Aset Group Consulting & Counselling Services

Healing the Impact of Race Trauma

I attended my first Black funeral in January 2012. My beautiful grandmother had passed away a few days prior, and my mother, sister and I arrived to Port of Spain, Trinidad West Indies within a few hours. I loved my trips to Trinidad, but this one was bittersweet. Each day, before the funeral we sat in my grandmother’s home as visitors came to visit every day. The visitors brought food, told stories, prayed, played music, hugged, and connected with each other.

So after learning of Mr. Floyd’s passing, I think the world engaged in a similar experience of mourning. The world developed community, told stories, prayed, shouted hymns, and marched. People all around the world highlighted that anti-Black racism continues to exist, and that the lives of Black children, youth and adults remain in danger across the world, and #BlackLivesMatter. In the days after Mr. Floyd’s passing, the world became divided, but also unified. The work that was started centuries ago, is now entering another process. It is also stirring up the impact of race trauma.

I discovered that I was Black, well actually, referred to in the traditional slave master terminology in a kindergarten playground in junior kindergarten. I was 4. Race is a social construct. Someone decided to create the concept of “race”. When this occurred, someone decided to divide people based on colour, into categories of superiority and inferiority. Thus, whiteness became superior. Whiteness came with unearned privileges, that those considered inferior could not participate in. Whiteness defined the way of being for the world. Thus, at 4 years old, I was indoctrinated to know that I was inferior, I was “less than”, and “not good enough” than everyone else.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

As a four year old, this experience shaped the next 40 years of my life. And now, as I write this article, I reflect back on how the constant name calling, belittling, microaggression, avoidance, lack of mentorship, isolation, ignoring, silencing, exclusion, misunderstanding, disregarding, mocking, petting, gaslighting perpetuated on me. This truly impacted my sense of self worth, my disconnection from my identity and my culture, my opportunities for the “Canadian Dream”, my relationships with others and the ability to form trusting relationships, and so much more. Race trauma creates further post traumatic stress that can lead to symptoms such as chronic physical pain, depression, anger, anxiety, disease, unhelpful thinking patterns, substance use, lack of motivation, mood disorders, hyper vigilance, night terrors and flashbacks, repeated traumas, and more. And, I have not even started to discuss: intergenerational trauma, health inequities, gender inequality, disproportionate involvement with child welfare, educational penal systems and the criminal justice systems which are intertwined and intersected with race.

Today, the world is focusing on highlighting that anti-Black racism is not a political issue but an undeniable human right to not experience racism. Nevertheless, the impact of race trauma exists for Black people across the diaspora and our world. Our white counterparts watched in horror as Mr. Floyd was murdered by the systems, and Black people could only cry and turn their heads. There was no way I could watch the horror show. Instead I cried. I cried for my ancestors. My grandparents. My parents, aunties, uncles and elders of my community. I cried for my child. My child clients and the many youth in my life. I cried for my cousins. My cousins. I cried for my nephews and the unborn children. Our lives are forever shaped because of whiteness, white privilege, racism, hate, inferiority, and injustice.

During a session, I was asked, “can you tell me some tips on how to deal with racism at work?”. I said and I always say, “it is ridiculous, that I have to tell you how to deal with racism.”. This angers me. We should not have to tell the oppressed how they should accept their oppression, and stand in complacency to the injustices of racism. But we do. We need to heal. All I know is that, I can not cry for us any longer.

If there was a step, this is STEP 1:

Take good care of yourself

Put yourself first. Develop a self-care routine. Ensure your needs are met. Create space for your emotional needs. Attend counselling. Learn to say no. No. Be mindful of your body’s needs. Reduce your work when you can. Take time off. Take your vacations… travel or stay home or do nothing. Exercise. Invest in your friends and close connections. Embrace Joy. Show love to yourself and others. Be kind, compassionate, and find other values as rooted into your foundation. Practice mindfulness. Take good care of you.

Build a supportive community

Do you know the phrase, “it takes a village”. It really does. Your village is your people of friends, aunties and uncles, mentors and elders who guide you along your way. Invest in these key relationships to provide you the support you require. Choose wisely. Not all elders are made for you. Choose people in your life who shares your values, your belief systems, and can inspire you to be your best self. A key piece to healing trauma is social engagement, relationships, and positive life experiences.

Create Positive Life Experiences

I may not have had many positive memories at elementary school. But I had a wealth of positive life experiences at home, at my church, my aunties homes, and my travels to the United States with family. When I reflect upon my past, I remember these experiences as though they were experienced yesterday. Positive life experiences helps to re frame the messages of self and identity that Black people receive from their educators, their employers, in the community, in the media and on television, and the whiteness culture. Positive experiences reaffirm that you are, “good”. You are worthy. You are loved and appreciated. Life is pleasant and can be joyful. You are apart of something greater. Finally, creating positive life experiences builds your overall resiliency which further builds your health and mental wellness.

Incorporating a healthier way of being focusing on healing the impact of trauma, and protecting yourself from further harm.

