About Spenser Dougley

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So far Spenser Dougley has created 12 blog entries.

Health, Fear & Anxiety: The ‘Virus-Apocalypse’ Is Not Here

Coronavirus, H1N1, Ebola, SARS - all serious viruses that many people in the world have experienced, but are viruses that only most of us read about over the last 10 to 15 years. These are all viruses that received a mass amount of coverage in the media… Some factual, some semi-factual, some not factual at all. One fact that has not been reported on nearly as much as those that have created mass anxiety, hysteria, stigma and distorted/irrational thinking is that Coronavirus (and the other previously mentioned viruses) is NOT the end of the world as we know it. While many of us can consume news about the recent Coronavirus outbreak in China in a rational and non-fearful way, many of us cannot. There are a number of us who become fixated by the coverage and begin to take precautions (E.g. buying masks, disinfecting, excessive hand washing, etc.), but there are also those who develop what is known as ‘Health Anxiety.’ While ‘Health Anxiety’ is not listed as an official diagnoses in mental health ‘Bible,’ the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), what used to be known to the general public as ‘hypochondriasis’ or ‘hypochondria’ is now titled somatic symptom disorder and/or illness anxiety disorder. While Registered Psychotherapists, Social Workers and Counsellors are not permitted to diagnose in Ontario, the blanket term ‘health anxiety’ is often used and is, simply put, a condition in which certain people worry excessively about their health. For example, one can severely exaggerate the risk of having contracted, or soon contracting, a disease being heavily covered in the media like Coronavirus. Researchers and mental health professionals have known for some time that people judge risk based on a complex balance of emotion and deduction. More often than not, emotion wins the fight over deduction. Our instinctual reactions are very quick and automatic. Our immediate and instinctual reactions are beneficial in instances when the facts are not yet available… or there is not enough time to process the little that is known. Analytical reasoning is much slower and much more of a task for our brains. If we depended on analysis alone, decisions about risk would “paralyze us” (Carey, 2014, para. 13). In everyday life, the mind juggles the two methods of risk assessment. Research into this process, much of it completed by the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky, shows that our instinctual reactions “can alter how people gauge the odds in making a wide variety of presumably rational decisions,” such as investing our income to preparing for natural disasters (Carey, 2014, para. 14). When it comes to something like the Coronavirus, let’s say for the purpose of this article, the chance of infection is one in 120 million. Most people would not be overly concerned about contracting the virus and instead view this estimation as being, basically, a near zero chance of happening to them. BUT if a co-worker happens to mention that they know a friend of a friend [...]

By |2020-02-04T21:47:18+00:00February 4th, 2020|General|Comments Off on Health, Fear & Anxiety: The ‘Virus-Apocalypse’ Is Not Here

Post Partum Depression

Within the first 3-4 days of giving birth it is natural and common to experience something referred to as the “baby blues.” Signs you are experiencing the “baby blues” might include being, weepy, irritable, overwhelmed and tired and you may notice changes in your appetite. The “baby blues” should lift within a few days as your hormones settle and you adapt to the changes of having a new baby to care for. If you find that these symptoms don’t shift and last for weeks or months, you may be suffering from Post-Partum Depression. As a new mother, you may feel extremely overwhelmed and think that you are unable to handle motherhood, this can lead to feelings of guilt and even make you wonder if your baby might be better off without you. If crying has become a regular part of your day and you find yourself feeling, sad, confused scared, or maybe even feeling nothing at all, you may be experiencing Post-Partum depression. Another sign to watch for is not being able to sleep at all, or sleeping so much that you can’t get things done. Signs of depression can often be missed in new mothers because significant changes in sleeping, interests, energy, mood and body weight are all considered normal in new motherhood. If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms it is important that you reach out for help from your medical doctor, midwife or a trained mental health professional. You are not alone and this is not your fault.     Brant Mental Health Solutions is fortunate to have Registered Social Worker, Shelley Hall, on our team. Shelley has experience in working with women who are experiencing Post-Partum Mood Disorders and will be facilitating a support group this Spring in Paris, Ontario.

