Leland Clipperton

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ninety year old Wisdom!

My wonderful Mom is a bright, articulate and kind ninety year old woman with a mass of wisdom. My wife asked her for some advice on her birthday and this email is her response:
I hate the words "growing old" meaning wearing out or becoming used up or losing mental abilities or any or all of those vague phrases that are used. And the idea of judging people by their appearance is just plain silly. In the first place, who are we to say that this or that type of facial feature or body contour is ideal -these statements are usually made by a fashion specialist who doesn't really give a darn about anyone else anyway.

However, having said that, I can admit that as I grew up there were times when the contours of my skin and the placement and shape of my limbs were a concern . But, apart from careful cleansing and the intake of nourishing food elements, what else can anyone do? And now that I am safely past all the development stage it seems to have been foolish to have used up so much time living up to someone else's opinion of how I should look.

We were given the blessing of a piece of equipment - our body - which had a limited amount of time to use depending, to a certain extent, on how we treated it; therefore, we should do our duty by it and enjoy the time it lasted. This age you are in is only the beginning of what could be the best years of your life - it certainly was for me - enjoy!

Have a wonderful "growing old" - there's much time left.

Love, "Ninety"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Woodstock & Other Stuff

The following is a wonderful article I came across in my journey that I believe is worthwhile reading.

Ken Nolan is a NYC lawyer with Speiser Krause Nolan & Granito, specializing in 'mass torts', particularly aviation. What's below with Ken's permission (and a few wee edits):

"We hung out on the park side, drinking cold Buds in cardboard containers on those hot summer nights. The passing Coney Island Avenue buses were plastered with ads promising '3 days of peace and music.' Rock was our passion; we played it loud and constant, driving our befuddled parents, who never understood nothing, crazy. So with four friends, I sent for tickets so we could spend the weekend in bucolic and serene Woodstock away from the steamy Brooklyn sidewalks.

Because we all had summer jobs and could only miss a day's pay if we were dead, we met Friday evening in Farrell's, watched the news, which was all about the thousands of hippies causing traffic jams and chaos. Hey, Hooley, that's where we're going, we told the bartender. You're nuts, he said with a sly smile. So we had a few beers, piled into Wally Freitag's car, and drove the winding back roads for hours to one of his relative's homes that was somewhere near Woodstock. 'New York State Thruway's closed, man.' We hung out until daybreak and then drove another few miles until we couldn't and began walking. Still miles away and tired but who cared. We were happening. We were going to change the world.

'It's a free concert man.' We laid our two blankets on the grass far from the stage and marvelled at the vast crowd of people like ourselves, young white college students with hair long, clothes ragged. 'Don't eat the brown acid. It's a bummer, man.' Pot, acid, mescaline- drugs were everywhere, people selling, everyone using. A half million of American's best, or so we believed. No crime, no fights, no hassles. Just peace and love baby, peace and love.

'Gimme an F, gimme a U, gimme a C ... what's that spell?' sang Country Joe and the Fish. And like true believers, we shouted in response. The music started that clear Saturday afternoon and continued well into the next morn. Canned Heat, Santana, Mountain, Creedence, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, Sly, Janis, and many others. Nothing to eat or drink. Toilets stank and overflowed. But this was our nirvana - just us, the knowing, the kind. We will show the pig establishment, all those Nixon supporters like our parents. We won't hate. We won't murder innocent Asians. We'll end poverty, bigotry. And Woodstock was our debut.

Sunday the storms came and hundreds slid in the mud. 'If we think really hard, maybe we can stop this rain.... No rain, no rain, no rain.' So we strolled the field, cold and wet but happy, confident. We were part of something noble, something pure. Because we never heard of trust funds, my friends and I had to work Monday. So we left late that Sunday afternoon and reversed the trek, arriving home just in time to bathe, eat, and jump on the F train to Manhattan. 'Your father thought you were in Tanglewood,' my mother snapped as she tossed most of my muddy wet clothes in the garbage.

And now 40 years later, I look back at those chaotic yet wonderful times and shake my head in disbelief. Where did the promise, selflessness go? As Joni Mitchell sang, we were stardust, we were golden. How did we boomers - educated, idealistic - make such a mess? Why did we not, as Bobby Kennedy urged, make a better world? We enjoyed peace, prosperity, yet as we enter our Social Security years, we leave a legacy of strife and economic disaster. And our legal profession is in shambles with layoffs and more layoffs; deferring graduates, including my daughter, to 2010 or 11 or never. And it's our fault, the fault of the Woodstock generation who had so much given and who squandered almost all.

My parents and their simple friends with no real formal education were the greatest generation. They survived the Depression, won the war, and never complained. Quit high school for a lousy job; spent three and a half years in Africa and Europe fighting Hitler. Hey, that's life. This was typical of the neighbourhood. They didn't aspire to be millionaires and would never believe Marc Dreier was miserable because he only earned 400 grand a year. They lived paycheck to paycheck and were happy to have a few bucks left over for Christmas presents.

But if they were the greatest, what are we boomers? Wait, before I indict everyone, I should clarify that I'm only talking about some of my generation. Most are good, responsible citizens - paying taxes, living within means. But a small cadre of Masters of the Universe at Lehman, Merrill, Goldman, AIG, Bear turned prosperity into, okay, I'll be kind, a deep recession. But if we look closely, we can identify similar, selfish values among many of my peers: I want as much as I can, and I don't give a crap about anyone else.

Like drugs taken at Woodstock, everything we did was in excess. Houses, cars, boats, sex. A generation that raged at their parents about greed and inequality gradually became narcissistic and materialistic. A comfortable home and lifestyle are nothing. Come see my mansion and 50-foot yacht. Appearance is everything. Content of character means little. There's no 'what's best for the company, community, country....' It became 'what's best for me.'

