Teletherapy: Exploring the Current Frontier in Mental Health Counseling

Stress, anxiety, and low mood are frequent problems, especially now in times of social distancing and socioeconomic uncertainty. Because of recent social distancing measures, few people are now able to use or access traditional face-to-face psychological services. The research shows that while equally effective as traditional face-to-face therapy, few people access teletherapy due to novelty alone and because they perceive it as less effective than face-to-face services. In the last decades, hundreds of meta-analyses, systematic reviews and robust clinical trials have supported the effectiveness of teletherapy (e.g., Andrews et al., 2018; Newby et al., 2016; Hedman et al., 2014; Hedman et al., 2013; Hedman et al., 2013; Mewton, Wong & Andrews, 2012; Metwon, Smith, Rossouw, & Andrews, 2014; Olthuis et al., 2016; Primer & Talbot, 2013; Williams & Andrews, 2013; Titov et al., 2018). 

Rather than having you sort through hundreds of meta-analyses and clinical trials, let me summarize some of this research for you. This extensive research conveys four important messages:

  1. Teletherapy services increase access to mental health services. Compared to face-to-face therapy, teletherapy offers greater flexibility in terms of scheduling, requires no travel, and can connect those living in rural with a therapist from urban centres.
    • Teletherapy ensures effective care and treatment despite social distancing measures.
    • Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Sweden have all successfully implemented teletherapy services. These teletherapy clinics have allowed people to connect and receive treatment services regardless of location and requiring no travel. 
      1. The most notable example is the Mind Spot Clinic, located in Sydney, Australia, which had served more than 33,990 Australians from all across the country as of 2016. 
      2. Another example closer to home is the Online Therapy Unit located in Regina, Saskatchewan, which has helped connect people all across the province to receive mental health care, even those located in rural and remote areas. As of January 2020, 5,503 clients had been enrolled for treatment services with the Online Therapy Unit.
  2. Telepsychotherapy is safe and confidential 
    • Technological advancements in the last 20 years now allow clinicians to offer teletherapy that is both safe and confidential. 
    • Therapists can monitor and ensure a client’s progress even from a distance, whether through online questionnaires or frequent clinical contact. 
    • New video conferencing technologies ensure that information transmitted virtually remains private and confidential. 
  3. Teletherapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy
    • Research on teletherapy has shown that it’s as effective as face-to-face therapy for treating issues such as depression and mood disorders, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD, chronic pain, sexual functioning, grief and loss, substance use as well as overall wellbeing, and interpersonal functioning. 
    • When offered as video sessions, teletherapy has also been shown to be as effective as face-to-face therapy for dealing with couples and families.  
  4. Assessments services can be done via teletherapy
    • Just like for therapy, teletherapy research has supported its efficacy in providing assessment services. 
    • For example, the MindSpot Clinic mentioned had provided assessment services to 25,469 Australians. 
    • Video sessions and questionnaires administered online allow clinicians to assess clients just like face-to-face sessions.

When to Seek Help

In this period of social distancing, stress, low mood, loneliness, anxiety, and scarcity have been increasingly challenging to manage. If you find that recent events have heightened the intensity of difficult feelings and thoughts or that they have been present for more than two weeks, seeking help can be your very courageous next step. 

The Centre for Interpersonal Relationships offers teletherapy services. Secure, confidential, and compassionate clinical services with registered psychologists and psychotherapists are accessible by video or phone from home. We’re staying connected! Visit www.cfir.ca to learn more.

Dr. Miguel Robichaud, C.Psych. is a psychologist (Supervised Practice) at CFIR Toronto’s location.  During his graduate studies, Dr. Robichaud’s work involved establishing the Telepsychotherapy Unit founded in 2016 and located at the Université de Moncton in New Brunswick, www.etherapies.ca. The Telepsychoptherapy Unit develops, studies, and implements self-guided online therapy programs to help adults deal with low to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression.  His work at CFIR is supervised by Dr. Rylie Moore, C.Psych. and Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych. 

How Does Therapy Help?

Some people come to therapy only after having exhausted other options. For those with limited experience trying to understand themselves and the nature of their problems more deeply, therapy may seem pointless or airy-fairy. “How will talking about my problems make any difference?” is something incredulous clients ask me. I can appreciate this question because therapy is a time-consuming and expensive investment, so people want to be sure that it’s going to help. People may benefit from therapy for many reasons. This post is dedicated to clarifying these reasons.