By |2020-01-27T20:37:13+00:00January 27th, 2020|General|Comments Off on Post Partum Depression

First Responders and Unresolved Grief

Those who work in law enforcement, EMS, fire, air medical, ER, etc. are all very familiar with the complexities of witnessing trauma on a daily basis.  These caring and hardworking first responders provide us with much-needed public safety and support.  Unfortunately, many of these individuals overlook their personal reactions or do not have the necessary tools to process and heal their own feelings of grief which results from their chosen careers. I can’t begin to imagine the rush of emotions which must flood first responders after an emergency call.  They often find themselves in horrible situations where loss is sudden and unexpected.  Without proper tools to work through the situations, they do what we all have been taught to do when grieving: suppress emotions; pretend to be strong for others; and wait for time to make everything feel better. For many, when time doesn’t ease the pain of suffering, the next strategy is to stay busy and replace the feelings of loss with something else.  While time may be filled with such things as alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, or whatever distract us, or helps us hide, from the feelings we do not wish to face, the healing remains unsuccessful. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to an emotional loss of any kind and first responders have additional losses the general public may never encounter: the death of a patient; the inability to find an abducted child; watching the results of a disabling car accident; or being unable to extinguish a house fire while the residents remain inside.  Without a way to diffuse the emotional triggers, memories of these incidents can lead to nightmares and years of anxiety. Grief can also be the change in something which was familiar; Perhaps a work partner dies, there is a reassignment to another team, a promotion is won or loss, or a retirement transpires. All of these daily situations can create feelings of loss. Feeling grief is normal and natural. Unfortunately, it is society’s reaction to loss which can make us feel uncomfortable with the emotions we are experiencing.  In the workplace, most corporate policies provide us with a few days to deal with the trauma or death of a loved one.  Within this short time we are expected to put the pain behind us and come back to work in a functioning manner. The Grief Recovery Method® (GRM) was designed by grievers for grievers.  It is an alternative to traditional therapy and is, at its core, an educational program.  Participants identify the losses they feel are incomplete or those which have been left unfinished.  Once identified they are taught a simple, yet effective, four step process to complete these emotions in order to actually “set these memories down”. As human beings we want to finish the story we have experienced. Many times, in finishing the story, we also attempt to rewrite the ending.  Our mind enumerates over and over the “would have”, “should have”, and “could have” scenarios looking to complete the [...]

By |2020-01-21T19:47:56+00:00January 21st, 2020|General|Comments Off on First Responders and Unresolved Grief

Grief During The Holidays

Grief During the Holiday Season Are you or someone you know experiencing grief? This article is to help you understand how to help yourself heal during the holiday season, or how to support someone you know who is grieving over the holidays. First, it is important to know that the experience of grief and mourning is different for everyone. No two people will experience the same loss in the same way. For some people, the grief they experience feels unbearable. Holidays can heighten this feeling. I hope the information that is provided in this article will be a supportive aid as this holiday season approaches. There is often pressure on grieving individuals (either internally, or from others) to put aside their sadness and hurt and be full of joy and thanksgiving. However, memories of the loved one resurface during events where the loved one would have been. While this information was designed for people whose loved one has died, grief happens whenever you lose something. An individual may be feeling grief after moving to a new city and not being able to connect with friends or family, they may also feel grief after losing a pet, or after being diagnosed with a critical illness, and this list can go on. Therefore, if you feel like you are grieving something other than a loved one, the information in this article can still be helpful. What does grief look like? Common initial feelings of grief: Shock, denial, disbelief, numbness Common feelings and experiences: Anger, guilt, regret, blame, sadness, depression, panic, fear, worry, relief, confusion, doubt, questioning one’s faith, changes in sleep. This list does not cover all the emotions and experiences one may have when grieving. Thinking that you do not want to go one with life is normal, but thinking about suicide is not. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately by going to your hospital’s emergency room, or talk to a therapist, doctor, or crisis support line. St. Leonard’s 24 Hour Mental Health Crisis Line: 519-759-7188 or toll free: 1-866-811-7188 Are you grieving? Here are some reminders during this upcoming holiday. Love does not end with death. Our society wants you to join in the holiday spirit, but it may not feel that easy for you. Remember to be compassionate with yourself as you heal. Do what is right for you during the holidays. As you become aware of your needs, share them with trusted people. Talk about your grief and about the person who has died. Your pain will not go away by avoiding talking about your feelings and memories. Find supportive and comforting family or friends who will listen to you without judgment. If you include the person’s name in conversation, others are more likely to recognize your need to remember them as an important part of your life. If faith or spirituality is an important part of your life, find people who are respectful of your need to talk about this part of your [...]

