Relationships are hard!

We have all heard that before, but what does that mean? Why are they so hard? Should they be? Must they be?  You know the old saying “the best things in life are free”, but ‘free’ doesn’t always mean easy! Some of the hardest things in life take the most care and effort, and consequently, bear the sweetest fruit.

So, the story goes: once upon at time, we grew up, built relationships, fell in and out of love, made mistakes, made them again (and sometimes again), picked ourselves up, and kept going. That is a far cry from fairy tales we grew up with about some enchanted forest, magic spells, and white horses that bring us to our ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, real relationships don’t work like that, and we tend to learn that the hard way because nobody writes stories about never-ending compromise, flexibility, and more patience and understanding than sometimes feels humanly possible. Doesn’t exactly make for a great bedtime story, right?! But the reality of love is that those are often the very qualities it takes to make things work – not glass slippers and fairy godmothers! The fact is, there are many great and wonderful things about love and relationships, and there also challenging and difficult aspects too. Commitment, trust, understanding, partnership, communication, sacrifice, and intimacy come with both concerted effort and great rewards.

As we build a relationship with another person, we contribute to the dynamic with parts of ourselves. In the beginning of a new relationship, we tend to choose the best parts to put forth. Perhaps as we become more comfortable with another person and build trust and security, we begin to share the less desirable parts and dissonance can arise within the relationship. We may ask ourselves, “Who is this person?”, “Why didn’t I see this before?”, “What happened to us?”, or “How did we get here?”.

It is important to remember that each person in a relationship is a WHOLE person, not their partner’s ‘other half’, and that we contribute what we have to offer (or not) to the relationship between us.

So many times, we make the cardinal mistake of believing we can change another person. The truth is, we can’t force a person to change, and ultimately, we have no right! We are only in control of ourselves, and the contribution we make to our relationship with that other person – not the other person themselves! Perhaps better questions to be asking if we can to make changes are: “What am I bringing to this dynamic?”, “How have I changed over time?”, or “What could I do to make things better?”.  It is a basic human need to be heard and understood. There are many therapeutic approaches to couple and family counselling that aim to deal with the hurt, anger, resentment, defensiveness, and boundary and communication issues, that come along with managing relationships. The Gottman Method and Emotion-focused therapy are two of the most well-known and aim to get to the core of the emotions involved in loving relationships. Many of the issues that lay deep in the heart of problem relationships are hidden and masked by symptoms like arguments, nagging, lies, betrayal, blame, manipulation, lack of intimacy, hurtful words, and accusations.  

Healing the relationship between couples and families in therapy takes effort and commitment from all parties, and starts with getting to know each person, both as an individual and as a member of a partnership. Therapy offers no magic spells or potions, but tools for understanding and helping a person putting forth the best they can to make things work. The journey through therapy isn’t always easy but, like relationships, it takes hard work and has the potential for great rewards. It all starts with aiming for everyone to simply be heard and, more importantly, understood.

If you feel your relationship may benefit from counselling, you can contact me here.

By Chelsea Avram, MACP Candidate

On May 11th last year, we officially launched Roots in Wellness! We are so thrilled to be celebrating this special milestone.

At the time we started Roots in Wellness, Jennifer and I were both working at other jobs and uncertainty was front and centre. Our dream was to create a practice where we could integrate services for both mental and physical health, using Jennifer and I’s unique sets of skills and education. In reality, we had no idea how launching a business would go, how long it would take to build a caseload, or where this little business would end up in a year!

One year later, we reflect on what it has looked like so far.

Getting to Know the Community

When we first started, we prioritized building our caseloads and becoming acquainted with the community around us. Although I was born and raised in Hamilton, my entire therapy career up until that point was centered in Burlington and the GTA. This meant starting from the ground-up to build a professional network and gain a better understanding of the resources around us so that we could better help our own clients.

We visited doctors’ offices, local businesses, and met with other local practitioners. Through these conversations, we’ve increased awareness for mental health, discovered further resources in our community to help foster wellbeing, and met some new friends in the process!  

