Consulting, Counselling, health & wellness, Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services, Life Coaching, Professional Development

Healthy Touch

Resilient children grow into caring & compassionate adults softening hearts of stone.

This past May, I attended the Annual Roots of Empathy Symposium here in Toronto sponsored by Mary Gordon and her team of dedicated staff and volunteers https://rootsofempathy.org/2019symposium/. Mary’s work has a strong hold in most schools in the Greater Toronto Area, surrounding regions, and across Canada. She also has research affiliates in Ireland and the USA. Her work, career, and extraordinary dedication to children and early prevention strategies is inspiring. Having started a clinical social work career in early years services, I was very fortunate to learn theoretical and practical approaches to parenting that really work to grow healthy and resilient children over the long term. Dr. Clinton, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, division of Child Psychiatry reminded everyone about the essential nature of human touch and infant development.

Close to thirty years ago, the Hanen Approach was just beginning to reap the benefits of its piloted projects across this city. A unique blend of psychiatry, speech and language pathology, and social work, the Hanen Approach aimed to support healthy attachments between moms and babies. Research showed that a consistently caring and nurturing response style, eye contact, touching, and communication improved overall health and wellness in all children and adults, but especially in children with identified developmental delays in areas of speech, behaviour, and pretend & cooperative play http://integratedtreatmentservices.co.uk/our-approaches/speech-therapy-approaches/hanen-programme/.

Healthy human touch is essential and natural to human growth and emotional wellness. There are countless studies that reveal the negative impacts of significant caregiving relationships impoverished of human touch. People with histories of early trauma, emotional neglect, sexual, or physical abuse often develop problems with creating healthy boundaries in relation to personal body space. Some people may be overly vigilant and self-protective becoming touch adverse. Some people have loose boundaries standing too close to people waiting in line, rubbing a woman’s breast or a man’s bottom while standing or sitting next to them on public transit, or touching someone’s arm, baby-bump, or face without permission for example. There are social and cultural norms as well as professional training that shape how, when, why, and where people engage in human touch. The key here is speaking up honestly when you feel uncomfortable about someone’s unwanted touch.

More research is being explored about the prescribed use of touch therapy with patients suffering severe PTSD and other debilitating health conditions. It is imperative that clinicians feel comfortable with setting appropriate professional boundaries created with clients seeking counselling therapies from you. Clinical practice with children, adolescents, and adults do not require deliberate practices of human touch. There are other effective strategies such as voice tone, eye contact, and humour that help to reassure and co-regulate human emotion as people talk and/or process feelings about experiences or situations with you. Referring clients to therapeutic massage is suggested for people you assess would benefit from healthy human touching in a clinical milieu.

#wellness #healing #health #hugs #parenting

Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services

Loyalty and Friendship

Loyalty is more than an idea – it is an experience that reveals itself after years of everyday life with friends.

Loyalty is an experience you have with other people. It is more than an idea. It is a common human virtue you value in the home, at work, and in community organizations. It is something that most people hold dear to their hearts, and completely understand when it is absent. From a clinical perspective, people will often express many symptoms of emotional pain associated with experiences of betrayal with friends, professional colleagues, romantic partners, spouses, and business partners. It is not easy for people to articulate these feelings at first. It takes time for people to identify abandonment, rejection, and loss. Of course, the most profound and long-lasting effects of abandonment & rejection occurs in people whose primary attachment was insecure.

Attachment theory has been researched for years. It underpins most interventions that work to repair deep-seated experiences of fear and anxiety created by inconsistent responses used to nurture the baby in order to reduce distress. There are several studies that demonstrate the importance of your parent-child attachment in the first two years of life. Insecure attachments have been correlated with poor outcomes, even more so than angry attachments. Attachment has more to do with the quality of emotional connection you establish with your baby, than the number of hours you spend with your children.

