I Get it .. I really Do.
One can only wonder if my career path would have been different had my friend not been diagnosed with a mental illness. My interest in the field of mental health peaked as a teenager as a result of assisting my friend through mood swings and visiting him in the mental hospital. This experience opened my eyes to a lot of things and influenced my decision to enter the helping professions.
.. I've been there, too.
I began my professional journey armed with a Diploma in Psychiatric Nursing from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1975. Right from the start I worked with the most difficult populations beginning with 5 years in a forensic psychiatric unit. Over the next 13 years I worked with adults, adolescents and families in out-patient units and in mental health centers. These experiences were instrumental in helping me to understand people, the different struggles we have and the different ways we suffer.
My work in these varied psychiatric settings also exposed me to the medical model of working with psychological problems and difficulties. This was essentially a combination of using medications along with Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy methods. While I could see these modalities were useful in some respects, they also clearly had their limitations. The focus of the medical model is on resolving the problem or symptom versus looking at the person’s whole life, (mind, body and spirit) which allows for deeper healing and growth.
Looking at the person’s whole life allows for deeper healing and growth.
Becoming a Counsellor
“The place of emotional well-being is complete self-acceptance.”
— Daniel Metzger
Eventually I took classes in psychology and then obtained a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller Seminary in 1983. Yet my thirst for knowledge was not complete. I wanted to deepen my understanding of the complexity of human psychological suffering and ended up studying Gestalt, Existential, Jungian, and Holotrophic Breath Work. I also continued with my own therapy. With these skills and experiences I then opened up my own private psychotherapy practice in Nelson, British Columbia in 1993.
The pivotal piece of my own therapy and training has been the study of Modern Analytic Psychotherapy (MAT), which I started to study in 1993 from Dr. Ellen Wright Phd. It has allowed me to integrate the many therapeutic modalities I had studied and used under one overarching roof or context so to speak. With MAT I gained an understanding of how to work progressively with the reality of the unconscious mind, which tends to protect as well as undermine us. Through my studies, I began to see real benefits in my own life as well as my clients. A way was provided to see the bigger picture of the nuances of each person’s unique life context rather than focusing on only one aspect of the person and their problem.
Working under Dr. Wright with a group of seasoned therapists has been a genuine inspiration. It has equipped me to embark on some serious and enriching journeys with those clients who have come to realize that there is sometimes no quick fix and that a longer-term therapeutic relationship can be an ongoing source of real enrichment.