  • Depersonalize microaggressions, implicit bias and explicit bias- recognize when you experience one or more of the aggression. Identify when this occurs and identify how you feel about the incident. Use your voice, and advocate for what you need in the moment. Respond to your need. Seek support.
  • Enhance compassion towards yourself- when you notice, hear, or experience race trauma towards yourself and to others, accept that this experience can bring pain and hurt. Show compassion and kindness towards yourself.
  • Mental wellness is similar to emotional health, physical wellness, and spirituality. Thus, treat each of these areas as part of your overall wellness. Seek counselling and support when you need to with a counsellor or psychotherapist who is experienced in race trauma. Adopt a wellness routine for your mental health that incorporates what you need to stay healthy.
  • Redefine your identity. Create a narrative that better fits with your definition of your self-worth, your inner value, and your limitless greatness. My Brother. My Sister. Create an identity that you embrace for yourself. And if you need help to do so, seek support. The world has leaders and mentors waiting to support you to be the best version of yourself.
  • Give back. Many people can not use their voice at work for fear of demotion or losing their jobs. However, this fear can impact our abilities to address the racism we experience in our lives. Thus, if you can’t use your voice at work find alternate ways to use your voice to empower yourself in safe, healthier spaces. This may include mentoring young people, joining political campaigns, volunteering in Black-led organizations or community Boards, and so much more.
  • You are not the spokesperson for the Black race. Employers are trying to “reach out” to Black staff and managers to engage in courageous conversations for their own guilt. If you are not well enough or even care to engage in those conversations, don’t. There are so much resources and equity subject matter experts that your employer can hire to support the company. You are not being paid to “counsel” the oppressor on how they feel about being oppressed. Just say no, politely.
  • Be mindful of chasing the “Canadian dream”… while the white picket fences, the household of four people, the heterosexual parents, and the yearly vacations at the cottage drinking Bud Light(R) and swatting Black flies may seem appealing to the mainstream culture, this may not be your dream, your journey, or what you need in your life. Chase your own dream and journey. Create your own perfect home filled with love, and the values you desire. Engage in activities that make you feel joy, without the tension of never having enough.
  • Embrace spirituality– spirituality is not religion. I stopped religion in 2000, after the Pastor refused to Christian my daughter because I was unmarried but still in a relationship with my daughter’s father. It was also the time after my parents lost their home, their careers, and the church never even bothered to “check” on their safety. In this way, religion created barriers for acceptance and inclusion, and religion failed to protect those it served. However, my spirituality was and will never tie into a religious center. My spirituality was tied into my soul, my belief systems, my inner being, my purpose for being on this planet, and my strength. I gather strength from my spirituality. Thus, whether you practice a religion, attend a religious place or gathering, or do not engage in any of those activities, embrace your spiritual being. If you need support, connect with a spiritual leader, an elder of your community, a psychotherapists skilled in spirituality, and books/podcasts/discussions that will support your spiritual growth.
  • Create safe places to share your experiences of race trauma. This may exist among your friends, a Facebook Group of 20, 000 people, or within counselling. It is important to feel safe to express your feelings without being silenced or re-traumatized.
  • Practice mindfulness. While taking care of yourself, practice being mindful and present with your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Be mindful of the pain you may hold within, as well as the emotional responses you tend to suppress.
  • Listen to music, podcasts, and use the arts as a way to express how you feel, and your experiences. Music is essential to healing trauma as it creates and instigates unconscious brain transformations and healing.
  • The use of drumming, dance, art expression, photography and other art forms is highly encouraged and supported.
  • Physical exercise has been shown to improve mood, circulation, weight management, and depression. Research shows that as little as 20 minutes per day is helpful for physical health. For race trauma, exercise can help to reduce the stress hormones, “cortisol” which can impact our abilities to make decisions, recall information, and analyze data.
  • Massages and physical touch can release body tension held by race trauma and associated emotions. Invest in massage therapy as a way to release body toxins and tension to help with relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness.

We are Kings and Queens and People

destined for greatness and to meet our human counterparts as people. People deserving to exercise the rights and privileges of humanity. I do have a dream. While we should not have to heal from racism, we do. Race trauma creates post traumatic stress which passes down from generations. We need to create space, and recognize that our healing is central to this process.

Surviving Learning-from-Home for Learners

Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services hosts placement students from graduate schools across Canada and the United States. The graduate placement students play a fundamental role in supporting wellness therapists to provide a holistic, family systems intervention and provide counselling services to individuals and couples in need of subsidized services. Our graduate placements ended abruptly on March 20, 2020 due to COVID-19 and physical distancing measures. The following cohort of students started in May 2020, and they quickly had to adapt to a “lean from home” environment while providing teletherapy. As graduate students, this process may not have caused the impact that it did for elementary and high school students across the nation, but it did create a learning curve they were required to address in a short time.

Now in their 3rd week, our graduate staff Jordanna and Samantha provided a brief summary of how they have coped with the transition.

Tips and Strategies

for students & learners

Keep Your Morning Routine

The act of getting ready in the morning, getting dressed, making your favourite drink and starting your day allows you to get into the headspace for your workday. Although you are not leaving the house, sticking to your routine as if you were heading to the office/school will increase productivity.

Establish a Functional Workspace

Set up a dedicated work/learning environment to partake in your online course or work from home duties. Determine what space lends yourself to greater productivity and the least distractions (no loud noises). Try to stay away from working in your bedroom as it could make you feel less motivated to work.

Structure Your Day as you Would in the Office/Classroom

When you are at home you do not have the same cues to take a break that you would while at the office or at school. Some of these ques may be a coffee break, a meeting, recess, or scheduled periods. Create a schedule that is similar to your work/school day to make sure you are not overworking yourself and taking healthy breaks. 

Limit Social Media

Being at home can make it easier to get distracted by social media. Scrolling through your friend’s feed can for a minute can last for an hour. One tip is to logout of all your social media accounts before you start your day.undefined


Communicate with Instructor or Colleagues/Manager

Messages about roles and responsibilities can sometimes get lost in translation when working or studying remotely. Which can make receiving instructions unclear at times. Be sure to connect regularly with your instructor or manager to ask questions. Without being able to walk over to their office, or to a teacher’s desk it can be difficult to ask questions. Ensure you ask questions regularly and schedule meetings to have your questions answered.

Make Time for Social Interaction

Considering the social distancing precautions, many people are feeling isolated and lonely. However, social interaction can still happen while you’re at home. One way to do this while working from home is to set up regular check-ins with your team or manager that allows you to not only provide progress updates, but also sort through any problems or brainstorm ideas. For students, you can also set up video chat calls with your friends using Facetime, Zoom, or other online tools.

Practice Self-Care

Thriving through change is tough, so it is important to practice self-care. Make time to do things you enjoy such as talking to friends, reading, exercising, or anything that makes these new challenges easier to deal with.


Additional Online Resources

If you are seeking alternate resources, the internet has not slept. Here are a few additional reads I have found:

The Government of Canada has produced a website on the Coronavirus Disease. The website provides information about the statistics, your physical health, travel restrictions, and safety. The information on this website is factual, and will help with navigating false news and information.

I was honoured to participate in an online summit hosted by Canadian Wellness 4 Families Webinar. The webinar, Promoting Empathy and Resilience in the Family, identified common myths and strategies associated with parenting, and provided strategies for building resiliency in the family addressing the impact of COVID-19. To connect with the website and other brilliant webinars produced see: Canadian Wellness 4 Families.

In consideration of widespread acknowledgement of the disparities of Black people in COVID-19, and with greater light on human injustices due to anti-Black racism, this document was produced called, Resources for Black Healing and Support for the Greater Toronto Region.

How Parents can Help Children Through Traumatic Events was written to support parents and caregivers to support their children during the current pandemic, and with other life altering experiences. The acclaimed writer uses a child-focused, attachment and resiliency-based approach to supporting children in healthy ways and to reduce complex factors in the future.

