Quadrinity Process | 2012
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Live the Light of Yoga
Arizona, Texas & Australia | 2013 | Christine Sell & Darren Rhodes
500-hour Yoga Teacher Training with School Yoga Institute
Guatemala | 2011 | Vedantin Ping Lao
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Gaiatri Yoga
Alberta & B.C. | 2011 | Ally Bogard
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with School of Santhi
India | 2007 | Swami Santhi Prasad
STUDIES ABOUT ONLINE THERAPY:
Landau, E. (2009). Therapy online: good as face to face?: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/31/online.internet.therapy.cbt/
Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions.: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15228830802094429
Cook, J. E., & Doyle, C. (2004). Working Alliance in Online Therapy as Compared to Face-to-Face Therapy: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/109493102753770480