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Are You New to this Therapy Thing?

Are You New to this Therapy Thing?

New to Counselling?

Are you new to this counselling thing? Are you contemplating giving it a try? Do you need to go to counselling? Or just curious as to what the fuss is all about? 

Well, here’s my attempt at giving you a little glimpse into the beauty of this phenomenon that is growing in its cultural acceptance and perhaps this can help you figure out whether signing up for counselling is the next right move for you. I speak as a fellow human who has attended counselling and as a therapist who has sat opposite to many who have courageously sought out help through the medium of therapy.

Here are some stats to gain a wider picture:

  • Statista conducted a survey of 1,650 people ranging from 18 years and older in 2020 via telephone interview. They asked the respondents, “in the past 12 months, have you received any counseling or treatment for your mental health?” 43.7% of respondents from British Columbia said “yes.” New Brunswick wins (or loses depending on how you look at it…) at 60.1% of respondents responding with “yes.” Manitoba was the lowest at 27.7%. 
  • Another study found that between 2019 and 2021 the percentage of adults who had received mental health treatment in the past 12 months grew from 19.2% to 21.6% (Terlizzi & Schiller, 2022). 
  • Statistics Canada found that in 2018 17.8% of Canadians aged 12 and older reported needing some help with their mental health. This is around 5.3 million people. That’s a lot of people! Out of that 5.3 million, 43.8% reported that their needs were either not met (they did not go to therapy) or were partially met (they went to therapy but it was not enough).

What do these three sources tell us? 

Simply put, therapy is being accessed more and more. Perhaps, we are catching on to the fact that our mental health is worth investing in. It really is. Gone are the days when therapy was reserved for those that we lazily labeled (or diagnosed) with words like “crazy” or “problematic.”

5.3 million Canadians acknowledged the need for assistance with their mental wellbeing. 

Deeper than just being accessed more, these studies are perhaps a helpful reminder that you are not alone, not part of a small fringe group, but… dare I say… human. Not yet got this “life” thing figured out. Normal? I think so.

 

What Does Therapy Look Like?

So, if you’re new to this or not yet bought into it, give me a moment to paint a picture of what it looks like: 

You arrive in a cozy office, sit in the waiting room, another fellow human – your counsellor – will arrive and call your name, together you’ll enter a room with a couch and perhaps a few chairs. You sit down. And then…

This is what you may see on the outside but so much is happening internally. 

You are setting out on a grand adventure. 

You are escaping the noise and bustle of every-day life.

You are marching out into battle. 

You are sitting by a warm fire on a stormy winter evening.

You are resolving unfinished business.

You are tending a wound that no-one around you sees.

You are aspiring and hoping for who you could become.

You are settling into who you are, becoming more at home in your own skin.

If you break your arm, you go to a doctor. This doctor will first assess your injury and then set you off on a path of healing and recovery – aligning your arm, bracing it, and advising you on what activities may or may not be achievable in light of your wound. 

In a similar way, you may have experienced various psychological/relational/emotional challenges – a huge setback in your work life and left feeling fragile, recurring conflict in your most intimate relationships, abuse from people that were supposed to be your protectors – and the question remains: where do I go to sort through/respond/heal these challenges?

The added challenge of mental health is its invisible quality, which leaves us vulnerable to the pushback: “is this just in my head? Can I just push through and deal with this?” A broken arm just seems so simple and obvious. However, mental pain and suffering left unattended can fester in similar ways than an untreated wound. Though, it may come out in angry outbursts, tension in your shoulders (perhaps its not so invisible…), the inability to know what you feel, a low sense of self-worth, or intrusive thoughts that plague you every time you slow down. 

This is where counselling becomes useful in attending to your mental well-being. It is true that humans are resilient and often, even after experiencing traumatic life events, people bounce back with courage and vitality. And yet, counselling is a protected space to address and tend to our relational, emotional, personal challenges.

 

How does counselling accomplish change?

