How I Work
Therapy Is Commitment To Positive Change
My Therapeutic Approach
"Give a man a fish and he won't starve for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he won't starve for his entire life." (Chinese Proverb)
This proverb is meaningful to me in that I feel my responsibility as a therapist is to help you become your own therapist as soon as you are able.
And how do I do that?
I ask you what you want to change, what you want different in your life. That question leads to an exploration of family patterns, feelings, expectations and beliefs that may have worked for you in the past but no longer help you in present circumstances.
Therapy involves change in both your internal world (beliefs, expectations, feelings) and your external world (behavior, communication). Behavior and communication are driven by your beliefs, feelings and expectations. When you commit to positive growth in your internal world, the changes manifest themselves in your external world. Re-framing your world more positively, taking responsibility for managing your emotions and behaving in wholesome ways while under stress can't help but increase your self-esteem!
Therapeutic Modalities I Use
To help you become your own therapist as soon as possible, I have found Virginia Satir's Transformational Systemic Therapy model combined with recent neuroscience research on Mindfulness (Dr. Dan Siegel) work best. With children and adolescents, I find using drama as therapy an effective tool for change.
Satir Therapy is brief and in-depth. Following are some of Satir's beliefs that I subscribe to and that clients find helpful:
- Most people are basically good.
- Parents do the best they can at any given time. Parents often repeat the same patterns, even though they are dysfunctional, from their growing up years.
- Although external change may not always be possible, internal change is ALWAYS possible.
- You cannot change the past or the present, but you can manage the impact it has on you.
- You have inner resources and the wisdom to change and grow positively.
- The problem is not the problem; coping is the problem.
- You are the one who owns and manages your feelings.
- Appreciating and acknowledging your past helps you better manage your future.
- When stressed, you often fall back on the coping strategies used when you were growing up.
- High self-esteem manifests how wholesomely you cope under stress.
- You have choices on how to respond to different situations.
- Hope is an essential part of therapy.
Reflection is central to mindfulness (the ability to focus on our internal self using visualization, relaxation techniques, and meditation).
The ability to reflect results in:
- Responding rather than reacting
- The ability to appreciate and be kind to yourself and, thus, the ability to treat others kindly and compassionately
- The ability to manage emotions without being overwhelmed by them
- The ability to look at situations and yourselves openly and objectively rather than judgmentally
- The knowledge that your emotions, thoughts, sensations, ideas are temporary and not the totality of who you are
- The ability to take control of your thoughts and emotions rather than be driven by them
• The ability to make reasoned choices
- The ability to know what is going on inside yourselves and within others (results in empathy, compassion and resilience)
- The ability to connect with each other in wholesome ways, particularly when there are differences
Using Drama As Therapy
Children often find themselves in situations that are verbally difficult to express. Engaging in role play can help children more accurately portray the problem they are trying to resolve. Role-play is an excellent way to tease out the complexities of the situation and engage them in using their strengths and wisdom to come up with varying solutions to the problem and discover how they will "play out" in terms of positive and negative consequences.
I often use role-play and reverse role-play with teens. In "re-playing" a problematic situation, your teens can often "see" different ways of handling the situation along with the consequences, both negative and positive. Role-play often leads to discussions around feelings, beliefs, expectations and self-esteem. Teens can "see" the impact of their choices on themselves and others. The results are reflecting rather than reacting, better thinking, and higher self-esteem. Reversal role-play helps teens see the situation from the point-of-view of the "other" and increases empathy and compassion.
The richness of using any of these therapies is their experiential nature. All family members are afforded a safe place to explore and practice different ways of being and doing. And then they can transfer those learnings to the "real" world.
All of these therapeutic modalities lead to learning positive ways of being and doing. Individuals who have grown up in loving and nurturing families already have learned the basics of mindfulness. Even if that isn't the case for you, the brain has a marvelous "plasticity" about it that when you commit to practice mindfulness, the brain actually changes. Old patterns, beliefs and expectations that no longer serve you well give way to new, more constructive ways of being and doing.
A therapy session with me:
- Is non-judgmental
- Focuses on moving towards positive growth in your internal and external worlds
- Explores your family-of-origin to discover patterns, beliefs, expectations that may be blocking positive growth
- Focuses on setting positively directional goals so change, particularly internal change, can occur
- Is a commitment to change and how that commitment will be reflected in your behavior, way of coping, feelings, beliefs, and expectations
I encourage you to do your homework which helps set in motion new ways of being and doing. With commitment and consistent practice, change occurs. Old patterns disappear and new, healthier patterns take hold.
I provide a safe emotional environment for you to discuss what you would like to change in order to reach your optimum functioning. My clients tell me that I am a skilled therapist with a calm and caring demeanor who listens well and "catches" the underlying messages beneath your words. My commitment is to support, guide and encourage you as you make changes towards positive growth.
Please contact me for a free 15 minute consultation to see how these modalities can help you and members of your family cope wholesomely with anxiety, depression, loss and anger. The result for you is an emotionally healthy and unified family. You're worth it!
Judith Barnard, MSW, RSW
Registered Social Worker
I am located in Richmond, B.C. I provide therapy services for Richmond, Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area including Delta, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, and White Rock.