The approaches I integrate in my counselling work with individuals and couples reflect years of graduate and post-graduate training, life-experience, and self-reflection. They draw from holistic processes that encompass emotional, mental, and spiritual outlooks as well as the practical aspects of ‘real life’ and its challenges and transitions. Clients have the opportunity to expand their way of being in the world and the self-awareness that accompanies the journey of self-discovery and connection with the larger world. As well, I support the people I work with in accessing their inner resources, truths, hopes, courage, power, and compassion.

Besides formal training in family systems, couples therapy, attachment theory, cognitive-behavior approaches, body-centered psychotherapy, cross-cultural therapy, modes of creative expression (such as art work), and energy psychology, I draw on more recent research and post-graduate training. This includes EMDR and other trauma related therapies, couples therapies, EFT, mindfulness, clinical applications related to the neuroplasticity of the brain, and ‘HeartMath’ or approaches that draw on the power and intelligence of the heart.

Although I primarily work at my office, I do offer phone consultations and Skype sessions.

Family Systems Theory holds that a person’s psychological functioning is largely influenced by their relationships with others, particularly their family of origin. As well, this theory holds that families operate in ways that are consistent with systems and that systems operate according to principles rooted in nature. Systems’ thinking includes principles such as circular, interlocking, and time-delayed dynamics as well as supportive and complementary actions. By taking these principles into account and becoming more aware of their own patterns of behaviour, clients are better able to modify their behaviour, become more autonomous, and avoid automatic responses to dynamics that occur within interpersonal relationships in their lives.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps clients become more aware of the connection between their thought patterns and situations in life as well as subsequent emotions and habitual reactions. The goals of therapy are to provide skills to alter ways of thinking, calm the mind, recognize distorted thinking, and choose appropriate actions that produce desirable results.

Body-Centered Psychotherapy focuses on a deepening awareness of a combination of emotional, energy, sensations, and somatic processes and responses. This approach includes techniques such as acupressure (including EFT), EMDR, visualization, relaxation, and body postures or movement. Principles associated with energy work, including Therapeutic and Healing Touch, may inform and guide body-centered approaches. This approach teaches people to use the body as a resource with which to integrate body, mind and spirit, become more of a witness/observer to what is happening internally, and experience more authentic responses to life.

Emotionally Focused Therapy is a structured approach to couples therapy developed by Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980’s. It is based on conceptualizations of attachment theory and the nature of relationship distress. Negative patterns of interactions are identified as well as core emotions that underlie and motivate interactions. New interactions that promote respect, closeness, and caring are initiated and practiced with guided support from the therapist. The goals of EFT are to expand and re-organize key emotional responses, create positive shifts in interactions, and foster a secure bond between partners.

Creative Expression includes approaches that involve expression and exploration of feelings through non-verbal means. In my practice, the creative approaches that may be used include artistic expression (usually drawing), body postures and stances, visualization, play therapy, and role-play. These creative modalities tend to enhance the therapeutic experience as an aid to self-discovery and healing and the symbolic expression of feelings, emotions, and sensations that represent the inner world.

Energy Psychology refers to a set of therapeutic techniques that utilize the major components of the human energy system composed of bio-electromagnetic fields. Some techniques integrate Eastern approaches with Western psychology to address and integrate aspects of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. These approaches address the three main interacting components of the energy system: energy pathways or meridians, energy centers or chakras, and the human biofield (field of energy that surrounds and envelops the body). These techniques include EFT and other acupressure techniques, muscle testing, and EMDR.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works with the body’s electrical circulatory system or “Qi”. “Qi” may also be described as the body’s “vital force” or “universal life energy”. EFT is associated with the Chinese system of acupuncture and an EFT treatment consists of tapping specific points or acupoints on the body’s 12 main channels or energy meridians. These points are located on the face, main trunk of the body, and the hands. Similarly to acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic treatments, EFT clears blockages and helps to restore balance, calm, and vitality to the body’s energy system. EFT is one of the techniques associated with the expanding field of Energy Psychology.

“The basic premise of EFT is that the cause of negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.”

The disruption of energy in the body’s energy system is often caused from strong emotions such as anger, fear, sorrow, anxiety, worry, guilt, and depression. Energy disturbances may then cause varying levels of discomfort, tension, pain, and stress. When the “Qi” imbalance is corrected and the natural flow of energy restored, a felt sense of balance, calm, and relief from the targeted discomfort or pain most often follows. Relief from the heightened emotion is frequently reported after only one session of tapping.

EFT addresses anxiety, phobias, ‘panic’ attacks, PTSD, depression, traumatic memories, addictive cravings as well as everyday stress. When EFT is applied to pain associated with physical symptoms, there is often a decrease in the intensity of the symptoms. When EFT is applied to performance anxiety, hidden emotional hurdles are often removed and more ‘space’ is created for confidence and success. After debilitating emotions are decreased, EFT can be used to strengthen life-enhancing emotions, states and beliefs.

Successful treatment may require several more sessions and/or subsequent rounds of tapping at home. This method can be easily learned and practiced by children as well as adults. Many people report long-lasting results and the ability to better tolerate previously difficult to handle ‘triggers’. Once ‘space’ is created for more positive emotions and sensations, true emotions and states are more likely to emerge, including a deeper experience of peace, confidence, love, and joy.

For more information, you can visit the World Centre for EFT, or to try EFT yourself, visit http://123eft.com/eft-trial.htm.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a procedure developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the early 90’s as a treatment for painful and enduring traumatic memories that continue to cause emotional and physiological disturbances. The term “trauma” refers to either single events or ongoing traumatic events occurring in present time or that have taken place in the past. Traumatic effects include those associated with what is described as small “t” events, eg. unmet needs in one’s past that have caused negative beliefs and big “T” events associated with abuse that cause a range of disturbances including states of disassociation.

“More recently, EMDR has been referred to as “information processing therapy” because “old” information stored in the brain and body may be retrieved, addressed, and reprocessed with updated information and more understanding.”

EMDR is also referred to as “dual attention stimulation” because various aspects of the trauma held within the body and nervous system are reprocessed while the client is attuned to the procedure itself which involves a focused state of attention. The procedure includes guided eye movements, alternating taps on the hands or knees, and/or alternating auditory stimulation.

By using this procedure with care and skill, therapists provide clients with the opportunity to reprocess traumatic memories, discover and develop more adaptive perceptions and responses, gain and ‘updated’ perspective of the upsetting events, and desensitize themselves to the painful aspects of the memories. Although EMDR originated as a structured protocol for trauma treatments, many therapists adapt and integrate the procedure within other therapeutic approaches. Not only is EMDR used for resolving traumatic effects, but it is also used as a means of exploring and deepening positive states, beliefs, images, sensations, and feelings. Clients often report a greater degree of self-awareness, ability to feel emotions and sensations, and a felt-sense of their energy system.


© 2015. Deborah Brakeley 604-224-8937 · #501-1587 West 8th, Vancouver · brakeley@shaw.ca