Q & A:  Seeking Counselling With Dawn

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Question 4: What does counselling look like with you- e.g., in the beginning?

I am glad you clicked on this question, as it is important you know what to expect if you decide to work with me. From the moment we meet, I am very focused on offering you a supportive, caring, highly ethical, and confidential space to explore and learn what you need to reach your goals for change. For in-person services: When we connect, I will invite you to take your time to get used to my counselling space. I will also offer you water or a cup of tea (for some clients they like to smell the various teas, and this itself can be a very grounding activity). For remote sessions: I will encourage you to join me with a cup of tea/coffee and check'in with you about how it "feels" to see my on screen or hear my voice ... so we can make any adjustments you may need. When you feel ready, we will explore your rights as a client, such as your right to expect a high degree of privacy and your right to see what I put in your counselling record. Since it is vital you make an informed choice to participate in therapy with me, we will review the necessary information in a way that makes sense to you. I can also send you this information in advance. When you are ready, I will invite you to share a little bit about yourself so I can learn about you as a person before I learn about the problems you are having. We will gradually shift –at a pace that feels right to you–towards discussing what your self-talk, beliefs, feelings, actions, and/or body messages are that interact to fuel your wellness or limit your functioning. You will be invited to tell me as much or as little as you want about your inner world and your life experiences. Throughout the session, I will listen to you. And, I will ask questions to learn more about what you are telling me. Always --> You have the right to decline answering any of my questions. You will always have the right to say to me "no", "I do not know", "pass", and "stop". You can also ask me questions, and I have the same rights as you when it comes to answering questions. As I tell my teen clients, " you are my boss" . This means I believe clients should have the power to set their goals, make their own decisions, and share what they need from me so they can work towards making their desired changes. Would you like to know more about the first session? I encourage you to read this article by Buzzfeed: 1 7 Things Therapists Want You to Know Before Your First Session.

Question 1: What services do you offer? Services via Video or Phone? Work with youth?

Welcome! I provide counselling services:

  • to those residing in Alberta, helping those who are 12 years or older (will work with younger children if EMDR is the main treatment required - I do not have a play therapy room)
  • to individuals, groups, and in limited scope - couple counselling
  • to help people with a wide variety of concerns (please see my expertise tab or the questions below for more information)
  • for pre-marital and relationship enhancement services, e.g., 3 hour personalized sessions that include assessments
  • carefully attuned phone sessions or F2F via secure video services (via Owl or Zoom Pro). I may return to in office services after my summer teaching in 2022.
  • FYI: I assist organizations with staff issues and conflicts, offer training workshops, give presentations, and provide consultation services to experienced as well as supervision to those studying to become a registered psychologist (CAP). Please click on each highlighted word to learn about these services. Thank you.

Question 6: Clients have a right to privacy .... except when?  (limitations to privacy)

I realize people need to feel safe and be in a trusting relationship before they will risk disclosure and/or embark on a change process with me. I am very committed to protecting your privacy. However, as you may know, therapists have a moral and legal duty to help clients stay safe and to protect others, including animals, from danger. To fulfill this mandate, there are limitations to the privacy therapists can offer their clients. I would like you to know the limitations upfront so you have a choice what to tell me .... as therapists, we have to secure additional help for clients if .... (a) the client appears to be at risk for seriously hurting themself (or, is harming themself) or the client seems to be in need of emergengy medical attention, (b) the client shares details that identify someone (of any age) and/or animal who is in danger (e.g. they are not safe from harm or could be in danger). (c) ...there are a few more situations when therapists may need to share a client's name and/or give information about the client to someone such as:

  • a Judge orders the release of a client's information;
  • EAP providers need limited client information, if EAP is paying for the sessions (NO information is shared if the client pays for the session);
  • debt collection procedure requires the release of basic client information;
  • the client gives permission for the therapist to release or receive information from someone;
  • a therapist who is working with a minor has an obligation to keep parents/guardians informed of the youth's treatment plan, progress, and other issues to help the family (these limitations and the amount of information to be shared are talked about early in therapy).
* Please be assured I will inform you of these and other situations in advance so you will have ample chance to decide what to tell me about yourself and for us to create a plan of action if any of the above situations occurs. I will listen to your concerns and answer any questions you have about my role to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Question 10: Are you providing remote - phone or secured video - sessions?

Yes - I offer phone sessions that are very attuned to you and F2F via secured video sessions via Zoom Pro/Owl. I hope to start including in-office session options after my summer teaching in the Fall of 2022.

Question 5: What are some of the rules therapists have to follow?