Take the politicians. So easy. The phony 'family is everything' guys who are the first to jump in the hot tub with interns. Or the thieves who cheat on taxes or obtain mortgages at below-market rates. Don't even get me started on New Jersey. George Bush. Did he really want to be President? Did he have the intellectual curiosity to better our nation? Bill Clinton couldda been a contender, but hubris and selfishness are much of his legacy. And it's no surprise that Joe Kennedy declined to run to succeed his uncle in the Senate. At one time, politics was public service. Now it's Joe Wilson screaming 'You lie,' or Charlie Rangel hoarding three rent-controlled apartments meant for the needy.

So somewhere and somehow in the many years since my hair was long, we changed. The profession that was once law became a business. We didn't aspire to the Forbes 400, but we wanted our firm listed near the top in earnings in American Lawyer. Personal happiness became equated with material success. Recently in the New York Times there was a story about a guy whose career took a turn for the worse and he told his wife that he didn't love her, never did, and wanted to move out. The wife refused to accept this and went about life with her kids as usual. Months later the guy, who physically never left, returned to the family.

She wrote: 'It's not land or a job or money that brings happiness.' She knew this, but this dope didn't. His happiness was coupled with his economic condition. I could be similarly immature, but not my parents or their friends who never made more than a meagre living. They overcame bigger challenges. They would never have blamed someone they loved.

Yeah we screwed up pretty good - the economy, the palpable hatred between liberals and conservatives, the failure to accept personal responsibility, the political correctness, the hypocrisy of 'Do as I say, not as I do.' We were given a world where America was admired and loved and now turn it over to our children and grandchildren as one where half the world wants to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

And our world of law is also being transformed. The big-firm model may no longer be viable. Smart, hardworking lawyers and staff have been shown the door. Salaries have been slashed. Summer programs severely curtailed or eliminated. Jobs, once a given, have evaporated, like those of so many auto workers in Michigan. Corporations will no longer pay higher and higher hourly rates. So those graduating from law school, deep in debt, are frightened. '[Law] was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life,' one NYU law student was quoted in The Times. 'It was almost written in stone that you'll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright.'

Media alert. No more birthright for you or any other very bright, very educated, very wonderful young person. It's gone. Or if not, at least no longer there for the foreseeable future. So why pay the exorbitant law school tuitions if no jobs exist? What does that portend for law schools; for firms, both big and small?

Perhaps I'm too pessimistic, perhaps, as my kids can prove, too cranky. After all, this recession was a natural result of excessive consumption, necessary to remind us- those who once knew but somehow forgot - that too much spending is never good. Especially if you don't have it. Imitating Rube Goldberg, our government has spent trillions more of what we don't have to limit the economic damage. I hope this time they know what they're doing.

I'm sure my mother, whose idea of air-conditioning was to ride the city buses for hours, using her senior citizen's discount, wouldn't understand all this debt. 'Why should I buy an air conditioner and make Con Ed rich when I can ride the 5th Avenue bus, do my crossword, and talk to people?' But we are America, a shining city upon a hill, resilient and courageous. Soon the economy will prosper, and this dark period will seem a transient nightmare. Hope so.

So what have we learned? Let's look to our success story from the Bronx - Sonia Sotomayor. Lost her dad at nine, raised in the projects by a mother who sacrificed to send her and her brother, now a physician, to Catholic schools. And you know the rest. Yet, the judge worked too hard and long, ending her marriage after two years. When being sworn in for the Second Circuit, she admitted that her professional success did not bring her genuine personal happiness.

In The Times wedding announcements, a female radiologist, 60, was married for the first time. Her husband, also a physician, said: 'I couldn't understand why she'd never gotten married because she's clearly a beautiful woman and intelligent and well rounded.' The bride noted that her rewarding but gruelling schedule meant that marriage didn't occur.

We men have it easy. We can work like maniacs, knowing that most times our wives make sure the kids get to school on time and do the stuff that we don't deem important. Sad but true. My wife and I and four other couples were in an elevator on our way to a black-tie affair. An elderly woman entered and exclaimed how she felt safe among these big, strong men. 'Useless' Cathie Gearity answered. 'They're useless.' The men thought it funny.

I don't have the magic elixir that provides sufficient time for a demanding job and being there when the first tooth is lost. But we have learned over these past 40 years: avarice and self-interest can gradually replace generosity and service; material success ain't bad, but it doesn't make you happy; professional accolades are satisfying, but they're not as fulfilling as true love and companionship.

Perhaps it's not too late."

Thank you: Ken Nolan

Speiser Krause Nolan & Granito - New York City


until later,
Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.


(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Oh For the Love of God!

Remember that expression? What connection does it have for you? I think of my Mom saying it the same way she would say Oh for Pete's sake!.... Oh, for the love of God!

More often than not it was with a note of exasperation with a hint of sarcasm and typically followed by... and would you stop it... (the behaviour that precipitated the comment in the first place).

The expression contains two frequently used terms over which there is great debate and passion... love and God. What are they anyway? Consider for a moment what you think they are... What connection, attachment or association do you have with those two words? What is love... What is God? Write down what you're thinking. It'll help clarify your understanding and belief and... there's no right answer!

Now, once you've completed that arduous task, consider the two words together... love and god...
Write down what those mean for you.

Many of us learned at an early age that God is Love and then it follows that Love must also be God.
We tend to complicate what is a relatively simple concept. Our little brains become overactive in our attempt to understand and in doing so, add images, thoughts, memories and feelings into our projection.

This is universal and a fundamental belief...  I mean that most believe in love as well as some form of God. I'm not getting all "religious" here, nor am I being bias one way or another.... simply attempting to explain what stopped my confusion about the concept of love and God... just words. In fact, I'm more or a religious skeptic, most religions seem to have a political agenda that is related to what I consider to be more of an human ego interpretation, normal but confusing and not necessarily all inclusive. Remember... keep it simple.

Could it really be that simple???? Hmmmmm.

Consider the following:
Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists, ... therein lies the peace of God.
The question then arises... what's real... what's unreal?