At very least it accomplishes this through undoing our unbearable aloneness. Dr. Diana Fosha passionately declares that our relational, emotional, personal challenges largely stem from “being alone in the face of overwhelming emotion” (Fosha, 2000). Thus, therapy, at its best, works to undo aloneness.

Judith Herman, the legendary trauma therapist, writes that “the fundamental premise of the psychotherapeutic work is a belief in the restorative power of truth-telling” (Herman, 2015, p.181). In the presence of another human, can you share honestly how you are doing? Can you express, in detail and with clarity, the truth of your being? As you dive into the biggest challenges that seem to plague your life through this act of “truth-telling”, you are met with wise attentiveness and deep compassion.

Bessel Van Der Kolk, the medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts, says “being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives” (Van der Kolk, 2015, p. 81).

 

A Safe Relationship

Do you have relationships marked by trust, safety, honesty? How can you tell?

Bessell highlights the importance of each of us being heard and seen by another person in our lives. We need to be held in someone else’s mind and heart. He writes, “no doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love; these are complex and hard-earned capacities” (Van der Kolk, 2015, p. 81).

Do you feel a desire to be met with this sort of attentiveness and care? Does it feel too good to be true? Too simple? Fair responses. A helpful question to explore is what the costs are for not receiving this hard-earned capacities? 

I know I need them. And as I step into vulnerability—this act of receiving and trusting—I find myself walking lighter, thinking with greater clarity regarding my relationships and problems, and feeling more at home in my body and in this world. Perhaps you could call it feeling mentally healthy.

I encourage you to find relationships that are characterized by these qualities. Whether or not they are counsellors. It will change your life. It’s changed my life.

Here at Alongside You, these quotes inspire our work; We offer award-winning counselling services that are shot through with these qualities: a safe context to be seen, held in the mind of another, and this “hard-earned” love that Bessell speaks about. If you wish to learn more, contact us to see how we can help.

 

References

Elflein, J. (2022, August 31). Adults who received past-year Mental Health Counseling Canada 2020. Statista. Retrieved from, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1328941/adults-who-received-past-year-mental-health-counseling-canada-by-province/ 

Facts and figures. Fraser. (n.d.). Retrieved from, https://vancouver-fraser.cmha.bc.ca/impact/influencing-policy/facts-and-figures/#:~:text=Between%2019.6%25%20and%2026.2%25%20of,a%20mental%20illness%20each%20year. 

Fosha, D. (2000). The transforming power of affect: A model for Accelerated Change. Basic Books. 

Herman, J. L. (2015). Trauma and recovery. Basic Books.

Statistics Canada. (2019, October 7). Mental health care needs, 2018. Health Fact Sheets. Retrieved from, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00011-eng.htm 

Terlizzi, E. P., & Schiller, J. S. (2022). Mental health treatment among adults aged 18-44: United States, 2019-2021. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.

Parenting a Young Adult

Parenting a Young Adult

Parenting your Chronically-Ill Young Adult

Becoming an adult is a challenge these days. It’s even more challenging if you have chronic physical or mental illness, pain and/or disability. And it is equally challenging when parenting one of those kiddos. Here are some suggestions about what tends to work, and what tends not to work – although, of course, every child is different, and every parent-child relationship is different – so, take these as suggestions only and use what works for you.

Separation Anxiety

By separation anxiety, I mean yours! It is normal for young adults to become more and more autonomous as they separate from their family of upbringing and learn to stand on their own feet. This can be very anxiety-provoking when you are acutely aware of their struggles. Maybe you know that they have extreme anxiety around dealing with paperwork or making telephone calls. You may wonder, “how are they going to manage in their own place?” But hovering and fussing around isn’t helping them or you. Take a breath, do a guided meditation, and learn to be more patient than you ever thought possible.

