Our Services

Aging/Geriatrics

With aging comes major lifestyle changes that can affect the quality of one’s life – health issues, death of a partner, change in living situations, isolation, loneliness, depression, less physical capabilities. There are many major stressors that are difficult to manage even if one is healthy and in the prime of their life. For a senior facing such limitations, it can become overwhelming.

Aging/Geriatrics

An experienced counselling professional can be a resource, help in seeking answers and obtaining suitable supports or options not previously made available. They can help devise a plan, work with families, and make recommendations that can help remove burdens that come with aging.

Anger Management

Sometimes, we have days that seem to be filled with nothing but opportunities to get angry.

Strong emotions are simply our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. It is never wrong to experience anger. However, it is essential that we manage our anger effectively. Anger becomes a problem when we ‘magnify’ a situation and make it bigger than it is, or when our anger occurs too often. Life is about many stressors; finances, parenting, work, health problems, extended family issues. When our burden becomes too great, anger spills out, and at times we hurt those close to us. It can also become a habit, a means to vent our frustrations.

If you have trouble controlling yourself when you become angry, here are some suggestions that might help. As soon as you feel your anger intensify, take a few minutes alone. Try to determine what you are reacting to. What do you want that you are not getting? Are you feeling attacked or controlled? Are you being forced to do something that you don’t want to do? Emotions like anger exist to help give you important information. Once you become aware of what your anger is telling you, there is a much better chance that you will be able to effectively deal with the situation at hand.

If you consistently struggle with anger management, then you may want to consult a trained counsellor. He or she will be able to help you identify what is driving your anger, and help you develop a healthy response to what you are feeling.

At Associates Counselling, we help individuals look to the root of their anger, find healthy ways to self-manage and cope with stressors, and problem-solve when situations arise. Our counsellors have experience in helping individuals cope with anger, and are current on the latest techniques for addressing anger issues.

Anxiety/Panic

Anxiety has been described as an ongoing sense of dread or apprehension. Accompanying physiological symptoms may include shortness of breath, rapid pulse, tightness in the chest, a knot in your stomach and, in extreme episodes, can lead to a heightened panic experience. In a ‘panic attack’, the individual can feel as though they are suffering from a heart attack.

In Anxiety/Panic, the fear may be irrational but the sense of being threatened and/or unsafe is very real. While a certain amount of anxiety is normal for everyone, we seem to live in particularly anxious times. Anxiety, and/or panic, is now the most common mental health concern in Canada. For most of us, we are normally able to keep our anxiety and worries from becoming too great. However, there can be times in our lives when, for whatever reason, our anxiety starts to interfere with our lives and/or work, and we seem unable to control our anxiety, worries, and/or sensations of panic.While medications can be used to help control anxiety, they are often a short-term solution at best.

Counselling, on the other hand, has been found to be equally effective for the treatment of anxiety and/or panic sensations, and can help to prevent anxiety and/or panic attacks from re-occurring after successful treatment.

Our experienced counsellors can help you manage your anxiety symptoms, both when the early warning signs appear, and when the anxiety become ongoing and limits you from engaging in your normal life functions and activities.

Bereavement and Grief/Loss

The loss of a loved one is always a painful experience. Just as love is a process that occurs over time, so is grief. Depending on how close the relationship was, the process will be equally intense.

When facing loss, it is normal to encounter a variety of emotions. At first, many people experience denial. They may refuse to admit that someone has died or they may pretend the loss hasn’t occurred. Denial is often followed by feelings of anger, despair and guilt. Grieving people may wish to withdraw from friends or their usual activities for a few months. Over time, people usually work through their grief. Although they will always miss the person who has died, they will usually accept the loss and begin to resume their normal activities after several months. Other situations such as a change in health, location, job, or role may also precipitate grief.

If you have a loved one in the process of grieving, it is important to let them talk about the loss as much as they want. By simply being present to them and listening, you will do much to encourage them through the process.

If the grieving is intense, prolonged, or is accompanied by suicidal thoughts, a professional counsellor should be consulted.

Blended Families

Family rituals, house rules, parenting expectations, values, ways of communicating, are all part of the equation that we call family, with each family unique in terms of what these aspects can look like.

In blended families, these aspects can become the root of conflict as the ‘new’ family works to integrate itself, and negotiate what the new family may look like. What works for the Dad’s/Step-Dad’s children may not work for the Mom’s/Step-mom’s children. What does dinner time look like? What do we do for Easter? What church do we go to, if any?

With the help on an experienced counsellor, outstanding issues may be addressed and conflict may be managed.

Child Abuse/Trauma

Child abuse is defined as any act towards a child that causes physical, emotional and/or spiritual harm. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

  • Physical Abuse – injuries resulting from intentional physical harm, including but not limited to hitting, punching, kicking, burning, biting etc.
  • Sexual Abuse – any instance in which a child is used for a sexual purpose, including but not limited to touching, fondling, penetration, sexual conversation and exposure to sexual acts and pornography.
  • Verbal Abuse – verbal assaults, including but not limited to harsh criticism, insults, name calling, ridiculing etc.
  • Emotional Abuse – emotional assaults, including but not limited to withholding affection, shame humiliation, rejection, isolating etc.
  • Neglect – failure to provide age appropriate needs, including but not limited to food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care etc.

The signs of child abuse and trauma are varied by age and the effects are physical, emotional and behavioral. A child who has been abused may present with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, and relationship struggles, etc. They may have problems in school and engage in at-risk behaviors including suicide attempts, drinking, drug use and cutting. Younger children may have unexplained head and/or stomach aches.

The Associates Counselling child and adolescent counsellors are experienced practitioners in the area of child abuse and trauma, and utilize a variety of treatment modalities including play, art, sand, cognitive behavioral, narrative, family systems and psycho-educational therapies.

Child/Youth

Adolescence is a time when it can be expected your child will experiment, forming strong peer attachments as they move towards maturity. Sometimes, they will make poor choices in the process. This may manifest in friendships you don’t approve of, high risk behaviours and a tendency to aggressively push towards more independence, often against your wishes. For you, the parent, this can create real fear and concern.

Conflict, estrangement, and high risk behaviour can be concerning. Teen issues may include poor self-image, substance use, sexual activity, self-harming behaviour, depression, aggression, illegal activities, and distancing from family and stable influences. Sometimes they may be open to help from others; sometimes the best way to help them is to first help you as a parent.

At Associates Counselling, we have many years’ experience working with youth who are coping with the hurdles that come with adapting to change. We also work with parents towards finding ways to connect with their adolescents, to give direction to them in a meaningful and receptive way.

Co-Dependency/Enabling

When one family member suffers from a severe problem, the entire family unit is impacted. Alcoholism, domestic violence, and emotional abuse are examples of difficult problems families face. Each person typically adapts their behavior pattern to adjust to the situation. Sometimes these changes seem to make the situation easier because conflict can be avoided. Unfortunately, these changes often enable destructive behavior patterns to flourish within the family unit. When this process occurs, it is referred to as co-dependency.

A co-dependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. There are a variety of situations which can be labelled co-dependent, and no two stories are exactly alike. Therefore, co-dependency can exist for many years before it is even detected.

Dealing with co-dependency is a challenging process. However, counsellors and community groups can be helpful in changing destructive patterns. If you think you are involved in a co-dependent relationship, a professional counsellor can help you identify and change unhealthy behavior patterns.

Communication and Conflict Resolution

Good communication is a critical factor to every human relationship. A healthy relationship will allow room for both partners to speak and listen to one another. Conflict is present in all healthy relationships. If both partners are willing to communicate through their conflict, then the conflict can become an opportunity for growth for each person involved. In order to communicate effectively, you must become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes; you need to know exactly what is bothering you. Furthermore, you need to be very aware of what you want for yourself, your partner, and any other people involved in the situation. Your wants and desires will control much of your behavior.

Taking some time to become aware of these wants and desires will greatly help you address the conflict at hand. When you have become self-aware, then you are ready to communicate your feelings, thoughts, and desires to your partner. It is also important that you take time to listen to your partner until you are aware of what is driving them into the conflict as well.

If you encounter difficulties that seem to be too complex to handle on your own, a trained counsellor can help you and your partner communicate more effectively.

Critical Incident Stress Management

Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM, is an intervention protocol developed specifically for dealing with traumatic events. It is a formal, highly structured and professionally recognized process for helping those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, vent emotions, learn about stress reactions and symptoms and be given referrals for further help if required. It is NOT psychotherapy. It is a confidential, voluntary and educative process.

There are several types of CISM interventions that can be used, depending on the situation. Variations of these interventions can be used for groups, individuals, families and in the workplace.

Debriefing, defusing, grief and loss sessions, crisis management briefings, and pre-crisis education are all types of CISM which are available through Associates Counselling.

Cultural/Spiritual

Our world is a culturally and spiritually diverse place. Even in a small centre like Lethbridge, we are becoming more and more multicultural. When people are looking for someone to help them with transitions or life’s struggles, they want to know that those they turn to are respectful of, sensitive to and understanding of their cultural and spiritual backgrounds.

At Associates Counselling Services, we have experience with diverse cultures and spiritual beliefs, and endeavor to comprehend and work within the beliefs and values that each client practices and lives by. Our counsellors are nonjudgmental, non-intrusive professionals who will work with your issues and concerns in a respectful and sensitive way.

If you would like your counselling to include a Christian belief system, some of our therapists can provide counselling from a biblical perspective.

Depression

Blended Families

Most people experience a depressed mood from time to time. Sometimes, we have a ‘down’ day; at other times, we experience grief from a significant loss or tragedy.

If you have experienced five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks at a time, you likely are suffering from depression: a depressed mood, recurrent thoughts of suicide, greatly diminished pleasure in most or all activities you formerly enjoyed, a reduced ability to think or concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, large weight losses or gains, fatigue or a loss of energy, disturbances in sleep patterns, and an observable slowing down or speeding up of common activities. Depression will also cause impaired social functioning and job difficulties.

There are many theories about what causes depression, although researchers and clinicians do not know for sure what actually causes depression. There are likely a number of factors which may cause a person to become depressed. These may include loss, trauma, stress, relationship and/or job difficulties, distorted thinking patterns, and societal issues (e.g., discrimination). In addition, biological factors such as heredity, hormones, illnesses, medications, and brain chemistry may play a role.

Regardless of how depression is caused, research indicates that counselling is a very effective treatment for depression. In particular, counselling has been shown to be just as effective as antidepressants for depression, with far fewer side-effects, and less risk of the depression recurring after it has been treated. A good counsellor can work with you to identify and deal with the causes of your depression.

At Associates Counselling, we have the capacity to assess and make recommendations with regards to a personal treatment plan.

Diminished Sexual Desire

The amount of sexual activity that a couple enjoys will ebb and flow throughout their relationship. During certain periods of time, couples will engage in frequent sexual relations. At other times, their sex life may diminish.

A number of factors can cause a decrease in sexual activity; however, the main cause of a diminished sex life is the loss of sexual desire. Sexual desire is the expression of sexual energy. When other forces consume our energy, our sex drive slows down. For example, couples will experience lower levels of sexual desire when they are faced with stress. Children may also consume energy that would otherwise be spent in sexual activity. Women often claim that their sex drive decreases when they feel neglected. Men who are excessively committed to their careers may devote all of their time and energy to their profession. Tension emerges when one partner is burning with passion and the other partner is disinterested. Sometimes, both partners may be experiencing a decrease in sexual desire. In either case, couples need to take time to communicate about their sexual relationship.

A good counsellor can work with you to identify and deal with diminished sexual desire.

Disordered Eating

With a hyper-focus on body image, western society faces a prevalence of disordered eating. People overeat for many reasons. Perhaps they are depressed or they are experiencing a lot of stress. Perhaps they developed the habit of overeating because their parents overate. Consistent and regular overeating will lead to weight gain that can be life-threatening.

There are three main types of eating disturbances: overeating, anorexia, and bulimia. People who suffer from anorexia believe they are fat, no matter how thin they become. They experience extreme weight losses, yet think they are overweight and are terrified of gaining weight. They become obsessed with food: perhaps engaging in strange food rituals or refusing to eat in front of anyone. This disorder often begins near puberty and the effects on the body can be life- threatening. People who suffer from bulimia eat large amounts of food and then try to rid their bodies of that food by vomiting, taking laxatives, diuretics, enemas or exercising obsessively. Those suffering from this illness will often eat in secret and try to hide the problem. While their weight can appear normal, the damage that is done to their bodies can be quite severe.

It is strongly recommended that people experiencing any of these eating disturbances consult their medical doctor and a licensed professional counsellor.

Divorce Recovery

Divorce may be a daily occurrence in society. However, it is by no means an easy event for any family to face. Couples certainly do not plan to divorce when they marry. Divorce is considered a trauma and it leads to a grieving process that is comparable to that of death. Each person must face the loss of the relationship and all of the dreams that were carried with it. Divorcees may also lose relationships with former in-laws and friends, as people tend to take sides in facing divorce.

Children often face great insecurity at seeing their parents’ marriage end. Not only is the family stability disrupted, but they must face economic changes, visitation schedules, and relocation as a result of the divorce. Divorce recovery is a long process that involves a variety of emotions including denial, despair, anger, and grief. It is important that you and your family members work through the process thoroughly.

A professional counsellor can help you and your family face divorce and its aftermath. They can help you work through your feelings, make empowering decisions, and communicate effectively with other family members.

Recovery from divorce is difficult but, with time, healing can occur.

Family Counselling

Families will experience a myriad of transitions: some natural and some brought on by situations or events that appear suddenly and are often out of our control. More families than ever before are isolated, with emotional and/or physical distance from potential supports when in need. We offer a supportive environment for families to explore ways to cope and problem solve, with the help of an experienced counsellor.

Our family counsellors are experienced practitioners in such areas as divorce and separation, grief and loss, family conflict, school issues, parenting concerns, family transitions and utilize a variety of modalities including Family Systems, Generalist, Structural and Strategic strategies.

Family of Origin Issues

No family is perfect. However, some families are more able cultivate caring and understanding relationships. They work together, play together, and laugh together. They are unified in purpose, and in their commitment to one another. Family members support and encourage each other.

Other families are not so ideal. Members may neglect responsibilities, treat each other unkindly, forsake vows, and engage in physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually abusive behaviors. They may be manipulative and critical. Some members may abuse alcohol or other drugs. Members who perpetuate these destructive practices do so at great cost to themselves and to future generations.

Adult children of these families sometimes find it difficult to form relationships that are safe, nurturing and empowering. They may experience challenges in dealing with intense emotion or they may simply become numb to all forms of emotional pain.

If you come from a difficult family, you can transcend and overcome negative behaviors that may have been ingrained in your family for generations. The counsellors at Associates can help with this process.

Family Violence

There is an expression “hurt people, hurt people”. In other words, in an intimate relationship, violence and abuse can often be attributed to the need to feel connected to one’s partner to the point of desperation. It is generated out of fear, and leads to anger and aggression. This can lead to controlling behaviour, taking control of a situation that is perceived as becoming out of control. How does it get there? Perhaps the individual knows of no other way. Maybe that’s what they saw growing up; maybe that’s what they experienced in previous relationships. The bottom line – they know no other way.

At Associates Counselling, we support by presenting new skills, new ways of being in a relationship that will increase the chances of successful conflict resolution, managing emotions, and positive ways for partner ‘connection’, with the understanding that abuse/violence is not acceptable.

Everyone has a right to be free from violence and abuse. Violence and abuse can take many forms: verbal, mental, physical, emotional, social isolation, financial isolation. Many times an abuser isn’t even aware their behaviour constitutes abuse. The impact on partners, families, and children can be traumatic and damaging, and can also potentially have an intergenerational impact.

Our team includes experienced and certified relationship violence treatment providers ready to support you and guide you towards a healthier relationship.

First Nations

First Nations Given the history of First Nations peoples and the impact of issues of abuse and residential school experiences, their issues are often unique by nature and as such, require professionals to work with them in a culturally sensitive and respectful manner.

At Associates Counselling, several of our counsellors are recognized First Nations accredited counsellors with many years’ experience working with First Nations individuals and families.

The counsellors at Associates are (culturally sensitive) to the needs of the clients, supporting them to help themselves in the quest to move beyond past issues and present day concerns.

