Addictions . . . A minefield of information, advice and opinions.  If you’re suffering, you want help quickly and it can be difficult to wade through reams of information to get the help you need. The following is a brief overview of what Willow Tree Counselling has to offer you.

I welcome clients with varying addictions issues to my downtown Vancouver counselling and psychotherapy office including those struggling with:

  • Alcohol
  • Street drugs including cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and other substances
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Prescription medications such as benzodiazepines (“benzos”, anti-anxiety medication), pain medications (analgesics, narcotics) and over the counter medications (e.g. gravol, sleep aids, Tylenol, antihistamines, nasal sprays etc.)
  • Caffeine – coffee, tea, pop, caffeine pills
  • Polysubstance use: using multiple substances, together or at separate times
  • Concurrent Disorders – when an addiction co-occurs with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety
  • Sex and/or Relationships, including compulsive sex, compulsive masturbation, pornography, sex with prostitutes, affairs, risky sexual behaviour (including sex combined with drug use), serial relationships / dating, ‘love addiction,’ codependency
  • Gambling, including casino gambling, Internet gambling, stock trading, lottery playing, betting, bingo
  • Food – overeating, emotional eating, dieting, eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating disorder
  • Overspending, compulsive shopping, shoplifting and debt
  • High adrenaline / high risk sports and activities
  • Body image preoccupation such as overexercise, steroid use, extreme bodybuilding or fitness
  • Work
  • Physical self-harm (cutting, burning, punching…)
  • Technology – computer gaming, Internet surfing, social media, email, television, Internet dating, smartphone use

I see individuals and some couples affected by one or more of the above issues.  I also provide counselling for family members and friends who are affected by someone else’s use.

My Approach

I start where you are.  Whether you want to cut back or are seeking total abstinence, I will support you.  Together we will come up with a plan detailing your goals and ways of getting there.  We will reintegrate meaning in your life.  Addictions can crowd out everything else that was once important to you.  Counselling can help you reclaim things you have lost or identify and pursue new avenues.  We will also pursue practical strategies for maintaining your gains and things to do to get “back on the horse” when you slip.

Acceptance, kindness and collaboration are key features in my counselling style.  I will never add judgement to the mix; chances are, you do enough of this already and it’s sabotaging your efforts to get better.  I am consistently positive and hopeful with my clients and, if I have earned your therapeutic trust, I will challenge you and expect you to ultimately fulfil your potential, whatever the bumps along the way.

I don’t try to do it all.  While the obvious point is made that you are the key factor in your success, I will also refer you to other helpers should you need or request additional assessment and treatment.  This could include referrals to physicians, residential treatment facilities, support groups, detox,  acupuncture or naturopathic medicine.

A Note To Family Members

If you’re calling me, you’re likely at the end of your rope.  You care deeply about your loved one with an addictions issue but you don’t know how to preserve yourself in the process.  Maybe you’re so worried and panicked about their use and their safety that you can’t concentrate on daily living.  Through counselling, you can learn strategies for self-care and tools to communicate with the relative you’re concerned about.  Counselling can be a good first step.

I welcome individuals and concerned family members to call or email me directly for more information about my counselling approach and to discover whether I am the therapist who is right for you. Change is all around us; I have complete faith that my clients can realize it as well.