What is EMDR? EMDR is a powerful therapeutic approach originally developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It is an evidenced-based approach that has been highly researched over the course of many years. The acronym EMDR stands for ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing’. What sounds like a complicated approach is actually a very gentle and ‘organic’ approach to reprocessing trauma, and other difficult situations that emerge in life such as depression and anxiety. EMDR is considered the ‘gold standard’ of treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as well as for traumatic situations in general including ongoing traumatic situations that are complex, as well as for developmental traumas. It is also used to address various other issues ranging from anxiety to depression to issues emerging from ADHD. A great deal of research has been done which offers evidence for the efficacy of this treatment approach. When speaking with clients, I often characterize it as a ‘gentle’ process because fundamentally, I am asking clients to simply relax and notice their own responses as we go through the process. We focus on helping them to become aware of their own body sensations (ie chest tightening, lump in throat, body tension etc), emotions and thoughts in the moment, as we process the targeted memory or situation. The process relies on something called ‘bilateral stimulation’ to encourage the client’s brain to begin to adaptively process the situation/memory/emotion. How can this possibly work when some therapists are only offering EMDR online? For the past two years in particular, as we have all been faced with COVID-19, many therapists have offered EMDR through online video meetings. There are several ways that this can be done effectively. The two most common ways that I use are either to simply have clients track my fingers visually as I move them from side to side on the screen or alternatively to employ the ‘butterfly tapping’ method which has a client crossing their arms or hands in front of themselves and then tapping from side to side. These ways of facilitating the ‘Bilateral Stimulation’ element of EMDR have been very effective online. What is supposed to happen in EMDR? There is really no right or wrong way to experience EMDR from a client perspective. Nor is there a particular outcome that a client is ‘supposed’ to achieve specifically. This is because EMDR is about your brain (as the client) adaptively processing your unique experience. Simply put, it is about me, as the therapist, facilitating your process of where your brain takes you. Having said that, some clients have noted that after an EMDR session they feel distance from the memory that we targeted in the first place, sometimes they report that it feels as if something has ‘shifted’ in the way they view the memory and in the way they view themselves as a result. How does it work if I haven’t really experienced a trauma? Sometimes what we are processing is an emotion. For [...]
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Autism and Speech Therapy Services As many of you may already know, challenges with communication are one of the criteria that must be met for to reach a diagnosis of autism. When we talk about communication challenges it can include the following: Difficulties with understanding, Difficulties using language to communicate with other people. However, there is a wide range as to what communication skills may look like in an individual with autism. Verbal and Non-verbal We often hear of children with ASD being referred to as verbal or non verbal, and whilst some children may be very verbal and participate in full conversations, other may communicate completely without words (for example, using pictures, or through gestures or behaviours). Some children with ASD will also use a combination of ways of communicating. No matter how a child communicates, there are many ways we can build on their strengths and interests in order to support and help further develop their communication skills. Speech Language Services and children with ASD Speech-Language Pathologists are often one of the first professionals to become involved with a young child showing possible signs of autism, as communication differences or delays are often one of the first signs noticed by parents/caregivers/educators. It is important to know that Speech-language Pathologists cannot diagnose autism, but can assist in helping support communication skill development even before a diagnosis is received, and can also help direct families to find the appropriate resources if they are looking to determine a diagnosis. If you are concerned about your child’s communication skills and would like more information, call us at 519.302.2300 or email email@example.com to book a free consultation with our Speech Language Pathologist.
