Specializing in Treatment of Anxiety , Depression Trauma and Self-Esteem
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I'll try again tomorrow"
-Mary Anne Radmacher
Life may not be feeling quite right for you at this moment in time. Whether you have been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long part of your life, or you are confronting a crisis and unsure where to turn next, counselling can be instrumental in your journey through these difficulties. Below you will find information on depression, anxiety, self-esteem and trauma, and how Dan can help you alleviate its hold on you. It should be noted however, that you do not need to have a clinical diagnosis in order for counselling to be helpful. Dan's methods can help you with difficulties with self-esteem, situational anxiety, and life direction. Read below to learn more
There are many different forms of anxiety, ranging from situational anxiety (anxiety in response to very specific situations) to generalised anxiety (anxiety that spreads across many, if not most, aspects of life). Anxiety, like any emotion, can serve a purpose. It becomes problematic however, when the frequency and intensity of the emotion is elevated, and when it impacts you living the life you want to live. See below to learn more about the different forms of anxiety, and how therapy can help.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder effects individuals thoughts, behaviours, and physical sensations. On a cognitive level it can leave you in a constant state of worry. On a physical level, it can stimulate your fight or flight response, your body's way of preparing you for danger. To prepare you for this, your brain sends signals to your body to increase your heart rate, increase the rate of oxygen entering your body, and tensing your muscles to prepare you for the situation. Although this can be an adaptive response to react to potential threat, anxiety latches on to this response and sounds the alarm in situations where the response may not be needed. On a behavioural level, it can lead one to avoid many situations in life. This can provide short-term relief from anxiety in the moment, however perpetuates long-term increases in anxiety.
There are a variety of methods to treat anxiety. Research indicates a combination of medication and therapy provides the most effective results. Dan uses a variety of CBT and mindfulness strategies to work with GAD. These strategies can often help individuals significantly reduce their anxiety. Depending on your need, and fit, Dan may also begin with using Internal Family Systems therapy to help you access the parts that are holding anxiety and works towards bringing these parts compassion and helping them release the fears these anxious parts of you hold.
Social Anxiety is the fear of judgement and criticism of others. People with social anxiety often experience the sense that they will say something ridiculous, that others will perceive them harshly, or not give them attention at all. It can leave one feeling isolated and alone. Avoidance is a very common coping strategy, and although it can provide a short-term reduction in anxiety, it can increase ones sense of loneliness, and increase anxiety in the long term. Dan’s approach to social anxiety involves helping you identify your self-defeating thoughts and developing strategies to frame situations in new ways. Dan also helps you to gradually involve yourself more in social situations you may have been avoiding. Dan also uses IFS to help you access the parts that carry this social fear, and bring your compassion and curiosity to these parts to help them release the social fears they carry.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterised by the prevalence of intrusive thoughts (Obsessions) combined with repetitive behaviours/rituals (compulsions) that act to suppress the anxiety that comes with these intrusive thoughts. Again, Dan uses a staged approach to help you work through your OCD. Dan begins with “Exposure Response Prevention”, which is an approach that helps you to gradually expose yourself to your intrusive thoughts in a systematic way, while gradually building up your resilience to sit with the thoughts without engaging in the compulsion. Because the compulsion is what reinforces the obsession, if the compulsion can be eliminated, so too do the intrusive thoughts become less prevalent, and begin to carry less anxiety even as they do appear. Dan then incorporates a mindfulness approach to help you form a different relationship with your thoughts. Rather than fighting against them, Dan helps you develop strategies to distance yourself from your thoughts, and reduce the power they can have over you.
Panic attacks can feel incredibly overwhelming. They can bring with them a sense that you are going to die. There can be a sense of losing control, of feeling trapped, and a feeling of doom. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help you reduce, and in some cases, even eliminate these attacks altogether. Panic attacks are perpetuated by the panic cycle. The cycle often begins with a change in a physical sensation in the body (i.e. increased heart rate) which the mind then interprets as a danger signal that something is going wrong ("I'm losing control") which subsequently increases the heart rate. This in turn leads to more negative thoughts, continuing to exacerbate the physical symptoms of the attack. Using CBT, Dan can help you to change your interpretations of the physical sensations, as they arise, and through direct methods, can help you face your panic attacks head on and release their grip on you.