There are some fundamental assumptions that underlie attachment theory that are contestable in some circles. It places responsibility on the parent, usually a mother for setting a responsive nurturing pattern with a baby. How a parent responds to a crying infant is one of the key indicators of attachment. Of course, early days caring for an infant creates emotionally and physically exhausted parents. Having two mutually supportive parents during this early stage is associated with better outcomes, especially where the primary parental connection is loving, strong, and respectful. Single parents are certainly working harder than two-parent households. It is during these early days that a baby learns whether the world is a safe and nurturing place, or not.

An angry attachment happens whenever a baby cries for help, and the parent responds with frustration, tension and anger. The baby’s temperament shapes this primary relationship as well. Some babies are truly fussier than others. The infant whose parent responds with an angry style learns to self-soothe and usually falls asleep. Insecure attachments occur when an infant is unable to predict the primary parents’ response, which may include both nurturing and rejecting styles. It is this unexpected response style that creates anxiety. A nurturing parent consistently responds to the child’s needs first; assessing what or when to intervene, reading the child’s emotional cues for pain correctly, and working to protect and care for the baby.

This secure attachment style has the best long-term outcomes and often leads to emotionally resilient adults who demonstrate stick-with-it-ness with loved ones when trouble happens. They grow with the people closest to them. They create a loving and mutually nurturing style of negotiation on big decisions in life like exclusive coupling, moving in together, getting married, going back to school, changing professions, investing in a home or the market, having a child together, and more. People with secure attachment styles are emotionally present for one another through serious acute and chronic illnesses such as cancer or depression, job loss, grief, and even deceit including extra-martial sexual affairs.

Adults with secure attachments seek emotional support from close friends and partners. They turn to one another, not on, or at each other. They lean on one another and decide next steps together. Of course, people with secure attachments decide to end marriages or to uncouple. However, this decision is usually addressed openly and honestly. It may include a mature conversation where one partner expresses the need to move on, feeling unhappy, emotionally or sexually unfulfilled. This decision to separate is painful, but true friends want people they love or loved in the past to be happy, even if that means moving on without them.

Loyal friends and couples are generally happy people whose love and respect for one another grows over a lifetime together. They are not threatened by their partner’s need to grow and are open to enjoy the journey together. They problem solve together. What have your reflections about your primary attachment with your parents revealed for you? How do you actively work to address or repair your own need for experiences of secure emotional attachments with people? Do you feel confident about co-regulating your clients’ anxieties around the reasons they are seeking therapy from you?

#wellness #healthy #secureattachments #bestoutcomes #resilient

Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services

Embracing Gentle

During this religious time, many of us engage in prayerful reflection and family traditions. We think about our roles in charity, voluntarism, and community wellbeing. Participation in activities that aim to promote wellbeing in others is usually hidden from view. People are uncomfortable with claiming positive contributions to society, as being anything less than humble is regarded as pompous and arrogant. In my view, Canadians have long suffered from a poor sense of self esteem, failing to own the positive ways we have shaped local, national, and international initiatives. We often defer to others to claim what is truly Canadian in character and deed. Certainly, we can never forget the perils of nationalism. Our diverse citizenship reminds us to never become so bold to think as Canadians, we know best. A gentle breeze, a walk in a protected conservation area, or a breathtaking mountain view are some of the important ways we experience freedom. During holidays, we reflect on those people who paid for our freedom and remain forever grateful to those in our lives who helped us along the way. What are the ways you plan to embrace the gentle in your own hearts and share it with others ? Are you prepared for unexpected responses to a gentle embrace ? Is the gentle even possible in our modern times? If not, what can you do to be the difference ?

