Personal Counselling & Psychotherapy

Personal Counselling is a very ambiguous topic. Below are a few of the most common categories. Read more to find out how we can help you.

Let’s Write A Better Story!


The World Health Organization tells us that depression is an illness that can occur at any age.  It does not mean that you are weak or lazy and it does require attention just like cancer or diabetes does. Many people use the term “depression” to describe feelings of sadness or loss. In depression, as a medical disorder, sad feelings are experienced with greater intensity and can last a longer period of time. Depression can affect people in many different ways which can be disruptive to your work, your social or family life.

Symptoms common to depression can include:

  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Loss of concentration

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most successful forms of counselling and has good results with depressed people. CBT emphasizes the client’s examination of their thoughts and beliefs which are connected to moods, behaviours and physical experiences. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in some studies, has been proven to be as effective as medications. In some cases it is recommended as a first-line treatment.


Did you know ADHD is a chronic condition that requires a collaborative team approach with clinicians, parents, children and school staff in order to manage care effectively? Often either stimulant medication and or behaviour therapy is recommended in treatment. Periodic systematic follow up is necessary to review whether treatments are on target or if modifications are necessary.

American Academy of Pediatrics (2001)

Do you notice some of these symptoms in your child related to inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity?

  • Difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained effort
  • Fidgets
  • Talks excessively
  • Has difficulty waiting turns

There are some things parents and caregivers can focus on to help kids with ADHD improve their behaviour:

  1. Give effective commands that your child has learned and understands
  2. Teach your child  not to interrupt
  3. Stress the importance of adhering to schedules and routines
  4. Develop a system that helps with organization (home & school)
  5. Learn about “positive attention”
  6. Manage unwanted behaviour through various techniques like planned ignoring, interest boosting, rewards, and clear expectations

Let an experienced practitioner and educator who is familiar with the school system help guide you and your child towards more successful outcomes. Call us today.

Anger Management

We all tend to get angry from time to time. We typically respond to anger either aggressively(overt and intended to cause harm to self, others or to property); passively (deny or internalize anger); or passive aggressively (indirect ways of punishing their offender) through ways like procrastination, spreading rumors or through sarcasm. Assertiveness is the goal that we should strive for when we attempt to manage our anger. The gift of assertiveness is that it allows one to problem solve through methods that clearly communicate how the person feels.

Everyone has a unique personality but with many people who are chronically angry, there are some common characteristics to be aware of. Ask yourself:

  • Are you a person who has a low level of self assertiveness and criticize and scrutinize yourself?
  • Do you strive for perfection for yourself and others and have a tough time seeing things that aren’t always black and white?
  • Do you have “go to” people or mentors that you can rely on when you are challenged?
  • Do you feel you have a good sense of who you are, how you communicate with others and what methods you use to solve problems?

Coping with anger is a skill we can develop. Don’t let anger fester to the point that it destroys relationships, compromises the work you do, ruin your self esteem or negatively affect your health.  Let us work with you to help deal with issues effectively.


Does it seem that more than ever, we are living in a world of fear, worry and panic?

Well, according to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2010) research shows that we are. The truth is that 25% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime and that 10 % of all adults had an anxiety disorder over the past year. Research also indicates anxiety disorders are more common with women than men. Anxiety disorders can make it hard for people to navigate their way through work or school, manage daily tasks and relate well to friends and loved ones. People often live with anxiety disorders for years before they seek a diagnosis and treatment.

Anxiety disorders can be classified as either:

  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorders
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders or G.A.D.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Anxiety is a normal. It is neither harmful nor dangerous and can actually help us when we prepare for a challenge. When these feelings are irrational or excessive and get in the way of our lives we need to find ways that are helpful to change how we think about these events. Social phobia for example, is a fear of social and performance situations and can be extremely distressing. For students experiencing social phobia, they may not be able to attend school; for adults their excessive fear may limit career opportunities or potential fulfilling relationships with people they care about.

It is important to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. There is a good success rate with anxiety disorders in treatment.


Everyone experiences grief in their own unique way. Sometimes, the loss of a loved one occurs unexpectedly and suddenly; sometimes we have endured through a prolonged terminal illness with a family member. Coping, getting the right support and knowing ways to take care of oneself are all ways one can ease the feelings of loss.

