Office: 902-542-0834
Mobile: 902-698-2860


Since retiring, I’ve had a lot of uncomfortable emotions–can counselling therapy help?

It’s quite common for people to seek out counselling during any time a major life transition is experienced and retirement is one of our more significant life changes.

Retirement is a big cultural change from the hectic life of a regular 40-work week to a lifestyle that is less structured. Additionally, if you were busy raising kids during your formal work life, your life has changed even more if your adult children are now living independently. Children and work are two huge life endeavours that not only take a big chunk of our time in our younger adulthood, they define us and our relationships with others. It’s natural for our identities and relationships with others to feel different when these big roles are significantly changed.

Retirement can be a very fruitful time for exploring how our younger selves were perhaps not fully expressed or healed when are lives were more hectic. Counselling therapy can provide a safe, encouraging place to embark on this discovery.

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Do you share information with other professionals I see?

Outside of four areas (see question But, I thought everything I said to a therapist was confidential. What kind of information given to a therapist is confidential and what isn’t?), no information is shared with others unless you give me written permission.

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Why do you take notes and what do you do with them?

ession notes help therapists plan, remember details, and track counselling progress.

Clients have the right to see the notes therapists keep. Therapists require a signed request to make a copy of the notes and should be given extensive notice.

I keep counselling notes securely locked. I keep clients’ records for ten years and then I securely dispose of them.

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But, I thought everything I said to a counsellor was confidential. What type of information given to a counsellor is confidential and what isn’t?

Everything you say to a therapist is confidential with four exceptions:

  • Any reference to a child or children being abused,
  • Indications that there are serious considerations for the safety of the client’s life or others’ lives,
  • Court subpoenas,
  • Reports sometimes required by insurance companies on the assessments and interventions used with the client as well as the projected number of sessions needed if a client uses insurance to cover the cost of counselling.

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I’ve heard of children being taken away from parents due to what a client has said to a therapist. Is this true?

Everyone has a duty to report child abuse as outlined by the Children and Family Services Act of Nova Scotia.  This act was recently changed in early 2017, so if you have questions, please check this link:  Children and Family Services Act of Nova Scotia

Therapists follow this duty to report and must report any suspected or known child abuse to authorities. This reporting could, result in a child, or children, being removed from their family home temporarily, or in some cases, permanently.

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What if my partner doesn’t want to attend couples counselling?

The decision to come to counselling sessions is often back and forth process.  Clients often take some time to decide on individual sessions, so when it involves two people making the decision, it makes sense that it might involve more back and forth and require more time for both partners to agree.

It’s best to approach your partner with the idea of couples counselling when things are more calm between you and use a gentle tone with kind words, of course, but giving your partner some time to mull over the idea might also be helpful.

In the end, if your partner doesn’t want to try couples counselling, you can always attend individual sessions on your own and work on your half of the relationship.  After you’ve done this for a while, your partner might see the benefit of counselling and agree to try it out, but even it they don’t, you may see benefits in your relationship just by working on ‘your stuff’!

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What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

EFT is a couples therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson and her colleagues in the 1980s. It is designed to be short-term, usually taking about 8 to 20 sessions, depending on the issues the couple is experiencing.  The EFT approach is based on the science of adult attachment and bonding, so it is also helpful with families and individual clients. Therapists use EFT with different cultural groups world-wide in private practice, university training centres, and hospitals.

Numerous EFT studies have taken place in the last 20 years, showing that 70 to 75% of couples can move from distress to recovery in their relationships, and about 90% of couples show significant improvements in their relationships. EFT is effective for couples where partners are living with depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, or chronic illness. EFT is not advised for couples where on-going violence, affairs, or addictions are commonplace.

Watch Soothing the Threatened Brain, a short video on the effectiveness of EFT.

You can also learn more about EFT from the official website by clicking here.

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I’ve noticed, or have heard from others, that people who are in therapy sometimes change in ways that aren’t always positive. Can therapy make people’s lives worse?

This is a complicated, but important, question.

I like to reassure my clients that although it is common for the effects of change to reverberate through the client’s life and relationships, we will seek to notice and attend to these changes and reverberations in a way that is helpful and constructive.

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How many sessions will I need?

Every client’s journey with counselling is different; good work can happen in as little as two or three sessions.

Sometimes, the journey is brief: the client knows what goals he or she wants to achieve and we get to know each other very quickly. We might be able to decide on a course of action in the first session and the client might make the change right away, not requiring further sessions.

Most times a client sees me for seven to ten sessions for one issue, returning to counselling at another time if he or she needs a ‘tune up’ or has another issue.

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Do you offer virtual counselling or e-counselling?

I am working virtually exclusively now–and have been since February 2021.

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Other therapists have not been able to help me. How do I know that you can?

Therapists can help clients create great, positive change in their lives if there is a good connection between them. Because effective counselling involves a strong working alliance and this relationship doesn’t always form, you might not have had success with other therapists.

A working alliance means the client and the therapist have developed a relationship of trust and collaboration; a kind of ‘chemistry’ with each other. If this chemistry doesn’t develop by the second session, or third at the very latest, and we have tried our best to nurture a better connection, it’s my belief that our working alliance might not happen, but this doesn’t reflect badly on the client or the therapist.

A good connection can set the stage for long-lasting, positive change. I encourage you to keep looking to find a therapist with whom you have this connection. Knowing what to look for in a therapist and accessing directories can help in this search.

There are national and provincial designations that indicate a therapist has earned certain levels of education and experience. One national designation is ‘Canadian Certified Counsellor,’ or ‘CCC,’ placed after the therapist’s name. It indicates the therapist belongs to the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. A Nova Scotian designation is ‘Registered Counselling Therapist’ (RCT) or ‘Registered Counselling Therapist-Candidate’ (RCT-C), indicating the therapist belongs to the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists.

Searchable directories are available: Canadian Certified Counsellors and Registered Counselling Therapists.

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