My Approach

  • Safety and Trust - My intention is that we co-create a safe environment based on trust and mutual respect where you can explore your grief. I encourage a strength-based approach to this exploration, helping to bring clarity to the many ways you’re already working towards healing, something I believe we are naturally wired to do. My trust in the healing process means that I have complete faith in your ability to lead the way, therefore I use a client-centered approach, designed to empower you to reconnect with your compassionate Self, the core part of you that is gentle and wise, and knows how to grieve. 

 

  • Honoring Your Uniqueness - We all grieve differently. I bring open-hearted curiosity to learning about and honoring the way you move through the world as a griever. I’ll provide you with lots of grief education and together we’ll work on helping to increase your self-awareness, self-appreciation, and self-expression, around your own grieving process. We’ll surface your unique strengths, so you can better tend to your grief, moving toward acceptance, integration, comfort and meaning. 

 

  • Trauma informed - Sometimes grief can be quite traumatic. The study of trauma is something I feel passionately about. In our work together, I always strive to work from a trauma-informed perspective, respecting your innate capacity to heal and exploring together, where appropriate, the neurobiology of trauma with the intention to help you better understand how it changes the brain. With an increased understanding of how trauma works in the body, we can focus on the right interventions that will help you in your healing, always bringing great sensitivity to your needs.

 

  • Systems Approach & Attachment -  None of us exists in a vacuum. Our work together will take into account that you are a complex individual who is inextricably connected to your family, community and society. Together we will endeavour to get a better understanding of how the important relationships in your life impact your emotions, choices, priorities and point of view. Roles often shift after a death occurs. We’ll explore family roles, especially as they relate to the person who you are grieving. Exploring the way you relate to and connect with others is made more meaningful when we get curious about attachment, and how your attachment style influences your feelings and behavior,  your relationships and your grief.

 

  • Narrative and Existential Work - In sessions I’ll encourage you to share the stories of the person you’ve lost. Stories from long ago, stories that shaped who you are, stories of their illness, the story of their death.  Being witnessed and understood by a nonjudgemental and compassionate listener can be a great way to begin to explore your grief. Why do you feel the way you do? Do other grievers feel this way? Is it normal to feel anger, shame, relief? And finally, why are things the way they are? Why do we have to die? Are we all connected to something greater? If yes, what, and how do you fit in? These are the sorts of themes and concepts I’ll invite you to consider in our work together. Getting curious about the narratives that resonate with you can bring a deeper sense of self-understanding and inspiration for your healing and growth.

 

  • Somatic Orientation - The emotions of grief can be overwhelming, leaving us confused about where to start when it comes to healing. I’m a big fan of starting with the body. Grief is often keenly felt physically. We have a stomach ache, a headache, loss of appetite, insomnia, we feel fuzzy-headed, we keep spontaneously bursting into tears. The body gives us so many useful clues about what’s important to us. I invite you to tap into the vast wisdom of your body. Checking in with where in the body you feel a particular emotion, like sadness or anxiety, creates a starting point for our exploration. In addition, I offer guided meditation, stretching and breathing together as tools for self-regulation.

 

  • Parts Work - In sharing their stories, clients often say “A part of me feels…” When I hear this, I take a moment to explain Dr. Richard Schwartz’s theory of multiplicity of self, meaning we’re all made up of parts. We’ve all experienced a sad part, an angry part, an excited part, a scared part, a part that avoids, a part that controls, and so on. If you’re interested in parts work, we can explore your parts for the purpose of checking out how they’re working together and where they’re at odds. We don’t need to judge our parts, instead, we thank them for working so hard to try to protect us, especially as we grieve. The part of us that’s able to observe the other parts, the Self, starts to be able to acknowledge and better communicate with the rest. Once the Self can take the lead, it becomes easier to soothe and tend to the parts of us that feel wounded. We emerge more empowered than before. This is a great example of how the grief process can actually help us get in better touch with our own innate compassion and wisdom.

 

  • Buddhist Philosophy - Mindfulness - It’s natural for us to want to get control of our circumstances and keep things fixed, but nature just doesn’t work like that. All things in nature are born, grow, decay and die. We humans are no exception, no matter how much we wish we were. Our lives are filled with so much change, including death, and this can create intense feelings. So how can we begin to relax into this truth? How can we find peace in this groundless reality? Where appropriate, I offer the perspective of my teachers, Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass and Pema Chodron, as well as the work of various poets and sages, as inspiration for your contemplation. Also, I believe that everything that happens to you in life, especially confronting death, provides a curriculum for your growth. As Ram Dass says, it’s all “grist for the mill.” 

 

  • Tangible Skills for the Journey - Sitting with the turbulence of the grief experience takes practice, and to that end, I offer guided meditation, and breathing & stretching exercises that we can do together or for you to do outside sessions. These exercises help with the greater healing journey and also provide focused tools for you to use in stressful moments. I also encourage journaling between sessions to encourage the flow of thoughts and feelings, so that your healing experience keeps up its momentum between our sessions together. 

 

  • Nonviolent Communication - I’m a big fan of nonviolent communication, founded by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. I’ll use NVC to help you bring clarity, compassion, self-responsibility and empathy to your relationships as roles shift in the wake of a death. Especially effective with couples and siblings, we’ll explore your feelings, using a technique called relationship mapping, that helps you identify your feelings and map them onto unmet needs. Once you understand the unmet needs that are driving your emotions, we work on holding these unmet needs with great care, never pinning them on any one individual, but instead wondering together how they came to be unmet and if there are alternative ways to tend to them. 
     

  • Humor - I think humor is one of the most underrated healing tools! Laughing has been neurological proven to do so many good things. It decreases cortisol, the stress hormone and increases highly sought after brain chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, increasing empathy, relieving stress and anxiety, improving immune functioning and cardiovascular health, and most important, your mood. It also helps give you a reset when you're stressed or angry or scared, decreasing your heart rate, and lowering your blood pressure and muscle tension. In sessions, I love laughing together, whether it’s about celebrating something positive that happened to you or just a good old appreciation for how absurd the world can be, laughter connects us, and I look forward to laughing with you.

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