Research has time and time again showed that the relationship between the therapist and client is one of the most potent forces for change in therapy. Many clients discount this fact. Nonetheless, having a reliable, non-judgmental, and attuned professional who can help you make sense of your experiences can lower feelings of loneliness and shame because these feelings intensify when we are alone with our distress or when we hide ourselves from others. The confidentiality afforded to clients in therapy and – often, as a result – the emotional depth and openness achieved, makes the process of treatment quite different than what is experienced by venting or seeking advice from your friends and family. Therapists are trained to notice patterns in your thinking and behaviour as well as understanding the meaning and context of your feelings so that you can understand yourself more deeply. As you come to trust your therapist over time, the depth of the conversations you have lends itself to ever deeper realizations of factors that organize and shape your behaviour so that you make choices that diverge from the well-worn path that makes you feel stuck.

Therapy is a place to process and reflect on your emotional experiences. Why does this matter? Simply put, emotions are information. People often forget or dismiss emotions – especially difficult ones – as needless encumbrances to daily living. “I’m rational” or “they’re emotional” are usually code for “emotions are for the weak” or “emotions are pointless.” The reality is that emotions are profoundly crucial to helping us understand what we do and do not like and cues us into action to make meaningful changes in our lives. If we are depressed, it might mean that we are unsatisfied with the quality of our relationships or feel hopeless about our ability to initiate actions that would enhance our career satisfaction. Paradoxically, doubling down on rationality and dismissing, minimizing, or rejecting emotions is inherently an emotionally driven process. Indeed, some people have grown up or currently exist in especially emotionally invalidating worlds that have compelled them to disconnect from their emotional experiences in order to manage pain and distress or be accepted by others. In other words, inflexible and rigid beliefs about the dominion of rationality over emotions are rooted in our attempts to limit experiencing pain and suffering. However, our ability to connect to others, to move toward things that interest us, and feel excited by the world necessitate having access to our emotions. More difficult emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety, shame, and guilt signal to us what we need more or less of and organize our behaviour to make the appropriate changes. Habits based on avoiding those complicated feelings disconnects us from our needs. Just like we need physical pain to cue us to something that needs attention, emotions cue us to essential things in our world.

Understanding our behaviours or thought processes at work, in relationships, and all parts of our life is the first step toward making important changes. We are all shaped by early life experiences that impact the assumptions we make about ourselves, others, and the world around us. As a result, people are often moving through the world as adults using assumptions and filtering information through the prism of their childhood experiences. Understanding this cycle, challenging your assumptions and biases, and deliberately making different choices to challenge outdated modes of thinking, feeling, and being can be profoundly empowering.
Notably, a focus on new behaviours is limited by those currently living in abusive environments that make change dangerous. In these cases, it would be vital to focus more on safety and problem-solving effective solutions.

Finally, therapy can help you manage your symptoms more effectively. Mental health professionals understand your symptoms, what typically helps others who have experienced similar forms of difficulty, and can provide you with information drawn from scientific research and teach you skills that will help you manage your distress.

Dr. Sela Kleiman, C.Psych. is an Associate at CFIR (Toronto). In individual therapy, he helps adults struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, as well as those trying to cope with the effects of past and/or current verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Dr. Kleiman has published numerous academic articles on topics that include suicide prediction, racial and social attitudes, and racial and sexual discrimination, and he’s completed his Ph.D. in clinical and counselling psychology at the University of Toronto.

The Importance of Ecology in Mental Health Care

by Jonathan Samosh, B.A.

What is mental health care? Many people think that mental health care focuses on understanding our internal psychological world and relieving the distress that might exist within it. This perspective is indeed important for effective mental health care. However, a whole wide world also exists outside of our internal psychological experience. In fact, understanding how we all exist within many ecologies can have significant implications for our mental health.

‘Ecology’ refers to all of the complex social systems within which we live. For instance, our families, neighbourhoods, schools, cities, economies, laws, governments, and cultural expectations. In mental health care, ecology means that we want to understand our internal psychological world and all of the many important elements of our external worlds too.

Psychologists with an understanding of ecology can provide mental health care in many ways to promote the wellbeing of individuals, couples, groups, organizations, and communities. With awareness of the diverse ecologies that exist all around us, psychologists can see the bigger picture that enhances treatment to relieve individual psychological distress, alleviate couple relationship difficulties, empower marginalized groups, and address inequalities in social systems. This is the power of ecology in mental health care.

