Our services include individual, couples, family and group psychotherapy for children, adolescents and adults. We also offer training, workshops, case consultation and social work supervision. We assist people to work through the common impacts of trauma.People often refer to trauma reactions as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Therapeutic modalities that we use include:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
The letters “EMDR” stand for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is an evidence-based, structured therapeutic method that was created by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s. EMDR is guided by a theoretical framework called the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. This model states that we have an innate ability to heal, and that EMDR taps into this ability. Traumatic memories seem to be processed differently than other memories in our brains. They can become stuck, and accompanied by distressing memories, thoughts and feelings. By first activating the memory network where the trauma is stored and then, by adding bilateral stimulation (which simply means getting both the right and left side of your brain to work together), which can be visual, auditory, or tactile, EMDR taps into the brain’s plasticity and creates new neural networks, helping these memories to become unstuck. This also means that there is relief and resolution from the distress that was previously there. Empirical studies have shown that EMDR works extremely well for many clients. Research has demonstrated that it is effective in treating trauma, as well as many other issues including anxiety, depression, substance use and eating disorders, among others. All of the practitioners at ONTN are Certified in EMDR.
One of the original contributors to the field of Energy Psychology, Dr. Fred Gallo, once wrote “Some 5 millennia have passed since the idea emerged in human societies, notably India and China, that our bodies possess energy systems that are of the utmost relevance to our health and consciousness” (2002). Energy Psychology began its development through the work of John Thie (1973), John Diamond, M.D. (1978), Roger Callaghan (1985), Phd., Fred Gallo, Phd. (1994), and others. Energy Psychology is a mind-body approach to understanding and improving human functioning, and refers to a group of techniques that have been clinically shown to help with a wide range of psychological problems. These tools and techniques can be useful in psychotherapy to release emotional and psychological trauma. Stressful events in our lives, trauma, negative thinking and limiting beliefs, and even chemical imbalances can affect how we feel on a day-to-day basis. The impacts are experienced in electrical impulses in your brain and body that result in feelings like anxiety, extreme sadness, fear and anger to name a few. By working with the whole mind-body system, Energy Psychology facilitates rapid optimal change and positive psychotherapeutic outcomes and is aligned with the latest findings from neuroscience and traumatology. Tapping, touching and holding, visualization, mindfulness accompanied by specific verbal statements are some of the tools used. Energy Psychology can also be used with phobias, bad habits, stressful tension, self-sabotage, doubt, procrastination and numerous trauma impacts quickly and easily. Some examples of Energy Psychology used by ONTN are Advanced Energy Psychology/Energy Diagnostic & Treatment Methods (AEP/EDxTM), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Energy Psychology is a powerful tool that can be used alone, or together with other approaches.
Ego State Therapy
Ego State Therapy is a psychodynamic approach that was originated by Dr. Jack Watkins and Psychotherapist Helen Watkins. They found that giving a voice to disowned or dissociated aspects of self enabled the resolution of long-standing internal conflicts. Ego State Therapy is about appreciating all parts of ourselves, known or unknown, who contribute to survival by being protectors. Trauma is a common factor that often forces these parts into extreme and sometimes destructive roles. One of the goals of ego state therapy is to heal the polarities within oneself so that the parts are working together as a team. An important contributor to this field of work is Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. who developed his own therapeutic approach called The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) over the past 20 years. It combines systems thinking with the view that the mind is made up of parts of self each with its own viewpoint and qualities. Both of these approaches involve helping the client to understand that their external world is really just a reflection of their inner world. If one wants her/his life to be different, then she/he has to look within to find answers and make changes. EMDR is an ideal tool to help clients to create internal associations to overcome acute and chronic symptoms of trauma.
One of the major principles of Narrative Therapy, developed by Michael White and David Epston in the 1980’s, is that people make meaning through stories. Narrative Therapy highlights the ways in which people’s narratives reflect wider cultural, dominant stories, as well as the ways in which these dominant discourses mould and shape people’s stories. Narrative Therapy incorporates a social, contextual lens that consistently links the personal with the political. Narrative therapists work collaboratively with clients, co-creating space that externalizes problems from the person. Employing a narrative emphasis in counselling also means that there is a focus on people’s alternative stories that give voice to their preferred values, strengths and resources. Art can be a creative and powerful way to externalize and thicken these alternative stories even further.
