“If we do not change the direction we are going, we are likely to end up where we are headed.”
If you’re stuck, not sure where to start or cannot afford full rate counselling, this page is a sampling of a few recommended links, books, podcasts, videos for self help and also counselling resources in or accessible from Vancouver, B.C.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) & Cognitive Distortions
The National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists (www.nacbt.org/whatiscbt-htm/) defines CBT as, “…based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel / act better even if the situation does not change.”
Ways to handle Cognitive distortions: psychcentral.com/lib/fixing-cognitive-distortions/
A popular book in this field is: The feeling good handbook by David Burns “The good news is that anxiety, guilt, pessimism, procrastination, low self-esteem, and other “black holes” of depression can be cured without drugs. In Feeling Good, psychiatrist, David D. Burns, M.D., outlines the scientifically proven techniques that will immediately lift your spirits and help you develop a positive outlook on life.”
In my practice, I frequently reference and teach secular (non-religious) Mindfulness which is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This has proven very helpful as one of the tools in treating anxiety and sometimes, mild depression.
Some examples of accessible and popular books on this subject are:
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“…goes much more deeply into the practice of meditation for its own sake. To Kabat-Zinn, meditation is important because it brings about a state of “mindfulness,” a condition of “being” rather than “doing” during which you pay attention to the moment rather than the past, the future, or the multitudinous distractions of modern life. …The idea that meditation is “spiritual” is often confusing to people, Kabat-Zinn writes; he prefers to think of it as what you might call a workout for your consciousness… – Ben Kallen”
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddhaby Tara Brach
“For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much – just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work – to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.”
Free on YouTube:
Tara Brach is an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation. She offers a generous amount of free videos of her talks on a variety of subjects. Here are two good examples:
Exploring three key features of the trance of unworthiness and introduces a guided meditation based on a new version of the acronym RAIN that awakens self-compassion and de-conditions the suffering of being at war with ourselves:
Attending and befriending painful emotions:
She also has free (she accepts donations or ‘dana’), guided meditation podcasts on her web page at:
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“Much more than simple principles and platitudes, The Power of Now takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present.”
Recommended online course:
The Foundations of Well Being
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. offers an affordable, accessible, extensive program online about mindfulness and how it scientifically helps our brains ‘rewire’ for positivity (he includes the theory of neuroscience and neuroplasticity). This program is good for all levels from completely new to those working in the field (Continuing education credits are available).
Josh Korda is a colourful New York psychotherapist & secular Buddhist who gives free talks (accepting donations or ‘dana’) that are sometimes profane but explaining a bit of Buddhist theory and effectively and deftly explaining a lot of current psychological theory in often very relatable, often self-deprecating and humorous ways.
His talks can be found at dharmapunxnyc.podbean.com or on I-tunes. There are many podcasts by Josh Korda to explore but I’ve selected a couple that I feel are especially helpful or informative. See if these are to your liking:
Tools for healing relationships:
Understanding and addressing anxiety:
Other mental health resources:
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada
Brené Brown on vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame:
An American scholar, author, and public speaker, she is currently a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Over the last twelve years she has been involved in research on a range of topics, including vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She is the author of two Bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. Here are three links to free videos of her powerful talks:
The Power of Vulnerability
Listening to Shame
Susan Cain on The Power of Being an Introvert
“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”
If you enjoy this talk, you might find her book, Quiet, powerfully validating if you are introverted or enlightening if you’d like to understand more about introverted people.
Crossroads Hospice Society & Fraser Health Bereavement package & information:
A helpful article explaining grief and bereavement; what to expect for yourself; your emotions; self-care and support.
HealthLinkBC – Depression
Tools; symptoms; causes; & treatments for depression.
Health-Link BC on Grief and Grieving:
A helpful overview explaining what grief is; it’s symptoms and when and who to ask for help.
Dr. Gabor Maté on addictions
Dr. Gabor Maté is a Vancouver physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and is also widely recognized for his perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health.
This above link has a wealth of free podcasts and videos on Dr. Maté’s talks about addiction.
In his well-known book on addiction: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts he looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviours.
More Recommended Reading:
I have read most of these books and many are well known. Of course you need to decide for yourself if they seem suitable to your personal situation. You may want to go online to places like Amazon.ca <amazon.ca> or indigo.ca <indigo.ca> or goodreads.com <goodreads.com> and read the descriptions and reviews to help inform your decisions.
