Did You Know that Video-Therapy is as Effective as In-Person Therapy?


What is Video-Therapy?

Video-therapy is counselling that occurs when a client and therapist are in separate locations and use electronic means to communicate such as Face Time, Skype, texting or telephone. It is becoming a widely accepted method for delivering psychotherapy. It can also be used to conduct psychological assessments and to provide psychological treatment. With the advent of computer technology, it might in fact be considered unethical not to provide video-therapy services to those who otherwise would not have access.

Some Advantages of Using Video-Therapy: 

  • It allows a client to raise an issue via email, before discussing it later in person.
  • It allows the therapist to send worksheets to be used during an upcoming session.
  • It might demystify counselling and pave the way for face-to-face communication and thus be part of a continuum of services.
  • Some individuals may feel more comfortable discussing sensitive information than they may in face-to-face conversations.
  • Research shows that video-therapy is as effective as therapy conducted with a client in a therapist’s office.
  • Video-therapy treatment may be a solution for potential clients who do not have access to mental health services for a variety of reasons including living in remote areas, and difficulties leaving their home due to illness, physical limitations, transportation difficulties or family commitments.

Some Disadvantages of Video-Therapy?

  • It may be difficult to establish a therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist over video or phone.
  • Technology problems may cause interruptions in the sessions.

What are the Ethical and Privacy Issues?

As with any technology, concerns arise around issues of confidentiality and privacy, Psychologists are required to use PHIPA (Personal Health Information Act) compliant platforms.

If you are interested in doing video counselling, click here.

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Focusing on the Senses to Get Through an Emotional Crisis

Emotional Crisis

Working with What You’ve (Always) Got: Focusing on the Senses to Get Through an Emotional Crisis

Every person goes through times when everything seems to fall apart. It may be a major life event or a seemingly small thing that pushes us over the edge, but it can feel as though the rug has been pulled from under our feet and we are struggling to regain our balance. Going through a crisis is never easy and it is all the more difficult in a situation when there is no quick resolution in sight. It can also be especially challenging for someone who frequently struggles with difficult emotions, has tried different solutions in the past, and feels as though nothing works.

At times we may wish that we never experienced emotional distress. However, since emotional distress is an inevitable part of life, eliminating it entirely would not be realistic. Our emotions teach us something about ourselves and the situation; for example, when we feel overwhelmed, it suggests to us that we need to take a step back and take care of ourselves before moving on. In any case, such emotions force us to pay attention to them and try to resolve whatever is causing us to feel this way.

In some situations we have little or no control over what is happening, or cannot resolve the difficulty right away. During those times we may experience especially painful emotions, which could motivate us to do things that can lead to additional problems, such as getting into a bad argument with a loved one, hurting ourselves physically, or using illicit substances in order to numb emotional pain. In this kind of a case scenario, all we really need is a way of getting through that situation without making it even worse.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which was developed specifically for individuals who have difficulty regulating their emotions, can help precisely with that type of situations. It includes a set of skills, called ‘crisis survival skills’, which teach you how to get through emotional crises. In order to be able to get through a challenging situation without worsening it, these skills teach you ways of tolerating strong negative emotions until their intensity decreases. While this will not resolve the problem, at the very least you will have prevented unnecessary complications and additional problems on top of the existing one.

One such crisis survival skill is called Self-Soothing and it involves grounding yourself by focusing on the five senses. In order to use this technique, you will need to engage in comforting tasks that involve each one of the senses. Here are some examples:

Sight – focusing on something pleasing to the eye, such as the nature, flowers, or a painting you like;

Sound – listening to music you enjoy, sound of the rain, or a voice of someone you care about;

Smell – using your favourite body lotion, smelling lavender, or burning a scented candle or incense;

Taste – eating some chocolate or fruit, while savouring it;

Touch – taking a bubble bath, petting a cat, dog or another pet, or holding a fuzzy blanket or a toy.

At a time when you are not in distress, try to identify items for each of the five senses that usually give you a sense of comfort and joy. Have this list handy to be able to easily find and use it in a difficult situation. You will likely find that some items work better than others and may need to edit and expand your list over time.

If you struggle with frequent emotional crises and would like to learn new ways of gaining control over your emotions, at CBT Psychology for Personal Development we can teach you additional skills for tolerating emotional distress as well as other strategies to help to prevent, minimize, and resolve emotional crises in the future.