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has become more talked about in recent years, and its prevalence seems to be growing, the chances are you know someone whose family has been impacted by a diagnosis of ASD. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in this country. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but it is about 4 times more common among boys than girls. Studies are still being conducted to better understand where this disparity comes from. The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people on the Autism spectrum can vary greatly, some people with ASD are extremely gifted, whilst some face severe challenges. We do know now, that signs of ASD begin during early childhood and that we should be watching for certain developmental milestones. Signs and Symptoms: The CDC has the following list outlining some of the signs and symptoms to be aware of. The child may not point at objects to show interest (for example, pointing at an airplane flying overhead.) They may not look at objects when another person points at them. They may have trouble relating to others, or not have an interest in people at all. They may avoid eye contact and want to be alone. They may have trouble understanding other people’s feelings, or talking about their own feelings. They may prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to. They may appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds. They may be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play or relate to them. They may repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language. They may have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions. They may not play “pretend games” for example, not pretending to “feed” a doll. They may repeat actions over and over again, They may have trouble adapting when a routine changes. They may have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel or smell. They may lose skills they once had, for example they might stop saying words they were previously using. Behaviour considerations People with ASD can have behaviours or interests that might seem unusual to others. The CDC has listed the following examples of these behaviours: Lining up toys or other objects and getting upset when the order is changes. Repeating words or phrases over and over (also called echolalia). Playing with toys the same way every time. Focussing on parts of objects (for example wheels). Getting upset by minor changes. Having obsessive interests. Needing to follow certain routines. Flapping hands, rocking body or spinning self in circles. Having unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel. Other characteristics you may notice: Delayed language skills Delayed movement skills Delayed cognitive or learning skills Hyperactive, impulsive and/or inattentive [...]
All About Concussions... From Diagnosis to Symptoms What is a Concussion? A concussion is a trauma to the brain as a result of direct (blow to the head) or indirect (whiplash) force to the brain. The brain sits inside of our skull, surrounded by fluid that is designed to give it space to move ever so slightly. When a force impacts the head or causes it to move in a certain direction rapidly, the brain can “slosh” inside the skull and bump into the hard bone. This is the trauma that the brain can experience that causes a concussion. Think of it like a bruise to the brain. In the immediate aftermath of a concussion, blood flow to the brain declines, preventing important energy molecules in the form of glucose from reaching your brain. This creates an energy crisis in the brain which is why fatigue is a primary symptom people experience following an impact. If you, or your family are involved in sports, it is very likely that you know someone who has suffered from a concussion. Where else can a concussion occur? (Other than in sports) - Car Accidents - Slips/Falls - Work related injuries We all know that a concussion is not a good thing and we try to make sports and work as safe as possible to prevent, these or other types of injuries. But sometimes it can still happen and is always best to know what to do if you or someone know has suffered a concussion. What to do if you think you have a concussion? If you or someone you know has a suspected concussion, it is important to give them immediate medical attention so that more severe consequences of brain injuries can be ruled out. It also important to stop play or work until you can receive medical attention, as another impact to the brain immediately following the first, can be detrimental. In certain cases, bleeds can develop in the brain, leading to much more severe problems. This can be ruled out by a trained professional, and may require a head scan at the hospital. Typically it is recommended that immediately after a concussion, the person should rest, stop all screen use and lie down in a dark room. While these things can be important, some light cardio activity can actually help with recovery. It is still important to stop any activity that could involve the risk of second impact, but light activity as tolerated is good to incorporate into a recovery program. It is important to see a qualified professional for specific advice, as each person and their experience with concussion will be unique. Some are able to resume activities sooner, while others may need longer, depending on the severity of the impact. After seeing your family doctor, or a physician in an emergency room, a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist should be your next stop for proper diagnosis and advice. However, not all Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are qualified to properly diagnose and [...]