At CFIR, ecology informs psychological services relevant to a diversity of human experiences, such as culture, gender, relationships, and financial means. Read more about CFIR’s multicultural treatment service, gender and relationship diversity service, and accessible low fee psychological service options here.

Jonathan Samosh, B.A. is a counsellor at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) under the supervision of Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych. and is currently in his third year of training in the clinical psychology doctorate program at the University of Ottawa. He provides psychological therapy and assessment services for adults and couples experiencing psychological, emotional, and relationship distress in a variety of areas, such as anxiety and stress, depression and mood, anger and emotion regulation, grief and loss, traumatic experiences, self-esteem issues, life transitions, personal growth, existential issues related to meaning and purpose, relationship difficulties, and issues related to sexual functioning.

Evidence-based Treatment at CFIR

Over the past 35 years, there has been a substantial amount of research conducted to identify psychotherapy treatments that work. Research suggests that many different types of treatment approaches might be beneficial for a wide variety of disorders. It is vital that a clinician who is providing you treatment is trained in empirically-supported treatment interventions so that you know that you are getting the most scientifically investigated treatment interventions. 

Recently, evidence-based practice has come to mean more than empirically-supported treatment (Canadian Psychological Association, 2012). Evidence-based practice involves the thoughtful and informed use of the psychological research base to inform clinical treatment practice. It’s also essential that your clinician be able to attend to a wide range of individual differences and personal client factors (e.g., attachment style, coping styles, cultural factors) in treatment, as well as consideration and use of research in supporting clients in their healing process. 

The clinicians at CFIR are invested in providing empirically-supported treatments, tailoring treatment to individuals based on their needs and individual differences, and ensuring that we are kept abreast of leading-edge research related to your presenting issues.

Navigating the Teenage Years

We were all teenagers once, yet sometimes trying to understand what’s on your teen’s mind is harder than advanced high school calculus. What can make matters worse is when, in your parental quest to figure out your teen’s thoughts, feelings and motivations, both you and your child end up having a conflict and/or experiencing feelings of confusion, frustration, and at times, ultimate helplessness.

While teenagers sometimes aren’t as vocal and open with their parents, a crucial step in a parent confronting a teenager’s psychological challenges is helping them identify the source and then exploring options to address it.

“My teen is withdrawing from the family.”  

“You’re not the boss of me.” Or “You just don’t get it!” How many times did you say this to your parents as a teen? How many times have you been on the receiving end of those words? One of the most widespread challenges of adolescence is the parent-teen relationship. Parents often grapple with a balance between providing support while allowing teens to make their own decisions and life choices. Here are some things you can do:

  • Accept: Your teenager is exploring an unfamiliar life stage – – one in which friends and classmates are considered the most influential. You can continue to play a very prominent role in their lives often by merely letting them know that they can reach out to you when they need to. 
  • Avoid why questions: Checking-in with your child is essential. But try to avoid “WHY” questions. What you believe to be a simple question of curiosity might be interpreted by your teen as the ‘Third Degree’ leaving both of you equally frustrated. Instead of saying, “Why on earth did you do that?” maybe try rephrasing the question as “What did you hope would happen?” 
  • Plan activities: Shared interests (or maybe not…) Venturing into your teen’s world to learn about a new videogame might be an opportunity for him or her to teach YOU something new. Or maybe you can offer to teach your teen a new skill. Whether it’s teaching your teen a new recipe or how to change a tire – that might be another way to connect – – but remember: DON’T FORCE IT!   
  • Share your own experience:  Often times, teens appreciate hearing about their parents’ own teenage experiences. Feel comfortable sharing your own adolescent experiences and give your teen the opportunity to ask you questions. Most importantly, try to make connections between your skills and your teen’s current ones. 
  • Monitor screen time: Like it or not, screens – – whether they are smartphones, tablets, portable games, video game consoles, computers, and TVs – – have become an integral part of teenagers’ daily lives. If you’re hoping it’s a stage, I have news for you – – this is unlikely to change soon. As such, setting limits on screen time use for the entire family (e.g., dinner time, movie nights) will encourage face-to-face communication among family members, without teens feeling singled-out.

“My teen experienced a traumatic event. How do I offer support?” 

