What is Trauma-Informed Care?

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Many of the clients we see at Peak Resilience have had difficult life experiences that can be described as traumatic. We believe the best counselling is "trauma informed", and we've linked to a great article explaining what this means in fairly simple terms. 

Please visit "What is Trauma Informed Psychotherapy" if you'd like to learn more. Here is a very brief summary of what trauma-informed care entails:

  1. Safety (feeling safe in a counselling session and building safe coping tools outside of counselling)
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency (our counsellors are open in their communication and will build trust with you over time)
  3. Peer Support (helping you to create safety in your own relationships)
  4. Collaboration and mutuality (the counsellor works with you to help you discover your own strengths)
  5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice (you are in charge of your care)
  6. Embracing understanding of cultural, historical and gender domains (mental health issues don't happen in a vacuum- often they are caused by societal factors and different forms of oppression)

The counsellors at Peak Resilience are passionate about providing the best trauma-informed care for all of our clients. This means constantly upgrading our knowledge with professional development, engaging in consultation and supervision regularly, and doing our own mental/emotional work.

If you're interested in booking a consultation to discuss who might be the right counsellor for you, please click here. Thanks for reading!



Resilience from an Indigenous Perspective

When people hear the word “resilience”, they often think of bouncing back to an original state of functioning after adversity. This explanation of resilience assumes that the challenges people bounce back from don’t cause any lasting change. Thinking of resilience in such a static way limits our understanding of resilience. In this post, we’ll take a look at a great article by Kirmayer et al that explores resilience directly defined by various Aboriginal Peoples. Here are some key ideas:



Counsellor Feature: Tanu Discusses Identity and Authenticity

Counsellors at Peak Resilience have many similarities. We all tailor our therapeutic approach to each person's individual needs, we practice from an intersectional feminist framework and we all believe in caring for ourselves first so we can sustainably and ethically care for the amazing clients we work with. 

Counsellors at Peak Resilience are also diverse in our experiences, backgrounds and cultural heritage. Tanu Gamble shares how her experience as a First Nations person informs her counselling perspective, and how this can be beneficial for clients of all backgrounds...


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Two Simple Solutions to Help You Feel Better After the Election

So many people are burnt out from media discussing the election this week (including me). So I'll make this short and hopefully sweet.

The discussions I've been having with people this week have been steeped in unbelievable sadness, fear and disgust... and a LOT of helplessness and hopelessness. Some people aren't surprised and just feel resigned. Feeling is good. You need to Feel to Heal.

Part of me thought, I have nothing to contribute. People are not going to want yet another opinion piece on the election... And that could very well be true. However, that's when I realized I was falling into the trap of being closed and passive.

So, I decided to discuss two ways of approaching the aftermath of the election:

Curiosity and Action. 

First, let's talk about curiosity. Being curious means you're eager to learn things you don't already know. As a white, cisgendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, upper-middle-class woman, I can't fully understand the lived experience of people of colour, people in the LGBT community, differently abled people, people from different social classes and men.  

BUT- if I'm curious, I'm actively interested in learning about other's lived experiences and struggles. So I read articles, books and am generally hungry for information. Being curious means you don't have preconceived notions of what is "normal" or "right" or "wrong". Being curious means you're open to learning about what it's like to live a life that's different than your own.

Now, let's talk about action.

I'm so scared of what will happen with a Donald Trump presidency and how it will affect not only the US but Canada and the world. My knee-jerk reaction when I'm scared is to bury my head in the sand. It's so nice down there. So dark and quiet and cool...

Unfortunately, the peaceful calm of the sand is only short lived, and leaves me with even more anxiety and general unease. This is where action comes in.

Here are just a few great websites to scroll in your downtime to learn more. Maybe just reading and learning is your way of taking action. Maybe you take action by sharing something illuminating on social media. Or, maybe you volunteer some of your time to a cause you believe in. Action is the antidote to anxiety.  The more action we take the less anxiety we'll feel.

It can be overwhelming to remain curious and keep learning. So what's the payoff?

  1. You'll be more empowered with information.
  2. You'll be taking action which feels better than anxiety.
  3. You'll be helping to build an inclusive, empathic, and strong society that contributes to the physical, mental, emotional and social health of ALL Canadians. 

Thanks for reading and take care out there.

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How to Cope with Pain Using Acceptance and Willingness

What would it be like to face our painful life experiences with acceptance and willingness instead of avoidance and resistance?

This might not be a question you have asked yourself or even considered. And that makes sense because it is intuitive to want to run from or push back against our painful life experiences because they are PAINFUL! Emotional pain, like physical pain, is uncomfortable and overwhelming and for the most part, we would rather go through life without encountering and having to cope with this pain.

