Author Archives: Lindsey Thomson

Mental Health Matters

Posted by: Lindsey Thomson on October 31, 2017 3:45 pm

Today I took a ‘mental health’ day from work, it is like a sick day but time to rest your mind and focus on your well-being but specifically on your mental state. Work can be stressful and one way to get away from that is to focus on yourself and who you are as a person. For your mental health day this can look like whatever you want it to. If you are a bookworm like myself, and have been yearning to escape into a book, you could read all day. If you’re the athletic type and the sun is out, you could spend the day hiking or going for a run along the canal.

For me, as a very goal-oriented person who is constantly busy with one project or another, this means sitting down with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and reviewing all the short, medium and long term goals that I have; and subsequently, working on them.

I started off with a list, including anything and everything from working on the next step in starting up my business and organizing my finances to preparing my bridesmaid gifts and brushing my dog. My goal planning also includes one section that is often overlooked: self-care.

Self-care is something that I, even as a counsellor myself, always have to make a conscious effort to think about and to do as a preventative measure. What I mean by this is that rather than waiting until I am exhausted physically or emotionally to take time for myself, I do small things here and there that I value and enjoy doing to help relax my mind. Relaxing my mind, whether through reading, tv show binge watching, or running, helps to recharge my batteries and enables me to be more focused, motivated, happier, and most importantly, it helps me to be myself.

Taking time for self-care doesn’t have to mean taking a day off from work. It can be as simple as changing the way you do things throughout the day that can help you recharge. Examples of this could be listening to music on your way to work, or not listening to music if you feel like there is too much noise in your life already. It could also look like making a conscious effort to have less screen time during the day (maybe spending less time on social media during your work commute if you take public transit). It could even mean taking the stairs when there’s the option (if you are able bodied).

As you can see, there are many different ways you can prioritize your mental health even with a busy schedule. So find a way to show yourself and prove to yourself that your mental health matters to you.

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

Are you ready to change?

Posted by: Lindsey Thomson on October 3, 2017 3:31 pm

There are many different reasons that hold us back from getting the help we need. It can feel daunting to ask a friend or family member for help, let alone a professional, especially when it comes to our mental health. But once we get past the societal stigma (that is currently on the decline), there are other factors that can hold us back, that we’re not even aware of.

Some of us go into counselling knowing exactly what is causing us distress and are excited to work on ourselves, even though we know it will cause us some emotional stress along the way. Others may feel that something is off within them but are unable to identify the cause, and for one reason or another, (possibly fear shame or guilt) are not prepared to reach out for help, or don’t think they can improve.

In therapy there is a concept called motivational interviewing or MI. Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding used to help an individual realize what they would like to improve or change, and work towards strengthening their skills to do so. (Miller & Rollnick, 2009)

At its core, motivational interviewing is a conversation about how you would like to make a positive change in your life. Understanding the stages of change and knowing where you fall within the spectrum of stages will help to give you a better idea if you’re ready to start counselling.

Below are the stages of change with questions to reflect on. Truthfully answering these questions will assist you in understanding where you fall within the spectrum of change.


Stages of change

Pre-contemplation – You haven’t started thinking about change.

Am I experiencing a high level of distress?

Am I spending a lot of my energy focused on this distress?

Is it interfering with my day to day life?

Contemplation – You are beginning to consider making a change, but you are not prepared to make a commitment.

What are the pros and cons of the thing I want to change?

How could my life improve if I made positive changes to the issue?

What are my values in relation to this change?

Preparation – You are starting to prepare to change in the near future.

What are my goals for changing?

What will my plan for change look like?

What/who are the supports in my life to assist me through this journey?

Action – You are working on actively implementing an action plan of change.

What are my new positive behaviours associated with the change?

What am I doing to reinforce these positive behaviours?

How does it feel to be achieving this goal?

Maintenance – You are maintaining a healthy lifestyle with the changes that you have implemented.

What are some challenges that could arise and derail my change?

What can I do to prevent these challenges or work through them when they occur?

How will I positively maintain the changes I have made?

Counselling usually comes into play for individuals at the stage of preparation. If you find yourself in the stage of contemplation, you may feel or have felt ‘stuck’ or unable to make positive changes in a long time. Working with a counsellor at this stage can help you to figure out what is holding you back, and can assist you in working towards strengthening your motivation to move to the preparation stage.

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