Leland Clipperton

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