Author Archives: Debbie Grove

Building Resilience for the Holidays

Posted by: Debbie Grove on December 5, 2011 4:19 pm

The holiday season does not have to be stressful – really, no seriously. I cannot help but wonder if the preconception that this time of the year is just ‘naturally’ stressful begins to set us up for anticipatory angst, worry, and anxiety about yet another ‘stressful’ festive season. I truly believe that we can garner some joy and peace if we are purposeful in how we manage the holidays. In this blog, I share some of my top tips for not only surviving the holidays, but learning to thrive in their midst.


Image courtesy of

Being proactive and purposeful about creating a healthy mindset, attitude, and approach to the holidays can help generate a manageable and enjoyable season. Here are some of my top tips:

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Art of Brainstorming – An Essential Life Skill

Posted by: Debbie Grove on October 31, 2011 4:32 pm

So, one of these things is not like the others…….









Image courtesy of Mantas Ruzveltas/ 

It is staggering to think about ALL of the decisions we make over the course of our lives. Sometimes a decision can be life-altering such choosing a partner, a career, a neighbourhood in which to live, and so on. At other times, the decisions we make are intended to help make life go more smoothly on a daily basis.

How we make decisions is an important consideration, ask yourself these questions about your decision-making process:

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Hope-Infused Conversations: Part II – The Counsellor’s Role

Posted by: Debbie Grove on October 13, 2011 12:18 pm

In Part I of my discussion about hope’s role in the healing journey, a comment by one CCPA reader, inspired Part II. Here’s the comment from reader, Paul, and the ideas that continue this conversation about hope:

“Hope is so often overlooked when working with clients. I know that I have the tendency to try and “figure out what’s wrong” so it can be fixed. But, if the client doesn’t actually believe that they can be better—if they’re lacking hope—then no amount of fixing will take root. I’ve wrestled with how to convey hope to my clients…”

The counsellor’s role in hope is an important one. Special considerations include respectful use of motivation for change during an appropriate time in therapy. What might hope from a counsellor sound like during a counselling session? What discourse helps convey a brighter future is possible – that possibilities are present. As I reflect on my work as a therapist, I find there is an interplay of hope-infused words, statements, metaphors along side clients’ desires for some aspect of life to be different, times in their lives when the problem was not present and/or not as impactful. I am not certain I can imagine a counselling session without some element of hope intertwined in our conversation, problem-solving, brainstorming, goal-setting, and processing.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Is the Path Toward Healing Possible without Hope?

Posted by: Debbie Grove on September 16, 2011 2:08 pm

September has been a time of reflection, and, perhaps more so lately with the Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11. Poignant moments of loved ones at the memorial site in New York, celebrations of lives lived and lost and those sacrificed. I was especially moved by the felt sense of the human spirit in its capacity to comfort, mourn, rejoice, and celebrate. During times of such sorrow, there was also hope. This was not confined to New York either, rather, it spread throughout North America and other parts of the world. How do we possibly find hope when tragedy strikes?

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Journaling and Depression: Are They Compatible?

Posted by: Debbie Grove on August 23, 2011 11:37 am

Journaling has become synonymous with counselling and psychotherapy. It is frequently associated with therapeutic processes and outcomes such as increased self-awareness, exploration, consideration of alternatives, problem-solving, emotional release, and an enhanced sense of self (giving voice to one’s life narrative and experiences). There are, however, a few key considerations for clients and counsellors/ psychotherapists to keep in mind when deciding whether or not journaling would be helpful.

Reflective journaling in the context of depression may not be helpful, especially at the outset of counselling when activity-based interventions are important to interrupt the cyclical nature of depression. On the one hand, researchers (Lyubomirsky & Nolen-Hoeksema, 1995; Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco, & Lyubomirsky, 2008) have implicated reflection as an ineffective intervention for depression given its potential to invite and/or contribute to rumination. On the other hand, in the context of therapy, reflective learning has been linked to increasing active participation and motivation to seek insight into problems (Karlsson & Kermott, 2006).           

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Get Inspired about Psychotherapy!

Posted by: Debbie Grove on August 9, 2011 12:00 pm

I was recently inspired by a blog I read by Dr. John Grohol, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central ( In reflecting and writing on client-counsellor fit, I have been thinking a lot about counselling and psychotherapy from the client’s perspective. Dr. Grohol’s discussion highlighted how a few sessions of psychotherapy can positively contribute to mental health. In other words, investing in this time is well worth the effort, especially given how impactful it can be on one’s quality of life. Moreover, I was struck by his positive tone, putting psychotherapy in a bright light – helping to unleash it from the silence that stigma too often brings. I liken psychotherapy to any other aspect of our well-being that requires a check-in, boost, and/or maintenance. After all, we likely do not think twice about taking our car in for maintenance, fixing the house, seeing the doctor or dentist, and so on. Our mental, emotional, and relational well-being is just as important!