Letting Our Children and Teens ‘Follow Their Dreams’… Their Vision for Their Life May Not be Yours and That’s OK
As a counsellor and therapist with nearly 50% of my clients being between the ages 12 to 20 years old, I encounter many stories of struggle, despair and distress, but I also hear many stories of inspiring and unique goals, world views and interests. As adults, none of us are immune to the ‘back in my day’ type of thinking when it comes to relating to younger generations about things like music, pop culture, and politics, but more serious topics like politics, schooling, passions and career goals often, unfortunately, become a contentious topic between parents and their children. In my early days working as a counsellor at a child and family centre, I saw many parents who were concerned with whether or not they were actually ‘good parents’ or not. When I heard parents tell me that they were doubting if they were in fact ‘good parents,’ I learned a valuable lesson from some of my colleagues that, when it comes to ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ parenting (and I use the word ‘bad’ in the context of how parents used the word at this time), this can be concluded with one simple ‘rule’: ‘Good parents’ do worry about being good parents… ‘Bad parents’ never worry about or consider that they may not be ‘good parents.’ In other words, ‘bad parents’ are ignorant to the idea of their parenting styles, rules (or lack thereof), lack of guidance and care, etc. are even factors in their children’s growth, development and success in life. While I believe this ‘rule’ to be fact, one type of ignorance that many of us are not immune to as parents, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (which I will now refer to as ‘developing’ parents), is imposing on our children our own world views, thoughts, goals, and dreams… usually for one overall reason…because ‘what we know is best’… The fact is, this is flawed and, at times, hurtful thinking when it comes to our children’s interests, dreams, world views, and strengths. We often think that the ‘I know best’ type of thinking is loving and intended to ‘protect’ our children from the dangers and pitfalls of the world (E.g., Dissuading from interests or studies that lead to a career that stereotypically ‘doesn’t make a good income’, but this is far from the truth as this behaviour can lead to many negative outcomes for children as explored below. What the ‘I know best’ Parental Attitude Can Result in… 1)Shame and Future Resentment Simply put, children and teens crave approval, acceptance, and, most importantly, validation in regards to not only how they view themselves and the world, but their interests, hobbies, imagination, hopes, and dreams. When we do not do this and, instead, sometimes unknowingly and not purposely, we place our own wants, needs, dreams (past or present) and desires ‘onto’ our children in order to gain a sense of expertise and personal fulfillment. When we do not validate, accept, and explore our children’s interests, goals and passions, we signal to them [...]
Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning at Brant Mental Health Solutions In 2021 we were really happy to be able to introduce equine assisted programs off-site at two farms in Brantford. Whilst in office, traditional counselling is something most people opt for, it was important for us to make sure we provide therapeutic experiences for those who don’t feel “traditional” therapy is the right fit for them. We get asked a lot of questions about these programs, so we felt it would be helpful to break down the different equine assisted options and explain a bit about the two therapists who offer them. Who does equine assisted therapy benefit? Whilst anyone who enjoys being outside and around animals and nature can benefit from these programs, we have seen great responses from the following types of people: 1. Children and adults with ADHD, Autism or other learning/developmental concerns, 2. Children and adults suffering from PTSD/CPTSD (including first responders and veterans), 3. People who find in office therapy overwhelming/intimidating, 4. People who have found it hard to connect to a therapist in a clinical setting. Registered Psychotherapist Robin Oldroyd: Robin is one of the therapists on our team who offers Equine Assisted Therapy with her barn partners Bernie and Brenda. The three of them sat down with a videographer last year to explain more about the program they run with Brant Mental Health Solutions, you can find the video here https://fb.watch/aZ11HYQkji/ Robin works with people of all ages and her many years of experience as a therapist, combined with her love of horses, makes this a unique experience for her clients. Registered Social Worker Lynne Cree: Lynne is another therapist on our team who offers Equine programs. Whilst Lynne has many years of experience working with school-aged children in a school board, she is able to help teenaged and adult clients as well. Lynne’s work in the special education department makes her a gentle, patient and goal-oriented therapist when working with her clients. Lynne has 4 miniature horses that she works with, and the farm she runs her programs from has pigs, goats, rabbits and other animals for her clients to interact with. Lynne also runs “family fun on the farm programs” to help families reconnect in nature and find common ground. Is equine assisted therapy covered by my benefits? If you have coverage for a Registered Psychotherapist, sessions with Robin would be covered. If you have coverage for a Registered Social Worker, sessions with Lynne would be covered. Be sure to call your insurance company if you are wanting to use benefits so that you can make sure you know what you have available to you. If I have equine assisted sessions, can I also have in office sessions? If that is something you feel would work for you – yes! Some of our clients add in equine assisted sessions here and there to support the work they are doing in the office with their therapist. Others choose to stick with one [...]