Talking about a traumatic event, at any age, can be overwhelming. Teenagers might not know who they should talk to, how to talk to someone, how much is appropriate to share, or where to start. Some teens might feel more comfortable talking to a friend, a sibling, or a mental health professional. Meeting your teen at a level where he or she feels comfortable is KEY! If your teen has reached out to you for support, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Try to stay calm/composed: Although you, as a parent, are also experiencing heightened levels of emotions, it’s vital for you to remain calm for your teen when talking about his or her traumatic experience so you can foster feelings of safety and security. 
  • Avoid judgment: Traumatic experiences often lead to feelings of self-blame and guilt. It’s crucial to listen openly and empathically, and, most importantly, convey the message that this was NOT the teen’s fault. 
  • Show openness to questions: Allow your teen to ask questions and try your best to answer these questions openly and honestly. 
  • Know your limits: if your teen is having difficulty talking about the experience with you, don’t take it personally. It’s not uncommon for a teenager to “not want to share” with a parent (at least initially). What’s most important is that your teen receives appropriate support. Consider reaching out to a mental health professional for guidance. 

“My teen can’t seem to meet school deadlines or focus in class.” 

High school has never been easy. At some point or another, many teens experience difficulty in school – whether it’s their ability to focus in a particular class, study for an exam, or find the motivation to do homework. For some teens, these daily difficulties pose challenges to their overall learning experience and impact their overall functioning.  As teenagers advance in school, academic demands increase, and challenges sometimes become more apparent. As a result, it is essential to understand when these challenges might be a sign of a learning disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or more commonly referred to as ADHD):

  • Has your teen experienced changes in attitude toward school/school attendance? For example, a teenager who previously enjoyed school now demonstrates resistance or a negative attitude toward school. 
  • Has your teen expressed emotional concerns like feeling anxious or overwhelmed about completing school work or writing exams? 
  • Has your teen complained about difficulty keeping up with school work/devoting an excessive amount of time to homework compared to other classmates? 
  • Has the school expressed concern regarding challenges (e.g., applying skills and knowledge, impulsive and disruptive behaviours, difficulty with focus) that are interfering with your teen’s ability to reach his/her academic potential?
  • Is your teen experiencing consistent difficulty with planning and organization, remembering details, and time-management? 

If you answered “YES” to any one of those questions, a psychoeducational assessment might provide a clear understanding of your teenager’s cognitive and academic strengths and challenges. In addition, an assessment might also inform you and your teen of appropriate accommodations that can be made at both the secondary and post-secondary level to ensure that your teen performs at an academic level reflective of his or her abilities.

What to Consider When Choosing Psychotherapy Over Medication

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental health difficulties each year (https://cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/). These high rates suggest that not only is it important to recognize the symptoms of mental health difficulties, but it is equally important to be aware of treatment options. Treatment for mental health disorders may include self-help (e.g., books, apps, peer support), medication, individual, couple, or group psychotherapy, or a combination of medication and therapy. 

When considering treatment options, recent research indicates that patients with depressive and anxiety disorders were more likely to refuse medication, and more likely to engage in psychotherapy.(1) The researchers thought that this is due to patients recognizing that their problem may not only be biological and that there are no quick fixes for mental health. This is really important data – it tells health care providers and patients that psychotherapy should be offered as front-line treatment. 

Psychology Month, which takes place in February, is a month devoted to highlighting how psychology can help others live a healthy and happy life, improve workplace environments, and help governments to develop good policies (see http://www.cpa.ca/psychologymonth/). In celebration of this month, here are five things to know about seeking treatment through psychotherapy. 

1.  Acknowledge when you need help. It can be really hard to say to ourselves, “okay, I need help.” Naturally, we will try everything we can before we seek help from others. I understand needing psychological help as the equivalent of needing to expand our toolbox. It’s like trying to dig out of a hole when all you have is a shovel. So, what do you keep doing with only a shovel? You keep digging, and digging, and digging, only to keep getting stuck. Give yourself permission that it is okay to need help – and that identifying this is, in fact, a true strength. Once you have begun to see this, don’t wait! Don’t wait until you are no longer able to go to work or see friends. 

2.  Find a good match – and then be authentic. The old adage of “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again” is applicable to finding the right therapist. Psychologists and psychotherapists work from many different treatment models, including cognitive-behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, emotion-focused, psychodynamic, and integrative models of treatment. (For more information on what these models look like, check out https://www.cfir.ca/DifferentTreatmentsArticle.php). Therapists will also have their own style with clients. The fundamental piece of finding a good therapist is that you feel connected, understood, and validated by the therapist. We know that a large factor of change that happens in therapy comes from the relationship you have with your therapist.(2) If you do not feel a good relationship within the first few sessions, try addressing it with the therapist, or don’t be afraid to find someone else. Be sure to maintain an open and authentic stance with them – share your thoughts and feelings to help them get to know all of you so that together you can make meaningful change. 