Great question! All Canadian therapists, who are registered or belong to a regulatory body, are required to adhere to a strict set of rules to ensure clients are offered an ethical and competent counselling service. For example, I adhere to the Canadian Psychologists Code of Ethics. Some of the rules therapists MUST tell clients:

  • how we keep client information very private - you have a right tno know!
  • when we have to reveal client information (e.g., client is in danger).
  • about their counselling file - you can see what we write in your file :)
  • how to make a complaint if they receive unethical or incompetent service.
  • our qualifications.
  • who we consult with
  • when we are using an assessment or intervention we have not been trained in.
  • we have to stay neutral (e.g. we are not to impose our values or beliefs onto clients).
  • how we keep strict boundaries. For example, we:
    • are never to become romantically involved with a current or past client.
    • are not allowed to profit from any outside service clients may provide/offer. Likewise, we are not to receive gifts from clients (however cards expressing gratitude are always welcome).
    • cannot have more than one role with clients, which means counsellors cannot engage in social or business relationships with past or current clients (e.g. become friends with clients, hire clients to do work for us).
  • give you a document that contains the above information and much more!
    • This document, is sometimes called an informed consent, and it should be written in such a way that the tone is friendly and welcoming.
    • TIP: Please do not sign this document until you meet F2F with your therapist; never sign these forms in the waiting room.

Question 3: What approaches (types of treatments) do you draw upon?

When working with me, you will have the right to change, modify, or stop any intervention that you do not find useful or do not like. I will ask for your feedback so we can find an approach that will help you with your goals for change. The following information expands what I shared on my expertise page, as many people are not familiar with all the 'fancy' titles we use to describe how we help people.

  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a fascinating intervention for treating phobias and anxiety/fears, resolving the effects of trauma and PTSD, and reducing sensations of chronic pain. EMDR is also used to enhance performance (e.g., sports psychology) and strengthen resiliency/competency. I like to use EMDR for OCD. I use the American version of EMDR (attachment based) and have taken advanced training in EMDR. ( More inf ormation on EMDR).
  • Transactional Analysis (TA) is one of my main approaches. I like how it gives people insight into their patterns of behaviour, including the games they play to get their needs met. It is an ego-state therapy which allows people to decide who they want "driving their car". I find this therapy, along with some other ego-state therapies, is very useful to those wanting to do personal growth work as well as those who need to heal from the effects of trauma. It is a style of therapy that is very interactive, promotes reflection and analysis, and invites change. ( More informatio n on TA).
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE; focuses on nervous system regulation). I am trained in somatic experiencing (at the intermediate level). SE promotes deep nervous system regulation by utilizing neuroscience and gentle, intentional pacing of the sessions. I have also taken some Hakomi body therapy. ( More information on SE).
  • Narrative Therapy is an approach that helps to create distance from a problem so its power can be reduced, thereby freeing the person to develop strategies to defeat the problem. This is a creative and powerful form of therapy. ( More information on narrative therapy).
  • Gestalt Therapy places ample emphasis on gaining awareness in the present moment and resolving past issues in the moment. Dream analysis, creative expression, and the empty-chair are some of the interventions from this type of therapy that I like to use. ( More information on gestalt therapy).
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy - I recently completed a 4 day externship in this attachment based therapy for couples, which can also be applied to individual counselling. This powerful, deep approach focuses enhancing and repairing attachment bonds to one can reach out for support and love.
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) examines how one's thoughts influence one's feelings and actions, and then explores how to change one's thoughts to create a different outcome. I created the 3BE wheel to help clients explore their situation from a CBT perspective ( More information on CBT).
  • Ego State Therapies ... including FRASER'S TABLE of DISSOCIATION and INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS (IFS). I find these advance/speciality procedures offer clients a rich opporunity to gain in-depth insight into their inner world which can lead to long-lasting change. For more information on IFS, you migiht want to go to https://ifs-institute.com/resources/articles/internal-family-systems-model-outline
  • DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) is a therapuetic approach I like to use when a person is needing to expand their coping toolbox due to suffering the effects of past traumas and/or experiencing far too many life stressors for their nervous system to manage ( More information on DB T).
  • Group Therapy: These are rich, powerful counsellling sessions held with other people who have similar issues or goals. The sessions are usually 2-4 hours in duration. The session fee is shared among all the group members so individual fee is much lower compared to private counselling sessions. ( More information on group therapy)

Question 2:  How do you help? What type of problems (concerns) do you help people with?

I have been in the helping field for over 25 years, work as a professor training graduate students to become ethical and competent therapists, and provide supervision as well as consultation to therapists from around the world. I share the above facts so you can see I am well-trained, experienced, and have helped many people with a wide range of concerns ranging from abuse to the zillions of stressors we face in life (hey...did you spot the A to Z connection?). I am very comfortable working with those who are suffering from very challenging situations that may involve dissociation, complex trauma, overwhelming symptoms, and intense life circumstances. In addition, I am also very honoured to work with those who may only require just a few sessions, or even just one session. If you are wondering if I treat a specific issue, I invite you to go to my "expertise" (please click on the hlighlighted word) to see a list. HOW DO YOU HELP PEOPLE?