Written by: Jane Mizevich, Ph.D., C.Psych.
To learn more about Dr. Mizevich, click here.
To book an appointment with Dr. Mizevich click here 

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How to Stay Inspired to reach your Goal

Sometimes our biggest life goals seem so overwhelming. We rarely see them as a series of small, achievable tasks, but in reality, breaking down a large goal into smaller tasks — and accomplishing them one at a time — is exactly how any big goal gets achieved.” – Jack Canfield – Best Selling Author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

How to stay Inspired

It is hard to stay inspired when it feels like your goals are far out of reach.

As a student, picking a career path is a difficult choice to make. However, once you finally decide what your passion is and what you want out of a career, getting there may be a long process. No matter the length of time it takes it can be hard to stay inspired if the end result feels so far off.

While going through this, how do you stay inspired through the process?

It is easy to lose motivation when it feels like what you are doing is irrelevant to what you want to be doing in the future.

The path you are taking may not always feel like it has a direct connection with what it is you want in the future but it is still an important part of the process, which helps shape you into your future self.

As an undergraduate student of Psychology the path to my career is still far from being completed. Therefore, I would like to share with you five tips I like to keep in mind, when feeling uninspired, that help me stay on track.

  1. Remember the goal. To me this means remembering the reasons behind why I am studying this and why I got into this field to begin with.
  2. Be grateful. Education is a process. Learning and growing is a process. All which are progressions that help you find your place in this world.
  3. Be mindful. Be aware of how you are feeling both physically and emotionally. Be aware of what your body needs and of what your mind needs. This may be very different for each person. Think about how both your body and mind are responding to what you are doing moment by moment.
  4. Visualize the results. Imagine what your life would be like when you achieve your goals and how you will feel reaching that end result. I find that this skill in particular really helps me refocus on my studies and pushes me to work harder and strive past the difficulties or roadblocks that arise along the way.
  5. Be aware of the energy you put off to others and the energy others put off to you. Who you surround yourself with matters. Being aware of how the people around you make you feel is vital. Through my time in school I have found that the people I have surrounded myself with have had a strong affect on the way I work and my attitude towards it as well. Surround yourself with those who motivate and inspire you to work hard, keep you on the right track and stay confident in yourself and your skills.

If you find that you are someone who is following these steps yet still find it difficult to stay inspired through the process you can always reach out to a professional or a registered psychologist who can help you get back on the track you wished for yourself.

To book an appointment, please click here. We would be happy to answer any further questions and connect you with one of our therapists.

Written by: Sabrina Medinski, CBT Psychology for Personal Development.

Concerned about low self-esteem? Click here to read 5 tips to boost your confidence.

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How to Break the Fight Cycles in Couple Relationships

Do you get stuck in endless arguments that you do not know how to break free from? There is a way to understand what keeps this negative cycle going. As a couples’ therapist, I like to use the Relationship Grid for this purpose.

The Relationship Grid™, (Diagram 1), gets to the root of where a couple is at the worst of times and what they can do differently to be in a healthy and loving relationship.

The grid is a relational diagnostic assessment tool. Boundaries are on the horizontal line, self-esteem is on vertical line, and a healthy relationship is in the middle. You can be boundaryless or walled off, or you can be one up (grandiose) or one down (shame filled). When you put these together, you get four quadrants: boundaryless and one up, boundaryless and one down, walled off and one up, and walled off and one down. If you are on the boundaryless side, you are love dependant. If you are primarily behind walls you are love avoidant. The adjectives in each quadrant give examples of typical losing strategy behaviours when couples feel distant from one another. The centre of the grid reflects both a healthy self-esteem and boundaries. The centre of the grid represents relational enpowerment and the belief that taking good care of yourself is taking care of the relationship.

Relationship Grid

Diagram 1: The Relationship Grid™, The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Make Love Work, Random House, Terrence Real.

Questions to ask yourself when your relationship feels distant:

  1. Think about your self-esteem. Am I one-up, or one-down? Do I feel deflated and shame-filled, or inflated and grandiose?
  2. Next think about your boundaries. Am I uncontained, letting too much out, or walled off, letting nothing out? Am I too porous, or not open enough?
  3. Where do you think you and your partner are on the grid?

For example, the more you are angry, the more your partner distances. Or, the more you are indifferent, the more your partner becomes desperate? Or, are you both controlling, trying to be right until one of you withdraws? There are many other combinations of relationship distance.