3.  Try out new skills and tools. The media often shows a typical therapist in a sweater vest, sitting in a chair with glasses and a notepad, while their patient lies on a couch and stares at the ceiling. Psychotherapy has greatly changed with the increasing use of tools over and above talk therapy, including learning to calm the nervous system with breathing and mindfulness techniques, challenging unhelpful thoughts or processing difficult emotions, and learning communication tools. Therapy also looks to explore and understand your current perceptions and emotions, and how these relate to your early experiences. This can help to understand key themes contributing to your difficulties today. We are complex beings – with a history of experiences with parents and caregivers, friendships and romantic relationships, and bosses and employers. We carry our early experiences with us, like packaged up suitcases. But sometimes we don’t look in the old luggage to understand it – so we stay stuck. Once you learn new tools and gain new insight, apply these to your everyday life to help make changes.(3)  

4.   It will get harder before it gets better. Clients often feel a sense of relief following the first or second session when they begin to tell their story, acknowledge that they need help, and feel understood by another person. However, therapy can become more challenging as one begins to make changes or is faced with identifying their difficulties or beliefs that are contributing to them getting stuck. 

5.  Change takes time – so stick with it. Research shows that over fifty percent of clients see improvements in their difficulties with an average of 12 sessions.(4) Change does not happen immediately, and it will depend on the severity and chronicity of symptoms. A client once disclosed frustration after several sessions, stating that she “should already be better,” and that she must be a failure if she has not already improved. Change in psychotherapy is not black or white – nor is it a pass or fail. Allow yourself to get stuck and experience the difficulties that are coming up from therapy, and recognize some of the small pieces that are changing in your life. 

To find out more information about seeking services from a psychologist or psychotherapist at CFIR, visit https://www.cfir.ca/WhatToExpect.php .

REFERENCES

1. Swift, J.K., Greenberg, R.P., Tompkins, K.A., & Parkin, S.R. (2017). Treatment refusal and premature termination in psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and their combination: A meta-analysis of head-to-head comparisons. Psychotherapy, 54, 47-57.
2. Wampold, B. E. (2015). How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An update. World Psychiatry, 14(3), 270-277.
3. Ronan, K. R., & Kazantzis, N. (2006). The use of between-session (homework) activities in psychotherapy: Conclusions from the Journal of Psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 16(2), 254-259.
4. Hansen, N. B., Lambert, M. J. and Forman, E. M. (2002), The Psychotherapy Dose-Response Effect and Its Implications for Treatment Delivery Services. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 9: 329–343. doi:10.1093/clipsy.9.3.329

The Challenges of Parenting

by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.

Parents often feel challenged by the shifting parenting strategies required to respond to their children’s changing developmental capacities and needs. When child-caregiver interactions meet children’s developmental needs, positive mental health outcomes are more likely in the short-term and down the road. 

Developmentally Sensitive Parenting: Child-caregiver interactions are essential to a child’s development. These interactions have a long-lasting impact on our children’s self-development, the quality of relationships with others, and their overall psychological well-being. Parenting requires sensitivity to a child’s emerging developmental needs. 

Sometimes parents are unable to respond to developmental milestones, which then affects the child’s self-development. When parenting is out of sync with these critical developmental milestones, it can be disruptive to healthy development and potentially compromise the security of the parent-child bond and the mental well-being of the child. In these circumstances, children and adolescents may begin to experience psychological symptoms and distress. Psychologists at CFIR can help you to parent in a manner that is sensitive to these developmental milestones. We help you develop strategies to respond to your children’s changing capacities and needs.

Parenting through Separation & Divorce: Parenting a child in the context of separation and divorce can be challenging. Learning how to talk to your children about separation and divorce in a developmentally-appropriate way is vital to support children to deal with this challenging life transition. Often emotional distance, anger, and hurt in the primary couple relationship will have tainted home life for an extended period before separation or divorce. Loss and grief experienced by the family breakdown and the eventual termination of the parent’s relationship have a reverberating effect on children. Learning how to deal with children during the separation and divorce process effectively supports parents and their children to ensure healthier psychological outcomes. Psychologists at CFIR can help you to address parenting issues in the context of separation and divorce, including navigating through emotionally challenging conversations associated with the various transitions involved in separation and divorce (i.e., leaving the family home, child access, co-parenting).