If you have a young adult who sometimes goes ‘quiet’ and you have concerns about self-harm, it can be a good idea to have the name and number of a partner, friend or coworker who you can contact to check on how they’re doing. However, this must only be on rare occasions. Don’t use them as a way to deal with your anxieties.

They’re Still Here!

If your young adult is still living at home because of their health, and you are both happy about that, then there is no problem. If either of you are less than enthusiastic about it, then it’s time to give them their own space as much as possible, set boundaries and ground rules that work for everyone, and negotiate for shared time rather than assuming that they want to be around you 24/7. It may also be time for them to assume some of the household duties (to the extent that their health allows) so that they are building transferrable skills, and learning that being an adult comes with responsibilities.

Mind Your Own Business!

Privacy is something which everyone deserves. Our children get less privacy when they are young because that is tempered by the need to have some level of control over their lives to ensure that they are healthy and safe. However, adults have the right to privacy, period. Your kid’s computer, cellphone, finances, diary … all off-limits. If you have concerns, talk to them – it’s the grown-up thing to do and they should be able to expect you to model what being an adult means. They don’t need your permission to go out, but they may need your help with transportation. If you’re willing to do that, you’ll meet their friends and be part of their life way more than if they get grilled every time they leave the house.

What They Need versus What You Want to Do

Often we think we really know our kids and their needs – and we probably do, more than anyone in the world … except them. If we insist on helping the way we want instead of what they need, then we prevent them from growing. For example, if they tell you that they can handle taking the bus to work this week, and don’t need a lift – you may not be sure they can do it. But what’s the worst that can happen? They try it once and then need assistance. But what’s the best that can happen? Maybe they make progress and conquer a new skill! Don’t second guess them. Yes, it’s hard watching them struggle a bit. But that, as the kids say, is a you problem. Don’t make it theirs.

Work together with your kids to make contingency plans that help keep their lives on-track. If they take prescriptions, and you know they have difficulty filling them – keep a few days’ supply so that they won’t ever run out completely. If they’re travelling, and you worry that their ADHD will cause them to lose their passport – take a scanned copy backed up to the Cloud and make sure you both have a photo of it on your phones. There are creative solutions to most problems. Oh, and the occasional home-made mac and cheese never hurts, either!

Parenting Without Judgement!

Make parenting a no-judgement zone. If they get into trouble, they won’t ask for help if they know they are going to hear ‘I told you so’. Minimize issues and let them know that adult life is hard, but manageable, and most things can be fixed. Be ready to help when it’s needed, and be prepared to feel a touch neglected when they’re having a good spell and don’t really need you as much! And quit judging yourself, too. You’re navigating one of the most difficult tightrope walks of all – being there for a child who wants to be independent but who can’t quite manage it yet. You aren’t always going to get it right, and neither are they. Don’t beat yourself up about it. The best thing you can do for your kid is be there for them when they need you to be, and love them, always.

If you find that you are struggling with parenting, don’t be afraid to seek help. It can be a relief to realize that many other people struggle with the same issues. I know it’s hard, but try to let other people in. It can be easy to assume that you are the only one who can help your kid. But even if that’s so, maybe other people can help YOU. Maybe your partner can do the laundry or the supermarket run this week. Don’t get so blinkered that you exhaust yourself completely, because then you won’t be able to help your kid. I am not suggesting that you always put yourself first – no parent of a chronically-ill child I have ever met is able to do that. But I am suggesting that you don’t put yourself last.

Look How Far They’ve Come

It can be hard, when you have a kiddo with chronic health issues, to get bogged down in doctor visits, prescriptions, rough nights, trips to the ER, sensory overloads, etc, etc. But looking back a couple of years usually lets us see the progress which has been made. Maybe things don’t look like you expected them to. But maybe your journey, and your young adult’s, will end up being more meaningful than you ever expected. Celebrate the wins!

We’d love to hear what works for you and your young adult. And if you could use support in your parenting journey, contact us to see how we can help.

National Truth and Reconciliation Day: How To Integrate Awareness  In the Workplace

National Truth and Reconciliation Day: How To Integrate Awareness In the Workplace

On September 30th, 2023, Canada observes National Truth and Reconciliation Day, a day dedicated to honouring the lives of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children who endured the devastating legacy of residential schools. This day is symbolized by the Orange Shirt, signifying hope and a commitment to a better future. To promote awareness and reconciliation, both individuals and organizations can take meaningful steps. Here are seven ways to integrate awareness into your workplace.

  1. Learn Together: Gather your team to learn about Indigenous history in Canada and the Residential School System. There are numerous resources available, such as books like “First Nations 101” by Lynda Gray and podcasts like Orange Shirt Day with Vanessa Mitchell, Tracy Mooney, and Jody Wagner. Consider taking online courses, like the one offered by the University of Alberta on Indigenous People in Canada.
  2. Acknowledge the Territory: Start correspondence and meetings by acknowledging the traditional territories on which you live and work. This simple act recognizes the Indigenous peoples who have stewarded these lands for generations. Visit educational institutes like The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Center at the University of British Columbia for deeper insights.
  3. Attend Reconciliation Events: Participate as a team in local National Truth and Reconciliation events, whether in person or virtually. These events offer opportunities for education, reflection, and solidarity. For instance, Tsawwassen First Nation is hosting a “Walk for Truth and Reconciliation” on September 30th from 9:45am-12:00pm beginning at their Rec Center.
  4. Support Indigenous Businesses: Promote reconciliation by supporting local First Nations businesses, artists, and products. Look for Indigenous-owned businesses in your area and purchase their products or services. For example, Angela’s Boutique in Ladner, BC sells Orange Shirts, while Salish Beading Beauties creates beautiful beaded jewelry.
  5. Hire a First Nations Consultant: Consider hiring a First Nations consultant to educate your organization. Businesses like Hummingbird Rising, founded by Musqueam member Rhiannon Bennett and adult educator Andrea Hilder, who aim to foster understanding and compassion among Non-Indigenous Canadians.
  6. Create Visible Sentiments: Make your sentiments visible by sharing space with others in your community. Take part in a shoe collection or interactive activities that allow people to express condolences and prayers. These gestures demonstrate sincere respect and compassion for Indigenous communities. A collective voice of sincere respect is powerful and fosters resilience.

    art board decorated for national truth and reconciliation day 2022

    shoes to represent lost children

  7. In 2022, Erin Alger organized an event at The Delta Municipal Hall. Shoes were collected representing children who were lost and subsequently donated, a collection of books and materials were available to view and other community members and I facilitated an interactive project, allowing visitors to write uplifting messages on sticky notes. These boards were gifted to the sc̓əwaθən məsteyəx (Tsawwassen First Nations) and the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), whose shared, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories we reside, in an effort to offer a collective voice of sincere respect and compassion and to acknowledge the amazing resilience of their communities).

  8. Embrace Creative Activities: Foster team unity through creative activities that promote reflection and understanding. For example, we encouraged our staff to engage in symbolic projects like weaving yarn through a heart-shaped metal wire wall fixture, honouring the Coast Salish weaving tradition. This allows for reflection and reverence within your workplace.

    image of weaving project for truth and reconciliation day 2023

    In the banner photo of this article you’ll see that in 2022, we invited our team to paint dots (using a bingo dotter) representing the thousands of children who never returned from residential schools, and the survivors. Completed over several days and was a powerful visual aid of loss. Despite this loss, we marvel at the courage and resilience First Nations, Inuit and Métis People today!

    Incorporating awareness and reconciliation efforts into the workplace is a vital step towards healing and understanding. As we remember the children who never returned from residential schools and honor the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, let us work together to create a workplace that is inclusive, compassionate, and dedicated to the belief that every child matters.