It is helpful to understand how our minds really work (even though we don't want to believe this). That which we think is true... we often have biases and pre-existing conclusions which develop a frame of reference that our minds then rely on to interpret the circumstances of our lives. We then gather evidence to support that pre-existing conclusion that we do not think about. We consistently project our beliefs and fears into our world without being aware that we are doing so. If you want to look at what you really believe, look at the defensive responses you have as indicators. Often we cannot do this on our own, which is where I come in to help you identify, clarify and explore without the judgement or editing that we all have individually. It's a difficult task to do this ourselves because we only have our own filters and perceptions to guide us. How could we not continue to come to the same conclusions?

Consider for a moment... suspend your judgement... why do you think what you think? Where do those pre-judgements and biases come from? Do we not have the ability, once discovered, to alter or expand those thoughts... not by dismissing the ones we have but by understanding where they come from and why. What evidence do you gather to support the thoughts?

And again... consider now the thoughts of love and God...
Do you thoughts seem to come from fear? or love?

Until later

Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.


(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Get To!

Many of us have had life changing moments that are occasssionly recalled in positive ways as well as negative ways... Here is one...

I was having one of those bad mornings a number of years ago... thinking about bills to pay, dishes to do, clients to see and I HAD to take our son to school... generally telling myself that I was soooo burdened and victimized in my life...

All the things I HAD TO DO!!!!!

Coincidently my brother called in the midst of the building turmoil in my mind... "Hi, how's it goin?" he said. Well, I let into him about ALL the "problems" and "burdens" I was experiencing, including having to drive my son to school...

He responded... "Oh, you mean you GET to take him to school!"
My life change in that moment... I do get to, I don't HAVE TO... I choose to...

No matter what excuses or justifications I use to explain or experience my self-victimization, I am choosing in that moment. Not because I neccessarily want to but because I am asleep in my own dream of struggle and conflict and am busy gathering evidence to make it all seem real and justified. Why would I choose to think that doing something I actually enjoyed and would certainly miss when I couldn't do it, would be a burden? (It was certainly bitter-sweet when he got his first car and was driving himself to school! like teaching your child to ty his own shoes, knowing that you won't be able to after he learns...)

I get to choose. What a novel idea and perspective to remember and what a seemingly easy thing to forget.

Until later,
Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290


Most people do not like the idea of taking medication... It can be reminder (we think) that there really is something wrong that needs to be corrected rather than, perhaps, an organic dysfunction that is primarily genetic.

I am often asked about the use and belief structure regarding pharmaceutical medications for depression and/or anxiety.
The litmus test I include in my questioning cover many areas... the first of which is physiological.

What is your medical/family history? Has there been or is there evidence of depression or anxiety in other family members? i.e. siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents...
Have you had a complete physical yourself? There are many medical imbalances that can contribute to the way you are feeling, particularly in areas where you may feel less able to cope and manage your life in an effective manner.

If you are dealing with an organic/genetic issue then it may be that you have already been trying many different ways to manage the "problem" and yet still struggle. You may have read "solutions" on the internet, in books... talked to others suffering, or with therapists or counsellors... still with no desired outcome.

This suggests that the "solution" is not to be found in additional information or the "right" therapist. It may be that medication may be helpful and the idea should be explored with your physician or naturopath to help re-balance the genetic issues so that therapy will be more effective.

Try the differing perspective that the issues you are dealing with may have an organic or physiological component and is not part of who you really are, it is not your identity, although I know many of my clients initially identify with it in this way. i.e. I'm a depressed or anxious person as opposed to a person with depression or anxiety.

Medication may, for some people, be a contributing factor to allowing you feel more able to focus on making the beneficial changes you want in your life. Check your resistance if this has been suggested to you and at least allow yourself to consider the idea as a possibility.
Medication is not "the answer", it is not a happy pill, it will not do the therapeutic work required on its own, however, it can be the additional alteration required. I suggest that you work with a therapist first to help you identify and begin to address the obvious concerns. If you find that you are not able to create the appropriate changes, it may be an indication that medication will help.

If you have questions, speak with your doctor or therapist or you may write me.

Until later,
Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What's Important?

What is it that causes us to feel that some things are important in our lives and other things are not?
It's also curious that what we hold as important seems to fluctuate over time or is dependant on a particular situation.

We are constantly receiving feedback from the world... providing us with information which may prove valuable to become aware of and understand differently, especially when the information is upsetting or we attempt to avoid it! It doesn't fit with our belief structure or it does and we are minimizing or denying the information.

Our sensitivity to a specific piece of information is the key to whether we may need to pay attention to it or not...

In fact, doesn't it make sense that if something doesn't bother us, we really wouldn't notice it the same anyway? It doesn't feel disturbing or offensive or attacking... it's just information.

Say, for instance, someone you don't know so well says something to you about a shirt you're wearing. Like... it's the wrong colour for you. They express the information as a simple opinion. You would typically hear that just as information, not as a judgement about you and you do not take the comment personally.

Now, let's say you hear the same comment from someone close to you... and the *!#% hits the fan! You feel offended, attacked, defensive... why? What's the difference?

When you find yourself feeling disturbed or offended, you are feeling that way for a reason. That reason may not be because that person got up in the morning thinking about what they could say or do to you that would upset you... even though it may feel that way... He/she's out to get me... like the boss or co-worker. (This could be a projection of self-victimization!)

All I'm suggesting that if we want to grow, we need to look at our resistance to our "sensitivities" and the possible reasons why those exist. They may lead us to why we consider some things important and not others.... Our sensitivities are there for a reason. Let's make use of them to help us create the positive changes we really want.

Until later
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Improve Your Relationships

What most people are longing for and yet feel is missing from their life is a good relationship. We yearn for "true" love or to be "in" love.
Why is it that we have such a difficult time with this? Why are most problems we encounter in our lives about our closet relationship?

We feel disconnected, negatively judged and critisized. We can feel adequate and competent in all other areas of our lives and not feel that way with our partners, parents, children, etc. Our focus is on what's wrong with me or what's wrong with them!

Let's first look what factors are involved in what creates a positive and nuturing relationship...
Primarily it seems important that we feel acknowledged and supported. If there is judgement, it is expressed and utilized in a positive manner. Feeling acknowledged allows us to hear "constructive critisism", it allows us to feel the information is being provided with good intent, not a reminder of our inadequacies.

