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The first time I stepped through the doors of a counselling office, I remember looking both ways to make
sure nobody I knew was watching. I was embarrassed about feeling so broken—and ashamed that I
couldn’t seem to fix my situation on my own. I didn’t want to admit it, but I needed help.
When we experience a physical injury, we generally don’t think twice about booking an appointment
with a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, or a massage therapist to relieve the symptoms. But when it
comes to our mental health, many of us hesitate to reach out. Instead, we often navigate relationship
issues, anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, addiction, disordered eating, and other mental health
concerns in silence.


The following are just a few reasons people give for avoiding counselling:

  • “It’s a sign of weakness to ask for help.”
  • “As long as I don’t think or talk about the emotional pain, I can convince myself and others that
    I’m fine.”
  • “If I start talking about my problems, I’m afraid I’ll have a breakdown and won’t be able to stop
    crying.”
  • “A counsellor is just going to tell me I need to be on medication.”
  • “Therapy is too expensive.”
  • “I’m too busy for counselling.”

]In my own life, these beliefs contributed to my hesitation to seek support, and they were reinforced
when I was told that I shouldn’t need the help of a professional to navigate my personal issues. And so, I
silently sat with my trauma and watched as it slowly crippled me into a shell of who I used to be.
The American poet Maya Angelou powerfully sums up what decades of research on counselling has
shown us: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” When I finally realised
that I needed to talk about my trauma, and I mustered up the courage to walk through the doors of that
counselling office, it was the start of my own journey toward healing.
I’ve worked with many clients who, in their first counselling session, reminded me so much of myself:
ashamed and afraid, yet carrying a spark of cautious hope that maybe, just maybe, sharing their story
might provide some relief. For these clients, and others who are contemplating therapy, I wonder what
might happen if we were able to reframe the thoughts listed earlier. Perhaps our view of reaching out to
a counsellor for support might shift to something like this:

  • “Seeking help and being vulnerable is a sign of incredible courage.”
  • “Trying to convince myself and others that I’m fine is exhausting. Talking about painful
    memories and emotions can be difficult, but it means I don’t have to carry this alone.”
  • “It’s okay for me to cry. And I generally feel lighter after letting it out.”
  • “Only doctors can prescribe medication. My counsellor is here to help me talk through my own
    goals for therapy, whether or not medication is part of my healing journey.
  • “Counselling can be expensive—but many people have benefit plans that can help with covering
    the costs. But if the cost is a major barrier, I can talk with my counsellor and see if other
    options—such as a sliding scale for payment—are available.”
  • “Setting aside time now to manage my problems and focus on my mental health will save me
    time in the long run.”


If you or someone you know are considering counselling, what might you expect in a session at New
Leaf?


First, you will be met with empathy, genuineness, and unconditional acceptance. My role is not to judge;
rather, I’m here to walk alongside you as you process your own experiences and find meaning in your
story.


In my practice, I draw on a variety of techniques when working with clients, including Cognitive
Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Narrative Therapy, and Emotion-
Focused Therapy (EFT). My work has focused on the treatment of anxiety, depression, grief, trauma,
relationship challenges, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and personality
disorders. I also work from a trauma-informed perspective and have supported individuals who have or
are experiencing domestic violence, sexual abuse, intergenerational trauma, and addiction. I work with
individuals, couples, and families, and I have over a decade of experience working with individuals from
diverse backgrounds, including First Nations, immigrants, and refugees.
Just like rehabilitating physical injuries, finding healing for emotional and psychological injuries can take

time. If you or someone you know are struggling, I encourage you to try counselling. Feeling curious, but
unsure? I offer free consultations and would be happy to meet with you to talk more about whether my
skills and experience might be a good fit.


Andrea.

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