We definitely can tell stories about our multiple quarantine experiences when COVID-19 had led to extreme physical distancing measures. I watched this video multiple times to see vignettes on how this family managed: The New Normal In Quarantine


Other articles by Aset Group Consulting & Counselling Services


Wellness for the “Healing” Professionals

As healing professionals, where by you provide services as a physician, personal support worker, psychotherapist, social worker, nurse or more Mental Wellness begins with you to promote mental wellness, and to ground your own work in a strong foundation. Many times, it is difficult to accomplish given the demands of the work we do.

Managing as a Health Care Professional

Throughout one’s career as a healthcare professional there are many influences whether that be internal or external factors that can contribute to stress in the field. These stressors can adversely affect not only one’s mental health but can also have physical health consequences.  Brunero et al. (2006) defined stress as, “the emotional and physical response you experience when you perceive an imbalance between demands placed on you and your recourses at a time when coping is important”. In essence, this means that one may experience stress when faced with an event or situation that is challenging our ability to cope with the occurrence. At this moment in time, there has been a great demand for change within the lives of many due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Common Symptoms of Stress in Health Professionals

 Fear and anxiety with this pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions not only in adults but to children as well (CDC, 2020). Although many people have different ways of reacting to stress some of the most common symptoms that people can present during an outbreak include the following: (1) Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones; (2) Changes in sleep or eating patterns;(3) Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;(4) Worsening of chronic health problems;(5) Worsening of mental health conditions;(6) Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs (CDC, 2020). Being able to recognize when our coping mechanisms are being challenged and knowing the supports that are being provided can significantly reduce the risk of stress and provide aid in managing.

In essence, this means that one may experience stress when faced with an event or situation that is challenging our ability to cope with the occurrence. At this moment in time, there has been a great demand for change within the lives of many due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Be mindful of these possible reactions….

Increase in anxiety and phobia

Throughout this period of time, there are many who are affected by fear and worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones. Over time these fears may develop into anxiety and phobias and can have lasting effects after there has been a decrease in pandemic and quarantine restrictions. A phobia is defined as “the persistent fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes the sufferer to want to avoid it (Dryden-Edwards, 2018)”. There are many self-help strategies for overcoming fear and anxiety about health, especially when it stops us from being able to leave our home. However, although it is encouraged to get fresh air, maintaining physical distancing during this time can aid one in balancing the concern for their health as well as the need to spend time outdoors (which is also beneficial to our physical and mental health). Some of the self-help strategies for overcoming fear of leaving the house include

  • learning and practicing relaxation techniques;
  • Identify those things causing you the most stress;
  • Take into consideration only facts provided from credible resources;
  • Practice systematic desensitization alone or with support of a family member.
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

Increase in Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

There are other common issues that may arise with health care professionals and one of the most common is Health care professional burnout. Prolonged deficiency in self‐care strategies can place helping professionals at risk of burnout and compassion fatigue. Self care strategies during times where there may be more seeking aid and therapy can cause clinicians and other care professionals an overwhelming amount of compassion fatigue. This compassion fatigue and burnout can be combated by different self care tips. Although there are many different aids out there, here are a few self-care tips to keep in mind according to Therapist Aid (2020):

  1. Self-care means taking time to do things you enjoy. Usually, self-care involves everyday activities that you find relaxing, fun, or energizing. These activities could be as simple as reading a book, or as big as taking a vacation.
  2. Self-care also means taking care of yourself. This means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, caring for personal hygiene, and anything else that maintains good health.
  3. Set specific goals. It’s difficult to follow through with vague goals, such as “I will take more time for self-care”. Instead, try something specific, such as “I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner”.
  4. Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don’t need a major obligation to say “no” to others— your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else’s.
  5. A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care. Set an alarm reminding you to take regular breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block, or an uninterrupted snack. Oftentimes, stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return.

Investing in Our Mental Health

It is important during this time that health care professionals take time to prioritize their own mental health and well being, while at the same time “recognizing that it is more difficult to provide outstanding care for others when you are not adequately cared for yourself (Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 2020).” The ability for a health care professional to acknowledge their feelings is crucial in the maintaining of overall well being. It is advised that professionals do routine check ins with themselves by asking questions such as “Am I OK?”, “If not who can I ask for help?”. One can consider seeking help by speaking to a supervisor, manager or colleague to determine what the best course of action can be and what some employers may offer as an aid, such as an Employee Assistance Program.  Another factor that could influence the overall well being of health care professionals is ensuring an adequate number of hours dedicated to sleep and rest. Many studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration (Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 2020), which can affect not only work performance but can cause strain in relationships with friends and family. The World Health Organization has advised that throughout this outbreak, we are to draw on skills that we have used in the past that have helped push through previous life adversities, and to use those skills to manage some challenging emotions during this time.


Walking with our people through their pain

As a helping professional, being able to understand how others are being impacted can help us provide them with options that can help them better cope with some of their stressors. There are many areas that can cause a lot of individuals stress during this pandemic, one of the most significant being finances and the fear of closing of many business and jobs for an extended period of time.

The Government of Canada has been taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians who are facing hardship, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new set of economic measures to aid in the stabilization of the economy during this challenging period. “These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses (Department of Finance Canada, 2020).” The Government of Canada has recognized that students and recent graduates are being significantly affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, in March 2020, the number of post-secondary working students, aged 15-29, dropped by 28% from February 2020 (Department of Finance Canada, 2020). An investment was made by the Canadian government of $9 billion towards its COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan that will help Canadian students and recent graduates overcome these challenges and support their future success (Department of Finance Canada, 2020). Completed by: Lidia

For more articles of interest read: Empowering Superhero Children


References:

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. (2020). COVID-19 – Mental health & wellbeing for healthcare professionals. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://www.aomrc.org.uk/covid-19-mentalwellbeing/

Brunero, S., Cowan, D., Grochulski, A. & Garvey, A. (2006). Stress Management for Nurses. Camperdown, NSW, Australia: New South Wales Nurses’ Association.

CDC. (2020, April 30). Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Department of Finance Canada. (2020, April 01). Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

Department of Finance Canada. (2020, May 11). Support for Students and Recent Graduates Impacted by COVID-19. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/support-for-students-and-recent-graduates-impacted-by-covid-19.html

Dryden-Edwards, R. (2018, November 12). Phobia Definition, List of Types, Causes & Treatment. Retrieved May 14, 2020, from https://www.medicinenet.com/phobias/article.htm

Therapist Aid. (2020). Self-Care Tips (Worksheet). Retrieved May 15, 2020, from https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/self-care-tips/stress/none

Healing Pain with Love

The title of this post is, Healing Pain with Love. It seems odd that a psychotherapist would suggest that love is an intervention for addressing grief and loss, anger, incarceration, violence, trauma, disease and illness and other forms of pain that brings thousands of people to counselling every day. Researchers have spent centuries searching for answers to address these experiences that pull a strain on our mental and emotional wellness, and create a plethora of unpleasant and unhelpful pain. So brace yourself for the hardest simplicity approach to healing.

This year, started out difficult. A family member passed away earlier in the year, and due to distance the experience of gathering and fellowship with family was not possible. A few days, another family member was murdered. I have walked with many community members who lost family members to gun violence, and their pain, my pain, and my family’s pain became intensified. Then COVID-19 ravished through the United States and Canada as quickly as the beginning of March leading to a full physical distancing measures by March 26, 2020. I had the privilege of guiding and supporting nurses, and family members who lost someone to the disease. In the process, another family member began to struggle with the disease that progressed very quickly. As I supported the community, I also felt grief, loss, trauma, sadness, fear, and so much more.

And that was not even it! So many families became disrupted because of pending divorce and separation plans, family violence, youths’ behaviors increased with the home such as child exploitation, AWOL, family arguments and fighting, conflict with custody arrangements, workplace stress and harassment, and so much more. Given the perplexities inherent in our lives and in 2020, how can we expect that we can heal our pain with LOVE. What does love got to do with any of it?

Why Love? I think the first explanation is obvious. My family came together over the grief of the loss and began to truly communicate with each other in an authentic way. This is how angels get the chance to do their magic, I believe. We bonded as we rallied together for justice, but also reached out to those on the outskirts to share our love and compassion for each other. I noticed that my many friends on Facebook (R) have done the same as their friends rallied to support them as they announced deaths’, illnesses, job losses, anxiety and trauma, and other difficult life experiences. This support is also seen in the larger world stage where artists perform free online concerts and establish funding campaigns to support essential workers, children and families living in poverty, shelters, and other people impacted by COVID-19. Giving love to others brings the feeling of love back into our hearts and can motivate us to make any changes which we to see in ourselves.

What does love got to do, got to do with it?

Sung by Tina Turner

In the spirit of love, I am wondering and hoping that we can further begin to listen to each other. We all have had our own experiences with grief, with pain, and with navigating COVID-19, but do we really have an opportunity to share our experiences with others. Many times, our stories become lost because there are many people who share similar stories. Other times, in our desire to connect with others we connect our own stories, sometimes not pausing enough to hear our teller’s stories. Or, we are uncomfortable. We are uncomfortable with the feeling that comes with listening to another persons’ pain, and we try to fix the pain by creating a solution. But, I don’t think we have solutions. Unless, there is a cure for COVID-19 and other diseases which threaten our lives. There is no solution for murder. I don’t think my life will ever be the same. There is no solution for death, and not being able to share with family members in the memorial. Most times, listening can ease the sufferer’s pain, as so eloquently put by Thich Nnat Hanh. You may not be able to “correct” or change how they feel, but listening can help them feel better. For many people who experience difficulties regulating their emotions, they report higher outcomes of success if they are in an environment were people validate their experiences. Validation reminds us that we are okay, our feelings are okay, and others can support you through your feelings. By disregarding, minimizing, and invalidating another’s experience you also dis-empower them and reinforce to them that they can not manage their emotions.

I use this video to guide couples on their journey to enhance their communication, their listening, and support for each other in their relationship. It is the same principle that is grounded in how we can show love to others.

Compassion, is part of healing pain with love. After listening to essential workers describe their experience with COVID-19, I heard their pain and suffering through their words and tears. I had to generate a way to help them move forward from their pain, and find ways to experience greater joy and peace. I chose compassion. Compassion is not just how we feel for others, but it is also about how we feel about ourselves. For nurses, and personal support workers they show compassion by holding the hands of the unwell person or following their families’ wishes for them. They treat the unwell person with kindness and compassion. We also need to commit the same care towards ourselves. Self-compassion is difficult, and takes a while before we can truly intentionally demonstrate love towards ourselves. Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion Site provides a wealth of examples. I am including some of my favorite ways to develop self-compassion.

Be your best friend. Be careful of your thoughts as they direct your feelings and your behavior. Create space for thoughts that exemplify your goodness as a human, your worthiness on this planet, and your greater purpose in this life. Know that you define excellence, and your excellence is defined by your definition. Your beauty is within your physical and inner features, and that when you look upon yourself, you radiate love and compassion.

Embrace. Aspects of your life may not demonstrate the perfection that you desire, but be okay to embrace the perfection in other areas of your life Nurture and develop your strengths, your creativity and unique sense of self. If you feel disconnected, try new things. Embrace new possibilities of love, joy and compassion within your heart.

Practice Mindfulness, learn to find moments where you can find stillness, where you can listen to your thoughts, and you can allow your body to feel. Become attuned to your breath, the emotions generate your body, and your state of mind. End your mindfulness practice with gratitude. Demonstrate gratitude for pain, as well as joy. In the correct balance of life, pain is as helpful to your strength and peace of mind as joy. Let that sit with you for a minute.


Empathy fuels connection. Brene Brown is a researcher and social worker, who has written self-help books on shame and empathy. According to Brown, empathy is the ability to: to be able to see the world as others see it… to be nonjudgmental… to connect with another person’s feelings” (Brown, 2013). In sessions, I am filled with emotion as I imagine myself walking alongside that person through their pain and suffering. I recall a time that I felt those feelings clients have felt: shame, sadness, frustrations, anger, love, joy, and so many more. In my process of connecting, I imagine what I would need if I had to go through those emotions again. I would want someone to understand, to not pass judgement, to give me my space to feel, and to remind me that I am “worthy”. I think that we can do the same for ourselves. By showing ourselves empathy, we acknowledge that we also escape judgement, but rather receive our own understanding and support. Empathy is an important skill for emotional intelligence. In emotional intelligence, we learn further on how to distinguish when someone else is projecting their own inner pain on us and we further learn how to demonstrate forgiveness towards others in a more helpful way.

According to Brown, empathy is the ability to: to be able to see the world as others see it… to be nonjudgmental… to connect with another person’s feelings

Brene Brown, 2013

When it comes with other people, such as family members sometimes forgiveness is harder to do, in order to move forward. When you carry pain that others have projected upon you, how do you set aside that pain? You may not be able to come to terms with the person directly, but showing yourself self-compassion that this painful healing will take time.