Taking the Leap

On July 27th, 2018 I left my full-time job to pursue working at Roots in Wellness full time. I strongly believe that leaving one’s salaried, full-time employment for entrepreneurship is one of the scariest, challenging, and EXCITING leaps that one can take. My hat goes off to anyone who has experienced it before!

It was strange at first having whole days to focus on the business, as I was so used to multi-tasking day and night when I was at my previous job. I found it to be freeing but also sort of intimidating that I had all of this time to work with and delegate when I would do what. I slowly figured out what worked best for me, scheduling working hours for seeing clients, doing administrative work, professional development, and networking time.

Finding a Balance

One of the things I found most important for me early on (and to this day!) was to separate home time and work time. I have a separate cell phone for work, and since I started the business I’ve been in the habit of turning off my work phone at the end of the day and keeping it off on evenings and weekends. Spending quality time with family, friends, and myself has always been something I’ve valued, and I feel that having this separation is essential to making sure I am the best person I can be both in my personal life and as a therapist.

What I’ve Learned

If I could go back and give myself advice in those first six months of private practice, I would tell myself to try and become comfortable with being more uncomfortable! Soooo many aspects of private practice were uncomfortable, from the up’s and down’s of busier versus quieter weeks, writing blogs, not knowing what type of content to post on social media, and being “on my own” in terms of all clinical decision-making and administration. I think there was a part of me that expected I “should” have just had a full-caseload private practice at the end of the second month, and be confident in everything I was doing – while that couldn’t have been further from the truth!

I believe that accepting your own vulnerability is an essential part of chasing any dream. We have no way of knowing with complete certainty whether it will all work out, and this fear can feel immobilizing. Part of what has helped keep me moving forward has been to accept that I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t predict the future. I do my best to take things one day at a time, and focus on doing what I can to further my dream while also knowing that part of it isn’t up to me. You can put a pile of work into your dream, but it still takes time, patience, and maybe a little bit of fate to make it happen!

From Jennifer

You all may have noticed that I am not as active on social media or with Roots in Wellness in general. What many of you may not know is that I actually have a full-time job in the business field that keeps me busy much of the time. But, I couldn’t bear to not have therapy as a part of my life, and Kayleen and I make a great team.

Kayleen has said it well – creating a business is hard but it will make you strong and it’s something you can feel amazing about. I am so unbelievably proud of where Roots in Wellness is, and how Kayleen has managed to grow her caseload so quickly.

I am not from Hamilton, but the opportunity to serve this wonderful city, in particular the LGBT+ community, has been an honour, and I wouldn’t want to practice anywhere else. I am so excited for what the future holds for Kayleen and I, Roots in Wellness, and our community. I am lucky to have a business partner who understands me (good or bad!) and works with me to get things done and help this business grow. I look forward to showing all of you what the two of us can do, and continue to offer community resources for those in need. Thank you!

Thank you!

I have felt so lucky to have the support of family, friends, and my “biz bestie” – Jennifer, the other half of Roots in Wellness – throughout this process. Having the support and encouragement of others who care is so essential to keeping your spirits up, doubts in check, and momentum moving forward. I am so grateful for all the phone calls, messages, and lunches shared with my biz bestie. Her never-ending love and patience with all of my questions and fears will never cease to amaze me, and I feel so lucky to have shared this experience with her.

Jen and Kayleen

I don’t think it’s always easy to get into business with a close friend, but if anything the past year has only made our friendship stronger. I truly believe that people enter our lives for a reason, and I am so glad that she is a part of mine.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the first year of Roots in Wellness, and are so excited for all of the things that are to come! In the coming year, we will be expanding our services to include Walk and Talk Therapy, more Yoga Therapy group programs and workshops, and Nutritional and Fitness consulting thanks to Jennifer’s new Nutrition and Personal Training Certifications!

We feel so privileged to do the work that we do, and to have met all of the wonderful people we have in the process. From other therapists, healthcare professionals, and all of our amazing clients – we are grateful for each and every one of you and the new things you teach us each daily.

