Your relationship with your therapist is essential for doing good counselling work.
Because you’re an individual with your own preferences, experiences, personality, and interests, you’re totally unique when it comes to what kind of therapist will work best for you. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all counsellor, so finding someone who complements you where it counts is key.
I wrote this post to make that process easier for you. This is one way of helping you get a better sense of who I am as a person, beyond just my counselling approach, so that it’s easier for you to sense how we might fit together. Most of the information I’ll provide is based on common questions people ask me during free consultations. If this inspires any more curiosity from you, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or leave a comment below!
Why I’m a Therapist
I’ve been a helper in some capacity for the vast majority of my life. Growing up, I’m the person my friends came to when they needed someone who would listen without judgment. I’m the person others would turn to when they didn’t know where else to go. This role has been an honour for me to play in the lives of those I care about, and it has taught me a lot about how to be a steady source of support.
Helping Through Music
As surprising as it may be, one of the ways I experienced being particularly helpful to others before becoming a counsellor was through my time as a musician.
From the ages of 16 to 26, I was the front man of a small handful of bands based first out of Regina, SK (where I grew up), and then out of Victoria, BC. The music I’ve been most passionate about throughout the formative years of my life is punk rock, which I love for its social conscience and straightforward messages. The ethics of inclusiveness and social justice are as important to me now in my work as a therapist (as you can see in our Heart & Oak values) as they were in my time as an active punk rocker.
The band I had the most profound experience playing in toured across Canada and parts of the US, giving me insight into the diverse ways of life of people on this continent. I sang lyrics that were both personal and critical of problematic social norms, and I was often approached by folks at shows who found those messages helpful to them in some way. Those affirmations were like fuel in my tank: they inspired me to keep moving forward with passion. The same is true today: when people find their work with me to make a difference, I feel excited to help more people!
Becoming a Professional Counsellor
In my early 20’s, it came time for a change of scenery. I had just finished my undergraduate degree in Psychology and was ready for something new. I packed up my life, landed in Victoria, BC, and started taking steps toward becoming a skilled counsellor.
My next destination was a Master’s degree, which I blazed through in two years. It was an intense amount of work in that short timeframe, but I came out the other end with skills that were far more advanced than what I started with.
It was also through my graduate studies that I connected with the communities that would inform my theoretical orientation. Both Narrative Therapy and Response-Based Practice appealed to my passion for social change. These schools of thought got me excited to help people on the individual level and beyond. I remain actively engaged in local and international professional communities, where I both learn and teach inspiring new ideas with other counsellors, community workers, and activists.
Passions and Interests
You, like many people, may feel it’s important to know a bit more about a counsellor before you’re ready to trust them with really personal stuff. In order to get a better sense of who I am, a lot of people find it helpful to ask to ask me about what I’m interested in outside my work as a therapist.
There’s no time I’m happier in my life than when I’m free to be light hearted and silly. I’ve always embraced my sense of humour, which has proven to be a source of great joy for me. Although I am a grounded, level-headed person, I love absurdity and satire, and weirdness in general.
While I certainly find it to be true that we can connect through hardship and seriousness, I also value humour for the very same reason. Laughter brings people together, it helps us lower our guards, and allows us to find common ground with people who might otherwise be strangers. Although it’s often not appropriate for me to crack jokes left and right when facilitating a counselling session, this part of my identity helps me to be more laid back and approachable to people seeking therapy in Victoria BC.
Pets are an essential part of the lives of many, and I’m no exception to that! The two cats I share with Laura Brown bring more joy and entertainment into my life than I ever thought possible. Indulge me a moment while I tell you about them:
Roxy is a 10-year-old tabby/Maine Coon cross, who is super gentle and laid back. She’s a bit of a treat fiend, and will follow us around the house looking at us expectantly any time we go into the kitchen. She mostly likes her space, and can be kind of shy when company’s around, so it’s a real honour if she climbs up onto your lap for some attention.
Ernie is a year and a half old kitty with a very interesting personality. He can be the cuddliest, chilled out little guy, and he can be an utter menace. If he’s not passed out some place soft, he’s running laps around the house, just itching to hunt and catch something. We try to support him in following his instincts, but have come home to some disturbing scenes that I’ll spare you the details of.
In short, having pets has made my life lighter, richer, and so much more interesting. I have first-hand experience of the comfort and value a pet can bring if you ever come home after a difficult day.
Family, Friends, and Community
People who get to know me learn quickly that I value relationships in a big way.
This is something that not only brings meaning to my life, but also helps me to be a dedicated therapist. Because I care deeply about people and my relationships with them, I go the extra mile to be as helpful as I can be – both personally and professionally.
I think of relationships like the springs on a trampoline: the more you have, the easier it is to bounce back when life gets heavy.
In my personal life, I care deeply about giving generously to those I’m close to. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by others who do the same, which creates a sustainable balance of reciprocity and support. This nourishes me in so many ways (many of which I’m sure are beyond my awareness): it contributes to my sense of acceptance and belonging, and helps me feel useful in the world I live in.
I find that the many relationships and roles in my life balance each other out beautifully. While my counselling work offers me space to engage with others in clearly defined ways on more serious issues, my connections with friends and family allow me to be more light-hearted and jovial. This is a key ingredient in the sustainability of my work.
One other thing I’ll mention is that contrary to common assumptions, I find it really uplifting to have the kinds of conversations I’m lucky enough to have with people seeking therapy. Many people have asked me how I’m able to do this work (which can be really heavy). The truth is, the rich opportunities that I’m given to be helpful fill my heart with gratitude, joy, and an appreciation for life. I’ve written about the myth that we inherently burden others when we ask for help (read more about that here), as I experience it quite differently: It’s an uplifting honour to be in service to others, and to know that other have my back when I need it.
Finding Connections Where It Counts
I hope this post was useful in helping you get a better sense of how we might fit together. By knowing more about where I come from, I hope you can feel more confident with taking your next step forward, no matter what you think that should be.
If this post inspired any curiosity, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment. Of course, if you’d like to meet for a free 30-minute consultation, click the button below and I’ll be happy to take that step with you.