  • Historical Abuse
  • Post Traumatic Stress
  • Addictions
  • Family-Of-Origin
  • Domestic Violence
  • Grief and Loss
  • Parenting issues

Gay and Lesbian, Transgendered Issues

Gay and Lesbian issues, whether ongoing or with regards to contemplating and managing ‘coming out’, can often be complex, with cultural, family and spiritual beliefs that can often create conflict. Whether coping with one’s own emotions, interacting with your partner or facing the reactions and questioning, preconceptions, judgments of others, (these) can lead to feeling alone, confused, angry, hurt, and very isolated.

Associates Counselling can provide a safe non-judgemental environment and the support you may need to help you manage the stressors and issues that may arise.

Transgendered Issues
While the transgender state itself is not any longer considered to be unhealthy, the stress of dealing with the confusion and society’s negative response can lead to numerous other problems. Problems with depressive symptoms, anxiety, adjustment issues, guilt and shame may emerge as problematic. Shame and shaming can have a devastating effect on the development of a positive identity. The lack of positive role models, and sensationalized stories of cross-dressers and transsexuals on TV talk shows and in the news, serves to reinforce the shame and raise the barriers to seeking counselling. Guilt arises because many, if not most, transgendered persons inextricably involve others in their often painful search for a positive approach to life: partners, parents, other family and friends.

An issue that is almost a given for transgendered clients is coping with loss. “This population of clients, more than most others, are faced with many possible losses in their lives.” (Miller, 1996,). Choosing to be openly gender variant, in particular the transition process for a transsexual can result in the loss of family and friends who disapprove or don’t understand. The loss can be particularly traumatic if, as is often the case, the disclosure or discovery of the person’s transgender status is unplanned.

An experienced counsellor can help in terms of exploring expectations, grieving the losses that may ensue, and challenging faulty beliefs that lead to the unhealthy impact of guilt and shame, and finding ways to navigate through relationships, be it friends, family, workplace, where the struggle of acceptance may become an issue.

Groups

Groups Group counselling has been shown to be a clinically proven form of counselling intervention. Through the ‘group’ experience, a participant experiences validation and normalization of what they are going through. Groups can also provide a built-in support system, with other participants providing skills and insights based on their own experiences. Groups are commonly used to address such issues as depression, anxiety, Disordered Eating, grief and loss, parenting and Life Transitions, to name but a few. Groups can be used as therapy, or an adjunct to counselling, providing a psycho-educational approach, with an opportunity to practice skills obtained. For group information and scheduling, call Associates at 403-381-6000.

  • Family violence

Guilt, Shame and Blame

Human beings are fallible creatures. We are prone to make mistakes and most of our actions are the result of mixed motives. When tragedy happens, we expect somebody to be responsible. Our hearts cry out for justice in a world that is characterized by trauma and grief.

As we begin to face pain, we often demand that someone pay a price for the wrongs we have experienced. When we assign responsibility for a traumatic event to an individual or an institution, we blame them for the consequences of that event. Sometimes we look outside ourselves to assign blame; other times we hold ourselves responsible for painful circumstances. When we know that we are responsible for causing pain, we may experience feelings of guilt. When we feel contempt towards ourselves for the event, we often struggle with shame. Guilt should motivate us to seek reconciliation with those whom we harm. Shame and blame result when we are unable to seek or offer forgiveness to ourselves or others. When shame and blame become prolonged, bitterness results.

If you are struggling with excessive feelings of guilt, shame, and blame, you may need to see a counsellor. With professional assistance, forgiveness and reconciliation can replace bitterness and contempt.

Job Loss

It can happen in a variety of ways: being laid off or downsized, getting dismissed or fired, receiving your pink slip or your walking papers. However it’s defined, losing your job is difficult. Among a variety of life-altering events, such as death in the family, divorce, and serious illness, losing one’s job ranks among the highest in stress-causing situations.

Job loss can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being. The typical cycle that most people experience includes denial, anger, frustration, and eventually adaptation.

The counsellors at Associates can help support you in your transition to a new work experience by providing you with the tools you need to help you cope.