As we continue to educate ourselves, and encourage our staff to participate meaningfully in National Truth and Reconciliation Day, our offices will be closed on Monday, October 2nd, 2023 in order to observe the stat holiday. We hope this weekend is a meaningful one for the community, and honouring to our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis neighbours.

A Patient-Centered Journey with a Pain-Science Oriented RMT

A Patient-Centered Journey with a Pain-Science Oriented RMT

What is Pain-Science Oriented Massage Therapy?

Pain is a complex, individual experience that touches the lives of many.

Pain is more than just a physical sensation; it’s a unique experience influenced by various factors. A pain-science educated registered massage therapist (RMT) takes a patient-centered approach, delving into the science of pain and the intricate brain processes and psychological processes involved. This scientific foundation equips them to offer a comprehensive approach that respects the individual needs and goals of their patients.

Traditional massage therapy has often adhered to the notion of “no pain, no gain.” However, a patient-centered, pain-science oriented RMT approaches this differently. They prioritize creating a safe and comfortable environment that encourages open communication with their patients. This shift acknowledges that enduring pain during treatment doesn’t necessarily equate to therapeutic progress and respects each patient’s unique pain thresholds and works within these to find a therapeutic solution.

Pain-Science Process

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing pain, and patient-centered care recognizes this fact. A pain-science oriented RMT conducts thorough patient assessments, considering not only physical symptoms but also emotional and lifestyle factors. This personalized approach allows them to collaboratively develop treatment plans tailored to the patient’s specific needs, addressing the person and aligning with the patient’s goals.

Education is a cornerstone of patient-centered care. Pain-science oriented RMTs empower their patients with knowledge about their condition, the science of pain, and effective self-care strategies. This educational component not only enhances the patient’s ability to manage their pain but also fosters a sense of control and active participation in their well-being.

Pain is a multidimensional experience that often necessitates a team-based approach. A patient-centered, pain-science oriented RMT values collaboration and maintains open lines of communication with other professionals such as Registered Clinical Counsellors and Primary Caregivers. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive comprehensive, patient-centered care that addresses all aspects of their pain.

In a world where pain is a pervasive concern, a patient-centered, pain-science oriented Registered Massage Therapist offers a valuable resource. By embracing the intricacies of pain, crafting customized treatment plans aligned with patient goals, and empowering patients with knowledge, these therapists are reshaping the landscape of pain management through a patient-centered lens.

Your Journey Toward Managing Pain: Next Steps

If you seek a holistic, patient-centered, knowledge-driven approach to pain relief, consider exploring the realm of a patient-centered, pain-science oriented RMT. Your journey toward understanding and managing pain begins with a deeper exploration of its fascinating intricacies within a patient-centered care framework.

Click here to contact us and learn more about how our RMTs can use their patient-centered, pain-science informed approach to help you today.

Self-Care When It’s Hard

Self-Care When It’s Hard

We’ve all seen articles telling us how to ‘indulge’ in self-care in a curated, Instagrammable, Pinterest-worthy way. You know, bubble baths and pedicures, mojitos with your friends and charcuterie boards.  And that’s… nice for those who can manage it. But if you read those articles, and the very thought of all that is exhausting and makes you want to cry, read on… we’ve got you covered.

What is Self-Care?

Here’s the thing: Self-care means anything that you do for your own good. And, just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we can classify self-care in a pyramid.The bottom of the pyramid? Things like: taking your meds, brushing your teeth, getting out of bed (with or without getting dressed), making yourself eat. And if those are too much, try and think of the smallest thing that you could manage to do in your day, and prioritize. It’s probably more important that you eat something and take your meds than get dressed or brush your teeth. Of course, those things are important, too, but when you’re in crisis, you need to choose the absolute essentials.

Once you have the basics covered, the next most important thing is to add in some joyful things which will fill your cup. Are you rewatching all of Star Trek in order? (That’s mine!) Do you like to knit, crochet, paint or draw? Do you have ‘$20 in your pocket’ and enough energy to make it to the thrift store? Can you make it out for a Starbucks with a friend?