Depression can be incredibly crippling. It can take hold of you and convince you that you and worthless, unloveable, incapable, and that nothing will get better. It can make you not want to engage in life, let alone get out of bed in the morning. Physically, it can drain you of your energy. People get caught in the "depression cycle". The negative beliefs that depression tells you reinforce your feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, which leads to not wanting to do anything at all. Not doing anything thus reinforces the thoughts that depression tells you, thus reinforcing the cycle over again.
Fortunately, CBT and IFS are both highly effective strategies in recovering from your depression and breaking this cycle. Dan will help you find ways to shift these negative beliefs that depression convinces you are true, and work with those parts of you that hold those emotional beliefs to release the weight that they carry, and help you move forward in life. Dan will help you connect with your values and create a plan to help you begin to reengage again in life.
It is rare to find someone who, at some point in their life, has not questioned themselves. I'm not a good enough student. I'm not good enough at my job. I'm not a good enough partner. I'm not interesting enough. I'm not attractive enough. To some degree, it can be normal to experience self-doubt, however when these doubts are persistent, hard to shake, feel real, is when they can really begin to effect your life. Many suffer from "imposter syndrome", the feeling that, if others only really knew me, they'd see what a phoney I am. They'd see how incapable I am. Dan understands this experience and can help you find a balanced way of seeing yourself. You are not perfect, and that is perfectly OK. You will mess up. You will make mistakes. Therapy is not about ignoring these facts, but helping you to embrace these imperfections, while noticing your gifts as well.
Depending on where you are at, you may benefit from CBT or IFS in increasing your self-esteem. Dan typically works more with IFS strategies to help you increase your compassion towards the parts of your self that feeling inadequate. Offering this compassion can help these parts truly internalise that they are good enough. You may not believe it, but Dan believes that all of your parts are enough. Sometimes they've just needed to act in extreme ways, because its the only thing they know.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a psychological and physical response to a traumatic event. Not all individuals that experience a traumatic event will necessarily develop PTSD, and there are a variety of factors of why this may be. The symptoms of PTSD include: persistent reoccurring flashbacks and/or nightmares of the traumatic event, an increase in physical and psychological distress in response to stimuli in the environment that may remind one of the trauma, avoidance of situations that may remind one of the event, and alterations in beliefs about ones self, the world, and others. For individuals who have experienced one isolated traumatic event, therapy can often produce surprisingly quick results. Of course, this is highly dependent on each individual, and Dan works to understand you and what you will need over the course of therapy for it to be successful.
Developmental trauma, although not in the DSM (the handbook of psychological disorders), is a prevalent problem that many individuals experience. It is the experience of chronically being exposed to negative messages early in life (being told you're not good enough, being made to be responsible for things a child is not) and these experiences over time can lead you to an internalization of these negative beliefs. Internal Family Systems therapy is a highly effect approach for this kind of trauma. It involves working with the parts of you that are stuck in time to help offer them compassion, and help them release these negative beliefs they took on as a child. Because these beliefs have been so hard-wired, it can take some time to release these beliefs. Dan invites you to be patient with yourself as you work through this healing journey, as the impacts can be life changing.
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Complex PTSD can be thought have as having similarities between PTSD and Developmental Trauma Disorder. It involves being exposed to multiple traumatic events, and being in a prolonged state where your control has been robbed of you. Symptoms of Complex PTSD involve flashbacks and nightmares, as well as negative beliefs about ones self. IFS is the main model by which Dan works with Complex PTSD. Through this process, Dan helps you to work with the parts of you that carry the intense pain of the trauma, helping you to release the pain these parts hold, and continuing to help you with re-engaging in life.
It is not always easy to know what path to take in life. For some, the variety of choices may seem overwhelming, leading to choice paralysis. For others, it may be hard to know where even to begin. A lack of connection to our own values, what we want in life, can make one want to give up on moving forward at all. Part of what counselling can help you do is to tap in to your values, and help you build a life that is more aligned with who you truly want to be. This might be through vocation, or it might be in other aspects of your life. Dan helps you to find meaning and purpose in life, in the way that resonates with you. Dan does not impose his values on you, but rather helps you to understand what is right and meaningful for you.