By |2019-12-05T20:55:10+00:00December 5th, 2019|General|Comments Off on Grief During The Holidays

My Child Is In Therapy and It Feels Like My Fault

I debated writing this article for a while, the title alone probably tells you why. We feel so much guilt as parents, whether we should or not is another topic, but the fact of the matter is some of us go over every decision we have made in our child’s life and agonize over what we could have done better. Earlier this month I found myself sitting in the waiting room of a mental health clinic, and not as the owner this time, but as the mother of a child who desperately needed help. A big part of my job is to educate people about mental health and to advocate for those with mental health disorders, and their families. I tell people that they shouldn’t feel bad for what is going on, and that it isn’t any one’s fault. But there I was, my heart racing, palms sweating and feeling like I had let my child down again. Should I have noticed sooner that things weren’t right? Did I ignore big red flags because of meetings and laundry and my other kids and packing lunches? Am I that wrapped up in everything that needs to be done that I’m not seeing what is going on right in front of me? That negative little voice inside was working double time during that counselling session, telling me everything I didn’t do right, going back years and picking over every mistake. Why do we do that to ourselves? When asking myself if I am the best mother, the obvious and truthful answer is no. None of us are. But I know these things for a fact: 1. I love my kids more than I could ever really put into words, 2. I work hard to provide them with what they need, 3. I am proactive about their health and try to make sure they are getting everything they need, 4. I listen when they tell me they have a problem. 5. I enjoy my time with them and am always looking to have quality time with each of them. If there are other parents out there reading this, and they are noticing things about their child’s mood or behaviour, the prevailing feeling is probably fear (it was for me.) No one wants to acknowledge or accept that something might be wrong with their child. The second feeling is that worry that you did something wrong. My daughter didn’t have the ideal childhood. I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant with her, and her father and I had only met a few short months earlier. I’m not ashamed to share this anymore because it is a part of my story, and I have never for one moment regretted the birth of my first child. Needless to say, the relationship was not healthy, loving or stable and I spent 4 years trapped in a cycle of power and control, which unfortunately, my daughter witnessed. Becoming a single mother, obviously had its [...]

By |2019-10-22T20:34:00+00:00October 22nd, 2019|General|Comments Off on My Child Is In Therapy and It Feels Like My Fault


How do I make an appointment? You can email us or call us at 519-302-2300 to speak to a receptionist. The receptionist will ask you general information questions regarding the support you are looking for. This will help them pair you with a counsellor/therapist who is trained to work with the issues you would like support with. They will then book you with an appointment that works for you. You can also request a free 15 minute face-to-face consult with your counsellor/therapist first. What can I expect during my first visit? Reaching out for help is not always easy and we want to make the process as simple as possible. When you arrive, our receptionist will greet you and have you fill out a form with basic information and sign a confidentiality agreement. You will then pay. Your therapist will bring you into their office and you will get to know each other. The therapist will go over the confidentiality and privacy agreement. You can ask your therapist any questions you have. You will create a goal(s) to work on. At the end, your therapist will bring you to reception to book another appointment. How much will it cost? Our fees range from $100-140, per session depending on which service you need. Each client is given a customized treatment plan so the total cost depends on each individuals needs. If you have extended health care benefits, reach out to your provider to find out how much they cover and what type of professionals they cover. Unfortunately, our services are not covered by OHIP. Can anyone call and ask if I am attending therapy? No, unless you have provided written permission, we cannot confirm or deny that you are a client at Brant Mental Health Solutions. Your privacy is importance to us. What happens if my therapist is not a good fit? Although we try to fit you with a therapist who is best suited to work with the issues you are seeking therapy for, sometimes there are reasons you and your therapist do not connect. If this happens, you can call us and we will see which therapist may be a better fit. What forms of payments do you take? Fees are paid before each session at the reception desk. We accept cash, debit, Mastercard and Visa. WHAT IF I HAVE TO CANCEL AN APPOINTMENT? If you need to cancel an appointment, please call 519-302-2300 to speak with a receptionist. The receptionist can also reschedule a new appointment for you at that time. To avoid paying a session fee for a cancelled appointment, please provide 24 hours prior notice.

