Healing Through Play - Play Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy for children ages 4-18 in Victoria, BC
Healing Through Play - Play Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy for children ages 4-18 in Victoria, BC

This is the soul of my work: to help you explore your issues; confront your fears; heal your wounded places; and find the courage to live and speak your truth
Carrie Wright-Donaldson
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Play Therapist
Expressive Arts Therapist

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Adult Therapy in Victoria, BC

Adult Counselling

Adult Counselling
"You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness."
-Eckhart Tolle

I believe that people can change at a very core level. I also trust the innate wisdom of the mind and the body to move towards wholeness and healing. I have experience with both western psychological models and eastern mindfulness practices, and I use both traditional and experiential approaches to reach your goals.

I specialize in the following areas:
  • Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Life Transitions
  • Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
  • Physical and Emotional Abuse
In our work, you will learn about yourself and find a safe place for personal disclosure and introspection. We engage in a self-reflective process to increase self-awareness and gradually explore the roots of your emotional struggles, relational patterns, and early family experiences in order for you to break free of the burdens that you have carried for years that do not work. We will illuminate your current patterns of behavior, create opportunities to step out of your comfort zone, and increase your self-confidence so that you can make more conscious choices of how you want to live your life. With mindfulness and body-awareness, you can feel more connected to your body and more alive in every moment. Through the process of counselling, you will also develop ways to deepen your trust and connection in other personal relationships. You may find that beyond problem-solving, healing and lasting change can occur through self-awareness, acceptance and understanding.

Therapeutic Approach and Counselling Style

My therapeutic approach stems from a mind/body perspective and integrates Gestalt Therapy, Family Systems, Mindfulness, Somatic Approaches, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR and Transpersonal theories.

My counselling style is relationship based, client-centered and experiential. Counselling is conducted within a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental framework where you are encouraged to explore how you feel in the present moment and to take responsibility for the focus of each session. Counselling is also body-centered and brings gentle awareness to how you hold stress and trauma in your body.

Prior to exploring traumatic memories and difficult experiences, it is important to help you expand your capacity to feel safe, to access your inner strengths and resources, and to discover some effective coping strategies.

I can help you go from where you are to where you want to be. Invest in yourself. Begin the conversation that changes you.

Therapeutic Modalities

Gestalt Therapy

Gary Yontef writes in his book, "Awareness, Dialog and Process", about Gestalt Therapy describing it as "the excitement of direct contact between therapist and patient, the emphasis on direct experience, the use of active experimentation, the emphasis on the here and now, the responsibility of the patient for himself or herself, the awareness principle, the trust in organismic self regulation, and the ecological interdependence of person and environment and other such concepts were new, exciting and shocking to the conservative establishment."

Currently, there are at least 120 Gestalt Therapy Institutes throughout the world. Every major city in the United States has at least one Gestalt Institute (Excerpt from The Gestalt Institute of the Rockies website: www.gestaltoftherockies.com).

Somatic Approaches to Therapy

I have included information about two possible approaches to Somatic Therapy. One is Peter Levine's "Somatic Experiencing" and the other is Sharon Stanley's "Somatic Transformation".

Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing® is a body-awareness approach to trauma being taught throughout the world. It is the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands-on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma, Somatic Experiencing has touched the lives of many thousands. SE® restores self-regulation, and returns a sense of aliveness, relaxation and wholeness to traumatized individuals who have had these precious gifts taken away. Peter has applied his work to combat veterans, rape survivors, Holocaust survivors, auto accident and post surgical trauma, chronic pain sufferers, and even to infants after suffering traumatic births (Excerpt from The Somatic Experiencing website: www.traumahealing.com).

Somatic Transformation
Somatic Transformation is a developmental, phenomenological, and neurobiological approach to the healing of trauma. This model focuses on restoring regulation of intense affect as the foundation for further healing in the body, mind and psyche.

Somatic transformation of trauma seeks to restore the aliveness of embodiment with a deep sense of resilience and meaning. The primary context for the work is a carefully developed intersubjective, somatic, empathic relationship. Working primarily in the right hemisphere of the brain, the physiological substrate of trauma, the disrupted autonomic nervous system, is gently invited and guided into regulation through somatic awareness, inquiry, interventions and reflection.

In the work of Somatic Transformation, acute and chronic stress and trauma are understood to be aspects of development throughout the life span, including interactive relational experiences of the unborn fetus, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Other sources of acute and chronic stress, such as medical procedures, falls, accidents, assaults, natural disasters, terrorism and culturally sanctioned stresses such as poverty are addressed.

Recent theories and research on brain-body physiology and memory mechanisms have expanded our understanding of the possibilities of somatic transformative processes in the resolution of conditioned reflexes of trauma. Specific processes of Somatic Transformation are utilized with individuals who present with emotional and physical symptoms. Basic therapeutic processes are combined in specific patterns to address complex forms of trauma, shifting the conditioned pattern of adaptation to a higher level of resilience.

The therapeutic process used in Somatic Transformation balances the arousal and fear of recovered memories with felt experiences of self-regulation of the emotional and physiological systems. Subtle gestures and movements of the body are utilized to access sensory data and result in shifts in the brain-body continuum. Somatic Transformation moves beyond therapeutic technique to an interactive art of restoration, healing and empowerment (Excerpt from The Somatic Transformation website: www.somatic-transformation.org).

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Recent developments in trauma treatment led by such pioneers as Pat Ogden have recognized the importance of including the body in resolving trauma. It is the body that experiences trauma, the body that holds the trauma and it is often through the body that trauma can be healed. Treatments that focus solely on the cognitive or affective elements of post-traumatic symptoms often fail to address the underlying somatic activation that many traumatized individuals experience. Sensorimotor Therapy, on the other end, focuses on working with the physiology, with the somatic symptoms, and emphasizes the importance of working with and through the body (Excerpt from The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy website: www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org).

http://emdria2.affiniscape.com www.emdr.com

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way (Excerpt from EMDR International Association's website: http://emdria2.affiniscape.com).

Transpersonal Theories
Transpersonal Psychology is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the integration of Eastern and Western psychological and spiritual approaches. This field of study emerged from earlier tendencies within contemporary psychotherapy (Humanistic, Jungian, etc.). It recognizes the potential for experiencing a broad range of states of consciousness where one's identity extends beyond the usual limits of ego and personality.

Transpersonal Counselling emphasizes the counselor's presence, openness and authenticity as being central to the therapeutic process; it views emotional dysfunction as an opportunity for growth and maintains a respect for the client's self-healing capacities. Transpersonal psychotherapists are interested in exploring the interaction and integration of personality, feelings and spirit - empowering their clients to connect with their essential self and to fulfill their soul's purpose. Using traditional psychotherapeutic tools as well as dream work, guided visualization, authentic presence, expressive arts, meditation and more, transpersonal therapists facilitate processes that support dialogue with one's inner wisdom (Excerpt from www.iups.edu, www.naropa.edu, and www.jfku.edu).

Healing Through Play - Play Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy for children ages 4-18 in Victoria, BC
Healing Through Play - Play Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy for children ages 4-18 in Victoria, BC