And it will. For my clients and family members who have lost someone due to murder or negligence, allow your love in your family to heal the loss you feel. For my clients and family members who have lost someone due to COVID-19, or any other disease connect with each other virtually to support and guide each other towards healing. Demonstrate the “gifts of love” through holding another through their pain. For my clients and family members dealing with children or adults in their lives struggling with their behavior, their emotions, their choices, addictions, incarceration, and so much more, guide their healing through unconditional support and love. When we act out of our pain, we create hurt for other people. It is not intentional, but it is how we perceive we are doing the best to help us survive. Empathy teaches us that we also have felt this way in our own lives, and we can understand that one may choose multiple options to escape from that pain. Similarly, compassion allows us to accept that we are all human on this planet, and we don’t have the rule book to successfully living. Just suggestions that worked for some people.

Here are my suggestions:

In some African communities, when a member of the community is in trouble, they gather their family members together and they hold an intervention. Not an American style intervention. An African style. They tell their family member how much they love them, how much potential they feel that they could achieve, how special they are, and how they are there to help them. They agree to provide them support to help them onto their journey. I remember sitting at a legal meeting with an Indigenous elder who shared a similar approach in helping a community member. The elder looked beyond her behavior, and focused on the pain that she was holding. The pain that led her to hurt others, trying to support her. Address hurt with empathy. Use love and connection to guide others to reflect and change their behavior. Create a circle of love around the harmed family member. Establish clear, loving boundaries to protect yourself and your own healing through this process.

Connect as a family to talk, debrief, rally around and support family members who are struggle. Arrange “Skype” or “Zoom” calls once per week to connect. Use humor and social engagement, to help ease the impact of the hurt within the family. Again, love. Reach out to family members who are “quieter”, and who may not seek out for support. Send messages of love, humor, prayer or whatever messages you require to support each other. Keep vigilant. Supervise and observe those who are vulnerable to their hurt feelings. Continue to demonstrate your support. Support does not necessarily mean that you don’t instill healthy boundaries. Invest in your own self-care strategies, self-compassion, and protection so that you can continue to be present for others. This is very important for nurses, personal support workers and millions of essential workers throughout the world. Make sure that you re-set your cup each and every time you experience drain from supporting other. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak with the community, and to share in your pain. While our offices remain closed until at least June 30, 2020, we continue to provide individual, couple and family counselling and no-cost virtual support groups. Contact us today!

Navigating Grief

Grief has a way of showing up in our lives at the most unexpected times. Sometimes, we can plan for the grieving process. Such as a planned change of employment, a move to a new community, or a family member dying of cancer. Other times, grief is sudden, unexpected, unwarranted, unplanned, devastating, and traumatic. In this way, grief is unexpected. It can send us into a place we never knew where we could be. It can change the course of our journey and our life forever.

As a psychotherapist, I “dance” with grief in my shallow office doors in a room with a couch, a blanket, a table and a box of Kleenex. I can listen to someone or a family express their grief, and I feel their pain, their hurt, and their sorrow. I can escort them back home, and say a prayer in my heart for their healing. I can write my notes, and close the door to their experience and their impact upon me. But when I am not working. When I leave the door, I am reminded of my own same fear of grief, of pain, of loss, sorrow and more. Even as a psychotherapist, or a major NBA star, or a father of two beautiful children, or whichever role we play or whichever journey exists in our life, we will experience grief.

We are not “immune” to grief as it is part of the human journey. But with grief, comes healing in different forms, in different people, in opportunities, and in continuing to live”


Healing from Grief

Honestly speaking, our journeys will bring us healing in different ways. Healing may come from our upbringing and how we were raised. It may come from our cultural background, and the traditions that are cultivated to help people heal. It may come from engagement with people in multiple ways. It may come from further experiences, whether difficult or positive. It depends. However, we can steer the direction of our healing with information and tools designed to help us navigate the process in the best way and to avoid re-traumatization. Re-traumatization occurs when we engage in other behaviors and activities that lead us to experience more difficult events and trauma as a result of our grief. Each grief process requires a different approach and journey, and as we tap into our own “self-identity”, we can learn to adapt to the best process that works for us.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

When a difficult experience occurs in your life, ACKNOWLEDGE that the event occurred, write down or identify your initial feelings about the event, and decide what you need in the moment to “take care” of those feelings. For example, in 2008 I experienced a significant loss when I took an educational leave from my beloved employment. I loved my work and what I was doing and was not ready for the change. However, I knew that there were significant events which had threatened my job security and I needed to make improvements in my practice to remain active within the field. It was difficult. I felt angry, sad, disappointed, hurt, nervous, excited and a range of many difficult emotions. I remember experiencing changes in my thoughts, changes in how I felt about myself and my situation, and changes in my behavior. This was grief. By recognizing that you are experiencing grief, take the time to assess: how am I reacting? what emotions and feelings am I experiencing now? has there been changes in my behavior? why am I feeling this way, and finally: what do I need? In the situation I described, I did not need my hurt or pain to “go away”. I would have loved it if I did not have these feelings. However, these emotions are inevitable with job changes, moves, death of a loved one, relationship breakups, miscarriages, and more. I needed to focus on how can I RELIEVE the pain I feel now, and how can I create OPPORTUNITIES from my experiences of grief.

Relieving grief…

In healing grief, I truly believe in the adherence to an holistic approach to healing using the four quadrants: spirituality (our beliefs, our higher purpose, and our meaning to life), physical (our bodies, our behavior, and our activities), emotional (our feelings, emotions, and heart), and mental (our knowledge, our experiences, our wisdom).


Develop a practice of spirituality…

When we talk about spirituality, many people often assume we refer to God or Christian faith. While myself and many people may ascribe to a faith-based practice, it is only a part of spirituality. Even those who ascribe to no faith-based practice, i.e. atheists have an existence of spirituality. As you move through your healing, ask yourself: what are your beliefs about grief, loss and change? What does your inner being or your inner soul need to feel at peace? What meaning do you ascribe to when it comes to death, loss, change, and more? Are your beliefs challenged now that you have experienced this loss? Engaging in physical activities, becoming mindful of the impact of grief on your bodies, and reflecting upon your behavior… will help you to address your physical needs in the healing process. Sometimes this may include: walking, mindfulness practices, exercises, yoga, swimming, meditation, breathing, dancing, pow wows, cannabis and medication, naturopathy, massage therapy, physiotherapy and cranosacrial therapy, and so much more.

Become mindful of the impact of grief on our bodies, and engage in activities that allow us to use our bodies as our way of healing.