By |2019-09-26T18:58:41+00:00September 26th, 2019|General|Comments Off on FAQ

Walk-in Counselling Starting September 27th

Single Session Walk-In Counselling Clinic On Friday, September 27 th from 3-6 p.m, counsellor and coach Jordon Iorio, will be offering a single session walk-in counselling clinic at Brant Mental Health Solutions (139 Grand River Street North, Paris). The purpose of this single session clinic is to provide: * Solution-focussed counselling * Coping strategies * Information on how to navigate the mental health system * Problem solving skills * Safety planning * Healthy lifestyle advice * Conflict management techniques * Stress reduction suggestions * Self care techniques This clinic is available to anyone 14 years of age or older. People will be seen in the order they arrive, and will be assessed individually by our counsellor. After the single session, recommendations will be made, and our counsellor may refer you to other services and organizations within our community in order for you to receive the most appropriate care for your situation. Registration begins at 2.30 p.m. on September 27 th , sessions will be 30 minutes long and will cost $40. Make sure to arrive as early as possible to fill out your intake form and get a session while they last! More about Jordon: Jordon has a background as a clinician (counsellor/clinical therapist), and has also worked in vocational rehabilitation and career coaching/consulting. He holds a Master of Arts in Counselling from Yorkville University and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons. Double Major – Social Sciences) from Wilfrid Laurier University. Jordon aims to soon register with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and specialize in helping clients’ experiencing anxiety and depression.

By |2019-09-04T20:16:23+00:00September 4th, 2019|General|Comments Off on Walk-in Counselling Starting September 27th

Thanks for coming to our Grand Opening.

  On Saturday January 26th, Brant Mental Health Solutions, officially opened in Paris. Located at 139 Grand River Street North, this new mental health clinic offers, counselling, play therapy, sand therapy, art therapy, speech therapy and psychology services. Dr. Spenser and Amy Dougley are the founders of Brant Mental Health Solutions and Brant Wellness and Rehab and felt that mental health services were much needed in Brant County. After one of their children was diagnosed with a mental health disorder, they realized there was nowhere equipped to deal with childhood mental health in the area, and that the wait lists for help were far too long. They also felt that there wasn’t adequate support for the families and loved ones who are caring for those struggling with mental health disorders. Brant Mental Health Solutions is set up to care for people of all ages and will be a resource to the community through workshops and seminars. The Grand Opening Celebration was attended by many people from the Brantford and Brant County Communities and the official ribbon cutting ceremony took place with both the Mayor of Brant County (David Bailey) and the Mayor of Brantford (Kevin Davis), as well as MPP Will Bouma and Ward Counsellor Marc Laferriere. Dr. Spenser and Amy Dougley feel thankful to be a part of the Brant County Community and are hoping to prevent other families from facing the challenges of mental health alone. www.brantmentalhealth.com 519.302.2300 Facebook @Brant Mental Health Solutions amy@brantmentalhealth.com Left to right: Dr. Spenser Dougley, Ward Counsellor Marc Laferriere (with Finn), Amy Dougley, MPP Will Bouma, Mayor David Bailey, Mayor Kevin Davis, Margaret McRobert. The team of mental health care practitioners at Brant Mental Health Solutions. Family activities at the Grand Opening Celebration!

By |2019-01-29T14:20:58+00:00January 28th, 2019|General|Comments Off on Thanks for coming to our Grand Opening.