Self-Care is Necessary

If you find yourself struggling with self-care, try gently asking yourself why. Are you exhausted and in chronic pain and it’s just physically difficult to do tasks? Are you in the bottom of a depression and shame spiral and you don’t feel like you’re worthy of love and care? Do you feel like any time, effort or money spent on yourself is ‘bad’? Maybe some of these things are issues to take up with your doctor and/or counsellor. If you are struggling with everything, including eating and taking meds consistently, it may be time to make a decision to ask for help.

Make Self-Care a Judgement Free Zone

Things that tend not to be helpful: Beating yourself up about what you ‘should’ be able to do, or listening to helpful relatives suggest that ‘if you just got to bed at a decent time’ you’d be able to do everything with ease. In order to work on making changes in our lives, we first need to accept where we are – without judgement, shame, blame or self-hatred.

It can help to find someone whom you admire who has also struggled with similar issues. For example, one of my favourite authors, John Green, struggles with intrusive thought spirals due to OCD, like I do – and it makes me feel just a little bit better.

Creative Coping

If you struggle with certain self-care tasks, look for alternatives. Please know that many, many people have specific struggles with tasks like showering, brushing their teeth, visiting the dentist or doctor, taking their medications, etc. Instead of looking at those Instagram-perfect lives, use social media to your advantage, and find YouTubers and TikTokkers who understand what you’re going through and can give you some ideas:

Showering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43AH2Toi4Ho

Alternatives to tooth brushing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ0YaA9nKGc

Dental care: www.youtube.com/watch?v=atM2PbF4SIs&ab_channel=HowtoADHD

Self-Care with ADHD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_kOPlMttl4

Neurodivergent self-care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPrF73fN_oU&ab_channel=fosteronthespectrum

If you struggle to take your meds, think about whether it’s a problem remembering (and put them somewhere you will be sure to see them every day), or a mental struggle (you may have to bribe yourself with a treat, or get a loved one to check in with you to help you to be consistent).

Dentists and doctors: if you have fears or specific issues, it can seem overwhelming to tackle medical appointments. Here’s the time to take your loved ones up on their offer to advocate for you, and let them take care of scheduling, transport, being with you and checking in on you during the appointment if they recognize that you are overwhelmed.

It can be hard to work on decorating your space when you don’t have a lot of energy or motivation, but if you spend a lot of time in your room, it’s important. There are resources which can help you. Try this YouTube video for some good ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABof7aqVSoQ

The Best and Bravest Decision

Deciding to work on self-care is a very brave decision. And one of the best ways to do that is to ask for help. This is often really hard! But you probably know some people who would be happy to help if they just knew what you needed. This might involve swallowing your pride a little bit.  It takes courage to let even a trusted person into your space when it’s messy or dirty. I 100% promise you that they are not judging you like you are judging yourself. I also promise you that if they were living your life right now, they’d be struggling, too. This isn’t about your sickness, disability or lack of motivation. It’s about figuring out what you need to in order to create a life worth living.

So, self-care can be hard. And yes, that sucks. But it’s the foundation which will allow you to build towards all the good things that are waiting for you. Remember that every tiny act of self-care you can manage will build up into a forward momentum towards feeling better.

How Do I Help My Child With Back-to-School Anxiety?

How Do I Help My Child With Back-to-School Anxiety?

Some School Anxiety is Normal!

First things first, it is normal and expected for children to have some worries with regards to going back to school! School anxiety may include worries like:

  • Who will be my new teacher?
  • Will my friends be in my class this year?
  • How will I do in math/language/etc. this year?
  • Will this year be harder than last year?

These are social and academic concerns that all children can experience from time to time. In these cases, it is important for parents to recognize these concerns and talk openly with their child about them. At the same time, it is critical that parents listen and empathize, never dismissing or minimizing the child’s feelings. Children need to be heard, like all people.

