or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.

Appreciating Fear  

Snakes-Spiders-Heights-Flying-Being Alone-Social Settings-Failure-Conflict-Rejection-Low Blood Sugars-Success-Failure

Can you imagine how you would drive with no fear or too much fear?  A healthy level of fear gives us guidance; puts some caution in our approach; directs us away from danger.

Fear, defined by Wikipedia, is “an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.” Side effects from pulling away from some of our fears may be: (1) feeling anxiety with the anticipation of having to face our fears, (2) missing out on opportunities which may promote growth and development, or (3) creating friction in our relationships as we hide from certain situation.

Psychology Today describes fear as a “vital response to physical and emotional danger.” And it is a necessity to feel this emotion to protect ourselves from legitimate threats. If we created a list of all of our fears, how many are legitimate threats?

We all enter this world with a positive perspective. We explore our environment like a fun playground, full of adventure and ready to conquer.  Unfortunately trauma and other bad experiences may trigger fear within us that we hold on to because we have not overcome such horrible experiences.

Ever look at the word FEAR like this:





If fear becomes overwhelming it may be considered anxiety. One strategy to address this problem is called systematic desensitization: “diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it” (thanks Wiki). Exposure to our own personal fears or “demons” in a safe environment is an effective way to move past them.

Contact us today to receive coaching to more effectively work through your fears.

Horrendous secrets many people carry for months, years, decades and maybe even to their grave can lead to debilitating stress. This can result in what many people call a “break-down”.  It was historically referred to as a “nervous breakdown”, “hysteria” and “shell shock”.

I like to call it a “letting out“, in what may appear like sudden release of the awful trauma from the past. The information may be considered held in the background of the mind until the person suffering is better equipped to deal with it. It can take years to reach the point of release. When the abuse and violence happens during childhood, it is quite common to keep it secret; possibly not wanting further upset in the family, because of embarrassment, confusion, shame and guilt or simply because the child has no way of dealing with this at their age and stage.

This is a very serious psychological dilemma, a catch twenty-two. Victims are caught between two very stressful choices: speak up or not?

Studies show as many as one in four girls and one in six boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of eighteen. Not only is the offending behaviour severely troubling at the time, in the years that follow there is usually increase in emotional upset and imbalance. Negative thoughts can gradually increase with one’s heightened awareness of the nature of such an offence, the stigma associated and throughout the subsequent stages of sexual development.  

Of course, with the negative thoughts, or what I reframe as “stinkin thinkin“, comes negative emotional states and the negative behavioural patterns are not far behind. Those suffering from what Judith Herman (Trauma and Recovery, 1992) first called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (or reaction – PTSR) may display symptoms often related to depression or anxiety, may engage in harmful and hurtful “risk-taking” behaviours, substance misuse and experience severe and chronic difficulties with relationships.

If you have experienced such a trauma, and feel ready and able to work on this obstacle to growth, I encourage you to seek out a specialized professional counsellor for assistance. There are also good books and resources to use in combination with recovery and restorative therapy. For more information on this and other issues  Contact us today

Loss of a loved one, whether a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, friend or another close to you can be quite painful and heart-wrenching.  Initial shock and disbelief are often quickly replaced by feelings of sorrow, grief, confusion and even anger. These emotional responses are quite normal…uncomfortable, yet normal.

Can you imagine getting close to another person, sharing special times, stories, events and situations, some very intimate and challenging and others exciting, joyful and exhilarating… then suddenly they are gone and you felt normal, unaffected? That would be strange wouldn’t it?  

Significant loss is supposed to impact us, change us and even throw us off our normal routines. The greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the impact. In ancient times, those who lost a loved one may display their grief by tearing their clothes, covering themselves in ashes and mourning for months and even years.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote two of the best books to help people grieving the loss of a loved one; On Death & Dying” and “On Grief & Grieving. These fine works help those grieving with the journey, finding new meaning, restoring faith and adjusting to a life without their special loved one.

Sometimes the struggle after loss can seem simply too much to handle, too hard to face on your own and maybe even too difficult for surviving family and friends to help you with.  This is not a flaw or weakness. It may simply be the loss is so great extra assistance and supports may be required.

If you should find the loss of a loved one is just too much, fueling overwhelming emotions (e.g. excessive crying and anger) and increasingly troubling behaviours, please reach out and to get the supports available. You may even Contact us today

So many people make this decision far too quickly and with very limited and or biased information.  After working in the counselling field for over twenty years, I have grown increasingly “pro family”. We often hear the following two main thoughts about separating… “I might as well leave and be happy” or “If I stay, we’ll only fight and be miserable”.  That negative voice in the back of our heads doesn’t want us to think about the other two possibilities… “I could leave and be miserable still” or “I could actually stay and work out things so we’re a happier couple/ family”. What happened to those options?

What can you do about it? There are lots of things we can do to change ourselves, thereby changing those around us (Social Systems Theory).   We receive ongoing training to be great at our careers, hobbies and sometimes even get trainers/coaches for great physical fitness and sports. Great relationships are constructed over time and with plenty of effort.  How about getting coaching to improve mental fitness and great relationships. There are numerous books and professional counsellors that can help you assess your relationship and achieve your goals.

Before you make any major life changing decisions, get accurate and objective information about your options.  Ask us what you want to achieve in relationship and we will draw upon your strengths in the training and effort required to negotiate issues better, problem-solve more quickly and communicate concerns more effectively so you and your partner can have a satisfying, magnificent  romance and family. . Please reach out and call us today