  • Overall, my goal is to offer you a supportive, dedicated, ethical space where you can be real to unpack, explore, discover, let go, and/or learn what you need to roll with the ups and downs in life.
  • Therapy often includes helping you know you are not alone and someone cares as well as assiting you in gaining insight and control over any troubling (taxing) feelings, thoughts, or actions -- all done in a way that fits your values so you can live in a way that feels healthy, productive, and rewarding.
  • I select interventions, in conversation with you, that will be a good fit for your personality, past history, learning style, goals, and preferred domain to work in (i.e., emotions, body sensations, thinking, and/or actions).
  • You always remain in charge of what you want to tell me and your goals for change.
How does this sound to you? If you have questions, you are more than welcome to contact me - use the contact tab. I welcome your contact. FYI: I no longer offer formal psychological assessment services or conduct play therapy sessions for those under age 12.

Question 8: When do you see clients? Are you away for extended times?

I maintain a small private practice given my other career responsibilties. On average, I see clients 2 days/evenings a week. To make things easy for clients, clients can book their sessions online (once we have had our first session). I encourage clients to book time with me if they can be rather flexible with scheduling appointments, as my university professor career requires me to be out of town on a fairly regular basis collecting research, writing papers, presenting at conferences, etc. Most years, I teach summer courses (May to August) and take time off between November and January. During these months, I might only see clients 1-2 weeks per month. ** I will help you plan for my extended absences - you will be notified in advance so we can talk about what my absence means to you and what you may need during my time away.

Question 9: Can I talk to you before I make an appointment? YES PLEASE.  Do you have a waiting list?

I welcome the chance to connect with you over the phone for 10-20 minutes for a discovery meeting. This brief meeting offers us the opportunity to determine if we might be a good fit for each other. Please reach out when you are ready. I will respond to you. Use the contact tab on this webpage to contact my office. My waiting list changes during the year.

Question 7: What are your fees? Do you offer a sliding scale? Approved provider for any companies? How long are the sessions?

Length of a Session: My wish is for you not to feel rushed or pressured during our time together. I invite clients to reserve the amount of time they would like to have for each session (e.g. 1 hr., 1.5 hrs., 2 hrs., 2.5 hrs., 3hrs., etc.). ** If you are a DPS client, I do not abide by the practice of billing clients for a 60-minute session but only seeing them for 50 minutes.
Fees - Things to Know:

  1. I have several fees options, including a sliding scale -- please see below.
  2. GST is not charged when paying for psychological services.
  3. The session fee, per hour, is the same regardless of the interventions used (e.g., EMDR, expressive arts, narrative, couples, etc.) or the format used: Face-to-face, online, outreach (in your home or office), or phone. However, the fee for group therapy is different.
  4. There are other fees which are outlined in my informed consent document for other types of services (e.g., if letters are written on your behalf, if there are legal issues, travel costs for sessions offered in your home or office, assessment, paperwork, consultation, supervision, training) which are negotiated in advance of the service.
  5. Payment for services are due at the time the service is provided - payment can be by cash, cheque, or e-transfer.
Fees per Session: A. My standard rate: $160.00/hour. In 2022, the rate will be increased to $170/hour. NOTE: I offer you a full 60 minute sesions, not a 50 minute session but still charge you for a 60 minute session. B. I am an approved provider for Alberta Heallth Services, various school districts, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and many others providers. C. Sliding Scale Options: I have always been committed to offering reduced counselling fees to those who are on limited household income and would otherwise not be able to afford receiving counselling from an experienced clinical psychologist.
  • Option 1: If you cannot afford this rate then I offer clients a rate of $140.00/hour. This rate will increase to $145/per hour in 2022.
  • Option 2: Discounted fee slots, up to 60% off my standard rate, are reserved for those with a very low household income (on the honour system) who would not otherwise be able to afford counselling services. There is usually a waiting list for the slots that are discounted at or below 50% off. Discounted rates are warmly offered, accepted, revisisted, negotiated, and/or continued at my discretion.
  • Option 3: Coaching option: For those who wish to receive phone support rather than formal psychologial services and need a substantial fee reduction, then I am pleased to offer 30-minute phone support meetings, where we agreed to focus on problem solving by you asking me questions rather than processing experiences, feelings, or thoughts. For example, I shall answer your therapy-related questions, recommend various psychoeducational activities, and/or offer resources to access/view. The fees are usually $10 to $30/hr per call.
  • Option 4: Heal with others (be with people who "get it" ) – in the form of group counselling -is a very powerful form of therapy and is much more affordable than 1:1 therapy since the therapy fee is shared with everyone attending the group. Please see the group therapy tab for the groups I offer / plan to offer.