Parenting

Having children is usually a very natural process. Parenting them is a different matter altogether. Today’s society presents tremendous challenges to parents. Meeting our children’s needs in an age that is characterized by divorce, substance abuse, and other forms of relational chaos can be a very demanding task.

There are many obstacles that can hinder our ability to reach our children effectively. Some of them can be dealt with easily; others are more serious. If you suspect that your child or teen is struggling with a learning disability, depression, substance abuse, or a behavior disorder, you may need extra help in meeting his or her needs. Your child may also have a hard time facing the death of a loved one, a divorce, relocation, or a remarriage. When your family faces situations like these, it can be difficult to face the challenge alone.

A qualified professional can help you address these needs as they arise. Marriage and family counselling offers support to parents and children who are facing tough situations. At Associates, we can help you identify family dynamics that will allow you to face the demands of parenting with greater success.

Play Therapy

Youth/Child Play Therapy Children, by their actions and emotions, can convey hurt and frustration. Unfortunately, they often do not have the words to adequately inform an adult as to what the issue is and how they need it attended to.

Play therapy is a recognized avenue that allows a child, under the expert guidance of a play therapist, to explore and address those hidden hurts. In turn, what becomes known can be used to inform the parent/caregiver how to best support their child to overcome emotional hurts.

Issues our Play Therapists can help with include: bullying, sibling issues, impact of parent separation and divorce, attachment, trauma, abuse victimization, school issues.

  • Physical/sexual abuse
  • Child abuse trauma
  • Family violence
  • Child/youth issues
  • Divorce
  • Blended families

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that follows an event whereby a person perceives there may have been some serious risk of harm to them, or someone close to them. Events may include car accidents, violent acts such as robbery or rape, even natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. Symptoms may include frightening thoughts that don’t go away, memories or “flashbacks” of the event, and feeling emotionally numb.

People with PTSD often relive the trauma through nightmares or intrusive day time memories. They may also experience depressive symptoms, sleep disturbances, emotional detachment, or being easily startled. They may lose motivation, disengaging from previous activities and friends. They may feel angry and irritable, as well as easily triggered by experiences that they relate back to the trauma event.

PTSD is diagnosed only if the symptoms last more than a month. In those who do have PTSD, symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the trauma, and the course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, others have symptoms that last much longer. In some cases, the condition may be chronic. Occasionally, the illness doesn’t show up until years after the traumatic event.

At Associates Counselling, we have the capacity to assess and make recommendations with regards to a personal treatment plan. Call to set up an initial appointment with one of our treatment specialists.

Self Esteem and Confidence

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about the things you don’t like about yourself? Are you afraid to engage in conflict? Do you get intimidated by others easily?

Many of us struggle with self-acceptance. When we have a hard time facing others because of insecurity, we may need to deal with what counsellors call self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to the way we view ourselves. When we have a negative impression of ourselves, it can be hard to engage in daily life with confidence. Everybody has areas in their lives that they wish were better. Some of us have been told that we don’t quite measure up by parents, siblings, or so-called friends. When we begin to suffer from overwhelming feelings of discouragement and shame because of these issues, we may need someone to talk to.

A trained counsellor can help identify destructive patterns in our lives. Sometimes these patterns can be changed with practice; other times, we need help to learn how to accept the things that we truly have no control over. In either case, we can improve our self- esteem by taking action over the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to a negative self-image. In so doing, we can face the world with greater confidence than ever before.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be defined as sexual contacts or interactions between an individual victim and the perpetrator, when the victim is being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator (or another person) when the perpetrator is in a position of power or control over the victim.

Sexual abuse survival involves healing the past abuse. No matter what type of sexual abuse (whether incest or by a stranger) or how tragic its consequences, acceptance of the past is vital to not only surviving, but to overcoming. Typical responses may include self-blame, trying to ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen, being distant, isolating yourself, becoming aloof, or being excessively outgoing to cover up the hurt and shame.

If you are a sexual abuse survivor and its after-affects still adversely affect your life, a trained counsellor can help you address present-day symptoms and move beyond the past.

Sexual Addiction

Sexual addiction is similar to many other addictions. In time, it becomes more destructive as the addiction progresses. The sex addict may be involved in a variety of destructive behaviours such as the use of pornographic material (which may include magazines, videos, phone lines and internet sources), compulsive masturbation, and sexual activity with a number of different partners.

