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Radical Acceptance
Written by Shannon
Friday, 12 August 2016 20:44
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It's exhausting to fight reality, and it's not an effective strategy for feeling better or moving forward.  "I can't stand this", "this isn't fair", "it shouldn't be this way", are thoughts that contribute to our suffering.  Pain is inevitable, but our thoughts can escalate our suffering, making things worse. Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life's terms and not resisting what we can't or choose not to change.

 
July 2016: A new office, only one door down
Written by Shannon
Tuesday, 12 July 2016 18:15
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July 2016: I've moved to the suite next door (#305), a brighter space with natural light, and a relaxing energy.

 

Come in and meet the fishes ....

 

 
Getting Results in Therapy
Written by Shannon
Thursday, 02 July 2015 05:05
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I am trained in Feedback Informed Treatment, or 'FIT', which tracks therapeutic progress and solicits feedback from clients about what's working and what isn't in our sessions. Here is a short video regarding why this is important in therapy:

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=194&v=u0_tmE3JPM0

 

 
Playing with Anxiety
Written by Shannon
Thursday, 18 June 2015 23:38
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People struggling with Anxiety often want it to go away, which is understandable.  However this stance of 'I don't want this to be happening" is part of what gives Anxiety its power.  If you can accept what you are experiencing in the moment, then you are back in control.  A supportive message to yourself is part of this process - "It's ok that I'm feeling anxious, anxiety is natural and my brain is just trying to be helpful.  I can handle this feeling, I can handle this situation".  Keeping the cortex engaged (the 'thinking' part of our brain) helps to put the brakes on emotion running our show.

 
The Brain's Negativity Bias
Written by Shannon
Friday, 06 February 2015 19:29
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From Rick Hanson's "Hardwiring Happiness: the New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence":

The brain is an organ that learns, so it is designed to be changed by your experiences.  Whatever we repeatedly sense and feel and want and think is slowly but surely sculpting neural structure.  As you read this, in the five cups of tofu-like tissue inside your head, nestled amid a trillion support cells, 80 - 100 billion neurons are signaling one another in a network with about half a quadrillion connections, called synapses.  All this incredibly fast, complex, and dynamic neural activity is continually changing your brain.  Active synapses become more sensitive, new synapses start growing within minutes, busy regions get more blood since they need more oxygen and glucose to do their work, and genes inside neurons turn on or off.  Meanwhile, less active connections wither away in a process sometimes called neural Darwinism: the survival of the busiest.

 
Feedback Informed Treatment
Written by Shannon
Monday, 26 January 2015 22:28
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Connecting with counselling can sometimes feel like an intimidating process. I believe people sometimes hesitate to connect with counselling because they are concerned they are going to be told what to do, and they have enough people in their daily life doing just that. Or they are concerned about being judged or criticized, or shamed in some way, which may have been a past experience with a counsellor. The best predictor of success in therapy is your relationship with the therapist. Counselling is a relationship, if you don't feel comfortable with your counsellor, you aren't going to feel safe speaking about your concerns, which will end up being a waste of your time (and money).

 
Worry - The Brain's Attempt to Be Useful - Part 2
Written by Shannon
Friday, 12 December 2014 18:22
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Worry takes us out of the present and projects us into an imagined future, and usually the worst possible outcome future. When this happens, we can miss out on our experience of the present. When you notice worry whispering in your ear, try to bring yourself back to the present moment, noticing and labelling your experience of the present: what do you see right now, what objects to you observe, are there people around, if so, what do they look like, what are they doing? Maybe you are driving, what colour are the cars around you, can you read the license plate ahead of you, any bumper stickers to read?  Perhaps you're in nature? If so what do you hear, are the sounds close by or far away? What do you notice on the ground?  What colours are you aware of as you look around you, notice the temperature of the air, is it cool, warm, crisp, wet? Can you follow your breath as you inhale and exhale, what does the temperature of your breath feel like, where does your breath go? This is the practice of "mindfulness", paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without any judgement, simply observing things as they are.

 
Worry - The Brain's Attempt to Be Useful - Part 1
Written by Shannon
Friday, 12 December 2014 18:21
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Worry is the brain’s attempt to be useful, and there really is no way to avoid it. From an early age we are trained to focus a large part of our attention on the future, a future which is largely unpredictable and uncontrollable. The sensation of anxiety is the human response to ambiguity, the unknown - it drives us in the direction of problem identification and solution. The neurobiology of worry feels like ‘uh oh’, which the body doesn’t like, so the brain goes on a search for problems, to identify the sense of ‘uh oh’ in order to eliminate the discomfort, the goal is getting the nervous system back into balance.

 
Not Allowing Depression To Win
Written by Shannon
Friday, 14 November 2014 23:08
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How do we prevent falling into the trap of letting our thoughts and feelings determine our behaviour (or lack of it)? While our emotions are designed to motivate action, unquestioning adherence to those emotions can get us into trouble. Consider depression. Depression robs people of their energy, motivation and interests in life. If you always did what depression told you, you probably wouldn't do much of anything, which becomes a vicious cycle: we have no energy to do anything, so we don’t do anything, which contributes to feelings of guilt, hopelessness and ineffectiveness, which makes us feel even more depressed.  The key to getting out of this trap: experiment with doing the opposite of what you feel like doing. There is a way of doing this: have compassion for yourself in your current situation, acknowledge and honour your feelings, and then challenge them. As a person living with depression, if you wait until you feel like doing something, you may be waiting a very long time. The idea is to challenge yourself with the message that what you ‘feel’ like doing is not important, the importance is in what you DO. One of my favorite mantras: “don’t think, just do”. The more I ‘think’ about what I’m supposed to do, the more I may talk myself out of it. Don’t think, just do: set small goals to set yourself up for success, perhaps the first goal is simply to put on your workout outfit, the next day you put on your outfit and drive past the gym, the third day you actually enter the gym. Research indicates if you do this every day, setting small goals and achieving them, over time you will start to feel better, ‘doing’ creates an upward spiral: do something pleasant or pleasurable, this makes us feel good, and we want to do it again. Experiment: set a daily goal of experiencing something that gives you a (healthy) sense of pleasure or accomplishment, this can have a powerful impact on your mood in a short period of time.

 
Emotion Coaching
Written by Shannon
Thursday, 23 October 2014 23:02
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In my work I sometimes encounter people who have trouble identifying their emotions, have learned their emotions are bad or dangerous or signs of weakness. They may seldom have had their emotions validated or acknowledged by loved ones. Emotions are simply information from the body that "something is going on" that we should pay attention to. Emotions often motivate action and are very important for our survival - think of the emotion of fear, and how it is related to fight, flight or freeze. The 'problem' with emotions often lies in how we express them, or act them out. It is often the behaviour that causes problems for people, rather than the emotion itself. Emotion coaching is a big part of raising happy, resilient, and well-adjusted children. Here is an article with 3 easy steps for emotion coaching, it's never too late: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/emotion_coaching_one_of_the_most_important_parenting_practices_in_the_histo)

 
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