Eating Disorders Awareness Week – February 1st – 7th 2022 In the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people reaching out to us for help with disordered eating. Disordered eating covers any unhealthy eating behaviours and worries about body image. This is becoming a common issue in our society and affects both men and women of all different ages. Whilst we often think of women when we talk about disordered eating, men actually make up approximately 25% of all disordered eating cases. Unfortunately for men experiencing this, they may experience delays in accessing treatment as doctors may overlook the possibility of an eating disorder and many of the programs created are tailored towards women. Common types of disordered eating: 1. Dieting and restrictive eating, 2. Self-induced vomiting, 3. Binge eating, 4. Laxative abuse. Symptoms of disordered eating: It is important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can help a friend or family member if you notice any of the following. The physical signs of disordered eating can include the following: * Chronic weight fluctuations * Stomach complaints and pain. * Changes in bowel habits. * Changes in menstrual regularity, including stopped or missed periods. * Feeling dizzy, weak and/or tired. * Fainting. * Changes in skin and hair (such as being dry and brittle). * Acid-related dental problems, including cavities and erosion of enamel (caused by bulimia). The emotional signs of disordered eating include the following: * Being preoccupied with weight, food, dieting, calories and carbohydrates to the point that eating and managing weight become a primary concern over other activities. * Being preoccupied with body image, body size/shape, a specific part of the body and/or the number on the scale. * Significantly limiting the repertoire of foods by restricting whole categories of food and only considering a very small number of foods safe to eat. * Performing specific food rituals. * Withdrawing from social eating activities. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-recognize-the-warnings-signs-of-disordered-eating-and-what-to-do/ We understand psychological and emotional issues contribute to disordered eating, which is why seeking the help of a trained mental health professional in addition to a nutrition expert is important. Many people who suffer with disordered eating report issues with low self-esteem, perfectionism and report having difficulties in their relationships. Please know that you are not alone in your struggles with eating and that there is help and support out there for you. If you know someone who you believe is struggling with an eating disorder, please approach them with compassion and understanding. Getting them help as soon as possible is important, but be someone safe for them to share with. Support them through any treatment and seek the help of trained professionals (family doctor, registered mental health professionals with experience in this area, registered nutritionists/naturopathic doctors etc.) The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides information, resources, referrals and support to Canadians affected by eating disorders through their toll-free helpline and instant chat.https://nedic.ca/
What is a panic attack? “A panic attack causes sudden, brief feelings of fear and strong physical reactions in response to ordinary, non threatening situations. When you’re having a panic attack, you may sweat a lot, have difficulty breathing and feel like your heart is racing. It may feel as if you’re having a heart attack.” - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4451-panic-disorder Panic attacks occur suddenly and without warning, symptoms usually peak within 10 minutes after an attack starts and subside soon after. What are some common signs of a panic attack? Chest pain. Chills. Choking or smothering sensation. Difficulty breathing. Fear of losing control. Feeling like you’re going to die. Intense feeling of terror. Nausea. Intense stomach pain. Racing heart. Sweating. Tingling or numbness in fingers or toes. Trembling or shaking. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4451-panic-disorder Although the exact causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are unclear, the tendency to have panic attacks runs in families. What life situations can cause panic attacks? There does appear to be a connection with major life transitions and developing panic attacks. Some of the most common connections are: 1. Graduating from college and entering the workplace, 2. Getting married, 3. Having a baby, 4. Severe stress, 5. The death of a loved one, 6. Divorce, 7. Job loss. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/panic-attacks-and-panic-disorders.htm Techniques for managing panic attacks? Try diaphragmatic breathing; take a deep breath through your nose and count to 5, then slowly exhale through your mouth. In doing this type of breathing you can see your stomach rise at the end of each inhale. Breathing is under our conscious control and will begin to trigger relaxation in the body. You can even put your hand on your stomach to feel the rise and fall of your stomach. Repeat self- statements in your mind such as: “I know what is happening to my body; I need to begin breathing.” “I know what to do, I have experienced this before.” “This is the fight or flight response, there is nothing to fear.” Etc. Use some distraction techniques: Getting up and moving around; name three things you can see, two things you can feel and one thing you can hear. Counting back in three’s from 100. Putting together a puzzle or watching a movie to keep your mind occupied. Keep in mind that the symptoms you are experiencing are known as the fight or flight response. These symptoms represent your body preparing to go into self preservation mode in the event of danger. If you try one of the techniques above; your symptoms are most likely to peak after a couple of minutes and subside; this is because it takes time for the adrenaline to metabolize. If you are experiencing panic attacks, please speak to someone you trust. Seek the help of a trained professional such as a family doctor or therapist. With the right support, panic attacks can be more effectively managed and less impactful on your day-to-day life. This article is for tips and general [...]