Dr. Grohol went on to comment how the right fit in psychotherapy is “vitally important” – I couldn’t agree more! He stated that this tends to be a process of “trial and error.” While I hear that a lot, I think this is an aspect of psychotherapy that needs a lot more exploration and discussion – watch for my future blogs about the topic of reducing trial-and-error with collaborative consultation.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Discovery and Space to Explore

Posted by: Debbie Grove on July 21, 2011 3:06 pm

The road to a better life can be a winding journey. Self-discovery takes time, life experience, and trying out new approaches to living. There are a myriad of ways we learn, create, and explore our personhood. We do this alone and in the presence of others. Discovery is an ongoing process throughout the course of our lives. Personal discovery can happen when we least expect it or in more purposeful and intentional ways. The process of discovery can feel uncomfortable as we try on for size likes, dislikes, and aspects about ourselves we would like to change. Sometimes discovery means facing fear, disappointment, regret, loss, and finding hope amidst it all. Exploring ourselves in the presence of another, no doubt, takes courage, even more so when self-exploration is particularly uncomfortable and, perhaps, a new experience. A leap of faith into an unknown, uncharted territory is sometimes needed.

Creator: Evgeni Dinev / Courtesy of

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

A Great Care Plan Takes Team Work!

Posted by: Debbie Grove on July 8, 2011 2:34 pm

When we pause to think about it, people have multiple needs – it takes a lot to keep us going. A well-being or personal care plan incorporates health and mental health (emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational), finances, education and career, place of residence, leisure and recreation, and so on.

Counsellors and psychotherapists may be one of many components of a client’s personal well-being team. Like any team, information, open communication, and collaboration are important elements. Other members of the team might include, for example, a physician, physiotherapist, psychiatrist, chiropractor, pastor, school guidance counsellor, life coach, and sports coach. When a client is working with more than one professional or practitioner, there are many benefits; at the same time, however, there are some key tips to keep in mind when counsellors and clients are working together as part of a larger team.


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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Counselling for Midlife Depression

Posted by: Debbie Grove on June 22, 2011 1:59 pm

Depression during the midlife years tends to be multi-faceted. Not only is it uniquely experienced, but there are individual differences in onset, course, previous treatment, and current contributing factors. While midlife issues differ for the sexes, there are many commonalities (e.g., career transition, loss, grief, health concerns, relational issues, divorce, among other challenges). At the same time, though, gender differences in how women and men manifest depression exist (e.g., anger versus withdrawal).

 In other words, there are multiple interacting components at play with midlife depression. Seeking out a counsellor with awareness, knowledge, and skills in the areas depicted below is an important consideration when working with midlife depression.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Self-Help Resources in the Counselling Context

Posted by: Debbie Grove on June 8, 2011 1:03 pm

Self-help resources come in many formats; for example, self-help books, motivational videos, on-line discussion forums, and workbooks with specific exercises. Sometimes these resources are accessed before counselling begins; in other instances, they are used in conjunction with counselling. Most often, self-help materials are self-generated, in the absence of a counsellor recommending them.

 A common question by clients who are working with a counsellor is whether or not they should continue using their self-help resources while they are engaged in the counselling process. Client-counsellor conversations about self-help resources has many benefits, such as these five: (a) identification of what aspects of the resource are helpful and why; (b) amplifying the changes that the resources are stimulating; (c) building on the momentum of client self-directedness; (d) exploration of how the resources can work in concert with counselling goals; and (e) discussion of additional resources that might be helpful.

 Bringing the resource(s) to a counselling session can facilitate goal-setting. For example, a client reading a workbook about self-esteem may have questions about which exercises would be most beneficial to the counselling goal of increased confidence in social situations. In fact, specific sections from the workbook could be used in-session for role-play exercises. This is a great way to empower and engage clients in the change process.

 While self-help resources are not for everyone, choosing to seek out and try different tools is a great way to boost confidence, sense of control, and active engagement. When you discover what works for you, over time, you can build your own resource toolkit – a helpful strategy to stay motivated and maintain change once counselling ends.

 The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA.

Dr. Debbie Grove is a therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA