Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
During individual therapy, you learn about yourself and identify problems that are interfering with your life and relationships. The therapist will help you understand your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviours.
Therapy helps you learn how to improve your well-being, learn from mistakes, resolve conflict, reduce anxiety, manage stress, deal with life changes (separation, loss, job challenges, infertility), recover from trauma, take control of your life and deal with challenging situations in a less reactive manner and develop healthy coping skills. Most importantly therapy can help you understand how fear (anxiety) holds you back with fears of vulnerability (fear of not being good enough).
Couples seek help for a variety of reasons such as: the inability to communicate, issues of disagreement, parenting, conflict, intimacy and sexual relationships, infidelity, change, finances or substance use. Couples can benefit from improving connection by learning to listen and communicate, and by solving problems rather than minimizing or avoiding. By discussing problems in helpful, constructive ways you can resolve conflict, strengthen your relationship and become closer again.
Couple counselling isn’t about taking sides between partners. The relationship is what needs to be focused on with understanding, openness and nurturing. It’s about learning what works in relationships to create strong emotional connections with teamwork, increased intimacy, and increased empathy, honesty and openness in communication. Secrets destroy relationships.
Family therapy can help family members improve relationships with better and open communication and conflict resolution. The focus is on interactions and communication between family members. Family therapy can help improve parenting, relationships, communication, problems solving between parents and children or other family members, and family connection. Family therapy can help family members cope if a family member has a serious mental or physical illness, if the family is faced with separation, transitioning to blended families, change, stress, grief, anger or conflict. The presenting problem may be a concern from or about one or more family members. It can help you and your family members to hear and understand one another better and learn coping skills to bring you closer together.
Family therapy provides a safe space to discuss difficult topics, feelings and situations and helps family members understand each other. It can help families stop blaming each other and begin exploring how everyone can work together to make positive changes. It can help people understand the impact of their words and behaviours on others.
Working with the family is recommended when one person is contributing to another’s difficulties, when one person’s problems impact other family members or when people have different positions on issues that give rise to conflict or withdrawal.
Art and Play Therapy
The therapeutic use of play is primarily used to help children ages 5 to 12 explore their lives and express thoughts and emotions through play. Play is the modality children relate to and express themselves most easily rather than talk therapy. Therapeutic play normally takes place in a safe, comfortable playroom, encouraging free expression and allowing the therapist to observe the child’s choices, decisions and play style.
The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways and discover more positive ways to solve problems. Play therapy helps children with social or emotional challenges learn to communicate better, change their behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and relate to others in positive ways. It is useful for children undergoing or witnessing upsetting events in their lives, such as a serious illness or hospitalization, family separation, family conflict, loss, peer issues, trauma, family crises, anxiety, ADD or learning problems.
Working with children also includes working with parents. Parents may be included in play therapy sessions or separately to help the family understand what the child is experiencing and how to support their child.
Art therapy is useful for adults as well as children and youth. Art therapy focuses on the creative art process rather than the product focusing on self-awareness, understanding and change. Our creative thinking helps us solve problems. Using art as a modality can be a way to help with the expression of difficult feelings. The saying is that a picture says a thousand words, so images can show what an individual might not be able to in words. Art making isn’t limited to drawing or painting. It can be making things from construction paper, using glue, photography, fabric, sand, and objects, finger painting, clay and construction, or paper mache.
Art Therapy is making art for a purpose. The therapist helps the client establish goals and direction to work on through art. It is art as a means of expression that can be more non-verbal or an adjunct to verbal communication. Art therapy is not about analyzing the art to find hidden meaning. Art is like a mirror for the artist can be a means of self-reflection and self-awareness. Clients discover their own meaning.
An individual does not need to be technically good at art to benefit from art therapy. In fact, sometimes someone who is really skilled in the technical side of art can focus so much on doing a good job with the product that the process is not noticed. Other artists see how much of themselves are in the art so they may both appreciate the process but also feel vulnerable.
The therapeutic use of creating scenes in a specially designed sand tray can be extremely useful in both art and play therapy. This approach is helpful as it is visual and tactile without having to draw or make anything as the small figures and objects are already made. This includes a collection of animals, people, stones, bridges, shells, fences, houses and trees (to name a few). It is inviting to adults as well as children, and brings out creative thinking.
