Individual Therapy Counselling in Vancouver, BC

counselling and therapy for individuals in Vancouver

Individual therapy counselling in Vancouver assists individuals to resolve emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety, addictions, grief, trauma, low self-esteem, procrastination, interpersonal problems, stress reactions, and problems in living. Individuals come to see me as a Registered Psychologist for personal counselling (also called talk therapy) because they feel conflicted internally and are unhappy. Often they attribute their unhappiness to external factors, not realizing that the source of their unhappiness lies in unhealthy behaviors, negative thoughts, and in particular, intrusive feelings of fear, shame, and emotional pain.

Intrusive Feelings Underlie Individual Problems for Counselling Vancouver

When we experience emotional difficulties as individuals, it is because there is something about our current situation that triggers intrusive feelings.  Intrusive feelings are intense feelings of fear, shame, and emotional pain that we experienced early in life, and that when triggered, intrude into the present causing us distress (see the article, Intrusive Feelings).  Unfortunately, we make the mistake of thinking that our big feelings are about the present situation, which heightens our distress and impairs our ability to cope. The more we recognize that our distressing feelings are an echo from the past, and that we are safe now, the more our distress subsides, enabling us to think clearly and function adaptively.

It is not just the intrusive feelings that cause us distress.  Because intrusive feelings are distressing, we organize our lives to avoid these feelings by forming defenses. Unfortunately, the defenses compound our distress further (see the article, How We Avoid Our Feelings Can Also Hurt Us).  The intrusive feelings and the avoidance of these feelings create unhappiness and restrict individuals’ pursuit of goals and close attachments that lead to a more fulfilling life.

Resolving our Problems by Changing Behaviors, Thoughts, and Intrusive Feelings

As a counsellor or talk therapist who is a Registered Psychologist, my approach is influenced by Dr. Geoffrey Carr (see Making Happiness under “Links”) and Dr. Robert Firestone (see Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice under “Links” ). I assist clients in changing maladaptive behaviors, negative thoughts, and in particular, intrusive feelings (see the article, Listening to our Feelings with a Wise Perspective).   In doing so, new behaviors take hold gradually, the negative inner voice softens slowly, and the intrusive feelings resolve a bit at a time, enabling people to live more fully and to experience increased well-being.

By way of example, individuals struggle often with procrastination.  In personal counselling (talk therapy) at Vancouver counselling, I encourage people to become aware of the negative inner voice that rationalizes procrastination and to counter it from their healthy, rational point of view.  In particular, I suggest they attend to the discomfort they feel in their bodies as they approach a task they are putting off, which helps them to identify uncomfortable feelings such as intrusive anxiety.  I identify how their defenses –such as watching TV or surfing the internet – are a way of avoiding the anxiety and creating temporary relief that ultimately compounds their distress.  Rather than avoiding the intrusive anxiety, I encourage them to bring their presence to it with a wise, compassionate attitude. As they practice acknowledging the anxiety with the wise attitude that it belongs to the past and with real feeling for themselves, the anxiety diminishes slowly and they procrastinate less.  Externalizing and countering the negative inner voice that rationalizes procrastination and attacks them after they procrastinate, furthers their procrastinating less. Individuals are then freer to pursue their goals and to experience the release of dopamine, an incentive/reward neurotransmitter, associated with accomplishment through effort rather than the transient release of dopamine associated with avoidant behavior, which is followed typically by increased feelings of distress (anxiety and shame) as they attack themselves for wasting time.

The goal of counselling Vancouver is to resolve emotional difficulties and to become a happier, healthier self. As a healthier self, one is less troubled by intrusive feelings, less conflicted internally, and freer to pursue goals and to tolerate love.  I have written a hypothetical clinical case that illustrates how I help an individual suffering from anxiety and depression.  In this case, I describe changing behaviors by acting on corrective suggestions for behavioral change, changing thoughts by externalizing the negative inner voice, and changing feelings by bringing presence to intrusive feelings.  To read this case, click on the link below, or the link, Clinical Case Studies.

Clinical Case: Individual Experiencing Anxiety and Depression

For more information you can contact me at 604-873-0222 or info@pauljames.ca.