Areas of Specialization
This section takes an in-depth look at my areas of specialization and provides psychoeducation that may be relevant to you! Reach out if you'd like any further information or resources on a particular topic.
Emotion regulation is having control of one’s emotional state in a manner that is effective and socially accepted while responding to ongoing demands and stressors. Emotion regulation can be conscious (controlled) or unconscious (automatic) and may involve behaviours such as rethinking a situation, reducing the discomfort of an emotion, or engaging in coping skills.
Some individuals may struggle with emotion dysregulation and are unable to control or regulate their emotional responses in effective or socially acceptable ways. Individuals who struggle with emotional dysregulation may be impulsive, experience mood swings, anxiety, depression, or high levels of shame, have conflictual interpersonal relationships, engage in substance use or self-harm and have perfectionistic tendencies.
Therapy may help individuals learn skills to regulate their emotions and mood and help them become more aware of their thoughts and feelings when dealing with stressful situations. DBT is a common therapy that helps individuals regulate their emotions and better manage their distress by learning effective coping skills, understanding patterns of behaviour and changing functioning.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, experienced by everyone. Anxiety stems from our nervous system, and may cause physiological symptoms like increased heart rate and breathing. When mild, anxiety, can be beneficial in situations that alert us to danger and focus our attention. Anxiety disorders, however, differ from normal feelings of anxiousness and often involves excessive worry or fear that is not reasonable and impacts an individual’s ability to function normally.
Anxiety disorders can cause people to avoid situations that may trigger their symptoms and can often affect a person’s relationships, job or school performance and daily functioning. There are several types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism etc.,
Therapy can help individuals better cope with or overcome their symptoms of anxiety in a non-judgemental and compassionate way. Cognitive behaviour therapy is an evidence-based approach that helps individuals better understand the way they think and behave when experiencing anxiety. CBT helps individuals reframe unhelpful thoughts that feed into anxiety, reduce avoidant behaviours and cope with physiological symptoms. Psychodynamic Therapy can be used to help individuals understand the development of their anxiety and build awareness of their symptoms in order to make conscious changes and reduce suffering. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy can help individuals cope with the emotional distress of their anxiety, challenge any unhelpful thinking patterns and become more skilled in managing symptoms.
Depression is a common illness that often negatively affects the way an individual feels, thinks and acts. Depression can occur in a single episode or be a chronic issue that can lead to feelings of sadness, a lack of interest in enjoyed activities, difficulty with sleep and appetite and difficulty regulating emotions. Depression can impact an individual’s ability to function at work or at home and can makit it difficult to engage in tasks of daily living.
Therapy can help individuals overcome sadness and feel empowered to take control of their lives. Psychodynamic therapy can help individuals understand how their past experiences and challenges are negatively impacting their mood and ultimately allow individuals to heal and process their emotions. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can individuals uncover unhealthy patterns of thought that may be affecting their mood and behaviours. CBT can also help individuals challenge their unhealthy beliefs about themselves and outlook on life so they are more adaptive. CBT also focuses on helping individuals build coping skills to increase motivation to participate in activities of daily living.
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts a person’s ability to regulate their emotions. This emotional dysregulation can lead to impulsivity, a pattern of unstable and high-conflict relationships and negative self-image issues that impacts functioning in everyday life. Often people with BPD have intense fears of abandonment, chronic feelings of emptiness or dissociation and engage in maladaptive coping skills.
DBT is an evidence-based treatment that helps individuals build awareness of their present situation, triggers and emotional state and teaches individuals skills to manage intense behaviours, improve relationships and replace maladaptive coping skills. CBT can also help individuals with BPD change negative core beliefs or thoughts which can help reduce unhelpful behaviours and improves relationships with others. CBT may help individuals build skills to better cope with mood swings and anxiety symptoms.
Trauma is an emotional response following exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening. Trauma can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being and negatively impact daily functioning. Individuals exposed to trauma may experience short terms effects like shock, anger, and denial and long-term effects like flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, strained relationships and physical symptoms like nausea and headaches. These feelings are normal, and some people can move on from a traumatic event without experiencing adverse reactions, while others may have difficulty functioning in everyday life and may benefit from therapy.
Therapy can help individuals overcome the emotional and mental health consequences of a traumatic event. Trauma-informed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can help individuals reframe the distorted or upsetting beliefs related to the trauma and provide a supportive environment in which individuals can learn coping skills to overcome their symptoms. Psychodynamic therapy can help people build insight into the unconscious and maladaptive coping mechanisms they have developed to protect themselves from the impacts of trauma. With this new insight, individuals can develop more adaptive coping mechanisms and assign new meaning to their experiences that are no longer impacted by the trauma.
Addiction refers to any behaviour (e.g. substance use, gambling, gaming) that is out of control and leads to negative consequences in an individual’s life. Addiction can also be used to explain the experience of withdrawal, which an individual experiences when a substance or behaviour is stopped. Often addiction is defined by the presence of the 4 Cs which includes a craving towards the behaviour, a loss of control and increased frequency of use, a compulsion to use and use despite consequences. Addiction can have negative impacts on an individual’s work, physical and mental health, daily functioning, and relationships.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment and an individual’s treatment may depend on the type and severity of addiction and their motivation to change. I often use a harm-reduction approach which teaches people safer ways to use or ways to minimize the consequences of addiction in their life. Motivational Interviewing can also help individuals increase their motivation to change by exploring ambivalent behaviours and overcoming any fears of change. MI is a person-centred approach that ultimately helps individuals figure out what they want and helps them achieve their goals.