When this occurs, we are suspending our need to be right about something and listening to another's perspective or opinion on something. We can then encourage them to explore why they have the opinion that they have and to open up a dialogue where there is an information exchange... just ideas, thoughts and feelings, not judgement with implied righteousness.

It invites a sense of curiosity which helps each person find out more about each other. Not just what you are thinking, but why. Where does your information come from? Why do you feel that something is important.

It is then important to acknowledge that information and to, again, expore it further. It helps to identify obstacles that we may have in terms of the process of or discussion... are we really listening or are we busy feeling judged or thinking about what WE need to say next, or feeling unheard. It is the removal or suspension of these obstacles which allows for a closer connection and improved communication.

Your choice to be with someone in particular in your life is more about preferences and tolerances, not about whether you care about that person or not. Of course, the care needs to be there to begin with, but it does not create a longer term satisfying relationship. Being able to air your differences about those preferences and tolerances with a positive goal of improving the relationship is a process which can grow daily.

Identify a time in the day when you can share your day with each other... be honest... no secrets. Don't just report your day, talk and ask questions about how you feel about your day. Build a relationship filled with integrity. Remember as you are sharing, suspend judgement and your need to be right. Acknowledge and explore each others ideas.

You will feel more connected and closer as a result.

Until later,

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Friday, July 9, 2010

Online Therapy

Online Therapy

Let’s be clear right from the get go… there is some controversy regarding the benefits of online therapy. When you look online you will be able to read credible information from various perspectives. Professionals who have been practicing for many years are generally expressing reluctance around using current technologies for psychotherapy as it does not offer the same experience that a face to face in the same room provides. Some refer to it as a simulated experience…

I have always been fascinated by resistance. It is frequently a part of the therapeutic experience. For most, resistance seems to be an inherent part of being human. We tend not to trust something/someone we don’t know. We need “evidence” before being willing to reduce our resistance. Things that are different we can find threatening and make assumptions often without challenging those assumptions. I say this because it directly effects how we perceive our world and create change, or not. At the vey least it’s worthy of exploring what the process of change is for each of us and to collate the commonalities, including the discussion regarding the validity of online therapy. I try to be aware of my own resistance and ask myself, “What am I afraid of here?”

So… I digress… back to the point.

Online therapy is a different experience than when you sit down with a professional psychotherapist. It has to be… it’s missing the physical presence as such the physically expressed “clues” may not be as apparent to some in a Skype type of connection. This will likely improve and be less of a concern (to some). With high speed internet coupled with outstanding video and audio connections available, there’s probably less missed than anticipated or thought by some…

Therapy, by its nature, is a journey between the client and the therapist and although I hope that all clients I work with will find their place of peace in the process, feel more self-empowered and learn through the time we work together… I am also aware that the client is the one doing the work with the guidance of the therapist. It is a mistake to not work with the client’s information and report. If they find something helpful… a particular method, comment, feedback etc…. I as a therapist should pay attention to that. So, it really isn’t up to me to say what’s helpful or not, I need to respond to a client’s ability to progress. I participate in guiding through that process using appropriate therapeutic techniques. If a client prefers the convenience of doing online work and finds it beneficial, then it is not for me to judge its relevance or benefit for them.

It may be easier for some to understand the difference between counselling and psychotherapy… With the risk of oversimplifying, counselling is typically session/time restricted like through an Employee Assistance Program or Family Health Unit or other similar “sponsored” agency. Counselling typically deals with immediate presenting concerns of a client currently experiencing a crisis of some kind. Counselling helps the client expand their understanding and perspective of that situation and provides strategies and options around what to do. Psychotherapy includes the initial process but includes, through an ongoing process, an exploration of what got the client to where they are. Issues of transference are important to a psychotherapeutic relationship as well as exploration of psychopathologies. The nature of most online therapy, although therapeutic, tends to be more like counselling. It tends to be more crises oriented and shorter in duration. Online counseling can lead into a deeper psychotherapeutic relationship and there is certainly benefit in getting help for a crisis that you are experiencing.

I was one of the “old school” psychotherapists who were adamant about not doing online therapy until I began to see that, in spite of the obvious differences, there are distinct advantages to online therapy.

I started with telephone therapy, working with existing clients who had moved or were working away from my office and not able to physically be present. Setting up appointment times became easier as we could set up a mutually convenient time that could also be outside my normal office hours, they could talk from their hotel rooms, offices, etc. and I could work from a location other than my office if I chose. Because I already had an established therapeutic bond, the work was reportedly beneficial and effective. Yes, again, it was a different experience, but still very therapeutic for the clients… and keep in mind, we were just talking on the telephone!

If you add the opportunity of video and having a “virtual” experience, I now believe that there is no reason to think that “virtual” therapy doesn’t work, in spite of the physical presence being missing.

Other advantages are:

Getting help is more convenient for clients who, because of social stigma or other fears or concerns, may not have accessed help previously.

There are no geographical boundaries. Clients can be anywhere in the world with the internet and access help.

Clients with physical or mobility challenges can access help more easily.

Clients that live in more remote areas can access help.

Scheduling can be done online at mutually agreeable times.

Payment can be done online.

Clients who have transportation challenges can get a similar experience from home.

Typically sessions with me are one hour in length. Clients can set up differing session times that may be more suitable for their schedule. They may only need half an hour and may need 2 hours.

Scheduling can be more regular with less concern about client’s typical work or family schedule.

Although online therapy is different, it offers a very similar therapeutic experience that most clients find convenient and beneficial.

Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Monday, July 5, 2010

Anxiety Therapy

Feeling Anxious?

Feeling anxious is a common and normal response to situations in our lives typically created by excessive demands that we are not accustomed to like writing an exam, heavy workloads or dealing with problems in a relationship.

These feelings are different from symptoms of an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorder have difficulty finding a reason for why they’re feeling the way they do. Their anxiety may be triggered by certain events but the symptoms often occur seemingly on their own. They can appear as a prolonged sense of distress and fear without an obvious reason. People with an anxiety disorder will typically begin to accommodate the physical and cognitive sensations by avoiding certain situations and can become agoraphobic, which is primarily an avoidance of all situations where the person does not feel they have a sense of control. People with anxiety feel at risk, fearful, out of control and helpless.

