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.

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
  • 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
  • Overwork
  • 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.

Help for Substance Misuse: Why Willow Tree Counselling?

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 and discuss reintegrating 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 may be 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. Some family members struggle especially when their loved one won’t get help. Counselling can be a good first step.

When Your Loved One Won't Get Help

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.

Recommended Books

The book links on this page are Amazon Associate links; if you choose to make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission which I use to fund my low-cost counselling resource lists. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Co-Dependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself by Melody Beattie (2022)

A classic in the field; introduced the concept of co-dependency to the world and how to break free of it. I’ve stopped counting which edition it’s in.

Lifeskills for Adult Children by Alan Garner and Janet Woititz (1990)

This book has survived the test of time and was the first book ever recommended to me by my first therapist.  A slim volume chock-full of practical suggestions for adult children of alcoholics.


9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline

Call or text 9-8-8, from anywhere in Canada, 24/7.

Healing Hearts Bereavement Support

An initiative of Moms Stop the Harm, this is a peer-led bereavement support group for those who have lost a loved one due to overdose or substance-related harms.

Discovery College – Canadian Mental Health Association

A wealth of free online mental-health related courses, developed in conjunction with people who have lived experience.

Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

Fact sheet from the Government of BC.


Online non-profit initiative from Queen’s University to help the public learn non-drug treatments for insomnia, primarily Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).

Vancouver Low-Cost Counselling List

List of private master’s-level counsellors, or their interns, offering subsidized counselling. Updated quarterly.

Nurses Line – Health Link BC

Call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7. Other professionals available through this line include after-hours pharmacists, exercise professionals and dieticians

Addictions Services, Vancouver Coastal Health

Substance use assessment, counselling and treatment planning for individuals, couples and families. Group counselling also available. Free.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Web-based learning of DBT skills. Particularly useful for those without access to individualized programming, or to supplement an existing group DBT program.

Crisis Services and Hotlines in Vancouver

Resource list, updated quarterly.

BC Responsible and Problem Gambling Program

Problem gambling support and treatment services provided free of charge for BC residents.

Mind Shift CBT

App developed by the folks at Anxiety Canada to help manage anxiety symptoms and promote relaxation.

Reduced-Cost Counselling [PDF]

A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.

Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

Revised in January 2023.

Mood Gym

Online self-help program for depression and anxiety, using cognitive behavioural principles (CBT).

Relaxation Audio Download

From the people at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). Scroll down for link.

Quit Now

24-7 telephone counselling and online support for quitting smoking and vaping.

Access Central

Links callers to detox and addictions housing services.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.

Here to Help

BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.


24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.

SAFER, Vancouver Coastal Health

Time-limited counselling support for adults who have made a suicide attempt, or are experiencing suicidal thoughts; also offers support and education for people who are concerned about a loved one with suicidal ideation, or are grieving their loss by suicide.