Parents’ Reactions to School Anxiety:

On the other hand, if parents react with anxiety to their child’s worries, the child will pick up on this and it will only heighten their worries. The calmer a parent can be, the more likely they will be able to really listen to their child and offer support, rather than react based on their own worries. As a parent, I know it can be incredibly tempting to jump in and fix it, to make it all better for our children. When we do this however, we are not really helping our children. We are not allowing them to learn and grow from these experiences. Ultimately, our goal as parents should be to help foster resilience in our children, rather than to promote dependency. Life will always present us with challenges and struggles, among other things. As parents, we play an important role in helping our children build resilience during times of hardship, walking alongside them and supporting them.

One of the questions I am often asked by parents with regards to back-to-school anxiety is, “How do I know if it’s normal worrying or anxiety?” There are signs for which parents can be on the lookout including:

  • school refusal
  • stomach aches/headaches/nausea
  • shutting down in school and/or refusing to participate
  • changes in sleep and/or nightmares
  • changes in appetite
  • heightened sensitivity
  • low frustration tolerance with behaviours like anger outbursts or crying.

How to Help Your Child

When parents see these signs in their child, it is important for them to step in and help their child. The key steps to helping our kid in these situations are:

  1. Acknowledge what the child is experiencing.
  2. Let them (if they are old enough) describe what they are feeling.
  3. Most importantly parents: listen to, and acknowledge what your child says, so that they feel seen, and heard.

Once you understand what your child is feeling and experiencing, the next step can be a conversation with your child about coping strategies. My experience has shown me that children often come up with the best strategies for themselves!

There are times, however, in which parents see that their child is overwhelmed and really struggling and they themselves feel they do not know how to handle the situation. At times like this, professional assistance may be warranted and helpful. I know I’ve been there, and I’d love to be there for you too!

Click here to contact us to get support for your child.

What does art have to do with healing?

What does art have to do with healing?

The pandemic has been tough on everyone, and according to both UNICEF and Statistics Canada, it’s been exceptionally tough on our children and teenagers. It’s impacted their social lives, their schooling, and their personal development. The challenges of social distancing, feelings of isolation from being away from friends and family, and the abrupt switch to remote learning have all contributed to the toll on their mental health. Now, more than ever, our young ones need new skills to adjust and flourish in this new normal.

Art and Healing

But here’s the silver lining – we’ve all seen the healing power of the arts during these difficult times. Remember the boom in virtual art sessions? The touching signs made for healthcare workers? The painted rocks scattered about? The spontaneous musical performances on streets and in hospitals? All these were clear signs of how art was used as a powerful tool to create meaningful connections, express our sense of community, and build resilience. And guess what? Our teens can harness the same power of art as they navigate their path towards adulthood.

Arts proved their worth in our toughest times, and they’re just as crucial for our kids today!

Our ‘Name it to Tame it’ art class is the ideal space for your teen to start reconnecting with the world. With its small group setting and nurturing, safe environment, it’s designed to help them develop healthy ways to cope through fun, creativity, and self-expression. So, your teen won’t just learn to create art in this class, they’ll also learn to create resilience and thrive in life.

Click here to learn more about Name it to Tame it — Mindfulness and Art for Anxious Teens.

Is “Name It To Tame It” art therapy?

Is “Name It To Tame It” art therapy?

Our Name It To Tame It group for anxious teens isn’t run by an art therapist, it is run by a teaching artist, Meg Neufeld. What’s the difference you might be wondering?

Art therapists are professionally trained clinical counsellors with specific training in art therapy, who use creative expression and art-making as way to help clients explore their emotions and experiences in specific ways and with clinical support; teaching artists are practicing professional artists that place an importance on teaching people how to engage in art in a meaningful, helpful way that can have a positive impact on mental health and resilience.

Teaching Art for Teen AnxietyPhoto of participant making art in our Name it to Tame it group.