Telehealth and E-mail Therapy
Telehealth is the provision of therapy remotely by means of telecommunications technology. This utilizes a video conferencing platform such as Skype or Zoom. Doxy.me is the platform used here as it is a secure platform and doesn’t require clients to download an APP. Clients are provided with a link to put in their browser at the time of the scheduled appointment. It is the same link every time which makes it easy.
Individual, couple and family therapy can all be provided effectively via telehealth. Patricia Roles and her family therapy colleagues in the Eating Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital developed the use of teleconferencing to help families with eating disorders across BC when they weren’t able to be at the hospital during a child’s hospitalization. Patricia presented workshops on Family Therapy via Telehealth for various professional audiences including the Academy for Eating Disorders in Boston.
Patricia has extensive experience offering therapy via e-mail as she was a pioneer in developing therapy via email over 20 years ago. It is an easily accessible, cost effective, time efficient, way to access a professional from your own home at whatever time of day works for you. It can be particularly convenient if you travel or have a hectic life without time to think until the end of the day when your home is quiet. It is also accessible for those who may find it challenging to leave the house, or for those who do not live near specialized counselling services. Some individuals engaged in face-to-face therapy choose email or video conferencing as alternatives when travelling. E-therapy is not suitable for everyone’s needs. It is not intensive therapy. It is not suitable for diagnosing or treating psychiatric illness.
It is not an effective means of responding to crises such as: suicidal feelings, homicidal feelings, abuse, trauma, or acute psychiatric symptoms. Some individuals find the anonymity of email allows them to open up more readily than in face-to-face contact. These people often get to the main problem more quickly. Therapy via e-mail requires a comfort in writing a modality for expression. Some individuals prefer to express themselves in writing as collecting thoughts by composing an e-mail brings critical thinking. Reflection promotes clarity. Writing about your dilemmas brings a therapeutic release in and of itself. Writing allows expression of feelings and ideas. Writing makes problems tangible and concrete as they become more visible in print. Critical thinking generates new ideas and potential solutions when you feel stuck.
The response to your email will include feedback through comments and questions to help you explore the problems more fully and to promote self-awareness, self-reflection and potential solutions. Questions and comments will be designed to help you express yourself, look at factors that precipitated or perpetuate the problem, how the problem got a grip on your life to become familiar and safe, how the problem has been an attempt to cope, and how to build on your strengths to find new possibilities for the future. Email responses are usually within 24 to 48 hours with the occasional exception to 72 hours. To proceed with email therapy, you make your payment via the Paypal link on this site, and then send the email to Patricia Roles at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindfulness means focusing and sustaining attention on the present moment. It is about developing awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, through all your senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. If you watch little children, they focus on the present moment and pick up the rock to touch at their feet or point at the bird flying by. By the time we reach adulthood, we are taught to focus more on the future and have to re-train ourselves to notice the present moment. Every person has this innate capacity to develop present tense awareness: to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive to what’s going on around us.
Mindfulness involves accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Our self-critical thoughts can easily interfere and pull our thoughts away from the present moment. Mindfulness is a skill that helps to alleviate anxiety and depression because anxiety (fear) is always about future thinking and depression often involves thinking about regrets about the past. Mindfulness skills can benefit us in everyday life activities to be more present in communication with others and enjoying the moment. Mindfulness can be formalized into mindfulness meditation where you may develop sitting practices to provide time each day to calm your mind and body. Mindful eating and walking are other ways to utilize mindfulness to enrich your life experiences and fully take in the world.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness meditation entered the mainstream in recent years largely based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. He developed Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. This led to thousands of studies that documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular. This inspired programs to adapt mindfulness programs for schools, prisons, hospitals and treatment centres. More recently therapists have added to mindfulness meditation in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Patricia includes teaching mindfulness skills in individual therapy. She also teaches a weekly Mindfulness Meditation Class at Santosha: Yoga, Meditation and Fitness, In New Westminster BC and has online 30 minute classes through the website at: www.santoshanewwest.ca.
Patricia’s newest publication is a book entitled: Twilight Journeys focuses the reader on the present moment through mindfulness. It is a book of mindfulness-based guided imagery stories with beautiful nature photography designed to be read to children or youth to help them relax and fall asleep. Adults have also found it useful. Twilight Journeys can be found on the Publications Page on this site.