They often feel that nothing can help. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed and that they should be able to manage this on their own. There are various treatments available and the first step is to increase your awareness and understanding of your anxiety.

What are anxiety disorders?

There are different types of anxiety disorders which affect behaviour, thoughts, emotions and physical health. Anxiety is primarily caused by a combination of biopsychosocial factors; biological being what we inherent from our parents genes, psychological being a persons character and nature and sociolological being a persons life situation. It is important to have a routine medical examination to help understand your medical condition and to examine any physical contributing factors. You may be dealing with more than one type of disorder and the symptoms can coexist with depression, eating disorders or substance abuse.

Types of anxiety:

Panic Disorder – Typically known as panic attacks which can occur without warning and are often accompanied by sudden feelings of terror. Physically, an attack may cause chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality and fear of dying. When a person avoids situations that he or she fears may cause a panic attack, his or her condition is described as panic disorder with agoraphobia.

Phobias - Phobias are divided into two categories: social phobia, which involves fear of social situations, and specific phobias, such as fear of spiders, flying, blood and heights, etc.

Social Phobia - People with social phobia feel a paralyzing, irrational self-consciousness about social situations. They often have an intense fear of being observed or of doing something horribly wrong in front of other people. They feelings cause people to often become reclusive, tentative and paranoid. The feelings are so extreme that people with social phobia tend to avoid objects or situations that might stimulate that fear, which dramatically reduces their ability to lead a normal life.

Specific Phobias - Fear of flying, fear of heights and fear of open spaces are some typical specific phobias. People suffering from a specific phobia are overwhelmed by unreasonable fears, which they are unable to control. Exposure to feared situations can cause them extreme anxiety and panic, even if they recognize that their fears are illogical.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - A terrifying experience in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. Survivors of rape, child abuse, war, car accidents or a natural disaster may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Common symptoms include flashbacks, during which the person re-lives the terrifying experience, nightmares, depression and feelings of anger or irritability. They often fear that the trauma will re-occur at some point.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - This is a condition in which people suffer from persistent unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and / or rituals (compulsions) which they find impossible to control. Typically, obsessions concern contamination, doubting (such as worrying that the iron hasn't been turned off) and disturbing sexual or religious thoughts. Compulsions include washing, checking, organizing and counting.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder –Experienced like a “free-floating anxiety” characterized by repeated, exaggerated worry about routine life events and activities. The individual anticipates the worst, even if others would say they have no reason to expect it. Physical symptoms can include nausea, trembling fatigue, muscle tension, or headache.

How can anxiety disorders be treated?

There are two main medical approaches to treating an anxiety disorder: (1) drug therapy and (2) cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Combining the two types of treatment can be effective.

Because most anxiety disorders have at least some biological component, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs can be prescribed to help relieve the physical symptoms and to accelerate the therapeutic process. Nobody like taking pills, however, it is important to be open to getting the help and to understand that it often helps accelerate the therapeutic process. Speak with your physician about possible medications.

Therapeutic strategies can be effective in reducing symptoms in each of the anxiety disorders. The techniques used include cognitive restructuring, to help people turn their anxious thoughts, interpretations and predictions into thoughts which are more rational and less anxious. People with anxiety disorders may also benefit from controlled exposure to feared objects or situations.

The goal is to help you regain a sense of effective control in your life without anxiety. Begin by charting or writing about your anxiety... when it occurs, how you experience it physically, mentally and emotionally. Speak with your doctor about your anxiety and then contact a therapist familiar with appropriate treatment. 

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Saturday, July 3, 2010

But It's Mine!

Many clients come to me looking for change... feeling stuck with or in a situation that they perceive themselves unable to resolve.

They often feel compelled to "fix the problem" and want me to help them fix it or tell them what they need to do to fix it or fix it for them... It's a normal response for them to be upset, frustrated and perhaps angry when I tell them that I cannot do that... and try instead to have them understand that our minds work differently... and we need to understand why people don't invite or create the change that they say they want. If we don't have what we say we want... why not?

There's a story of a person who falls off a cliff... with all of who they believe they are in their arms and a parachute on their back. In order to save themselves all they need to do is to let go off their "stuff" and pull the parachute cord to fall safely to the ground. Even knowing this, the person persists in hanging on... even to their death! They can be heard repeating the same phrase... "BUT IT'S MINE!"

We have our perception of our reality and that provides us with comfort around our illusion of control and understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We hang on to that and gather ample evidence to support that it's right to do this and our information is accurate.

One of the most difficult areas to conquer in therapy is the recognition that nothing ever changes as long as we are pointing at the cause external from ourselves. Saying that we're the victims of some sort of our own sense of reality. We are the common denominator of our lives and suggesting that we do not play a part in contributing to our circumstances is folly... Once some degree of responsibility is recognised, then change can occur, sometimes instantly there is a paradigm shift of thinking. Even for those who do not feel they are responsible, I suggest that they ask themselves who it is that can create a desired change in their lives?

Having anxiety is a natural response to this recognition. The thought that we as individuals are indeed responsible for making our lives different means a number of things that promote an anxious feeling. In some way we don't want to be responsible... who would we or what would we blame for our demise? How do we go about dealing with this?

I often have clients ask... "well, just tell me what to do!" Hence the need for therapy... therapy that is present and real, not about people recounting the stories of their lives but of the responses and interpretations that become available during the development of the relationship between the client and the therapist.

A good therapist will be delicately balancing the paradox of the desire to change with the resistance to change... "BUT IT'S MINE" 

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Friday, April 23, 2010

Apologize! ... No way!

Apologies are not about doing something wrong or condoning a certain behavior, it’s about recognition and acknowledgment of how our actions affect another.

It’s an admittance that our actions do effect others (and ourselves).

In relationships we offer information through our behaviour and connection (or lack of) that contributes to an outcome. If that outcome is not what we’re looking for, then apologizing can also be a recognition of how our behavior also effects those involved.