Counselling, health & wellness, Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services, Life Coaching, Professional Development

Initial reflections on the Psychotherapy Networker Conference DC, 2019

Psychotherapy focuses on relationships with self & othershttps://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/symposium/2019/evaluation

During the second last week of March, my husband and I travelled to Washington DC for the Annual Psychotherapy Networker Conference. I was privileged to attend several sessions, and enjoyed many of the offerings. Of course, committed to approaching our marriage as two independently-codependently attached self-actualized people, we each went our own way for session teaching, always returning to one another over lunch & dinner to discuss some of the interesting things we respectively learned. The conference exceeded both our expectations. It was well organized and staffed by a number of friendly volunteers who were quick to answer any questions we had. Held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the site was a perfect blend of American heritage and modern service. It was a truly wonderful hotel that we highly recommend to any of you that might be planning a trip to visit friends, cousins, and business associates in the USA. Friday morning’s keynote address on ” The myth of Normal in an insane culture” was given by a Canadian physician Gabor Mate https://drgabormate.com/.

Dr. Gabor’s address was characteristically Canadian with deferential references to our collective impulse to “thank” machines, such as the ATM after a transaction. His talk reflected the sage wisdom of a highly experienced physician working with people in need of compassionate mental health care and support. In fact, his private two-session training, to which I did not gain entrance, was adeptly entitled the Compassionate Inquiry. Having recently read, Beverly Engle’s book, It wasn’t your Fault, on a relatively newer intervention referred to as Compassionate Mind Training (CMT), Dr. Gabor’s talk truly resonated with me, as both sensitive and timely. My personal “take away” from his talk on the difference between Individualism & Individuality was only touched upon quickly, perhaps because of the culturally provocative nature of his ideas. The good doctor remarked on our responsibility to challenge ourselves on the differences between these two concepts. In his view, individualism referred to the rugged American ideal to reach for the golden arches of economic success through independence, hard work & freedom. Individuality was described as the freedom to express one’s sense of self in independent, and sometimes, unconventional ways.

Dr. Mate challenged us to think about the ways we work to support vulnerable people who for whatever reason might not have access to or the means to achieve on their own without a helping hand. He encouraged us to think about the ways our practices and systems support the most vulnerable in society.

As reflective practitioners, have you considered the ways you empower and foster your client’s individuality in session? How does a person’s individuality change or impact your theories, models, or planned treatment programs? Are you interested in clinical supervision on the implementation of CMT in clinical sessions with individuals ? If so, have you conducted research to explore who in your own community has the experience, skill, and compassion to provide case-based supervision that best fits your needs?

For support in Toronto consider connecting with me at https://hypersense-counselling-and-consulting.business.site/

#coaching #counselling #professionaldevelopment #individuality #individualism #psychotherapynetworkerconference

Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services

Family Vacations on Spring Break

Family friendly vacations are wonderful times to unwind & relax together.

More than ever, there are several options for families to spend quality time together during the Spring or March Break, as referred to in Ontario. Historically, Spring Break began in the United States in the 1930s. Students in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools were given a week off from school to spend time with family. Over the years, Spring Break has grown synonymous with much needed vacation time. March break is a welcome pause from the daily grind after long dark winter months. Local cities provide affordable activities, camps, and events for children and young teens. Where families plan personal vacation days to align with March break, parents have opportunities to spend time together with their children. Some people organize trips to family-friendly all inclusive resorts abroad that offer a good combination and balance of supervised child minding, adult only, and family based activities. Some people find the stress of travelling difficult. A fear of flying, jet-lag, and expected delays during peak travel periods are sometimes too much for children with emotional sensitivities. Expecting at least one tantrum is realistic and preparing yourself in advance for some problematical behaviour will help you to regulate your own mood, so your vacation remains mostly stress-free. Travelling to beach front resorts offers people in otherwise stressful jobs an authentic opportunity to unwind in the sun and sand. It is a time to leave all technology and business at the office and to retreat with your loved ones. Deep relaxation over a course of several days is a healthy antidote to chronic daily stress of work and city-living. Enjoy the sounds of nature and silence where possible, and minimize loud dance halls and parties. You may find that it takes a couple of days before you being to experience the wonderful sensation of unwinding from stress. The impulse to check your cellphone, email, or social media sites will diminish as will any thoughts about your never-ending to-do list. Small children and teens also experience stress and benefit from a techno-diet during vacations. Take this opportunity to re-connect with your children and your spouse. Enjoy the experiences of just being together and the simple pleasures that life without work or school related stress brings. Have you planned what you will be doing with your family this week? Do you feel confident about leaving your work related tasks unattended while you are away? How do you plan to cope with your impulse to check your email or social media while away?

