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Forest Lake


Below is a snippet of some of the issues I work with and how I work with them.

A little topdown shot I took at one of W



Anxiety keeps us trapped in a loop of either feeling threatened or anticipating a threat that seems to be looming on the horizon. Many things can make us anxious depending on our personal history and what’s important to us today. We can have social anxiety, i.e. fear of being judged, panic disorder, separation anxiety, agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety, among others. Even though it’s our mind and body’s way of protecting us (from a perceived but usually non-existent or benign threat), it’s actually self-defeating: it becomes the reason we suffer.


There are so many tools and techniques to help us manage anxiety so that we feel more empowered in the face of anxious responses.  I always try to understand when and how anxiety began: what was going on in your life when you first remember feeling anxious about this particular theme? We want to get to know the anxious response inside out, including triggers and background. Equally important are ways of managing it. Some people respond really well to cognitive techniques, meaning reframing their thoughts. Others say their anxiety is more visceral, in which case managing the anxious reaction in the body is key. Your anxiety doesn’t have to take over you – we just need to understand it and to find the tools that work best for you.



Trauma can be caused by big, catastrophic events. It can also be caused by seemingly normal events that exceed our capacity to cope, often repeatedly, and no way of soothing ourselves. Trauma leads us to experience freeze reactions, as the body attempts to protect us through dissociation, numbness, and the mind going blank. This can be devastating because it robs us of the sense that we are in control of ourselves. When working with trauma, I strive to understand the context in which the trauma response developed. This can be in childhood or later in life. I also put strong emphasis on presenting and practicing tools to calm the body’s fear reaction. Learning that your body is safe, and finding ways to appease and soothe yourself is the ultimate goal.


The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel A. Van Kolk is a great resource for understanding trauma.

Image by Eveling Salazar
Image by Simone Hutsch



I completed a significant part of my internship in OCD and related disorders at the McGill University Health Center. Simply put, I have come to conceptualize obsessive-compulsive disorder as a way of trying to think or ritualize our way out of a feared, unwanted outcome. However, this doesn’t work, and the obsessions and compulsions themselves become the cause of significant distress. Moving away from urges to engage in obsessions and compulsions takes a lot of understanding and willpower yet is typically very effective, especially when combined with more adaptive ways of coping and feeling in control. This is what I focus on when treating OCD.



When we feel depressed, we can feel stuck in sadness, helplessness, and a pattern of avoidance or rumination. It can be very difficult to activate even around the smallest activities or meaningful goals. When working with depression, I focus on finding ways to activate in order to break the loop of avoidance and helplessness. I also strive to understand the factors that led to depression in the first place in order to best protect clients from re-living this in the future.

Image by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Image by Sakura



Self-esteem is a concept that is defined in different ways. It's often discussed based on our achievements, success, or appearance. When working on improving low self-esteem, I highlight the development of an accepting, compassionate stance towards the self that's not based on any external measure but rather as a default way of relating to yourself. Just like we wouldn't base the esteem of our loved ones on how they appear or what they've accomplished, we need to move away from this conditional relationship with ourselves. Gathering a history of our relationship with ourselves is a fundamental building block to understanding how we came to base it on something external. After that, the goal is to shift perspective. We feel much better when we give ourselves unconditional acceptance, warmth, kindness and empathy. I believe this is what true self-esteem is. This doesn't mean letting go of life goals or milestones, though. It's just the opposite. When we accept ourselves and let ourselves off the hook from self-criticism and evaluation, we tap into our motivation to go after things that we want precisely because we care for ourselves and want to seek positive change to improve our lives. 



Perfectionism makes us believe that who we are or what we do has no value unless the benchmark of perfection is achieved. Success/failure, black-and-white thinking is the lens creating tunnel vision that doesn't let us see our self-worth and instead leads to harsh judgment and self-criticism. Even though we may know, on a rational level, that perfection is unrealistic, we keep striving for it based on the hope that we'll somehow achieve it because we think this is the only way we can feel good about ourselves. To let go of this perfectionist system, we need to see our value outside of our performance and behaviours and treat ourselves as deserving of kindness and empathy in an unconditional way. This takes time and a radically different way of relating to ourselves based on acceptance and self-compassion. The approach I use with perfectionism is founded on these pillars.

Image by Resource Database
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