You can also get most of them at the library or borrow from the library online if you have a library card at: www.vpl.ca/digitallibrary
Of course you can check your local bookstore and peruse the pages in person where available.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk
“In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.”
Hold me Tight by Sue Johnson
…About our relationships; broken connections; attachment styles; repairing bonds; healing touch; secure sex; & lasting love. “Love demands the reassurance of touch. Most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection. Underneath the distress, partners are desperate to know: Are you there for me?”
In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant
“You know where you want to be, but you have no clue how to get there. You know exactly what you want in life, but what you want is nowhere in sight. On top of it all, your relationships, particularly your romantic relationships, are failing. If these scenarios feel familiar way down in the deepest part of your gut – then you my dear, are smack dab in the middle of the meantime.”
Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch
“…explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. Acclaimed psychologist David Schnarch guides couples toward greater intimacy with proven techniques developed in his clinical practice and worldwide workshops.”
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine Ph.D.
“Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.”
Specialized, Support Groups or Reduced Fee or Free Counselling Resources in Vancouver, BC:
The Adler Centre
Low rate counselling services offered to those in the Greater Vancouver Area.
British Columbia Bereavement Help Line
1.877.779.2223 or 604.738.9950
A non-profit, free, and confidential service that connects the public to grief support services within the province of BC. Your call is free, confidential, and anonymous. They will help you find the most appropriate support for your specific type of loss.
BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
A non-profit society established to provide therapeutic services for males who have been sexually abused at some time in their lives. Individual therapy and support groups are available for male survivors of sexual abuse.
British Columbia Responsible & Problem Gambling Program
BC Problem Gambling Help Line: 1.888.795.6111 (24 hrs)
The BC Government provides British Columbians with free information and resources to support informed choices and healthy behaviours with respect to gambling participation.
Free treatment and support services are also available for anyone struggling with their own or a loved one’s gambling.
Living Through Loss Counselling Society of BC
Offers professional grief counselling, support groups and emotional support to anyone who is experiencing stress due to life change or loss.
Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society
A non-profit registered charitable organization that has been organizing grief support groups in the greater Vancouver area since it was incorporated in 1990.These programs are offered in the communities of Kerrisdale, the North Shore and Downtown Vancouver.
Their programs are designed for those who have suffered the death of a significant person by helping them understand, cope and live with their loss. They help the grieving person move from pain to healing in a non-judgemental, compassionate and confidential environment.
Oak Counselling Services Society
Trained professional counsellors volunteer their services. Counselling fees are based on a sliding scale related to gross household income and family size. In rare cases of extreme financial hardship, a fee may be waived, this decision at the discretion of the Intake Coordinator. The fee will be set prior to your first appointment.
BC’s Queer Resources Centre
Personal support for queer and trans people of all ages to live healthier, happier lives.
604.408.7266 or 604.684.1628
Sliding scale counselling services for multicultural communities.
SFU Free parenting help line:
A free telephone service to parents and others experiencing family life or parenting challenges.
UBC Psychological Clinic
Low cost psychological services for children, adults and families (some limited times of operations and areas of coverage). A wait list may apply.
Vancouver Family Services – Counselling services
604.874.2938, extension 4119
Sliding scale counselling rates available based on the client’s gross household income and number of people in the family. There may also be a wait for the service.
Vancouver Coastal Health – Addiction Services – Three Bridges Community Health Centre
Provides adults living in Vancouver access to individual, couple and family/group addiction counselling. Assesses client needs and recommends appropriate treatment regarding substance misuse. Works with the addictions team to monitor client needs and progress and helps develop an appropriate individual care plan.
The Vancouver Hospice Society bereavement walking program
The Vancouver Hospice Society offers a walking program for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. “It is a time to walk and talk at a relaxed pace with others who are grieving; to share ideas and support, and benefit from some fresh air and exercise.”
Where: Meet at the Museum of Vancouver (Planetarium)
When: Wednesdays and Saturdays, rain or shine
Meet at 9:45am, walk starts at 10am
Where to find counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts:
Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada
The BC Association of Clinical Counsellors
Canadian Professional Counsellors Association
(for counsellors and psychologists alike) www.psychologytoday.com