Considering Psychotherapy/Counselling? No Problem too Large No Problem too Small

I often hear people say that they think their problem is too big or too small to be in therapy for (more frequently the former). Psychotherapists are able and trained to help clients with a variety of issues. A presenting problem can be less complex (for example, making a minor decision), or more complex issue (for example, issues maintaining healthy relations with other people). Therapy can be as simple as having a single or a few sessions to get unstuck, or more involved and long-term to help someone through a traumatic life experience(s). The direction of therapy depends on what you are experiencing and want to get out of therapy. Your therapist can also assist you in helping to define these goals, if you needed.

Sometimes there are issues that are not addressable in psychotherapy alone (ie. medical issue requiring biological intervention) or may require another intervention at the same time. If this is the case your therapist can help guide you in making a plan. You deserve help, no matter what the issue may be.

If you are considering therapy, and are wondering how it could benefit you, feel free to reach out to us .

We are all, just by being born into this world, deserving human beings, who have the right to be liked, loved and accepted by ourselves and others.

Take care of yourself, so you can take care of those you love.

Planning a Vacation with Anxiety

Planning a vacation can be a really exciting experience for some, however, for others it may create added stress and/or anxiety.

As many of us have experienced, we have been under lock down after lockdown for about over a year-and-a-half. Working from home, taking days off in the local area, possibly putting that vacation off and being separated from our loved ones was the status quo for a prolonged period of time. Now we are starting to take to the skies, rails, road and water for some relief from the mundaneness of the past 25 months.

Vacation away from home can be a stressful experience, even though it is “supposed” to be relaxing. In fact research, (Holmes, T.H., & Rahe, R.H, 1967) has shown that going on vacation can be a stressful event in someone’s life. Vacation can bring up a lot of anxieties, particularly for those who are prone to higher levels of anxiety. The initial planning stages can be stressful. Making the decision of where to go, financial considerations, organizing schedules if you travel with a partner, others, and/or children, what to do and how to get there is challenging, particularly if you have difficulty making decisions. Also, some people are fearful of certain modes of transportation.

Let’s talk solutions, and again, if there is something not addressed we encourage you to bring it up in session with your therapist or e-mail us and we can add it to this post or future blogs. The following are some suggestions for the dilemmas you may come across during your planning and vacation journey:

Making the decision: It may be tempting for some to make the vacation “perfect”. Bring awareness to this if this is the case. Planning a trip with a partner or loved ones may help to make decisions easier – or working with a travel agent. Keep in mind, not everything might go as planned, and that is okay. Try to enjoy the experience of the journey as well – not just the destination.

Financial: Vacations can be expensive and have costs that you did not anticipate. This is especially true today, as the entry requirements to get back into Canada can lead to additional screening costs before you leave a foreign country. If you think you may be worried about the money and if it might decrease your enjoyment of your vacation it may be worth taking this into account when planning. Booking an all-inclusive vacation or a vacation with a meal plan can combine certain costs like food, beverage and certain entertainment. Things like this can reduce anxiety around finances so you can better enjoy your much deserved time away.

Making the Plans: Take care of your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs. Planning can be challenging and sometimes stressful. Prices can fluctuate by the hour at times, but if you don’t get the deal that you saw, there will most likely be something that comes along. It might be worth having a budget and time to travel in mind while you are looking, so if you find that “perfect” vacation you can have your method of payment ready to purchase. Tip: If you book directly through the airline they usually have a 24 hour cancellation policy without any penalty, so if you change your mind you can back out. If you have to pay a little more for the same plans or don’t attain the itinerary you want, is it worth stressing about?

Be prepared: Try your best to schedule and plan for your vacation so that you are not leaving things until the last minute. Being prepared can help to alleviate some anxiety. Creating a packing list and running errands ahead of time can help, as well as arriving at the airport in good time. Writing a to-do list and/or creating a schedule for yourself can help to ensure you fulfill important tasks before departing.

Managing Anxiety predeparture, in the present and in the future: Remind yourself that this is a vacation for your body and brain. At times it may not feel like that, and that’s alright. I once heard a standup comedian talk about how he hated going to Disney World, but always looked back on it in a positive way. If you find that you are beating yourself up about being anxious about your vacation, it may be worth reminding yourself that it is normal to be somewhat anxious about these situations.

Seek assistance if necessary: If you feel very overwhelmed and have difficulty decompressing it may be worth talking to your family physician and/or seeking psychotherapeutic help to manage the issue. There could be an underlying issue that could be interfering with your life in other ways if this is the case. If there is a fear preventing your from travel this may also be worth getting help with.

Safe travels,

Shawna and Royce at ttpsychotherapy.com

Narcissism vs. Celebrating Positive Attributes

Throughout the years, I’ve heard a lot of people in my personal and professional life expressing the worry that if they are proud of their accomplishments and/or a desirable attribute they have, that they will feel and/or be labeled as a narcissist/narcissistic. This language has been thrown around quite a bit lately in the main stream culture with various political figures and over emphasized.

It’s important that we recognize and celebrate our strengths and accomplishments as humans. It’s a source of reinforcement, which helps us motivate ourselves. Without it our species would not have accomplished what we have (ie. scientific discoveries, infrastructure, our beautiful cities, improving quality of life, medicine, ect…). It also helps us learn basics like the difference between what is “good” and “bad” behaviour in society.

Narcissism is completely different from acknowledging your accomplishments and positive attributes. However, it is important to point out that bragging typically isn’t a desirable quality; therefore we need to seek balance here. A person who experiences some narcissistic traits, pathological narcissism or what may be considered a Narcissistic Personality disorder may be attempting to prop up a false sense of self worth, which is usually somewhat out of conscious awareness of the person. These people are deeply hurting and in a lot pain, mostly in part due to extremely painful experiences in childhood. The core wound of these people is usually that they were humiliated and devalued to some degree at a young age. This could develop an internal working model of something like “people won’t like me for who I am and therefore I am deeply flawed and will be rejected if I show who I truly am”. Hence the false sense of self.

In our present day experience with people with these traits one may feel on guard (ie walking on egg shells). It can be difficult to empathize and/or sympathize with people experiencing this because their behaviours and attitudes (For example, trying to believe that they are better), which may elicit an emotional response in you. You may feel activated, defensive and/or dismissed in some way. You may notice that you may feel certain unpleasant physical sensations. A person with narcissistic traits usually has empathy; however it is likely impaired by their deep pain and defense mechanisms to get them through life. Because some people get Narcissism and Psychopathy/Sociopathy confused I think it is important to note that: Psychopathy and sociopathy is different, although a very few number of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be psychopaths, but the odds are very low that you will come across this.

In short, feel proud of your accomplishments, and who you are physically and mentally. If you are proud of an attribute that you have, recognize and bring a sense of gratitude to it. Humble yourself, to not alienate others of course, but please be careful when labeling yourself as a narcissist or a characteristic as narcissistic. Seek assistance if you think you need to.

We are all, just by being born into this world, deserving human beings, who have the right to be liked, loved and accepted by ourselves and others.

Take care of yourself, so you can take care of those you love.