It can allow for change to occur. Make some room to work towards forgiving yourself and the other person for what’s happened, not condoning it, but understanding it differently.

They may not accept the apology, but will know how you really feel with the added bonus that it’ll help clarify this for you.

Remember to be gentle through the process… be mindful of the judgment and assumptions that can (and probably will) occur. Just note/observe them, don’t use or manipulate them.

An alternative may be to use the judgments and assumptions to elevate your insight and understanding of your yourself and the situation. It may be that these occur as a result of fear... knowing this may help lead to what that fear(s) might be.

Apoligizing is not saying that the behaviour is ok, saying "I'm sorry" is meaningless unless there is understanding of what you're apoligizing for and are willing to alter your thinking and behaviour regarding what happened. Use the experience as learning and be willing to consider alternatives.

Until later
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plan "B"

We are all accountable and responsible for our thoughts, words and deeds. Whatever we feel may be the "cause" of our demise, our pain, our struggle, our distress, our lack, our incompetence, our inadequacies, our misfortune... we are the only ones who can make this different.
We need to step up to the plate, put our toes on the line and make a decision. Assess what you consider to be the problem, the cause of the problem and all the possible solutions you can think of. Ask those close to you what they think... and listen. Try to avoid the tendency to dismiss any ideas you may hear that might not fit what you THINK.
If the solutions we consider to be feasible are based on someone else being different, or a situation being different without our changing, then the solution won't work... it just doesn't. You can paint it any colour you like, stop relying on that.
The most common definition of insanity is one that most of you have heard...
Repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results...
Some of you may remember when windows had the blue screen of death! I'd hit the same key that caused the problem... again... and again and guess what would happen? My son, Andrew, would laugh and say, "hit it again Dad!"
Now, the definition of SANITY! ... knowing what to do when you don't win the lottery!
In other words, when your repetitive thinking and behaviour is creating the same undesirable results, what's you plan B? Just consider some options. Look in another direction and while you're waiting for your plan A to come to fruition, focus on your plan B in the meantime.
Have a focused purpose for your day. One way for you to make the future different is by making today different.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Got a Problem?

Have you ever made up a list of things that you consider to be problems in your life? Has anyone ever suggested that you do this?

It's a very good idea.... make your list.

Have you wondered why certain items are on your particular list?????

Okay, now you work on eliminating a few items... let's work on one first!

Inevitably... what happens? If you are actually successful at dealing with an issue (by the way good for you), how long is it before something else seems to creep up the list into your reality?

We must need to live with problems, some quietly, some not. Like they say, "there's always sumpthin"!
How does this system occur and why? Sure we can live, perhaps for awhile believing that all our problems are minimal, but for how long? We encourage problems like they're our job!

When I first met Angie (not her real name) she was in detox... a pursistent life of doing crack and the pursuit of crack had led her there. Through bleery eyes she first offered to take me to the Bahamas... fast forward ten years... at her 5 year clean and sober medallion... I witnessed a miracle in her demeanour and physical health. Yet, I caught myself observing her complaining about her nails not being done the "correct" way; it brought me back 10 years prior listening to her... same voice, same person; complaining about dying, about living on the streets...

All very relative to what is present on our minds at the time.

I first met Alex (not his real name) when his marriage was in deep trouble... near the end. He'd had an affair that neither he nor his wife knew that they could recover from. He was unmotivated, depressed and confused. After working both with his wife and own his own with me for  a couple years they are "happily" (well maybe normally) married; having successfully gone through many of the neccessary hurdles of forgiveness. Yet, when he was promoted to an enviable corporate position, he said quietly to me, "they haven't found out yet"... They" hadn't found out that he really didn't feel deserving of the postion... thought he was still fooling "them" and was hoping he wouldn't get caught.

Our problems are all relative.

Do you remember the MADD commercial... some random guy is driving along, what we see is through the front windshield of his car. After one drink we see the first glass appear in front of the windshield; after the second drink we see another glass appear in front of the first glass; and so on, until the inevitable crash and burn...

Here's my analogy - we have problems occur in our lives, we're not sure of where they come from or why they're there, but we know they're there and we need to deal with them (or perhaps attempt to ignore them). Our focus becomes the resolution or managment of those problems... sometimes for a lifetime. If we are able to "deal" with or minimize a problem enough, there always seems to be another in front of it, another issue to deal with. (by the way if we try to shut one down, it usually comes back bigger and brighter than ever).

What we forgot (and need to remember) is where those glasses (problems) come from!
We put them there, we put our focus on the problem and resolving the problem. The only problem is that we think there's a problem! The more we either try to resolve a problem or alternatively, ignore a problem, all we do is put more focus and energy into that problem.

We need to consider alternatives... alternative approaches, alternative thought patterns... Easy to say, not so easy to accomplish! If we've always been accustomed to thinking a certain way, to dealing with problems, to believing that having and dealing with problems is normal, then why would we expect to just be able to switch. It is not the removal or dealing with the "glasses" that will bring us peace, it is the recognition that the absence of those glasses... the absense of problems... is peace.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290


Our sensitivities are indicators of our inner projections... the thoughts or beliefs that we hold to be true. The indicators are critical to pay attention to.

I'll give you an example...

I go shopping and pick up 4 bags of groceries and bring them home. As my loving wife is helping me unload the groceries, she notices that I've forgotten an item, say, eggs. She point this out to me in an observational manner, "you forgot the eggs".

On a good day...
I hear the "observation". I don't take it personally nor do I feel threatened by the comment. It's simply a comment... information. I may respond with "do we need them today?" or "would you like me to get some later?"...

On not a good day.... (I'll describe later what this means)
I hear the comment and take it personally as a negative judgment and feel hurt and defensive. I quickly go through a cycle of self-comments, most of the time I am not aware I am doing this...

My self-comments will regarding assumptions of what I think she's really thinking... I always forget things, I can't shop properly, I can't do anything properly, I can't be trusted, I'm inadequate, I'm incompetent, .... and on and on... until the inevitable ending comment... I know you hate me! or I know you don't want to be with me!...

