Author Archives: Lisa Shouldice

Self-Care Is Not a Luxury

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on octobre 23, 2015 5:00

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I am so excited at this time of year when I open my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to see lots of articles, links and Blogs circulating about self-care. But I do think we lose sight of self-care as an all-day, everyday practice, including the times we need a bit extra. So let’s open up about the concept of self-care in our lives.

Self-care is many things from stopping our work at 4:00 to make a hot, immune-boosting tea as the days get longer and colder, do Yoga stretches at our desk so our backs muscles stay limber and so much more. On the weekend we may take time to connect with family, go on a hike etc. This is self-care all-day, everyday.

I think the piece, a lot of people slip on is when self-care needs to become deeper, more frequent and healing in our lives. It is so easy for us to ignore signs of fatigue, burnout and sadness and just keep going. But it does not work. Depression and Anxiety are on the rise. It will become physical in our bodies; our feelings will not be ignored. So instead of not sleeping, having another fight with your partner, and drinking 6 cups of coffee tomorrow, let’s STOP, and practice some deeper self-care. Otherwise you get sick and have to take stress leave anyway. So let’s be proactive. Deeper self-care or healing can be practiced on a more regular basis as well, and fit in you life. Continue reading




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

Conscious Couples

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on septembre 30, 2015 7:00

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The idea of “Conscious Couples” has been getting thrown around a lot lately. I even use the idea/concept in my work with couples now, including a quick article if I feel the couple I am working with may be receptive to it.

A Conscious Couple in a nutshell, is the idea that personal growth and healing are a part of coupling and even a goal that is important to the couple and their relationship. These are couples that recognize they came to the relationship with a history, including personal triggers and experiences. They recognize that they need to own these triggers and experiences to be in healthy relationship, and most importantly they are committed to both themselves and their partner thriving and contributing in the world beyond themselves. Continue reading




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

What is Anxiety? How Do You Explain It To Your Clients?

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on août 31, 2015 5:00

Anxiety has become more and more prevalent in our society in the last while. I have heard anxiety/depression referred to as the “common cold” of mental health. It certainly describes a collection of symptoms that, as mental health professionals and students studying within this field, we know well. But is it really so simple?

I have noticed in some anxiety support groups that anxiety is seen as a natural extension of living in a society that is anxiety-producing for all of us, although to different degrees. The genetic component seems to be widely accepted, although I have certainly treated clients with no obvious, identified family histories of anxiety or related disorders. Anxiety seems to be a collection of symptoms that most professionals conceptualize depending on how they treat it. So I would love to see a professional dialogue to hear how you explain anxiety to your clients when they come to your office presenting with either self or doctor diagnosed anxiety. Is it created by disordered thoughts? Is it environmental but can be treated ex: mindfulness techniques?

I feel genetics can be a part of the equation and speak to how some folks are born with a lower threshold for anxiety, needing less information introduced before anxiety symptoms result. So meditation may be effective. However, I often use an idea I got from a supervisor of mine many years ago. It refers to anxiety as being like a temperature. A temperature is a symptom that tells us when something is wrong in our bodies. Well anxiety is similar. It tells us when something is wrong with our emotional centre, “too much change at once”, “overload” etc. So if we do not process intense emotions and experiences it can build up and create anxiety symptoms. Most people find when they begin opening these things up, they feel a bit better quickly. Whether the sessions involve healing traumatic symptoms or the recent death of a family member is decided on together, etc. As well as how we do this.

I was recently reading a novel “The Heretic’s Daughter” by Kathleen Kent involving the Salem witch trials and the line, “You cannot harvest the corn unless you go into the corn” stayed with me. I believe only with appropriate processing comes full healing. With remembrance, comes healing. Do you believe this?




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

Circle of Care for Protecting Our Children

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on août 10, 2015 3:07

Throughout my work within the urban Aboriginal community, specifically at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa, a Circle of Care model was developed to support Aboriginal health and the well-being of Aboriginal children.  It was a model presented and then further co-created with the Children’s Aid Society, with the goal of keeping Aboriginal families together and using traditional talking circles and the strengths of each family to support the next generation of children.

The practical piece of this model involved working with the parent that has been brought to the attention of CAS, to both advocate for their needs and choose and/or build a strong support network, creating a circle of care around the family.  So an Aboriginal mother who struggles with addiction, resulting from childhood experiences of child sexual abuse, may choose a parent, a few friends, an Elder, and/or her psychotherapist to be in a traditional talking circle and talk about her needs and how these people can all work together to support her and her children.  A concrete plan is made so ensure needs are met and the children can stay within the family unit while mom goes to treatment etc., with a trusted grandparent for example.