Although it is easier to hide than many addictions, there may be warning signs such as a sudden increase or decrease in sexual desire, unexplained absences or financial expenditures, or engagement in extramarital affairs. As the addiction progresses, the addict will require more stimulation to obtain satisfaction. Sexual addiction may negatively impact finances, career, and health, and put the lives of the addict and his or her significant other at risk. If you suspect you or your spouse is suffering from a sexual addiction, it is important that you address the matter quickly and directly. A medical assessment for possible sexually transmitted diseases is highly recommended as an initial step.

Professional counselling can also be helpful in confronting the problem, and dealing with the source of the addictive behaviors.

Sports Psychology

The key to success in most sports is the mental aspect – confidence, focus, motivation. This is most apparent at the highest levels. In competition, the athletes’ skill level is usually and relatively on par with each other. The difference is confidence and with it, the ability to focus and concentrate. A poor performance, an injury, or outside stressors/events can often erode confidence of even the most successful athletes.

Mental imagery and visualization are key tools that an accomplished clinician can utilize and teach the athlete to make the best use of their skills that they possibly can. A clinician can also help the athlete manage emotions, manage the stress of competition, and give the athlete the opportunity to perform at their peak performance level – a self-perception to combine confidence, competence and motivation.

Stress Management

Stress Management Stress is often described as a motivator that gives us the impetus to recognize and address problems, as they arise. However, too much stress and/or stress occurring too frequently can become a problem. It can adversely affect us, resulting in quick temper, poor memory or concentration, fatigue and, in turn, a weakened immune system leading to one becoming more susceptible to sickness and disease.

There are many healthy ways of managing stress and the support of a counsellor has been shown to be particularly effective. In turn, through cognitive skills and problem-solving around outstanding issues, discovering self-care activities, we can also help you devise a stress management plan to deal with stress issues, and find healthy ways to alleviate symptoms of stress.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse and other addictions can have devastating consequences for both the people who struggle with addictions and their family members and friends who seem unable to help. Someone suffering from an addiction – whether it be to alcohol and/or drugs, gambling, sex/relationships/pornography, the internet, or many other addictions – is caught in a painful trap, where addictions temporarily take away boredom and pain, but eventually can destroy everything important to them.

A skilled and trained counsellor, working in conjunction with other resources and multidisciplinary team members, can form a trusting and effective relationship with persons suffering addictions. They can assist the person and their family in dealing with such issues as denial, cravings, recovery, relationship repair, relapse prevention, spirituality, and eventual freedom from addictions.

At Associates Counselling, we have the capacity to assess and make recommendations with regards to a personal treatment plan.

Transitions and Change

Transitions and changes can create stress as we struggle to adapt our lives to accommodate new situations. Stress occurs when it appears that we do not have adequate resources to meet a challenge or a situation. Depending upon the nature of the situation, more or less of our resources are demanded. Researchers in human behavior have spent a great deal of time studying how we adapt to various changes in life. They have ranked the situations that require the most resources from us as we adjust to them. According to these experts, some of the most demanding transitions that we have include getting married, losing a loved one, divorce, moving, losing a job, and changing careers. Most of us will face many of these situations in the course of our lives.

Sometimes a number of life changes coincide. The more we have to face at once, the more we have to stretch our health, our emotions, and our finances to address each need. Sometimes life is simply too complex or traumatic for us to handle on our own. In these cases, it is a good idea to seek the assistance of a professional counsellor. A trained counsellor can help you face changes and assist you through the transition process.

Workplace Violence or Harassment

Defined by Alberta Health and Wellness as physical assault or aggression, unsolicited and unwelcome conduct, comment, gesture, or contact, which causes offence or humiliation and physical harm to any individual which creates fear or mistrust or which compromises or devalues the individual.

It can come from anyone, be directed at anyone, be deliberate or unintentional, subtle or overt, a single occurrence or a repetitive situation. It can be an abuse of authority, and involve relationships between co-workers, or affiliated personnel. The emotional effects can include anger, anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The counsellors at Associates can offer support and guidance around the effects of what can be a stressful and often traumatic experience.