“No matter what modality we use, the goal of trauma treatment is finally to be ‘here’ and not ‘there.'” ~ Bessel van der Kolk
Trauma is a normal response by our body and mind to an event that overwhelms us by threatening physical harm, our life, or the safety of someone else.
Examples of traumatic incidents include:
It’s common to feel reluctant to want to come in and talk about trauma. In fact, many people avoid it, only coming to counselling when life seems unbearable. Trauma makes us feel vulnerable and dysregulates nervous systems; that’s why creating a safe, respectful and supportive environment is the foundation of my approach to helping with trauma.
Many people worry that trauma therapy must involve remembering the horror of the traumatic incident, going on a “fact finding” mission, confronting perpetrators, and succumbing to the directives of the therapist. I disagree. Some people feel that remembering, when they are ready to work through such memories, is critical to their healing, while others feel it is damaging. This choice, as well as other aspects of your trauma healing, is personal. There is no “one size fits all” approach here. Another common worry is that one has to become “unraveled” in order to heal. I also disagree and strongly recommend that trauma therapy should first work towards ensuring that you are currently safe and are coping well in your day to day life.
Psychiatrist Judith Herman, in addressing survivors of childhood abuse writes, “It is bad enough that you were robbed of your childhood–it is unacceptable to also lose your opportunity to live in the present.”
While individuals are unique in the ways that trauma has left its mark and in the path of healing that works for each person, at my downtown Vancouver office you can expect:
If you are looking for a trauma therapist, I welcome your call or email message and am pleased to set up a 15-minute phone or in-person consultation to help you make this decision for yourself. In fact, I encourage a preliminary conversation first, as therapeutic fit is key; I am not, and could not possibly be the right fit for every client.
Whatever your route to healing, it is important to not lose hope. People can and do overcome trauma.
Deciding which option works best for you–whether it be homework or homeworklessness–can spark self-reflection around what you want out of counselling.
Seminal text on the neurobiology of trauma.
A gentle approach to trauma resolution, emphasizing the importance of choosing strategies that work well for you personally.
A wealth of free online mental-health related courses, developed in conjunction with people who have lived experience.
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).
A self-help and educational guide about anger, from the counselling department at McGill University.
List of private master’s-level counsellors, or their interns, offering subsidized counselling. Updated quarterly.
Funded counselling for victims of crime, immediate family members and witnesses. Call for eligibility.
Trauma-informed counselling and services for refugees. Individual and group support.
Canada-wide, 24/7 professional phone counselling and other support options.
Web-based learning of DBT skills. Particularly useful for those without access to individualized programming, or to supplement an existing group DBT program.
Resource list, updated quarterly.
Assists victims, immediate family members and some witnesses in coping with the effects of violent crime by providing qualifying individuals with financial benefits to help offset financial losses and assist in recovery.
A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.
604-875-4255 (collect calls accepted)
If you were sexually abused when you were a child living in a BC provincial government foster home, group home, or residential facility, you may be eligible to have RHAP pay for your counselling.
Individual and group counselling on a sliding scale.
Professional counselling for women, children, survivors of incest/trauma/sexual abuse, pregnant women with a trauma history and those experiencing family violence.
24-7 assistance for people who have been victims of family and sexual violence and all other crimes.
Crisis number: 604-687-1867
Support, advocacy, counselling, info/referral.
Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Individual counselling and therapy for pregnant women who have experienced past trauma that can interfere with their ability to parent their children. A free service.