I know, I know, ridiculous thoughts, unfounded in reality. So where then, do they come from? What makes them seem so real?

They exist in our minds as a reality that we are convinced of at the time.
Our minds are that powerful that we can make a non-reality, a reality.

These thoughts exist because they are a belief that we hold to be true about ourselves. Beliefs that we do not want to recognize because to do so feels counterproductive, bordering on psychosis. However, the belief must be there and is seen as a sensitivity that we react to.

Which is why it's so important to pay attention to them when they occur.
We don't immediately recognize them as sensitvities because we're busy being defensive, irritated, angry and blaming.

As important as it is, it's not an easy nor comfortable process to work through. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to catch yourself or at least to remember the situation and the inner thoughts and feelings you may have been experiencing. I'd suggest writing the situation and responding feelings down first and then having a look at them later.

It's often very helpful to work with someone else not as invested in the situation to help you work through the process. Talk to a counsellor who is willing to explore the indicators until you're more comfortable doing this yourself.

Until later,

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Nature of our EGO

Ego has a purpose. It has a function in our lives that we all must consider, learn about and embrace.

Our ego allows us to individuate ourselves from each other. I am a separate being on this planet. I exist as an individual. I have my own body, my own mind, my own will....

The job of our ego is to allow us to believe that we must exist this way.

What is puzzling to me is that what we all seek in our lives, what we all feel is missing, what we all genuinely want to hold on to is connection; a sense of spiritual inclusion with each other, the desire to feel a true sense of belonging.

We grieve when we don't have it and crave it when it's not there. Almost all art, all music is about one topic... unrequited love. The longing for that which we feel we don't have.

So, now we have a paradox to deal with. On one hand we have our egos which cause us to see the world of separation, of division; and we have our spirituality which sees us as connected spirits walking along the same path.

It seems to me to be a common occurrence that when I experience "that moment" of connection, that moment when it feels like getting lost in someones eyes... actually having what I believe I am seeking...
my ego pulls me away from the experience, often with fear and typically with judgement.

Our egos become threatened by the connection we seek. Our egos focus on dis-connection which is justified by apparent differences. Those differences become fearful because they're not us. And those fears are justified by judgement.

All this process does is cause us to focus on the illusion that dis-connection is the reality and connection is a fleeting moment of our lives.

I suggest a slightly different approach...

Putting reins on our egos, using our cognitive reasoning, our logic and our spiritual strength to use and understand how to use the information process of our ego minds in a beneficial way. Our egos can't be eliminated, so why not re-focus it to increase our connection with others. If we are aware that each of us has a tendency to focus on our differences, then perhaps we can observe how we normally might consider those differences and offer ourselves the opportunity to consider understanding that the differences are beneficial, complementary. The differences do not need to be considered as threatening.

All of us have the little voice inside us... call it what you will... moral judgement, jimminie cricket, good orderly direction, Holy Spirit, Jesus, God, our conscience... It often can indicate our opportunity of choice. Choosing to think differently, to focus on a constructive, positive and beneficial thought... in spite of our ego tendencies!

I want to provide an example regarding connection...

When we first meet someone, our tendency is to notice and focus on the differences like skin colour, gender, size, shape, smell, clothing, behaviour, speech, etc. The underlying assumption being that if we were the "same" we'd be less threatened and safer... therefore more connected. The better we get to know someone, the less threatening they become. We don't focus or even, eventually, notice the differences when we are focused on the connection. We subconsciously suspend the judgement and "threat" of the differences.

If you're a parent, you would have a difficult time denying or repressing the connection you have with your child(ren). You may not approve of, understand or support certain behaviours, but none of those things would/do/could alter your ultimate connection. In fact, we can not alter that level of connection.

We only seem to because our ego (yes it's back again) begins to see and focus on judgement and fear so we can feel unique and special because we're individuals.... yay! Isn't it odd that we can feel the most disconnected with the ones we care about the most? That we can feel the most threatened by the ones we love? We care about what they say... if we are reacting, it is because of our own sensitivities... but that's another time.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290


There have been many books on addiction... many opinions on addiction... much research done on addiction... many questions about addiction....
I majored in addictions at college and worked for many years at an addiction treatment hospital and with many clients in my private practice over the past 20 years...
I, like many others, don't have to look far to see addiction in my family & friends...
But still no satisfactory explanation...
We have addictions for alcohol, nicotine, food, sex, narcotics, coffee, work...
There seem to be addictions for just about everything!

The best explanation I have for addictions is that it is a complex blend of biopsychosocial components that seems different for every person.
The similarity for all seems to be a loss of impulse control.
We all need to remember that we can justify anything in our minds!

When we have a pre-existing conclusion embedded in our minds, we will then naturally go to the supportive evidence to justify the behaviour.

Take the example of an anorexic who, in spite of contrary information, will insist that they are fat when looking at their body image. It doesn't seem to matter what information it is or whom it may come from, the illusional "fat" image exists. Our minds are very powerful indead!

Addictive behaviour needs to be addressed. It has a pattern of becoming problematic in and of itself. It will easily become the focus and the label and has its own set of negative trends of behaviour and cognitive dysfunction.

Say with drinking (a common problem), the obvious solution is to stop the problematic behaviour. Even the person with the problem will often admit this... why then is it sooooo difficult?

The biological component of the assessment trio is the easiest to determine. There are definately substances which are physically addictive and cause impulse control and tolerance issues. Detoxing from these substances is essential to have a sense of clarity to the mind.

Family histories can indicate genetic predispositions that need to be taken into account. There may be physiological issues that need to be balanced like thyroid, seretonin, diabetes, etc.
In the end for most who are dealing with addictive issues, it really doesn't matter if addiction is a disease or not, it remains an issue that needs to be dealt with and there are effective methods to do this. For an excellent paper written on the biological components of addiction see:

Situational, circumstantial, habitual and emotional triggers are helpful to identify. Understanding the self-destructive and problematic behaviours is helpful will lead to treatment that is effective with a prolonged effect.