Redecision Therapy was developed in 1965 by Bob Goulding, M.D., and Mary Goulding, MSW. It is a combination of Transactional Analysis, Cognitive Therapy, body work, and Gestalt Therapy. This process is a powerful way of resolving family of origin issues, as well as internal conflicts. It is ideal for both short and long-term therapy. Redecision Therapy is grounded in the assumption that adults make decisions based on messages absorbed in childhood from parents and caretakers. As children grow up, they are given positive and negative messages by their caretakers and society. Based on these messages, they make decisions about themselves and others that will influence them throughout their lives. These beliefs, and resulting decisions were necessary for children to survive in their families; but as adults, these negative decisions are no longer useful and become hindrances to getting what they want. In fact, they may be at the root of self-defeating patterns in their lives. In Redecision Therapy, individuals can examine these messages and any past negative decisions in order to identify what is not working. In therapy, people may be able to adopt new meanings and extinguish self-defeating decision-making patterns through the use of reflective exploration and experiential techniques.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy was developed in the 1980’s by Pat Ogden, Ph.D. It is a type of therapy that not only looks at the ways in which emotions and thoughts are affected by experiences, but also examines the impacts to the body. A primary focus of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is to look at the ways in which the body plays a role in maintaining certain beliefs, feelings and experiences, as well. Attachment theory, neuroscience, body-based therapies, cognitive methods and emotional approaches all inform Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, as does the Hakomi Method, which is a somatic therapy developed by Ron Kurtz in the 1970’s. In practice, Sensorimotor counselling uses various interventions, including talking, mindfulness and physical actions, in order to bring to awareness and directly address the neurobiological effects of trauma and attachment.
Expressive Art and Creative Approaches
Expressive arts are the use of various creative modalities in a therapeutic, professional relationship to help an individual through a difficult or stressful situation. Adrian Hill, a British artist, described expressive arts as “engrossing the mind as well as the fingers.” The emphasis is on the process, not the final product. Using creative modalities can support people to explore their inner selves more fully and can open up new possibilities for self-care and problem solving. People can take these tools and work with them whenever they need to care for themselves even outside of sessions. These tools could include painting, creating comfort boxes, music or journaling. Expressive arts provide a helpful addition to counselling individuals of all ages.
The use of essential oils dates back millennia with many references to their use in the Bible, as well as in early Egyptian and Roman texts and drawings. Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids that are pressed from the bark, stems, leaves, rinds, flowers and seeds of plants. Essential oils, like our blood, contain thousands of chemical constituents that are used by plants to fight infection, seal wounds, oxygenate and nourish cells, and help protect the plant from outside invaders. Studies have shown that the most powerful link to the subconscious is through the sense of smell. The comforting aroma of a favourite food can bring back childhood memories or other moments in which the smell was present. Science also supports the observation of a vital connection between scents and the emotions. Precise olfactory receptors inside the nose receive sensory stimuli whether or not we are consciously aware of them, and these stimuli trigger electrochemical signals via neurons to the brain’s limbic system and the amygdala, our emotional memory center. In the psychotherapy process, pure, therapeutic-grade, essential oils have the power to engage your senses, release stored emotions and emotional blocks, and assist in healing pain, phobias, trauma, and physical illness. Combined with psychotherapy, essential oils are able to support and enhance this process by inhaling, and/or applying topically. Additionally, in 2016, Health Canada approved numerous essential oils for support and help when feeling stressed and for other conditions.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) treatment was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s. It is a cognitive behavioural approach that emphasizes 4 sets of skills: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation. The skills are taught in sessions to help the person learn, apply and master them in her/his life. This empirically validated treatment has been shown to help clients reduce suicidal and self-harm behaviour, reduce frequency of hospitalizations, remain engaged in therapy and decrease substance use. DBT encourages discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual questioning. The term “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. DBT teaches clients strategies of acceptance and uses validation to heal the distance between these opposites, for example, love and hate, black and white and yin and yang. Dialectics represent the mind’s way of understanding concepts by understanding and appreciating their polar opposites.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy, which helps individuals develop skills and methods to change unhelpful patterns of thinking or behaviour. Our thoughts affect how we feel, how we behave and deal with challenging problems. With CBT, a person learns to identify, evaluate and question various ways of thinking and beliefs, related to the emotional and behavioural reactions that create problems for them. By recording your thoughts and beliefs that are upsetting and creating difficulties, CBT can help you become aware of negative, inaccurate or distorted thinking. CBT can support you to change the way you think about things. You can adjust these new strategies and ways of thinking and feeling to specific situations. When you do, you may experience lasting changes in your mood, your outlook and productivity. EMDR, a modality that we all practice uses the principles of CBT with the addition of bi-lateral stimulation.