As human beings, we will inevitably experience emotional pain. At some point in our lives we will encounter:

  • Stress

  • Relationship difficulties

  • Failure

  • Rejection

  • Loss of loved ones

  • Low mood

  • Unfulfilled goals

  • Disappointment

  • We will make mistakes and experience guilt and shame

  • And on... and on... and on...

When these painful experiences come up for us, we often respond by resisting and struggling against them. At the outset, this makes sense because this emotional and psychological pain is uncomfortable and hurtful.

However, let’s consider the flip side of these painful life experiences for a moment.

Reflect on how you respond to joyful, exciting, fulfilling, and pleasant life events. Do you avoid and resist your experiences of being happy?

Chances are probably not.

Again, this makes sense because being happy feels good. For the most part, we tend to accept and willingly experience joyful sensations and moments.

Through socialization we have learned that being happy is good and being unhappy is bad.

This idea, along with the uncomfortable feelings that come along with emotional and psychological pain, motivate us to avoid and resist our pain. In order to avoid our experience of emotional pain we might engage in certain behaviours or thought patterns.

In our best efforts to cope and resist pain, we might use behavioural avoidance strategies like:

  • Use substances

  • Isolate ourselves from friends and family

  • Restrict our diet or overeat

  • Engage in self-harm

Cognitively we might avoid pain by:

  • Experiencing negative and judgemental thoughts about ourselves

  • Blaming ourselves

  • Ruminating about our mistakes or painful experiences

  • Projecting ourselves into thinking about the future

When we avoid and resist our emotionally painful experiences through the above mentioned behavioural and cognitive strategies we grow our pain into suffering.

In the short term, these avoidance and resistance strategies provide relief. For example, if attending a social engagement is something that initiates an onset of overwhelming anxiety, then an avoidance strategy would be to cancel those plans and not attend. Immediately following this decision, we might feel a strong sense of relief and resulting dissipation of our anxiety. In this case, we have successfully avoided a painful life experience.

However, what are the long term results of this avoidance strategy? Most likely we will use this avoidance strategy again because the short-term relief following our decision to cancel will serve as positive reinforcement. Over time though, this avoidance strategy may start to negatively impact our lives by straining our relationships, contributing to isolation, and impeding our ability to do things that are really important to us.

Let’s reconsider the initial question again:

What would it be like to face our painful life experiences with acceptance and willingness instead of avoidance and resistance?

Instead of growing our pain into suffering by adding unhelpful behaviours and thinking patterns, what if we were to make space for and support ourselves through the inevitable painful life experiences that will come our way?

The alternative to avoidance and resistance is acceptance and willingness.

Let’s unpack these terms a bit.

Acceptance does not mean that we welcome our pain with open arms and believe we deserve our pain; acceptance refers to making space for what is real – in this case our pain.

Through acceptance we acknowledge our painful experience without trying to push it away or repress it.

Willingness goes along with acceptance. Just as we are willing to experience joy and happiness, we can practice being willing to experience our emotional and psychological pain.

Approaching our pain with acceptance and willingness would relieve us of all the energy and effort we put in to avoidance and resistance strategies. Instead of working hard to try to escape and fight against our pain, we can put this effort towards helping ourselves cope with our pain through practicing self-compassion, connecting with others, and engaging in self-care.

Kelly Wilson, one of the founders of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, has written about how emotional and psychological pain is inevitable for human beings but suffering may be avoidable. Suffering is what happens when we add to our pain through behaviours and thinking patterns that in the short term might feel good and relieving, but in the long term may lead to further problems (e.g. isolation, addiction, weight loss/gain etc.) that add to our pain.

The alternative to this human suffering is an approach of acceptance and willingness towards our pain supplemented with helpful coping strategies.

So the next time a painful life experience shows up for you, see if you can remind yourself of an alternative to short-term relief and long-term suffering:

The practice of acceptance and willingness.

Blog Post by Sarah Blackmore, MA, RCC. Book a counselling appointment with Sarah here.




You MUST Eat Chocolate. For Your Mental Health.

This article is for the chocolate lovers out there... There are no excuses anymore. You MUST eat chocolate every day for your physical and mental health. But not just any chocolate... Dark chocolate is helpful in reducing anxiety, stress and elevating mood when taken over three days or more, as shown by multiple studies, including this one. 



DIY: How to Feel Your Feelings

In counselling, I'm often encouraging people to notice their emotions and give space for them. It can feel... weird. We don't often do this in real life, which is why it can be so helpful to feel your feelings with a counsellor who can help you make sense of them (I know, shameless plug for counselling). But what about when you're not in session? 

An article at Tiny Buddha (an amazing site with wonderful resources on anything wellness) explains how to feel your feelings. The full article is here, and it's totally worth your time. If you don't have time on your hands, here's the Coles Notes version: