CFIR MIGRATION TO CLIENTCONNECT – JANUARY 31, 2022

Be ready for your new client portal!

Please bookmark & visit frequently as we continuously add documents.

MIGRATION INFORMATION


SUPPORT DURING MIGRATION


➊ Required Email

Each individual must register their own personal email to be able to activate their ClientConnect portal.

Fill out this short form if you did not already provide yours.

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➋ Activation Support

The last week of January 2022 each individual will receive by email the login credentials.

If by January 31st, 2022 you are experiencing difficulties with the activation, please fill out this support form.

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MIGRATION FAQ


I’m trying to activate ClientConnect but it will not take my date of birth.

In order to facilitate the process, we defaulted the date of birth to 01/01/1930 or January 01, 1930. Once activated highly suggest you modify this fictitious date of birth to yours in the About Me section.

I’m trying to activate ClientConnect but it is returning the error “Post not supported (405)”

The error ” post not supported (405)” refers to the type of web browser. ClientConnect works with the latest stable version of the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge (Windows OS only)
  • Safari (Mac OSX only)

We suggest to clear the history/cache or use another browser.

If you are on a smartphone or a mobile device and it keeps giving you this error, please try to activate from a laptop or a desktop computer.

I activated successfully and I lost the login page. Where can I log in to ClientConnect?

The login url is: https://cfir.client-connect.org

I am trying to book appointments in SuperSaas for after January 31st, 2022 but the system will not let me.

This is normal. As of Sunday January 23rd, 2022 there will be a freeze on booking appointments dating January 31st, 2022 and beyond.

You will be able to resume booking as of the ClientConnect go-live date of Monday January 31st, 2022 but this time directly from ClientConnect.

Your therapist’s SuperSaas scheduler will remain available to consult until the end of March 2022. Booking new appointments will not be permitted. This to allow you to see your session historic as well as recuperating your Huddle link if you therapist is using Huddle.

Will I find my invoices prior to January 31, 2022 in ClientConnect?

This is not currently possible due to the complexity of the process and potential errors we want to avoid. Invoices for sessions and services dating January 31, 2022 and before will not be found in ClientConnect. If not already paid in full, you will continue receiving those invoices via email.

Will I be able to pay via ClientConnect for invoices dated January 31, 2022 and before?

Please continue paying invoices dated January 31, 2022 and before via our payment page https://www.cfir.ca/payments

You used to send my invoices prior to the appointment. I have one tomorrow and it is not showing in ClientConnect

This new system works a bit differently and will only allow the invoice to be generated at the onset of the appointment. ClientConnect will show the invoice immediately after it has been generated on our end.

I am the/one of the parents of my child or dependant and I need to have access to their ClientConnect account to manage it.

Please contact us at clientconnect@cfir.ca and tell us you would like to be added as a surrogate mentioning the name of your dependant. Surrogacy will allow you to manage your dependant’s appointment, pay invoices, etc., as if it were your own account.

Once you are added as a surrogate, you will be asked to choose if you want to log in your own account or in the surrogate account.

I think my therapist accepts In-Office appointments. How do I know when I can book one and how to book it?

By default all sessions booked through ClientConnect are Online sessions.

Your therapist will let you know if they accept In-Office sessions and they should let you know which days they happen. You usually could see those details in ClientConnect.

1- Login to ClientConnect
2- Click on My Services, then Timeline
3- Click on one of the title of the opening of the service you are assigned. In the example below, you would click on “Opened: Counselling”


Then on the next page, below the picture of the therapist you would find the specifics. The text could show “I provide Online & In-Office sessions”, or something like “I provide Online & In-Office sessions. In-Office on Mondays only”.

Then you can book your appointment as usual but please ensure :

1- You leave the Video Session box unticked

2- You add a comment in the Message box

In ClientConnect I can see my invoices. When I view them, the bottom notes mention it is not a suitable document for insurance purposes. Will you provide me with something I can submit?

Of course. The invoices you see in the MY ACCOUNT section contain a lot of detailed information that would be unnecessary for insurers. It is preferable you do not provide those in order to avoid potential investigations or delays in your insurance claim processing.

Once an invoice is fully paid, you will receive a document that can serve as official receipt in ClientConnect. That document will have all the prescribed information to submit to your insurer. This will be made available within 24 business hours.

I am not receiving or seeing my appointment reminder or other communications through ClientConnect

Please verify if you changed your ClientConnect communication settings. You can find them under MY CLIENTCONNECT section, then click on

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You should tick “Email” to the following options to ensure you are receiving the important communications.

I have a dependant and I would like to manage my dependant’s ClientConnect account. Is this possible?

Absolutely!

The surrogate feature in ClientConnect allows another Individual to act on behalf of the client (with whom they have a relationship with). This feature allows an Individual to manage all aspects of another Individual’s ClientConnect account.

A Surrogate is typically, but not limited to, one of the parents of a child or adolescent. They would be able to make appointments, pay for invoices, fill out documents, etc… in the name of the dependant. When the surrogate logs in to ClientConnect, they will be asked which profile they want to use: theirs or that of their dependant.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the dependant and the surrogate have to have their own district email address registered with us otherwise surrogacy will not work.

Funders (entities that ONLY pay the invoices of a client) like WSIB, Medavie BlueCross, a lawyer’s firm, etc.. are not surrogates. Some parents that only pay for invoices can fall into this category. Funder do not have access to ClientConnect and, therefore, cannot view or pay invoices, cannot manage appointments, etc.

I have a dependant and I would like to have access to paying their invoices only. Is this possible?

Although it is possible you will not have access to your dependant’s ClientConnect account. They will have to communicate you the invoice information (invoice number and amount) or save and email you the invoice. Our website page for payments will give you indications on how to pay via Interac E-Transfers and has a Paypal portal.

It would be a good idea to contact our Receptionists via email at ottawa.admin@cfir.ca and ask them to add you to your dependant’s account as a contact for payment purposes.

My therapist uses Huddle for teletherapy meetings. Will I be changing links?

Huddle permanent room links will not change unless you change therapists. Please keep it bookmarked as they will not necessarily be visible now in ClientConnect.

If you were to start seeing another therapist, a new Huddle link would be provided and you would see it in ClientConnect under ABOUT ME in the contacts area.

My therapist uses SecureVideo for teletherapy meetings. How will I be notified of the link for each session?

SecureVideo links change at every meeting. As soon as it is booked in the SecureVideo portal, the link will appear under CALENDAR / UPCOMING tab. Simply locate the date of the event and the link will be showing. Click on the link or copy it and paste it in your browser.

The link may be available only very close to the date of the appointment.

I received the official invoice/receipt for my insurance. The only option I see is to print. Can I just save an electronic version instead?

Yes! Depending on your device’s operating system it may show different options.

Start by clicking “Print this invoice” (or document, or receipt)

On a MAC:
Choose File > Export as PDF
Type a name for your file and a location to save, and click Save.

On WINDOWS:
Choose File > Print.
Choose Adobe PDF as the printer in the Print dialog box.
Click Print. Type a name for your file and a location to save, and click Save.

On an iPHONE or iPAD:
Once the document is open in the web browser
Click the arrow at the bottom of the screen (“share” function)
You should now see the document title as “Penelope Case manage….”
Then just under the title locate “Options” and click on it
Select PDF as a format, then click OK
From here you can swipe through all the options: you can either email it to yourself using your email client, save it on your iPad or in iCloud, print, etc…

When I cancel an appointment, I get the error: Post not supported (405)

We are aware of this error message and our support team is looking into it. Although it shows as an error, it appears that the appointment is in fact really cancelled. You may check if it still appears by going to the “Calendar” section in ClientConnect and ensure it no longer appears. You will also receive a message of the cancellation in your “Inbox” section.

I activated but I can’t see or update appointments nor can access invoices.

If you are not part of a couple or family account, please verify that your web browser is part of those compatible with ClientConnect.

If you are part of a couple or family account, it is due to the concept of Presenting Participant in ClientConnect.

The Presenting Participant is to be considered the main individual of a couple or family account. That individual is identified as responsible for the financials but also, they are the only ones who can cancel an appointment through ClientConnect that was made for the couple or the family.

Luckily it is easy to change who is the presenting participant. Please send your request to clientconnect@cfir.ca, through a discussion within ClientConnect or via your therapist.

WADING THROUGH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT OPTIONS—CONSIDERING YOUR NEXT STEPS TOWARD BRIGHTER, CALMER DAYS

Each year, millions of Canadians suffer from mild to debilitating bouts of depression and anxiety. “It’s so hard to figure out what next steps to take when your attention, concentration, emotional distress and basic sense of vitality are so affected by declining mental health” says Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych, Centre Director at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships in both downtown Ottawa and Toronto.

Figuring out your next steps isn’t so easy. Clients are often overwhelmed by the numerous choices and decisions that have to be made about treatment possibilities and who might be the appropriate mental health professional to help them.

Decades of research on depression and anxiety point to biological, attachment, developmental, childhood trauma, socio-cultural context, environment, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, personality and interpersonal factors as possible precipitators of symptoms. What’s causing you to be depressed and anxious can be complex to sort through.

“CFIR mental health clinicians employ a biopsychosocial model to understand and capture a broad picture of the factors that may be affecting your well-being. It’s not always so simple that there is only a sole factor underlying your symptoms—sometimes many factors have to be considered to address the different layers underlying a person’s distress” cautions Dr. Hakim, C.Psych., “and it’s important to find a practitioner that can understand your depression and anxiety in complex ways. For example, sometimes it’s not just about changing thoughts and how you are thinking about a situation.”

Choices and decisions also have to be made about treatment —medication and/or psychological treatment and what type of psychotherapy might be best for you. Adding to the burden of decision-making is the recent advent of computerized psychological treatments—where treatment involves minimal contact with a care provider. Dr. Hakim, C.Psych. offers several suggestions to help you wade through these complex waters.

“It’s always important to have a general physical health exam to rule out physical causes for your depression and anxiety. Your physician can help you with decisions about which medication might be best for you, and there’s even testing you can have done that can inform you about which medications might have lesser side effects for you. Physicians have different levels of training in mental health treatment and do provide medication options. You might want to also seek out a professional trained as a mental health practitioner along with your visit to your doctor”, according to Dr. Hakim, C.Psych.

Whether you decide to take medication or engage in psychotherapy as a first line treatment approach will depend on you. Numerous research studies, however, have been conducted to guide clients on this subject. Dr. Hakim, C.Psych provides insights from these studies; “Research shows that psychotherapy is effective for mild to moderate symptoms, and a combination of both medication and psychotherapy might be the way to go for individuals with severe and debilitating symptoms. Medication increases neurotransmitters in your brain and can make you feel better, and adding psychotherapy to the mix improves outcomes because the other possible factors underlying your depression and anxiety symptoms still have to be addressed.”

When it comes to choosing what type of psychotherapy might be right for you, clients have further complex decisions in front of them. Dr. Hakim, C.Psych. provides further guidance to help you sort through these decisions. “Some mental health care professionals provide clients with support to change the way they think about situations, or provide skills and strategies to deal with distress and symptoms (e.g., Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy). These types of approaches try to help the client to feel better by managing symptoms, yet there are often many potential factors underlying anxiety and depression. Other mental health care professionals will work with your past and present-day experiences to help you gain awareness and insight into your emotions, self and relationship patterns, self-protection and defences that interfere with healthy functioning. These approaches help you to find more adaptive responses to everyday life but requires a deeper exploration of and engagement with the individual’s emotions, self and past experiences (e.g., Psychodynamic Therapy).”

Some individuals may prefer to learn strategies to diminish symptoms and feel good without deeply understanding themselves by exploring their pasts and emotional reactions to every day life while others may want to understand themselves more profoundly. “The idea that our past influences our present-day experience is a commonly held notion in the field. The way we think and feel about ourselves, think and emotionally react and respond to others, and how we behave and relate to others in our present-day is highly influenced by our past experiences” according to Dr. Hakim, C.Psych. Her final word on this topic is “that finding a mental health clinician who can flexibly work with you and integrate different psychotherapy models might provide more opportunities to work on different factors underlying depression and anxiety symptoms.” This view of treatment is the basic philosophy that underlies the treatment approach offered by the over 75 mental health clinicians at Dr. Hakim, C.Psych.’s centre. They offer flexible treatment options to work with different factors underlying anxiety and depression, and can move between symptom and distress management to working with deeper underlying factors causing your distress.

Finally, Dr. Hakim, C.Psych. shares her perspective on computerized psychological treatment. ‘In Ontario, free computerized psychological treatment services are offered, which is good and I do refer my clients to these sites as an adjunct to the treatment I am providing. Computerized treatment isn’t for everyone and doesn’t necessarily capture the complex factors underlying a unique individuals struggles with depression and anxiety. Sitting alone in front of a computer with only intermittent meetings with a mental health care professional may not allow for the necessary support and treatment related to the numerous factors underlying symptoms. Depression and anxiety have attachment, developmental, emotional, personality and interpersonal factors that are difficult to address on a computer.”

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How Might Reconsolidation Therapy Benefit First-Line Responders and Military Personnel?

Soldiers, veterans, military officers, and first-line responders, such as police officers, firemen/women, paramedics, and medical staff are specially trained and selected to deal with complex and life-threatening situations. These situations can be terrifying, often involve the possibility of risking one’s life. Memories of these events can linger and be difficult to process, often resulting in post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When these recollections repeatedly return during the day or while sleeping, the distress created by these memories’ return can seriously impair well-being and functioning.

Emergency responders are at high risk for PTSD. These individuals often live with the recurring recollections and emotional residue caused by traumatic situations and events beyond the limits of what is tolerable by a human being. These thoughts can seriously impact the minds and bodies of those mandated to rescue, heal, and protect others. The psychological and emotional toll of occupational distress on the front lines are often high. For example, suicide rates among police officers are three times higher than the civilian population. Reconsolidation Therapy offers a short-term treatment option as an adjunct or add-on to existing PTSD treatments to alleviate some of the emotional distress associated with traumatic memories.

Addressing traumatic memories has typically required a longer-term therapy, which can be difficult to endure for some first-line responders and military personnel seeking quicker solutions to alleviate their distress. Longer-term treatment solutions may not be tolerated as well by some, particularly those who wish for a quick return to work. For first-line responders who have PTSD, Reconsolidation Therapy may shorten some aspects of PTSD treatment given the added benefit of improving distress associated with traumatic memories and current PTSD symptoms.

Dr. Genevieve Boudreault, D.Psy, C.Psych is a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Boudreault, C.Psych. provides psychological services to adults that have experienced traumatic events and are suffering from complex (C-PTSD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is certified to practice Reconsolidation Therapy and supervises a team of therapists that provides these treatments to alleviate suffering associated with traumatic memories.

Imposter Syndrome – Can You Relate?

In life, we all experience what it feels like to start something new. We might start a new job, begin school or a class, or experience a significant life transition (e.g., becoming a parent). For some of us, starting something new can lead to intense anxieties and fear-based distress, and we can worry that somehow we might be exposed as unworthy, incompetent, or fraudulent people. This phenomenon is aptly referred to as the “imposter syndrome” and can have powerful psychological impacts and consequences to us. While imposter syndrome is not recognized as a formal psychiatric disorder, it can result in long-lasting anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and self-handicapping.

Imposter syndrome can manifest differently in different individuals, but many commonalities exist that indicate its presence. Some indications you may be experiencing imposter syndrome include the following:

  • You have chronic feelings of self-doubt;
  • You avoid or procrastinate on tasks that involve evaluation of your efforts;
  • You tend to attribute your successes to external factors (e.g., luck) while blaming yourself for perceived failures;
  • You have difficulty accepting compliments or praise about your accomplishments;
  • You recall your failures more quickly than your achievements; and/or,
  • You often compare yourself to others and believe they are more competent than you without much evidence.

If this sounds like something you might be struggling with, don’t despair! There are ways you can cope with imposter syndrome and start to feel better about yourself and your abilities over time. Here are some tips to get started:

Name it: Recognize that what you are feeling is real and valid.

Reach out: Connect with others to normalize your experience. Most people have felt similarly at one point or another in their lives. Through sharing our experiences, we can reduce feeling isolated and alone.

Ask for help when needed: Don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help when you need it from a teacher, mentor, manager, parent, partner, or friend. If you have trouble asking for support, start by asking someone who is the least intimidating to approach and feels trustworthy or safe.

Practice self-compassion: Suffering is a natural part of life, and it is okay to feel low at times. Pay attention to your negative self-talk and judgments. Offer yourself the same kindness and understanding you would a loved one. Write yourself a “love” letter or try a loving-kindness meditation.

Give yourself credit for your successes: If you are biased towards remembering your failures over your accomplishments, keep a credit list. However small they might seem, track your achievements to shift your mindset from noticing what went wrong to what went right!

Bring awareness to your beliefs: Acknowledge and challenge distorted beliefs like “I should know everything” or “It’s bad to ask for help.” These beliefs perpetuate the impossible task you lay on yourself to have all the answers. Permit yourself to be human and have off days.

Samantha Szirmak, B.A., provides therapy to adults experiencing a wide range of concerns, including anxiety, depression, shame/guilt, stress, grief, low self-esteem, identity struggles, body image concerns, chronic pain, and relationship difficulties. She also supports clients coping with traumatic life experiences or difficult life transitions. She provides psychological services under the supervision of Dr. Jean Kim, C. Psych., at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR).

References

Bravata, D. M., Watts, S. A., Keefer, A. L., Madhusudhan, D. K., Taylor, K. T., Clark, D. M., Nelson, R. S., Cokley, K. O., & Hagg, H. K. (2020). Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic Review. Journal of general internal medicine, 35(4), 1252–1275. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-019-05364-1

Clance, P. R. (n.d.) Imposter Phenomenon. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from https://www.paulineroseclance.com/impostor_phenomenon.html

Craddock, S., Birnbaum, M., Rodriguez, K., Cobb, C., & Zeeh, S. (2011). Doctoral Students and the Impostor Phenomenon: Am I Smart Enough to Be Here? Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(4), 429–442. https://doi.org/10.2202/1949-6605.6321

Reconsolidation Therapy at CFIR: An Adjunct Treatment for PTSD

Reconsolidation Therapy is a short-term PTSD treatment for people who have been exposed to traumatic events (e.g., violence, accidents, rape, horrific scenes, combat-related experiences). First-line responders, such as police officers, firemen/women, military officers, paramedics, and medical staff, often have out-of-the-ordinary experiences that leave emotional residue and difficult memories. Events including (but not limited to) car accidents, violence, and sexual assault can result in traumatic memories that wreak havoc in our everyday lives. Reconsolidation Therapy treatment works by directly activating the traumatic memory of the event and uses both psychological and medical intervention to reduce PTSD.

Several evidence-based treatments address the problematic symptoms of PTSD, including more commonly used ones such as Exposure Therapy/CBT. While existing treatments have demonstrated their effectiveness, the distress associated with re-visiting traumatic memories can be daunting and result in some clients avoiding treatment. Reconsolidation Therapy is an add-on treatment that integrates aspects of existing evidence-based psychological treatments with medical intervention.

Here’s how it works:

Dr. Alain Brunet has developed reconsolidation therapy. Initial research findings suggest that this treatment can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms. This relatively new PTSD treatment uses a combination of six sessions of talk therapy under the influence of safe medication, a beta-adrenergic blocker known to lower blood pressure. In Reconsolidation Therapy, the medication essentially blocks the traumatic memory’s emotional arousal aspect from binding with details of the event. You will remember details of the events but with significantly less emotional intensity than before treatment.

Gradually, over four to six sessions lasting 25-30 minutes, the emotional distress associated with the memory shifts so that recollection of the event may be comfortable but no longer accompanied by the same amount of emotional distress. In short, this process does not change the memory but reduces the intensity of the emotional content.

Clinicians at CFIR who offer clinical services in the Trauma Psychology and PTSD Service now provide Reconsolidation Therapy as an adjunct treatment to current treatment protocols that are in use. (e.g., CBT, EMDR, psychodynamic, etc.).

Dr. Genevieve Boudreault, D.Psy, C.Psych. is a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Boudreault, C.Psych. provides psychological services to adults that have experienced traumatic events and are suffering from complex (C-PTSD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is certified to practice Reconsolidation Therapy and supervises a team of therapists that provides these treatments to alleviate suffering associated with traumatic memories.

What is Reconsolidation Therapy for PTSD?

In this initial blog of a three-part series on PTSD and Reconsolidation Therapy, we will provide an overview of what this treatment is and how it might help you overcome PTSD symptoms. In the second blog, we provide more information about how the treatment can be used with other evidence-based therapies. Finally, in our third blog, we specifically look at the benefits added with professionals such as front-line responders (paramedics, firemen/women, police/RCMP officers, medical staff) and military personnel (e.g., veterans, soldiers, navy) in mind.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that affects 6-9% of people after they experience or witness a life-threatening, traumatic event. PTSD occurs when a person cannot process the traumatic event. Memories of the traumatic event continue to wreak havoc in a person’s life and are at the root of PTSD symptoms.

There are many reliable, evidence-based psychological treatments for PTSD. Some treatments target the symptoms of PTSD, while others target the memory of the traumatic event. Reconsolidation Therapy is a relatively new PTSD treatment that targets the memory of the traumatic event itself. Research studies substantiating the effectiveness of this treatment have been promising to-date. This treatment can be used as an adjunct or add-on treatment to existing evidence-based therapies.

How can this treatment work for you?

Reconsolidation Therapy combines psychological treatment strategies with medical intervention. The treatment works to activate your traumatic memory using psychological treatment strategies while using a medication (a beta-blocker called ‘propranolol’). The psychological treatment alongside the medication decreases the intensity of emotions associated with your troublesome traumatic memory. Research has shown after six weekly sessions, the emotional content of the traumatic memory is modified during reconsolidation therapy, and consequently, the symptoms of PTSD can decrease significantly.

Dr. Geneviève Boudreault, D.Psy, C.Psych. is a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Boudreault, C.Psych. provides psychological services to adults that have experienced traumatic events and are suffering from complex (C-PTSD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is certified to practice Reconsolidation Therapy and supervises a team of therapists that provides this treatment to alleviate suffering associated with traumatic memories.

The Logistics of ‘Fighting’

Conflict, arguments, discussions, fights — whatever you’d like to call them –are entirely normal in all relationships. No matter how hard you might try to avoid them, chances are you are going to encounter conflict at some point within your personal relationships. What if, instead of trying to avoid conflict, we became better at it?

‘Good’ communication is said to be the secret to all conflict resolution. Although ‘good’ communication is essential, you should also consider some logistics when resolving conflict. Here are five tips to improve the logistics of your arguments:

  1. Schedule your conflict. It sounds odd at first, but take a moment to think about it: Have you ever said something you did not mean during an argument? Most of us have. Emotional flare-ups at times stop us from engaging the “rational” part of our brains. Taking some time apart and preparing to “argue” at a specific time will allow both of you to settle your emotions and give you some time to reflect on what is important to you.
  2. Take care of your body first. You would not go into an important business meeting or school presentation hungry, sleep-deprived, or in an unpleasant physical state, would you? Of course not. Doing so would alter your ability to think and perform in those situations effectively. The same applies here. If possible, make sure all your physical needs are met before engaging in a potentially conflictual discussion. Not only will this improve your mood, but it also allows you to think more clearly.
  3. Neutral environment. Our environment makes a huge difference! Try to find a neutral place where you both feel comfortable discussing the issue(s) (and try to keep conflict out of your bedroom!) Ideally, bedrooms are for sleeping or sex; do not bring your arguments into that space.
  4. Limit distractions. Put your mobile devices away, turn off the television, and give each other full and undivided attention. No one likes to feel like they are being ignored or not listened to; inattentiveness may make the argument much harder than it already is. The fewer distractions, the quicker you can focus on the discussion and (hopefully) come to a resolution.
  5. No interruptions. If you have children in the house, make a conscious effort to watch your voice’s volume and tone. Finding healthy ways to resolve conflicts is vital because children and adolescents can absorb discord energy between parents. You also want to make sure you are in an environment where you will not be interrupted or cut-off. It is vital to mutually dedicate this time to focus on each other and the issue at-hand without fearing interruptions.

Rebeca Fernandez Bosanac, B.A. is a counsellor at CFIR working under the supervision of Dr. Reesa Packard, M.A., Ph.D., R.P. Rebeca is currently studying to complete her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. Her professional experience includes working with at-risk youth struggling with extensive trauma, dual-diagnoses, and behavioural issues and working in harm-reduction programs with individuals who struggle with substance abuse, trauma, homelessness, and mental health disorders.

Getting Through Winter During A Pandemic

It’s no surprise that 2020 was a challenging year — with the pandemic bringing anxiety, grief, burnout, and financial strain to the masses, not to mention other stress-inducing events. Now that we’ve entered Winter 2021, we are currently experiencing a new challenge: navigating the pandemic’s effects at a time that is already difficult for many people. With pandemic fatigue, shorter and colder days, and social isolation, it’s safe to say that this winter hasn’t been an easy season to date for many people. Despite this challenging time, the good news is that we can do things to help us prepare for and cope with the transition into winter. 

Learn to enjoy the outdoors

Nothing is worse than experiencing months of winter when you hate winter. The antidote? Find ways to engage with the outdoors. The cold is an apparent reason why people struggle with winter. I’ve found it’s easier to bear with preparation — investing in warm and comfortable winter wear is a helpful first step, and a hot beverage in hand can make things more relaxing. Taking up a winter sport or activity can also make the outdoors more fun. Why not try sledding with the family on the weekend, try cross country skiing, or try to see the beauty in wintery nature by going for a walk? Trying different activities can also bring variety to your life, which is sometimes lost when we ‘hunker down’ during the pandemic.

Exercise 

With the winter months bringing in higher rates of depression and seasonal affective disorder, finding ways to cope is an essential step in their treatment. While exercise may not be a solution to these disorders, research has shown physical activity to be as effective in treating mild to moderate depression as medication (O’Neal, Dunn & Martinsen, 2000). Winter is when many people want to stay inside watching movies on the couch, and engaging in exercise might feel like a chore. The key is finding an activity you like and ways to make it the most comfortable choice. The best exercise is the one you’ll do, and often, it’s easiest to engage in an activity when it’s a part of your routine (like brushing your teeth). Experiment with a time of day that works best for you. Many people feel most motivated in the morning, and engaging in health behaviours early on in the day can snowball into more health behaviours as your day continues.

Try a little Hygge

‘Hygge’ (pronounced: “hoo – guh”) is an integral part of the Danish lifestyle, encompassing coziness, warmth, and wellbeing through enjoying simple pleasures in everyday life. Though Denmark is known for having intense winters, the hygge lifestyle is a custom that has contributed to making the country amongst the world’s happiest. So how do you incorporate more hygge in your life this winter? Light candles, snuggle under warm blankets, gather some good books, enjoy comforting foods, fit in some quality time to connect with loved ones – what sorts of things will you try? 

Schedule regular social time

Ever find that it’s becoming increasingly more comfortable to be socially isolated during the pandemic? These social distancing regulations make it challenging to spend time with our loved ones in the same way we once did. Many of us can become inclined to isolate; but, isolation can make winter especially difficult considering a time when depressive disorders are most common. Scheduling weekly video calls or socially distanced walks with loved ones helps manage the effects of social isolation. 