What is dissociation? Have you ever felt yourself “check out” and then have found yourself unfamiliar with your surroundings once you tune back into life? That feeling is known as dissociation. Dissociation is disruption or disconnection in a person's consciousness, sense of identity, or awareness. What causes dissociation? Most people will experience dissociation at some point in their lives. There are a variety of things that can cause you to dissociate; for example: 1. There is stress induced dissociation, 2. It can be induced by a traumatic event, 3. It can be a symptom of another mental illness such as anxiety. What are the symptoms of dissociation? - Forgetting about certain time periods, events and/or personal information Feeling disconnected from your body Feeling disconnected from the world around you Not having a sense of who you are Having multiple identities that you are aware of or not (this is more a symptom of DID) Feeling little/no physical pain. How long does dissociation last? These symptoms can appear for a short period of time after being triggered or last throughout the entire feeling of being triggered. This is known as an episode. Others can experience these symptoms for much longer or constantly which may indicate they have a dissociative disorder. If you, or someone you know is experiencing that kind of dissociation, please seek the help and expertise of a trained mental health professional or family doctor. What about dissociative identity disorder? Dissociative Identity Disorder is different to dissociation. DID is defined as someone who has two or more distinct identities. These “alters” are accompanied by changes in behaviour, memory and thinking. The following link will take you to the Mayo Clinic’s description of DID and the three major dissociative disorders. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215 The Mayo Clinic defines the symptoms as the following: “Signs and symptoms depend on the type of dissociative disorders you have, but may include: - Memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events, people and personal information A sense of being detached from yourself and your emotions A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal A blurred sense of identity Significant stress or problems in your relationships, work or other important areas of your life Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.” Here are some other statements about DID that would indicate the need for further investigation: I experience two or more distinct parts, each with their own sense of self The different parts have their own behaviours, moods, thoughts, memories, and way of understanding the world I lose my sense of identity—sometimes I don't recognize myself I feel disconnected, like I'm not real or everything around me isn't real Sometimes it feels like someone else is controlling my body I hear voices or notice sensations, thoughts, or feelings that don't seem to belong to me I often have significant gaps in [...]
It’s that time of year again – the time of year where we sit down to create our list of New Year’s Resolutions. There are the ever-popular resolutions like; Going to the gym/starting up again Cutting out coffee/sugar/fast food/alcohol etc Committing to saving more and spending less. Whatever resolutions you are planning, it will likely be something you are adding to an already bust life. In the past have you been able to stick with these goals? If so, that is great, and you are in the minority! But, for the rest of us who have abandoned our goals, it is time to ask ourselves why. A Forbes article written in February of 2020 explains that, “every year more than 50% of people make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, workout, save money, get a promotion, get a raise and more. Any yet, virtually every study tells us that about 80% of New Year’s Resolutions will get abandoned around this month (February).” That seems like an astonishing number of people who gave up on their goals so quickly. Why is that? One would think in this day and age of self-help books, coaches and motivational speakers, free habit tracker worksheets and a cast online community of supporters that many more people would achieve the goals they set for themselves. So why do we let our goals slip away? I think one of the main reasons we fail is because many of us are not attaching an emotion to our goals. Often, we create goals because we think we need to or because we are feeling pressure to do so. When we do this, we haven’t put the thought or steps in place on HOW we plan to achieve that goal. When creating a new goal, I have found that when I come up with a WHY, I am more likely to stick to it. Example One – “I want to work out 4-5 times a week because it makes me feel good, because I value my health, and because I don’t want to be a burden to my children or other loves ones as I age.” Example Two – “I want to get that promotion at work because I want to prove to myself that I can take this role on, I want to be more financially stable and feel appreciated in my workplace.” Creating a WHY allows you to tie an emotion to your goal. Feeling the WHY deeply is the motivation that could be needed to help you sustain those goals you set for yourself in the New Year (and throughout the year). Another way to make your goals sustainable is to put systems in place to allow you to stay focused on your goal. The goal you set is the direction you want to head, the systems that you will put into place will determine your progress towards that goal. Tips to creating long-lasting [...]