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

The Unique Ethical Issues of Working Within the Aboriginal Community

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on juillet 13, 2015 2:10

I have had the honour and privilege of working within the First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations throughout my career as a psychotherapist. I use a predominantly relational, emotion and solution-focused approach in working with clients. Throughout my ethical courses and training, both 12 years ago in my Masters Degree, as well as subsequent conferences and workshops over the years, I have been able to create an ethical, foundational way of thinking and being as a mental health practitioner. However, the multi-cultural work I do involved learning ethics on the job and within the urban Aboriginal community. Due to the trauma I encountered extensively within this community, the ethics of working with clients that have experienced complex trauma, helped and led the ways at times, but are only a beginning. I truly believe it is necessary to create a new ethical code to practice effectively within this wonderful community.pow-wow-249204_640

In order to be a trusted mental health provider within the urban Aboriginal community, it is important to become a visible presence in that community. When invited I attended ceremonies, Pow Wows and traditional Teachings. This allowed Aboriginal people to see me as a presence, interact with them and observe me with other people and Elders within their community. This is an important piece as a mental health provider because Aboriginal people have every reason not to trust me, as a Caucasian person that is part of mainstream Canadian culture. There is also a different relationship with “authority” as traditional Elders and leaders live within and are a part of the community. There has also been many years of racism, oppression and subsequent intergenerational trauma, all impacting the Aboriginal relationship with “authority”, especially in mainstream, Canadian culture. When your face is seen in the community and people begin to chat with you, word of mouth spreads quickly. While I believe word of mouth endorsements are powerful among all peoples, it is especially important when working within oppressed communities.

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

Do You Help People Heal From Traumatic Events? Part 3

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on juin 11, 2015 2:26

Creating Safety to Process Trauma Using Sandtray

Welcome to Part 3 of my Sandtray blogs! Part 1 introduced Sandtray Therapy (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4171) and Part 2 explained how to set up the first Sandtray session with a client (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4240). Sandtray is often used in therapy to facilitate healing traumatic events and related intense feelings. I truly feel it can be used for many issues and concerns clients present with and it is even great for couple counselling!

So while Sandtray can be used to process trauma, there are many other techniques and approaches used to this purpose as well. So one of the ways I use Sandtray is to create safety before I begin facilitating the processing of intense traumatic memories, even if Sandtray is not used again in session with that client.

I do this by first discussing this with a client at least one session before they complete the tray, so they know what to expect. When the session comes to complete the tray, I facilitate it in a slightly different way than usual, slightly more directive. For example:

“We are using this tray to create feelings of safety and self-care within your spirit before we begin talking about the difficult memories you have alluded to.   So I would like you to create a tray that creates feelings of safety, love and self-care today. This is a feeling you will be able to access while we get into talking about some horrible experiences you have had. There is no right or wrong. You are creating a world in which you are in full control and it can be anything you want it to be. So please choose your figures thinking about safety etc…”

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

Do You Help People Heal From Traumatic Events? Part 2

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on mai 29, 2015 12:33

How To Set Up The First Sandtray Session

deck-chair-321096_640In my last blog I wrote about Sandtray Therapy (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4171) and how I find it is such a wonderful therapeutic technique to help heal traumatic events and related mental health issues. I sometimes hear therapists that are new to using Sandtray say that clients look at a tray of sand and tiny figures and feel the idea of playing in the sand is “weird” or childish. So I wanted to outline what a Sandtray session looks like and present tips on how to present it to clients.

For those of you who know little about Sandtray Therapy, Picture it…you walk into a room that has two comfortable chairs and a small table between them. On that small table is a tray or large bowl with sand in it. On a nearby table or placed on shelves are hundreds of tiny figures. These figures are a combination of everyday items that are miniscule ex. A house, chairs, animals…these figures also include mythical ones ex. mermaids and unicorns…and small sculptures that are more abstract. Some of these figures will fascinate you and some will feel odd or meaningless.

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

Do You Help People Heal From Traumatic Events? Part 1

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on mai 14, 2015 8:22

My work as a therapist has included working with clients that are present with abuse histories, and often complex trauma. I find this can take years to heal and is hard emotionally and spiritually on both the client and the psychotherapist. So enter my training in Sandtray therapy!

Sandplay is a wonderful technique that taps into the unconscious to access deep emotions and experiences that can then be healed in a gentle way.  What I love about this technique is that the natural healing centre chooses unconsciously what and how deeply a person needs to heal something, sometimes surprising them. It can be used in a single session or every session until a person has met their goals.  It is great if a client has expressed feeling “stuck”.  It is also a way to connect with the elements and heal without talk as the central modality.sand-600473_640

Using figures of a person’s choosing and the arrangement of the sand in the tray, your client becomes the « world builder, » and watches whatever reveals itself.  It can be transformational helping to process grief, past hurts or help to identify and process what is causing or maintaining depressive and other mental health symptoms, enabling recovery. It provides the possibility, to set up a world corresponding to the clients’ inner emotional state. Through free, creative play, unconscious processes are made visible in visual form.

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