As a result of the loss, many people report:

• Uncomfortable physical symptoms that are connected to the grief
• An upheaval of thinking emotional patterns which may include guilt, anger or confusion
• A lack of concentration, loneliness and or hopelessness that things will not improve

Talking about your grief, although difficult, usually helps people feel better. An empathetic professional can help you rethink your priorities and set goals. You will be encouraged to nurture your support systems, be open to accepting help and to be reminded of the importance of taking care of yourself.

At Change Works we will help you during this difficult time. Give us a call today.


Are you stuck in a situation that isn’t satisfying and rewarding? Do you need to change?

There are a number of tips and strategies that can help you make a change. Take time to consider the following if your current situation need an overhaul:

Slow Down. Take steps now to focus on the people and things in your life that you enjoy.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Learn to recognize those things that don’t make an impact on your health and happiness and let them go.

Be Assertive. Develop a list that’s important for you and enjoy the satisfaction of getting things accomplished.

Negotiate a change with your current boss. These can include flextime, job sharing, working from home or part time work. If you need more time for yourself or your family, now may be the time to explore careers that are less stressful and more flexible.

Avoid Procrastination by managing your time effectively. The results are more productivity and less stress.

Communicate about “sharing the load.”Other family members may be able to help, seek counseling for yourself if needed, and take care of your health. Get rid of the clutter and baggage in your house, workplace and in your life.

Family Relationship Issues

Ideally, children grow up in family environments in which they feel supported and valued. The dynamic in some families may severely limit a child’s expressions of feelings and needs.

Some examples of dysfunctional patterns may include:
  • Parental addictions or compulsions
  • One or both parents use the threat or application of physical violence
  • One or both parents are unable to provide, or threaten to withdraw, financial or basic physical care for their children.
  • Rigid adherence to a belief system without any flexibility.
Resulting Problems:

Abuse and neglect inhibit the development of children’s trust in the world, in others, and in themselves often leads to them experiencing problems at school, in their future relationships, and in their very identities.

Making Changes:

Change begins with you. Some specific things you can work on with a counselor may include:

  • Identify painful or difficult childhood experiences
  • Make a list of your behaviors, beliefs, etc. that you would like to change.
  • Find alternatives to these beliefs that may work better
  • Practicing the alternate belief and discuss how these changes impact the family

We can help families get back on track with some simple but effective solutions. Give us a call today,

Men’s Issues

Men are far less likely to get help than women, and they often delay getting help until there is a crisis. For men, getting help is often viewed as shameful. A man traditionally solves his own problems – think about this when a man is lost driving and needs to ask for directions! Men’s roles in the workforce, relationships and society have changed dramatically in recent history.

Presenting Problems by Men

With these new demands men are experiencing increasing levels of stress – often work or relationship related. This stress and the new, complicated role requirements men face today, often result in the following types of problems that are seen in therapists’ offices today:

  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Work adjustment issues (procrastination, avoidance, anger, success sabotage)
  • Addictions (alcohol, drugs, sexual, gambling)
  • Depression (sometimes related to fear and shame. They may feel that they are not succeeding at home or in the workplace)
  • Relationship problems
What can be done?

A therapist needs to “normalize” these feelings that men have.  Reframing is a process that lets men see how their behaviour and feelings can be dealt with more effectively. Sometimes in couple’s therapy, men are able to better build a successful blueprint for successful interactions. Most men want to protect and provide in their relationships and are happy to try to do this when the tasks presented are realistic and appropriate. We can help!

Parent Skills Training

Coloroso, author of Kids are Worth It! is an advocate for kids and knows what works and what doesn’t. She often emphasizes six critical life messages necessary for a child’s healthy development regardless of age. They are:

  • I believe in you
  • I trust you
  • I know you can handle it
  • You are listened to
  • You are cared for
  • You are important to me

Dr. Stuart Ablon, author of The Explosive Child provides us with a novel approach to reach and teach challenging kids. His philosophy stresses that “kids can do well if they can” and proposes a method that helps kids identify and correct their potential skill deficits. These can include poor skills in executive functioning i.e. impulsiveness; emotions or social skills or starting or maintaining conversations. He then teaches a collaborative problem solving method that has been empirically tested and proven valid as an effective intervention method.

