Struggling with addiction or watching someone struggle with addiction is a painful and often lonely process. However, substance abuse/addiction are more common than most of us realize. In her clinical practice, Natalie has counselled hundreds of youth and their families in the following areas: alcohol addiction, cannabis use, prescription opioids, and street drugs.
Nearly 25% of Canadian youth in grades 7 - 12 engage in high-risk drinking behaviour and nearly 20% of this same group have used cannabis in the past year. According to this same study, hospitalizations from opioid use has been rapidly increasing in the past five years in young adults aged 15-24. While these substances themselves do not cause addiction, when they are used to combat the effects of trauma, they can lead a young person on a lifelong path of addiction.
In Canada, 19.1% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 5.9 million people) reported alcohol consumption that classified them as heavy drinkers. Even more concerning 25.6% of students in grades 7 to 12 reported consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past 12 months and on average, students tried drinking alcohol for the first time at 13 years of age. The reality is that, for many, addictions begin with the desire to find something that life itself does not seem to provide. They go back to the same thing, alcohol, narcotics or other harmful substances knowing they have negative consequences because, at that moment and for a moment, they feel good about themselves. Yet addictions are devastating to everyone involved.
Substance abuse is not a choice - it is a brain disease - that causes the person to go back to the same substance for relief. Yet addictions can be cured and the first step is a diagnosis.
Natalie has over 20 years experience in helping others to understand and recover from addiction; 20 years of helping others to heal and recover. Natalie has found Family Therapy to be very effective in treating drug and alcohol addiction; this type of therapy typically has higher success rates in treating addictions - particularly those in adolescents.
At some point everyone needs help - a way through the challenges that face them. It doesn’t matter if it’s depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, addictions or PTSD. The brain knows how best to heal itself but it often can’t find its way without guidance. That’s where EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy comes in. During EMDR sessions the psychologist guides the patient through reliving, in small doses, traumatic or triggering experiences while directing your eye movements. EMDR works by diverting a person’s attention, thus the brain is allowed to bring out even the most traumatic events without a strong or damaging response.
So what is the secret?
EMDR is not “talking “ through an issue, it is about an open and trusting relationship between the patient and the psychologist. When starting the EMDR process, the patient and psychologist will first lay out a path, determining the success the patient wants to achieve. The goal is to work at a pace no faster than comfortable, and together define new steps along the way. For Natalie the treatment of any patient is both the science and art of openness and trust. The human brain knows how to cure itself - it often just needs guidance, guidance that comes from the psychologist and the patient working together toward recovery.
Typically there are eight different stages and 12 separate sessions during EMDR, though everyone is unique.
Stage 1 - History and Treatment Planning - talking through the trauma - it is a time of building trust.
Stage 2 - Preparation - together with the psychologist, stress management techniques are explored and tested.
Stage 3 - Assessment - Stage 3 - Targeting specific memories and concentrating.
Stages 4 -7 - Treatment - Using specific eye movements, the psychologist works to release memories and, ultimately, have them fade.
Stage 8 - Evaluation - Recovery and success
Grief is the most natural response to loss. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, grief also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical dimensions. It is the suffering one feels when someone or something the individual loves is taken away. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship. While everyone grieves differently, being able to speak with someone about your grief will go a long way in ensuring that you are not at risk for long-term and severe complications from grief, including stress-related illnesses and relationship struggles.
By speaking with a professional, you will find comfort in knowing that what you are feeling is normal (sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, to name a few) and that you will be able to learn healthy ways of coping with your grief.
Natalie believes that stable family relationships are fundamental to psychological health. Through her practice of family therapy (also known as couples therapy) she works to bring relationships back to a healthy status.
While there are many different schools of family therapy, Natalie believes that involving the whole family can bring benefits to everyone - including the person suffering from mental challenges. This type of therapy brings the strengths, wisdom and support of the larger group.
The ultimate goal is to bring a long-term support to a person. For Natalie, family is not only those related by blood or marriage, but anyone who has a role in the patient's life.
Natalie’s goal in family or couples therapy is to ensure that people are returned to a state of trust and love - for the long term.
Depression has many causes - losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, a divorce, or any other major life event can cause a person to feel alone or scared. Usually, a person can find their way through the sadness to a sense of normal.
However, for some people these feelings linger and persist over time - falling them into a state of depression, a psychiatric disorder.
For men, depression often shows as tiredness, irritability and anger and they often turn to alcohol or drugs; for women, depression can bring on sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. In younger children, depression often shows as refusing to go to school, separation anxiety and excessive worry about parental loss.
Natalie’s goal is to build a sense of trust between the person and herself. When trust is established, she works to bring out the causes of the depression and lead the person to recovery. With her many years of treating families and youth, she is uniquely positioned to help.
Life is all about change. Some change brings joy, some brings sadness and a sense of loss. However, change is inevitable.
For those who struggle with change, the results can be anxiety and depression. Life can feel overwhelming and even the slightest bit of stress can be too much.
Natalie has spent years working with individuals as they cope with change in their life. Whether it is the death of someone close, a new job, or a move to a new city, the brain can adjust and change but people often need guidance in letting it heal.
Changing the way a person thinks can boost their ability to deal with new circumstances and challenges. Natalie works with patients to find a level of trust where the patient can find their own solutions to life transitions.