To commemorate my healing and transformation, I used the Adrinka symbol, “Sesa Wo Suban” as a tattoo and later as the symbol for Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services. I learned that change occurs as part of our life journey, and grieving can occur as a result of this change. I accept that I grieve, and we all grieve as humans. We also can not control or stop hurtful experiences, sometimes. And, I learned to radically accept some of the most difficult experiences that occurred to me, my close people, my clients, and the world. This knowledge is how our MINDS (Mental Being) heals from the trauma associated with grief. Knowledge is critical. Find a way to learn about yourself and your experience through books, podcasts, writing, videos, speaking to others, counselling or psychotherapy, speaking to elders or religious leaders and more. Feed your healing process with knowledge, knowing that knowledge will help to support your SPIRIT, your BODY, and your FEELINGS.

I just need you to understand, “I am hurting”

Speaking your truth, talking about your pain, identifying your emotions, and sharing your experiences is a powerful way of finding your peace as you navigate through your grieving process. Many of us try to move on, bury our emotions in the sand, lock away our pain and refuse to address how we feel. Grief has a way of finding itself manifested throughout our lives in different ways. While painful and difficult, I encourage you to seek ways to express this pain in healthy ways as you move through these experiences. Knowing that grief is shared by each human being on this planet, let us navigate this process together and in support and solidarity of each other.


Written by: Nicole Perryman – I am honored to share my thoughts with you on grief on Monday, January 27 2020. If you require support, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance from your closest people, your mentor or elder, your counsellor, or even to us. I wish you well on your journey and I am sending you wishes for continued opportunities for healing.

Program Officer

Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services is a counselling practice located in Durham Region that provides a holistic and anti-oppressive service for adults, children/youth, families, and couples.  The organization works in collaboration with a non-profit, Ifarada: Centre for Excellence to develop programs for youth, and community members.  We are currently seeking a Program Officer to provide support with our organizations in a virtual capacity.  The program officer is responsible for building and developing the current marketing strategy and program initiatives.

Title: Program Officer

Type: Full-time (30 hours), summer experience program

Deadline for Application: June 5, 2020

Start date: June 15, 2020- August 31, 2020

Hours of work: 11 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday

Position Details:

  • Develop and execute marketing initiatives and strategies, create monthly online newsletters and information, collect, and organize current networks and expand network through social media presence and information, and prepare organization subscribers
  • Develop and produce website content and information, edit webpages, promote website across social media platforms
  • Edit and produce webinar and online workshop videos and information websites, and develop video-based content
  • Create and design marketing tools and promotion materials, create a comprehensive media package for events and to promote community businesses
  • Support and assist the Executive Director and team with initiatives and activities
  • Attend online networking and information events to gather information and research
  • Collect research data, articles, and documents for the website and future granting applications.

Education: 

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (coursework in Advanced Placement (AP), Academic/University Course stream, and/or Media Arts courses)
  • Enrolled in an Undergraduate Degree in Arts and Science in an related discipline 
  • Recent graduate of a College or University

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Knowledge of Black, South Asian, and Indigenous families and the impact of systematic oppression upon the lives of the community and families
  • Establish strategic relationship within the community, 
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills and confidence dealing with management 
  • A reputation for resourcefulness with a strong sense of accountability and initiative 
  • Independent thinker who is highly motivated and can work independently 
  • Degree of professionalism with outstanding ability to work effectively with a team
  • Demonstrated ability to apply creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness to work 
  • Ability to handle details with a high degree of accuracy and to organize and prioritize a high volume of work to meet deadlines 
  • Advanced computer skills and knowledge
  • Ability to use software to edit video content, such as Adobe, Microsoft Suite
  • Ability to use online program such as, Word Press, Mail Chimp
  • French language certification (an asset)
  • Access to a computer and internet access (an asset)

To Apply, send email to: info@asetgroup.ca

All applications must include:

  • Cover letter of Interest
  • Resume
  • Three written references (contact information included)
  • Valid Police Check & Vulnerable Sector Check
  • Copy of OSSD and degree (if applicable)
  • Recent unofficial transcript (if enrolled in University)

De-Stress Tips for Front Line Workers

A year ago, I remember standing in a crowd of Raptors fans waiting hours for the champion team, the  Lawrence O’Brien trophy, and of course, Drake to stroll by in the parade. Now, several months later our world has changed drastically. Many of us speculate that our “new normal” will last two years, others claim that we need a vaccine first, and others are optimistic that Fall 2020 will resume as usual. Whatever the outcome is, our mental wellness is as crucial as our physical wellness and avoidance of the deadly and unpredictable disease. Over the past few months, mental wellness has been the forefront of our conversations. But, as a front line worker, it is customary for us to facilitate a conversation that we struggle to have within ourselves. According to Jones of CTV News (2020), front-line workers are at a greater risk of mental health struggles.


Due to the greater risks in contracting the disease, front line workers are experiencing greater levels of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and worry. In addition to fears about contracting the virus, front line workers must worry about passing on the virus to their families. With these many stressors, front line workers are at significant risk of developing mental health issues once the pandemic has passed. Indeed, high stress levels were experienced by 68% of front line workers during the SARS epidemic, two years after which front line workers expressed greater levels of anxiety, depression, professional burnout, and traumatic stress, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (n.d.).

What can front line workers do??

To manage their elevated stress and anxiety levels, hopefully preventing or reducing the incidence of mental health issues post-pandemic, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (n.d.) reviews three helpful strategies:

Time to Slow Down

COVID-19 is a prolonged threat that can cause chronic activation of the fight, flight, or freeze system. This hyper arousal comes with tense muscles and an increased heart rate that is designed to increase our chances of survival in the short-term. In the long-term, however, prolonged activation leads to fatigue, restlessness, and trouble focusing. Hence, the importance of slowing down this threat response when confronted with chronic stress. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), front line workers can practice slowing down by learning to notice and name their thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.

I think part of my self care has been not watching the news. I prefer not to be bombarded by this illnesses. Think it’s causing a lot of stress for many.

Andrew, Wellness Therapist

Embracing Healthy Habits


When we are worried, anxious, on high alert, and experience trauma as a result of the pandemic, our bodies natural response is to remain in high alert. In this aroused state, we are in high alert waiting for the worst case scenario to occur. After watching the news from December 2019 to January 2020, I felt constantly inundated with bad news within our country and the world. I began to expect that life will continue to become difficult, and noticed that I started to change my behavior into survival mode. Then, when the pandemic happened throughout our world, I found it very difficult to maintain my same routine. However, our bodies are build for survival. So our responses, are normal reactions to abnormal experiences.