Be kind to yourself

When times get rough, it can be tempting to look for someone to blame — and we often direct it to ourselves. While many of us are our own worst critics and often criticize ourselves for instigating change, we may promote the opposite. How can any of us have a positive relationship with ourselves, feel motivated to complete work, or begin a healthier lifestyle if we unceasingly criticize, condemn, nitpick, or hate ourselves? We often speak to ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t talk to our worst enemy–so why say them to the person we’re supposed to have the most connected, intimate relationship with — ourselves? When you’re in the self-critical headspace, try talking to yourself as if you were your own best friend. What would they say? Would they be judgmental or provide a balanced view of the situation? Would they tell you all of the things you’re doing poorly, or would they highlight the positive and how for you’ve come? Would they provide further criticism, or would they soothe the wounds you’ve created for yourself? Remember, all you are ever doing is the best you can, at this moment in time, with the resources you have. That’s the best anyone can ever ask for, given the circumstances!

Seek professional help

Life isn’t simple, especially during a pandemic. Admitting that we need help can sometimes feel complicated. But no matter where you’re at in your life journey, you’re never broken — just stuck. Seeking professional help can be an excellent way to maintain your wellbeing and get support during your most trying times.  Consider contacting the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) if you are seeking therapy services. CFIR is a collective of over 70 clinicians who provide various treatment and assessment services and work with clients of all ages, life stages, cultural, sexual, gender, and romantic orientations. Free consultation and reduced fee options are available, making our services an affordable and accessible option for your therapeutic needs. We hope to be a part of your support network!

References

O’Neal, H. A., Dunn, A. L., & Martinsen, E. W. (2000). Depression and exercise. International Journal of Sport Psychology.

Carolyn Streich, BMus, B.A. is a counsellor at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships working under the clinical supervision of Tracie Lee, R.P. (Registered Psychotherapist). She currently holds a B.A. in Psychology (Honours), and is in her final year of her Masters in Counselling Psychology program (M.Ed) at University of Ottawa.

How Does Childhood Trauma Affect Relationships?

How we understand, feel, and behave interpersonally in adulthood stems from our experiences in our earliest relationships. As children, caregivers help us make sense of our experiences. They translate a physical reaction, such as crying, into a conscious feeling, thought, or desire. They do so by mirroring the child’s emotion, marking it with exaggerated facial, vocal, or gestural displays, and responding to it sensitively. They also put into words their own reactions, modeling ways to make sense of a child’s behaviours, and allowing the child to understand that people experience situations differently. These interactions foster what is called “mentalization”, which is the capacity to understand oneself and others in terms of possible thoughts, feelings, wishes, and desires. 

And what about children who did not benefit from such interactions with caregivers? In cases of child abuse and neglect, the child’s physical experiences are often ignored or met with anger, resentment, and irritation. These responses leave a child with the impossible task of processing his experience alone, therefore compromising the development of mentalization. It is not surprising that many adults having suffered maltreatment in childhood often encounter difficulties in their adult relationships. They may often feel hurt or angry in relationships as their understanding of others’ intentions or feelings is either lacking or inaccurate, leading to conclusions drawn by their own painful experiences in childhood. Therefore, behaviours such as withdrawing from a situation may be perceived as an intentional rejection, when, in fact, it may result from other intentions or needs. 

At CFIR, we can help you develop your mentalization skills by taking a step back from situations that trigger strong reactions. By learning how to think about how you feel and feel about how you think, we can support you to create stronger bonds in your relationship with others. 

Lorenzi, N., Campbell, C. & Fonagy, P. (2018). Mentalization and its role in processing trauma. In B. Huppertz (Ed) Approaches to psychic trauma: Theory and practice (p. 403-422). Rowman & Littlefield. 

Camille Bandola, B.Sc., is a counsellor at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships working under the supervision of Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych. She is currently in the fourth year of my doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Université du Québec en Outaouais.

CFIR OTTAWA is moving to its new home JULY 4TH, 2022. Click here for more details.