Art therapy and teaching art can be game-changers in your teen’s wellbeing. Imagine them enjoying fun art activities that not only keeps them engaged but also makes a real difference in their lives. These creative sessions can help them let go of stress, motivate them to take care of themselves, and promote their personal growth. It’s about more than just painting or drawing, it’s about growing their confidence, boosting their self-esteem, and helping them build resilience. Art provides your teens with a fresh, creative outlet to explore and express their thoughts and emotions, and along the way, they’ll be acquiring crucial life skills. It’s a win-win situation, and what more could we as parents ask for?

As a professional and teaching artist, Meg Neufeld is in a unique position to draw from her own experience as a practicing artist and as an educator in the community. Meg has over two decades of experience as a professional artist, along with training in education and in mindfulness-based art techniques that can be passed on to teens struggling with anxiety. She also has personal lived experience about what it is like to make art for one’s physical, social, mental, emotional wellbeing as a result of her own journey with chronic pain.

Anxiety: Name it to Tame it!

If your teen is struggling with anxiety, we’d love to bring them into the world of art, and help them find a safe place to land, and explore how art can help them in their journey with their anxiety, and have some fun!

If your teen’s anxiety would prevent them from coming to a group, we’re also able to provide this service 1:1 and in pairs with parents – let us know if your teen would benefit from individual sessions!

Click here to learn more about the Name it to Tame it group (Mindfulness and Art for Anxious Teens).

What do art and mindfulness have in common?

What do art and mindfulness have in common?

They both are excellent tools to manage anxiety! In recent years, mindfulness has emerged as an effective strategy for children and adolescents dealing with conditions like ADHD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression, and stress. Coupled with the health benefits of art-making, mindfulness skills can be instrumental in managing anxious or negative thoughts for children and youth.

Mindful Art MakingMindful art project that reads "find what makes your heart sing and create your own music."

A recent study from the University of Waterloo shows that just 10 minutes of mindfulness-based activity a day can reduce anxiety and prevent your mind from wandering. Mindful art making activities, especially those that require repetitive tasks (like knitting), with sensory elements (like clay), and reflective components (like journaling) work to calm the nervous system, and soothe symptoms of stress and irritability.

Focusing on the process rather than the product, and approaching the art-making experience with compassion and a non-judgmental attitude can be instrumental in managing anxious or negative thoughts. Supporting child and youth mental health using mindfulness-based art activities is a no brainer (pun fully intended).

If you’re interested, check out the study from Waterloo: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170501094325.htm

If you’d like your teen to learn how to do this, check out our Name It To Tame It group starting this September! Click here to learn more.

Anxiety in teens is more common than we think!

Anxiety in teens is more common than we think!

Did you know that an estimated 1.2 million children and youth are affected by mental illness. 70% of mental health issues begin in childhood and adolescence, yet 75% of children with mental health issues do not access specialized services. Teen suicide rates in Canada is one of the highest in the world, with rates in Indigenous communities being 11x higher than the national average (Youth Mental Health in Canada statistic)

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, over 30% of teens have anxiety disorders, with girls (38.6%) having a higher rate than boys (26.1%). This is why it’s so important for us to prioritize, support, and advocate for mental health programs and treatment for children and teenagers.

How can Art help Anxiety?Photo from an therapeutic arts anxiety and mindfulness class.

Back in 2019, the World Health Organization shared some eye-opening research. They found that letting young people explore their creativity through the arts can greatly improve their social skills, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and cognitive abilities. This holistic improvement in mental and physical health is making arts a vital part of healthcare, particularly for our children and teenagers. The more they’re able to express themselves through arts, the healthier they become, and this trend is gaining more recognition in the healthcare world.

Anxiety: Name it to Tame it

Our Name it to Tame it group is designed to use the arts described in this research to help teens with anxiety use art-making and mindfulness to improve their social skills, physical health, and mental and emotional wellbeing using a fun and creative art experience.

Click here to learn more about the Name it to Tame it group.