Social Distancing Observations

Such an interesting time in our culture, if you can see past the fear and uncertainty. People are responding to the current COVID-19 crisis in so many different ways. Some feel the world is overreacting and so carry on with life as usual. Some are sure the world is ending and hunkering down in their bunkers. Most seem to be taking it seriously enough to stay home more, limit unnecessary trips, work from home if they are able, and are ordering everything from groceries to toilet paper online. A curious thing I noticed today is that people are acting more “Canadian”. What I mean by that is without the distractions of work, or sports, or working out, etc., we are being more of our friendly, compassionate, kind, Canadian selves.

I was out for a walk on the river with my wife today…along with all of the town it seemed. Usually the paths are nearly empty but not today. In terms of “Social Distancing”, people are being physically distant from each other, but are actually being more social. People are saying hello to each other, smiling at each other, being polite to each other, making a point to connect in a different way it seems. Of course we are keeping our distance from each other, and being careful, but there is definitely more of an intention to be friendly.

Same with cross-country skiing this afternoon…people are giving each other physical space but intentionally interacting in ways that have become less…usual. Physical space sure but actually diminishing the emotional space between us.

I find this quite refreshing actually…perhaps an upside to the otherwise taxing and stressful, not to mention, life and death for some, time we are living through. We are connecting emotionally in ways that, at our core, we are desperate for.

Emotional connectedness has been well established in the psychological literature to shore up our overall mental health. It is the antidote to loneliness which can lead to depression.

All humans want to be close to others. We need relationships that provide closeness and support. We want to give and receive love. An emotional connection occurs between people when there is an exchange of feelings and a bond is formed. We can have connections with family, friends or people in our communities..with even a simple wave, head-nod or hello.

Let’s remember to be as Canadian as we can in this time of social distancing. To care for, be kind to, and look out for one another.

Hypnotic Moments

Over the Christmas season a young man travelled from Europe to see me for help with his Chronic Pain, interested in how he might utilize Hypnosis in his management.  Coming halfway around the world to see me for hypnosis? That makes me sound important…but the truth is less impressive. He was really coming home to see family for the holidays and a friend referred him to me, and he fit me in while home…but a nice story to tell anyway.

In addition to a good story, we did actually do some great work together. Chronic pain is one of my specialty areas, working in it for the last eight years with both adults and children.  It is also something debilitating and “life-sucking” for many people.  Patients often see many health professionals in their quest for someone to take away the pain and many times are told that there is nothing that can be done…or worse…that the pain is all in their head so they should seek psychological help.  I absolutely believe that my client’s pain is real and my growing knowledge of the pain system supports the complexity of that system and our limited understanding of it.  Where psychology can be useful in the process is in helping people live their best lives despite the pain.  There are proven and effective psychological strategies for reducing the suffering that pain brings and even techniques to reduce how much pain bothers a person…..but I could talk about this for hours. 

The point I wanted to make in this is about how this young man’s commitment to himself and his openness to “alternative” therapies resulted in some beautiful moments in therapy.  He had a great imagination which helps the hypnotic process immensely. Hypnosis isn’t magic but instead is recognized as an empirically supported approach to pain control. There are many misconceptions and myths related to hypnosis made popular by television, movies, and stage hypnotists. One of the biggest likely has to do with control and the idea that the hypnotist can somehow control the subject. In reality, hypnosis can never make you do anything you do not want to do. It is not about a loss of control, but about focussed attention. Pain is also about attention and it is VERY effective at getting our attention. Hypnosis therefore can be helpful in shifting attention away from painful sensations or stimuli. It is used in surgery, dental work, burn treatment, and in a host of other medical arenas.

If there is interest I will post in the future about some of the mechanisms of hypnosis and some of the ways I use it in my psychology practice. Until then …perhaps you are finding your eyes…becoming heavier and heavier….almost as if they want to close……Good Night 🙂

Love and Logic

Did I mention I have four kids?  I think Plato said that necessity is the mother of invention.  That sure feels true when trying to remember to be intentional in parenting my own children rather than falling into reactionary parenting.  As our household has grown I have looked for ideas on parenting that are practical, helpful, and make sense.  The Love and Logic Institute has been able to maintain my attention and garner my respect (

Love and Logic reminds us that regardless of all our technological advances, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children. How can we provide this essential information? One way is by using the four basic Love and Logic ingredients. What do these ingredients offer? They give parents a practical investment strategy for building their children’s self-esteem, personal sense of responsibility, and ability to make smart choices.  This can be done in everyday life by trying our best as parents to: Build the self-concept, Share the control or decision-making, Offer empathy, then consequences, and Share the thinking and problem-solving. 

The approach is solid in its research and makes alot of sense to parents.  So check them out if you can or check back as over the next weeks and months I will blog about some of the principles and approaches of Love and Logic. I am also planning to offer a group in the Spring/Summer on “Becoming a Love and Logic Parent” so stay tuned.

Parenting at Christmas

Well I must say, adding a fourth child certainly has up’d the chaos level in our home…and just in time for Christmas.  Wren was born November 28 and while she is the easiest baby we have had, the other three have somehow become more.  For most families, kids are winding down at school and up for Christmas.  What I am quickly beginning to figure out is that my standards for “normal” are being changed daily as I observe and interact with my growing family.  I either adapt to the chaos or I will be overrun.

The folks at the Love and Logic Institute ( ask:

“What was your best Christmas as a kid? Was it the one where there was a lot of stress about a perfect meal elegantly served-on time-to a perfectly dressed family? Or was it the one where the dog pulled the turkey off the stove and dragged it away through the dog door? There was no perfect meal that day. Everyone rolled with the punches. They rolled up their sleeves and worked together in the kitchen to salvage a makeshift meal.

The beauty of that memory is not in perfection and organization, but in remembering the joy of being together and doing things together. It was the laughter. It was one of those days when the choices were to laugh or to cry, so you all laughed it off and enjoyed one another. It brought you all together in a different way.

Holidays are times for enjoying one another. We are not suggesting that you purposely feed the turkey to the pets, but we strongly suggest that an imperfect day with little stress will create better memories of loving relationships” …which in my opinion is the point of Christmas…relationship.

So to you I say, remember the reason for the season, stay consistent but most importantly be loving and patient this Christmas amidst all the chaos…and say to yourself, “At least I don’t have four kids.”

I wish you a perfectly imperfect Christmas season.


It Begins

Welcome to my new site and first post.  I have taken the plunge and am leaving the safety and security of Ridgeview Medical Centre where I have been practicing for four years.  It is bittersweet.  I have really appreciated the collegiality of the physicians and staff there.  The front end staff have been fabulous to my clients and treated me like family.  The ability to have conversations and consultations right there with the physicians about their patients when requested by my clients has been efficient and fruitful. The anonymity for my clients has been invaluable as has been the credibility the physicians have lent me.

However, there have been some limitations there.  It is a busy clinic and the physicians are busy.  Giving up a room for me during the week has been a sacrifice for them as a psychologist does not pay as much as a physician.  The rooms there are typical exam rooms and not exactly what most people expect the first time they come to see me.  There is not a great way to make an exam table disappear or function as a couch (at least the stirrups are hidden 🙂 ) The chairs are not particularly comfortable as most people use the exam table if they are there to see a physician.  As it is a busy clinic there have also been distractions for my clients in terms of hallway noise.

So, I have found some new space in with Destination Hearing, an audiologist’s office. It needs some furnishings but I think it is going to end up being a great space with natural light, privacy, and quiet. I am looking forward to receiving some feedback on the space in the coming weeks.

I also look forward to beginning this conversation…