You need not feel alone in this process. It can rarely be managed by doing this on your own. Seek out appropriate help.
Peel through the layers of the defensive thoughts and be aware of the "ya but" response.
Do not give up on creating a more positive and workable approach.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Mediation Helps

It makes sense that we all tend to see things differently.

We all have varying life experiences, information, judgements, perspectives and interests. We all think differently. People tend to become rigid and fixed in their expectations and beliefs about what's "right or wrong".

Conflict occurs when there is a perception of competing interests between people. Because of our perceived differences, conflict seems to be a natural and normal occurrence in our lives. When conflict occurs in a family, particularly around a marriage separation, it can be worse because of the emotion involved. Taking sides and being right can seem even more important than never.

These situations can often needlessly affect the well-being and natural development of children. Children can not help but be involved and their needs require sensitive attention. They can feel like it's their fault or feel responsible for fixing the situation. They can feel helpless, hopeless and alone. Others can also feel this way. Lots of scrambled emotion... guessing, assuming and confusion for all involved!
Seeing a skilled mediator can help resolve this.

Mediation is a process which involves the use of collaborative techniques by a mediator who is a neutral third party. The mediator informally assists disputing parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of some or all of the issues in dispute by structuring the negotiation, maintaining an open channel of communication, articulating the needs of each party and identifying the issues.

Mediators are committed to a process that is: voluntary, private, confidential, self-determining, creative, practical and flexible. We help you create an informed, mutual decision. Mediators are not decision makers or judges.

Being involved in a marital separation is a difficult process. Using the services of a professional mediator is the best alternative to litigation. A mediator will help you work through and mutually agree on delicate and sensitive issues like parenting, new partners, asset division, and financial support with awareness and understanding.

We will help you develop an agreement that you can support because it will come from you, it is your agreement.

Family mediation is appropriate for the following situation:
  1. On marriage/cohabitation breakdown, helping couples negotiate a marriage or cohabitation agreement providing for financial and property matters, and/or parenting plan for any children.
  2. When considering living with or marrying someone, helping negotiate a marriage or cohabitation contract dealing with financial matters while living together, on death and on separation.
  3. When family/intergenerational conflicts arise between children and parents, helping establish an understanding of issues and helping the family create a means to their resolution.
  4. In business disputes between family members, helping the family members create a partnership agreement, reach an informal understanding of how the business will be run, or establish terms for the dissolution or sale of the business.
The main benefits of family mediation are:

  1. Where children are involved, the focus is kept on the best   interest of the children.
  2. The ability to resolve issues in a way that suits the clients best and enables them to speak directly to the outcome.
  3. An opportunity to speak directly to the other person about issues of concern in a neutral and safe environment.
  4. An opportunity to learn skills for better communication and cooperative problem solving for the future.
  5. Can be less expensive and simpler than court processes.
  6. Lessening tensions and removing an adversarial atmosphere.
  7. The process is private and confidential.
Mediation allows the parties in a dispute to examine their interests and concerns, explore a variety of creative options and develop their own solutions in a timely manner.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Eyes lead... Brain follows

A good friend advised me one day many years ago that "what you hold in your head is what you hold in your hand"...
Bringing focus to something that we consciously want heightens our awareness and sensitivity to that object or desire. It then may seem easier to acquire or work on that which we want, as opposed to what we don't want. It allows us to see opportunity where we might otherwise not.

Be aware of the excuses/justification that can creep into our minds when creating positive change... I always try to remember to ask myself, why am I making something I want hard to get???? Why not put it into my head that it will be easy. It only seems hard because I may not have done it before or that I may not know about it. Unfamiliarity can certainly breed fear which will create judgement and negative intention... and allow me to lose my focus and give up... even before starting.

We are creatures that seem to need experience... proof if you will, before we believe something. Even then I'll hear that "well someone else can do that, but it doesn't mean that I can".

One day as my wife and I were driving in a very upscale neighbourhood looking at the beautiful homes there, I quietly expressed some envy... My astute wife simply said, "somebody's got to live there and if they can, can't anybody else". There's no reason, except the ones we make up, as to why we can't have what we want!

Suggested steps to get what you want...

1. Clarify what you want... it may be helpful to first think of what you don't want (somehow seems more natural), then think about what you do want.
2. Write what you want down... get pictures of it, talk about it.

3. Set out a specific plan of action for what you need to do to get there.

4. Set up daily accountability with someone you trust to remind you when you're not following your plan.

5. Believe that you deserve and are working on focusing and obtaining your desire.

6. You may run into the odd roadblock along the way... don't minimize these, they're providing information you didn't have at the beginning and may simply be indicators requiring you to refine or tweak your plan.

Until later

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Nature of Conflict

Conflict seems like a natural part of our lives. As many times as we may find agreement in our lives, we are able to find disagreement.

For most of us conflict is an uncomfortable state of mind. It causes stress, physically and emotionally. We view it as something to avoid.

Conflict is caused primarily from a difference of perspectives or interpretations. We tend to focus on the differences and dig ourselves metaphoric trenches to maintain our position. We need to justify being "right" and the other person being "wrong". Huge amounts of energy and time are used in this defense of our righteousness. Some of us live in our trenches, feeling a sense of impending doom or attack. It's not if something is going to happen, it's when!

Very difficult to even be aware of a sense of peace while in this state of mind, let alone, choose it as an alternative.

If you are in this state of mind try to remind yourself first that you may have a choice in how the specific situation is handled. What are your options? What alternatives have you considered? When the conflict involves another person (not within yourself) try to maintain a level of understanding of each other's interests in the conflict... why are you taking the position you are? What circumstances, information, interpretations, assumptions and desired outcomes are at play?
It is often easier to have someone else who is not involved help you resolve the issues and reach a different level of understanding. Ask a friend, family member or hire a professional mediator (like me) to help you.

Conflict does not have to be an everyday occurrence. You do not have to live in the trenches. You can learn how to train your thoughts to find alternatives that will allow you to be closer to the level of peace that we all seek.

Until later

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290