Co-parenting: In the aftermath of divorce, parents are often challenged to create a new parenting relationship, especially when children are young. Although the couple relationship did not work, parenting continues to be a shared responsibility. Developing an effective co-parenting strategy minimizes the impact of separation and divorce on children. Often this requires divorced parents to establish a collaborative plan of care, even though their relationship is ending. Our clinicians can help you to resolve your co-parenting conflicts and produce a satisfying co-parenting relationship in the aftermath of separation and divorce.

Step-parenting: Bringing a step-parent into a child’s world can be challenging. Often parents are unsure of how to integrate the step-parent into the child’s world. The role of the step-parent requires clarification in a manner in which the child’s relationship with both of their parents is not harmed in any way. Step-parents have a role to play in their stepchildren’s lives, but the process of integration is crucial to how this relationship will evolve. Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are skilled in supporting you to develop a healthy blended family environment.

Read more about our Child, Adolescent & Family Psychology Service.

How Health Psychologists at CFIR Can Help You

Health psychologists at CFIR can help you to cope with a wide range of health concerns.  

Chronic Illness:

Individuals experiencing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, HIV, hypertension, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), suffer from debilitating physical symptoms that influence how they function in everyday life. Management of these medical conditions requires medication and lifestyle modifications. A psychologist can support individuals to adapt to the lifestyle changes necessary to manage chronic illness, including adhering to treatment regimens as well as dealing with the psychological and emotional aspects of the debilitating side effects of treatment or the disease itself. Often overlooked is the importance of our mental and emotional well-being in dealing with a chronic illness. Depression and anxiety can emerge as we adapt to our new medical realities. Our psychological and emotional functioning can exacerbate or worsen our experience of a chronic, manageable illness.

Life-Threatening Illness:

Individuals experiencing life-threatening illnesses experience physical health issues associated with the disease process and treatment that can influence their emotional well-being and psychological functioning. Being calm and relaxed and maintaining a positive sense of emotional well-being during medical treatments, while challenging, can buffer clients from the distress associated with medical procedures and hospitalizations. Making sense of, and coping with, the adverse emotional reactions related to uncertainty can alleviate our emotional distress during these problematic life moments. Adapting to treatment regimens and medical appointments can create emotional distress. Treatments can also affect our psychological functioning, which alters our sense of self and the world around us. Anxiety and depression can also grow out of the uncertainties of our medical circumstances.

Terminal Illness: 

Facing a terminal illness precipitates a wide range of emotional reactions, including fear, anger, sadness, and grief. Moving toward acceptance is an internal journey. The disease process and treatment of the disease can bring about debilitating side-effects, and can also affect our emotional and mental health status, and our psychological functioning. Making sense of our circumstances and lives, and dealing with the emotions associated with a terminal diagnosis can be overwhelming.

Smoking Cessation, Weight Concerns, Healthier Lifestyle: 

Whether you’re looking to quit smoking, lose a few pounds, or make healthier lifestyle choices, there are several stages one goes through to change behaviours. Whether contemplating change or actively attempting to change, maintaining healthy practices requires us to be attentive and mindful to the self and environmental triggers that stimulate us to engage in these behaviours. Learning how to manage healthy behaviours, including adopting new coping strategies to address underlying stress and emotions, is an essential component of behavioural change. When motivation to change an unhealthy behaviour wanes, deeper issues associated with self-esteem, self-worth, trauma, and abuse may also be present. Sometimes unhealthy behaviours serve as a source of soothing the self and dealing with difficult emotions from our past and present-day life. 

How We Help You:

You don’t have to be alone while struggling with the physical and psychological aspects of your condition. A health psychologist at CFIR can meet with you for a free consultation to help you better understand how he or she may support you through your journey with a health-related or lifestyle adaption. We offer clients comprehensive assessment and psychological treatment to address the psychological aspects of managing chronic, life-threatening or terminal illnesses or promoting healthy behaviours. Clinical and health psychologists at CFIR work with clients to treat a wide range of psychological issues that may emerge as we encounter challenges in our efforts to manage our physical health concerns or face life-threatening or terminal illnesses. We provide you with knowledge and emotional support to diminish your sense of isolation and to assuage distress associated with fear and hopelessness as you face challenges related to health and illness. Regarding lifestyle adaptations, we can help you manage these stages of change, deal with underlying self and relationship, or past traumatic issues, and help you to find more adaptive coping mechanisms to allow you to live the healthier life you desire.

Read more about our Neuropsychology, Rehabilitation & Health Psychology Treatment Service.