Sleep, regular eating, and exercise is known to significantly affect mental health.
Unfortunately, they are some of the first factors to get disrupted by stress. It’s important for front line workers to maintain healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise habits as much as possible
during times of high stress (Sali). But be kind to yourself. If you are not able to sleep, understand that this is part of the journey. Adjust your sleeping habits to meet your needs. Eat as healthy as you can, but show kindness to yourself for the days when you just need your comfort food. Cake anyone? Chips? Popcorn, anyone. And, start exercise with something small. I signed up for a free trial of Fitbit, and with the money I saved from gym fees I opened my own makeshift gym in my basement. Every morning, I try to complete one 30 minute workout per day. This workout has done wonders in making my day, excellent. As an amazing person I met said to me recently, “just take one day at a time”. Some days, I am amazing at embracing healthy habits and other days, I am amazing at forgiving myself for not embracing the habits.

Staying Connected

While flattening the curve is only possible by distancing, distancing can have a
deleterious effect on mental health. Front line workers are encouraged to get creative in their
efforts to stay connected during the pandemic, with the awareness that connection will protect
mental health and build resilience. In fact, after an outbreak, strong social support predicts
positive mental health outcomes. Part of staying connected also includes being mindful of a
sense of togetherness; that all over the world front line workers are facing this crisis together.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (2020) adds to this list by highlighting a few
more helpful tips.. These include taking basic safety precautions to mitigate the risk of bringing
the virus home, and re-framing guilty thoughts to more proactive thoughts about what is being
accomplished. Front line workers are advised to take their breaks and try to find a source of
comfort in activities that nourish both physical and mental health. Minimizing media exposure
and having personal photos nearby can both help front line workers feel less overwhelmed and
bombarded by negative news. Of course, front line workers are invited to reach out for mental
health support as well (Sali).

While flattening the curve is only possible by distancing, distancing can have a deleterious effect on mental health

Sali

Prior to the pandemic, staying at home, sipping on wine and watching series was a normal part of my de-stress routine. Post-pandemic, I am over watching TV for longer than an hour. I miss talking to people & my community, going to my favourite coffee store “Second Cup”, swinging by McDonalds’ where the brilliant morning staff wrote my name on my cup (ya, I know, they know me), talking with students at the College and listening to their stories, travelling to my family’s home and abroad, seeing my nephews, sister and parents, shopping, and so much more. What do you miss? Staying connected means: being mindful of how body, mind, and spirit feel, being aware of the stress within your body, and being mindful of releasing tension through your breath. Staying connected means: creating opportunities to connect with others through virtual calls, social media, and other means. Staying connected means: allowing yourself to connect with the land, the air and the water. Try physically distancing walking on beaches, hiking, gardening, deep breathing, and more. Regardless of your journey, we are honoured to support you in writing articles, providing counselling, and promoting mental wellness.

Since Covid-19, my family has met together every week as a group on ZOOM. It has been the highlight of my week, and a blessing to my days. I draw the strength from these meetings to share the same dedication to my community. In those meetings, I am touched by the love in my circle. I have hope that despite how difficult today may seem, there is always hope for a better a tomorrow.

For more articles of interest, see Coping with social distancing and Healing Pain with Love.


References

Written by: Sali, with contributions from Andrew & Nicole

Empowering Superhero Children

In 2020, the entire world experienced a period of social distancing and quarantine due to COVID-19, a novel coronovirus that impacted every country on this planet!

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

In 10 years, the history books will talk about this novel experience that this generation lived through, and our children participated in. Schools are closed. Recreational activities have shut down. Events and venues are suspended. Birthday celebrations and vacations are placed on hold. Parks and child play centers now considered unsafe, and marked with yellow tape. While we are in the moment, the novel experience is actually as worrisome, scary, and nerve-wracking as it can be a time to reflect, relax, and build patience. I recall attending a meeting, where a mom expressed concern that her child would not make it through the mandatory lock down. And another mom, who feared her children’s “cabin fever”, would lead to fights, arguments, and ultimately chaos. For those moms, I hear you. I can only imagine the uncertainty, fear and unsettled feelings that your children may experience through this difficult time. It is real. It is expected. It is true.


Within a few days, the world responded with suggested mental health support and interventions, virtual house parties, Whats App and Face-time video chats, Facebook LIVE events, Tik Tok dance-offs and so much more! The internet has brought us together in so many ways, we could not even imagine twenty years ago in 2000. The internet has helped make our “social distance experiment” a little more enjoyable. But, this does not mean that social distancing has brought us sunshine and roses! Absolutely not. Our economy has plummeted. Jobs have ended. Shortages have arisen in basic necessities such as food, toilet paper, and disinfectant. Vacationers are stuck overseas, and many on cruise ships. Hospitals have cared for thousands of people, and over 100,000 world wide. People have died.

As parents, there are many ways you can assist your children with managing COVID-19 in healthy ways. This may help them with dealing with the situation in healthy ways, and reducing their fear and worries about their future and what could happen. These strategies may work immediately and over time to help them process their experiences in a healthy way, and teach them valuable skills.

Family-Based Strategies


  • Develop a schedule... We know that our social distancing will last for a few weeks. Arrange a family meeting. Create a day to day schedule from Sunday to Saturday for the entire family. Create special days for family events. For example, Mondays are GAME NIGHT, Tuesdays are COOKING DAY, Wednesdays are DANCE PARTY, Thursdays are YOGA MEDITATION, Fridays are ACTION-TIME MOVIE NIGHT, Saturdays are FAMILY-VIDEO CHAT NIGHTS, and Sundays are FAMILY CHALLENGE NIGHT.
  • Create routines… use routines to help create structure, predictability, and consistency for your child or teenager. Routines can help to reduce boredom and undesired behavior. By creating routines, you can help your child or teen to spend small periods of time engaging in a variety of activities which may be interesting to them or to help them with learning. For example, one parent created a 6- period day schedule in 45 minute intervals where her child did activities such as: language, music, art, science, math, reading, and more.
  • Eat Healthy, Exercise & Sleep Well… ensure that your family eats healthy meals and snacks, spends some time exercising throughout the week, and has a good night sleep with naps if needed. Our bodies respond to stress in healthier ways if we are well taken care. For example, create a daily menu schedule with all meals & snacks posted.
  • Spend one on one time…. whether you have one adult child, as I do OR five children under 10 years old, make sure that you spend one on one time with your children to build your relationship and connection, to attend to their emotional needs, to ensure they have an opportunity to express how they feel, and to teach them strategies to manage their emotions. Use this as valuable time to build your child’s resiliency and capacity to manage through this difficult time, the best way possible. For example, set aside one day of the week to spend with each child in any activity they choose. Don’t forget your partner will also need some special time.