  1. Where am I and how do I come into the circle of health?

Knowing where you each are when your relationship feels distant, will help you to know how to come into the circle of health, where you feel closer to each other.

Some winning strategies for a close relationship include:

  1. Come out of shame and grandiosity to a place of healthy self-esteem
  2. If you are boundaryless, reset your boundary and remember that you are enough and you matter
  3. If you are walled off, express your feelings and ask for what you need
  4. Respond with generosity
  5. Respect each other
  6. Have empathy for each other
  7. Cherish your partner
  8. Stay connected and protected in your relationship
  9. Shift from complaint to request
  10. Speak out with love and moderation
  11. Be honest about your vulnerabilities

When each partner is in a place closer to health, then it becomes easier to understand family of origin dynamics, resolve conflicts, grieve past issues, enhance sexual connection, become more emotionally intimate and learn effective communication skills.

At CBT Psychology, I can assist you to explore these dynamics in your relationship and find ways of feeling closer in your relationship.

Clare Mézes sees individuals and couples at CBT Psychology in Thornhill, Ontario. She also has a private practice in North York and Toronto. She is a Registered Psychotherapist, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, a Clinical Fellow with OAMFT/AAMFT, a Registered Sex Therapist and Certified Relational Life Therapist. She has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of issues giving individuals and couples the tools they need to optimize the full potential of their relationships.

Written By: Clare E. Mézes, MSc, RP, RMFT, RST, RLT 
To book an appointment with Clare, click here 
To read more about Clare, click here.

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5 Strategies to Increase Low Self-Esteem

Self-Estem Blog

Do these statements sound familiar?

“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not competent.”
“I’m unlovable.”

If so, you are probably struggling with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem impacts your perception of how you see the world and your role in it. It makes you focus on your mistakes, perceived weaknesses and flaws. If you have low self-esteem you are likely to discount or ignore positive experiences and comments from others about you. You may experience difficulty being assertive and setting boundaries. Low self-esteem can often show physically in the body posture as well. For example by hunching shoulders, making yourself appear small, and avoiding eye contact by looking down at the floor.

I recently attended a workshop given by psychologist Dr. Melanie Fennell who specializes in helping individuals who struggle with low self-esteem. Dr. Fennell explained that self-esteem develops in a variety of ways. For example, you may experience mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, or trauma – which leads to feelings of being incompetent or inadequate. Or perhaps you’ve been through a series of negative experiences, such as growing up in a family with extremely high standards that you feel you cannot live up to – thus sending you messages that you aren’t good enough. Or you may have felt like an outsider growing up, like you never really fit in with your family, or at school.

These life experiences create a foundation for forming our sense of self. And as you may already be concluding – if you’ve experienced many negative situations – your sense of self is going to be negative as well. This negativity makes it difficult to believe positive things about ourselves. For example – you may have received compliments at work and taken them as negative, or brushed them off thinking “they’re just being nice”. Or perhaps you shoot down compliments from a friend or romantic partner because deep down you believe you are unlovable.

In thinking about how you perceive yourself in your world – you can probably guess how this impacts your behaviour. In your friendships or romantic relationships, low self-esteem can cause you to have difficulty forming healthy, strong relationships in which you are respected because you don’t believe you deserve that respect.

So how do you change this? How do you create a sense of self that is strong and robust and enables you with the confidence to face life’s challenges?

  1. Become more aware of these negative beliefs, and observe what’s going on when these thoughts are triggered
  2. Don’t accept these thoughts as an accurate reflection of who you are, and what is going on, challenge these thoughts instead. Ask yourself, “Is there another way to look at this situation?” “Is there another possible explanation?”
  3. Practice new ways of thinking and new behaviours that are more in line with your positive qualities
  4. Be compassionate with yourself. Remember that many people feel like you, you are not alone. We are all human and humans make mistakes. None of us are perfect.
  5. Seek out support, whether that comes from a close friend, your partner or a therapist. This isn’t something you have to do alone, and seeking out support can help you feel empowered to work on increasing your self-esteem.

These strategies are not easy – they take time, effort and practice. Remember you’re challenging beliefs that may have been around for a long time – so its important to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to change them.

Dina Tsirgielis, MA

Mental Health Therapist

CBT Psychology for Personal Development

Click here to learn 5 tips on how to stay inspired as a student.

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