Similarly, The Search Institute has identified 8 key areas of human development and groups the 40 Developmental Assets by these categories. These assets such as the level of family support, service to others, and participation in youth programs, for example, have a direct influence on adolescent behaviour. Simply put, the more positive assets a young person has, regardless of gender, ethnicity or economic situation, that better chance they will have being protected from problem behaviours. Change Works uses these plans extensively as a way to promote healthy self concept in kids and help parents improve upon the skills they already have.

School Success

There is no doubt that when an individual is motivated, the likelihood of him or her reaching their goals is significantly greater. Author Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us stresses three essential ingredients that all humans need to move forward: the drive towards mastery, autonomy, and purpose. In other words, there has to be a feeling that “I will get better if I have a sustained effort”; “I need some sense of control over the work I do” and that “I can make a difference because this is important to me.” Unfortunately though, many students struggle with the demands of school and face an uncertain future.

The Conference Board of Canada ( http://www.conferenceboard.ca/) lists a number of basic “Employability Skills” that young people should possess before entering the workforce. These closely resemble those learning skills that the Ontario students (www.edu.gov.on.ca) are required to possess such as:

  • Organization (planning & setting goals)
  •  Initiative (ability to use time well)
  •  Responsibility (manages own behaviour)
  •  Collaboration (works well with others)

For some students, success in school is a daunting and difficult task. Sometimes students carry additional burdens such as a learning difficulty, anxiety or depression, family breakdown and divorce, abuse or bullying issues that they need to be able to deal with before they are capable of moving on.  Let us help.

We have a great deal of experience managing children’s Individual Education Plans in both elementary and secondary school settings. We will help you address school related issues that may be impeding progress and we will work with parents and students to produce outcomes based on your goals. We will tap into what motivates your child and provide a plan that is tailored and appropriate.

Self Harm

Why is Self Harm Common among Young People?

Methods of self harm include: cutting, burning, scratching, punching, and overdosing (taking over the recommended dose) on medications. Young people may engage in self harm as a way to: reduce tension, relieve unpleasant feelings, punish oneself, cry for help, or to just “feel.” Most self harm occurs during adolescence a time often characterized by confusion, frustration and questions about personal identity. These acts are usually impulsive and youth cite problems with family members as a reason to self harm.

Suicide: Who is at Risk?

According to The Canadian Mental Health Association, people likely to commit suicide include those who:

  • Are having a serious physical or mental illness
  • Are abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Are experiencing a major loss, such as the death of a loved one, unemployment or divorce
  • Are experiencing major changes in their life, such as teenagers and seniors
  • Have made previous suicide threats

Get Help If You Suspect Someone Is Suicidal

  • Talking about suicide can only decreases the likelihood that it will occur
  • Find a safe place to talk with the person.
  • Determine if they have a plan.
  • Talk about resources that can be drawn on (family, friends, community agencies, crisis centres) to provide support, practical assistance, counselling or treatment.
  • Make a plan with the person for the next few hours
  • Go with the person to get help i.e. hospital or crisis centre
  • Self Harm Paragraph

Stress Management

Researchers tell us that stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever increasing demands of life. We are born with our brains wired with a “fight-or-flight” response that is meant to return to a normal state after a danger passes. Unfortunately, the stress treadmill of modern life means that your alarm system rarely has any downtime. That’s why managing your stress is so important. Stress management gives you a range of tools designed to reprogram your fear and danger circuitry. Without stress management, your body is always on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress can deteriorate your health or your relationships. Learn how to start practicing a variety of stress management techniques today.

Learning to Cope:

  • Take a time out to think about what is happening when stress hits
  • Focus on your breathing. Exhale, and visualize the tension leaving your body.
  • Visualize. Close your eyes, breathe and picture your own personal oasis.
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Consider keeping a stress journal to track patterns and themes
  • Go to sleep. Try eliminating everything you do in your bed other than sleep and intimacy. Television or reading can impede upon your sleep cycle.
  • Exercise! Substantial research indicates that exercise helps regulate sleep, decreases tension and depression, and increases your immune system.
  • Animals have therapeutic influences on their human companions.
  • Laughter is truly one of the best medicines. Prayer can help you reflect, gain perspective, relieve pressure, and find hope and support.
  • Spending time with friends is all we need to alleviate some tension.
  • Try meditation. It relieves anxiety and rejuvenates
  • Indulge yourself once in awhile. Slow down and pamper yourself.
  • Try cooking, listening to music, cleaning, going for a car ride, gardening, dancing, or sitting at the local park if they work for you!