Talking to your Children

In some countries, children and youth are exposed to natural disasters such as devastating earthquakes or hurricanes. In other countries, children may live in war-torn countries where they experience repeated lock downs and disruptions within their daily lives. The traumatic stress associated with these experience are insurmountable. Thus, our experience of pandemonium disease may be new for us, but not new for many children around the world. It is important to realize that traumatic stress is the same, and children and youth may experience heightened emotions, psychosomatic pain, behavior disruptions, and more. Supporting your child through this process is important and necessary.

Be Open, Share truthful information & respond to their questions

As much as possible, share honest and open information with your children and elicit their thoughts and feelings about what is happening. Be kind and gentle to correct their belief systems that may be inaccurate or motivated by fear. Reduce CNN and CP24 playing in the home. Choose 1 time of the day to read or listen to updates. If your children hear updates about new cases, deaths, or governmental response, use this as a key opportunity to talk about social justice, in addition to their fears and worries. Take the opportunity to ask children questions about what they believe is working well to help us recover from this experience. This can help to build their ability to take unique perspectives, to demonstrate empathy, and to enhance critical thinking skills. It also helps them to depersonalize the COVID-19 experience because while it impacts them greatly, it also provides an opportunity for learning and growth. Discuss your beliefs about spirituality, and end of life which may arise through this experience and access resources for grief and loss, especially if your family has a loss in relation to COVID-19 and or other losses you may not be able to complete a ceremony for because of COVID-19 social distancing rules.

To access more information and resources, the Center of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto provided the following article: Talking to children about COVID-19 and its impact. Another colleague wrote a book to help children learn about and understand their experiences called, We are Hanging Out Inside by Theresa Fraser. Caring for Kids.BC also posted an Question & Answer page to help parents navigate COVID-19 with their children, The 2019 Novel Coronavirus. And, Children’s Mental Health Ontario posted the following article: Talking to Your Anxious Child about Coronavirus.

You Got This!

Wherever this virus takes us, and however long social distancing lasts for, we wish that you and your family remain safe, healthy, and grateful through this process.

Our physical office is closed, but we are open VIRTUALLY for video and phone counselling and psychotherapy sessions. During this time, we are offering same-day and next-day appointments with one of our skilled therapists and interns. Low-cost & subsidized counselling sessions for those who do not have access to insurance or can not afford the costs of therapy. We are happy to take your questions & provide advice!

Coping with social distancing

We have the answers for you.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has put together a COVID-19 resource page for individuals seeking mental health support to manage the crisis.  If you have a prior experience with trauma, often feel anxious on a regular basis, and struggle with managing stress, it is expected that this experience may place a strain on your coping skills.

Sigh of Relief.  We will get through this together.


And just like that, we were home…


Many of us may not have anticipated, or considered that this virus would affect our country, our communities and our homes.  I remember listening to the news daily that covered Covid-19 with hopes that the crisis would slowly become yesterday’s news. It never did. While we were living our best lives, attending meetings, walking our children to school, planning our parties and gatherings, people around the world were slowing affected by the disease. Within a matter of days, we were informed that the best protection was “social distancing”, and with days our abilities to attend restaurants, go to the barber, get our nails did, go shopping, go to work, and so much more would end.  It is normal for us to experience stress and anxiety symptoms.  It is normal to feel panic and worry about our futures and our families.  It is expected that our past experiences of trauma may influence our coping.


It is normal for us to experience stress and anxiety symptoms.

As we learn to cope with our temporary new-reality


“Through the storm”

You can expect that the crisis will place a strain on your emotional, mental and psychological health. During this crisis focus on: seek credible information, assess personal risk, maintain your familiar routines, find balance, make “intentional” moves, practice relaxation and meditation.


The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health posted a website to assist you with managing the crisis within your daily life. For more information and to access their website select below:


I will try to be honest and authentic. The first week was absolutely difficult for me. I went from meeting and speaking to over 100 people per week, from teaching amazing students, meeting with my wonderful play-therapy kids, to supporting adults, couples and families, and so much more… to closing my office (insert crying face emoji). The curve was unreal. Emotions such as panic, fear, worry, anxiety, stress, and frustration were floating through me and around those I spoke with. Acknowledging our feelings are real means that we can imagine ourselves floating through muddy waters and accepting we are here, in this place, right now. Radically accept that we can not change our current circumstances but we can make the best out of our situation. We can draw upon our inner resiliency, strength and faith to help us float through this experience until we reach the shore again.


  • Lower the channel on Covid-19 updates
  • Video chat friends and/or family every day
  • Netflix, Prime, Crave video is the place of all great series
  • Host & attend virtual events
  • Rekindle your love for board games. Monopoly anyone?
  • Bake new recipes every day
  • Create your own family cook show
  • Get plenty of rest & sleep
  • Journal
  • Maintain your similar routines, with more breaks
  • Exercise daily
  • Yoga exercises
  • Read a new book
  • Join an online book class
  • Connect with friends you neglected to speak with
  • Creative writing or art
  • Plan your 2021 vacation schedule
  • Moderate alcohol & drug use
  • Boost your immune system with healthy foods & drinks

Crisis Resources

During this challenging time, many aspects of our lives are being impacted. If you are experiencing mental health difficulties or distress, and find yourself in crisis and in need of support, the following are a list of relevant resources. In the case of an emergency, please call 911 or contact your nearest hospital emergency department.

CAMH provides information on coping with stress and anxiety, as well as strategies to maintain mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Durham Mental Health Services offers a range of crisis supports to assist individuals who are experiencing a personal or situational crisis. Crisis services are free and confidential. C.A.L.L. (Crisis-Access-Linkage-Line)
Call 905-666-0483 (Local) Call 1-800-742-1890 (Toll Free)


Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 national support service for young people and completely confidential. Text CONNECT to 686868 Call 1-800-668-6868

Distress Centre Durham offers 24/7 telephone services, with trained responder volunteers who can provide emotional support and encouragement, crisis management, suicide risk assessment, community resource/ referral information, and emergency intervention. Call 905-430-2522

Youthspace.ca is an emotional and crisis support chat, available to anyone in Canada under 30, from 9pm to 3am EST. Online Instant Message Chat Text 778-783-0177

Parenting Resources: Articles & Websites for Parents

The following list are collected websites and articles for parents providing key tips and resources on parenting, building resiliency with young people, and addressing challenges in youth. Click on a topic for more information below:


Mental Health Services

Support for Parents, Children, Youth & Adults…

BC Children’s Hospital provides a Mental Health Resource site for youth, adults and parents: Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre

Children with Special Needs: Neuroimaging and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, article published by researchers

Addressing bullying…

Cliques and Put-Downs in Elementary Schools addresses the impact of “cliques” for young people, and interventions parents and schools can utilize to build resiliency.