#wellness #family #health #tantrums #vacation #springbreak #marchbreak

Child Therapy, Consulting, Counselling, Family Therapy, health & wellness, Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services, Life Coaching, Professional Development

Healing Processes & Options

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

There are several forms of independent health practices in the Greater Toronto Area. Similar to other large cities across North America, people are interested in a variety of treatment options to heal. Over the past twenty-five years, the field of regulated independent health practices has grown. Individuals have direct access to a continuum of health services that are increasingly covered by employee assistance and personal health insurance benefit plans. Most survey data suggests that individuals prefer to direct personal healthcare for non-crisis or emergency-based health problems. People with persistent or episodic physical or mental health challenges report having a choice in a robust range of health modalities increases their sense of control over personal wellness. This empowering aspect of healing is critical to the getter better phenomenon. Having the option to see a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or osteopath for arthritic pain diagnosed by your primary family medical doctor for example, allows the patient, client, or person to self-direct their own options for treatment and healing. Many people are willing to pay out of pocket for regulated and alternative health care services due to this increased sense of wellbeing that derives from directing one’s own treatment plan under the care of credentialed experts. There is a strong network of professional colleges that regulate healthcare practice standards for each of these credentialed services. For those that are currently unregulated, efforts are being made to meet the eligibility criteria under the law in health depending on the area in which the service is provided. This regulatory function and the interface with insurance company coverage plans increases the level of trust and protection that individuals are receiving expert health care. Long gone are the days where people without the appropriate education, credentials, or supervised standards of practice are able to provide fraudulent services to the public without protection. When I entered the social services field in 1984, almost everyone was referring to themselves as a social worker. Today, the title is protected under the law and practices regulated, so that individuals engaged in services are also protected. Recently, the controlled act of psychotherapy was introduced to further protect the public from unregulated practices and the possible risks associated with treatments provided by uncredentialled practitioners. Do you have the education, experience, and membership in a regulatory college to claim your credentials? What are the ways you engage with your local professional associations to ensure that your treatment modalities and interventions are evidence-informed, modern, ethical, and effective? What more can you do to further ensure that members of the public are guaranteed access to a range of best possible health care options for their own healing?

#wellness #health #healthy #wellbeing #healthcare

Hypersense Counselling & Consulting Services

Clinician Self-Care

To thine own self be true

Clinical social workers and psychotherapists are drawn to work in the service of others. Learning to set limits on care-work is an ongoing process, especially in newer clinicians and therapists. During the initial stages of work with people requesting support for a variety of health problems, social workers and psychotherapists tend to over analyze, self-identify, and carry the emotional difficulties of clients. These are common and expected experiences in clinical work, and often become the subjects for discussion in supervision with caring, compassionate and competent supervisors. Clinical work refers to a range of regulated and alternative health services that may include massage, physiotherapy, occupational, speech and language, acupuncture, psychiatry, nursing, family medicine, and more therapies. All clinicians providing direct health care to patients or clients face challenges related to a healthy care-giving and care-taking balance. The process of care-giving is the work you provide to others seeking support. Care-taking is the work you do to take care of yourself. Every clinician, seasoned or otherwise is responsible for personal health and wellbeing. Mastering a self-care regimen takes time and practice. Seasoned practitioners and health care providers who maintain good health over the long run is never accidental. What are the strategies you use to maintain a good sense of humour, body-mass index, level of physical fitness, and spiritual wellness? What in your daily habits needs readjusting to ensure that the care-service you provide to others remains true to the original reasons for work in your field? How will you gain better control over your health moving forward?

#wellness #health #therapy #wellbeing #philosophyofcare