We hope this post has been helpful in learning a little bit more about us and our story. If you take away anything from our story, let it be this: following your dreams is one of the most scary and also one of the most incredible things you will ever experience.

There is no guidebook, no set path – just limitless potential to do what feels meaningful to you. If you are waiting on a sign to act on your dreams, this is it! You have the power to make your dreams happen, and there are so many amazing people in our community to help you along the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there are things we can do to help you along your path.

With love, respect, and gratitude,

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

Losing someone we love is likely the hardest thing that any of us will ever do in our lives. Grief is such a strong and painful emotion, and it can be scary to think about. The loss of a loved one can turn our lives upside down and change our entire perspective on life. Societies often have rituals, such as funerals, to help individuals come together in times of grief and sadness, and these rituals can be so meaningful and important to our healing process.

If you’re grieving the loss of someone, I encourage you to read this post. Grief can be difficult and isolating, and there are often many mixed emotions. This post is meant to help you move through these thoughts and feelings in a way that is non-judgmental and allows you to heal.

We’ve all heard of the stages of grief before, but we believe that everyone has their own unique process, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to feel everything you are feeling. Acceptance of what we are feeling is key any time we have any strong emotion, positive or negative. In other words, it is important to allow yourself to feel however you feel, without trying to restrict or minimize what you’re feeling. This tends to be fairly easy early on in the grief process, as we are expected to be sad or angry in response to the passing of a loved one. Later on, however, when others have seemingly moved on and you’re still in the depths of your despair, it can be more difficult to be accepting of how you are feeling.

It is important to remember during these times that you are not alone, and it is okay for you to grieve for as long as you need to. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that comes up. Perhaps do some mindfulness to really notice what thoughts and feelings are showing up. Often, when someone close to us passes, there are more complex emotions than just sadness; emotions that we don’t always talk about as a society. There may be anger, frustration, regret, hatred, or other emotions that you may think to yourself that you should not be feeling. We are here to tell you that these are perfectly normal feelings to have. The more that you try to make them go away or ignore them, the more persistent they will be. Instead of trying to get rid of these feelings, try holding them lightly. See if you can allow them to be there, and acknowledge that they can’t harm you. They are simply thoughts and feelings, and although they may hurt, you are in control of how they affect you. Hold them gently, and if you have difficulty doing so, it may be helpful to practice one of the following techniques to help you process these thoughts and emotions so that you may be able to hold them more lightly in the future.

1.    Write Down how you feel

Writing can be an extremely powerful action. While we don’t necessarily understand why, writing down how we are feeling and what we are thinking can help us sit with these thoughts and feelings more easily. It’s almost as if we are holding in all of this pent up emotion, and writing it down allows us to release it, and let go in a sense. This doesn’t mean that the thoughts and feelings are going to go away entirely, but that you may be able to better understand them, and begin to move forward.

You can start by writing down what you’re feeling in that moment, and just let your words flow. It may not be in full sentences, but rather specific words. You can try writing on lined paper, or you can use blank paper and colours and write things out the way that feels right. Notice how it feels when you write down those words. Notice what you feel in your body, and how it feels before you write it out versus after. See if you can do this without judgement of your feelings – recognizing that it’s okay to have any thoughts or feelings about the situation. Our thoughts and feelings will ebb and flow like waves in the ocean, and this is all part of the process.

2.    Write a Letter

While general writing can be extremely helpful, sometimes we feel as though we have unfinished business with someone who has passed, or we have things we wish we could have said to them. Writing a letter addressed to the person who has passed can be a really powerful exercise. You have an opportunity to say what you need to say, or what you’d like to say, in any way you want. You can address the person directly, and let them know how you feel about them, how their passing has affected you, maybe how they made you mad, or what you’ll miss about them.

Once you’ve finished your letter, you can save it somewhere, or let it go. Letting it go may be something like crumpling it up and throwing it out, burning it, burying it, or whatever feels right to you.

3.    Honour their Memory

This one is a little bit more vague, because it depends on the individual. This can be different based on the person who has passed and the person who is in mourning. Perhaps the traditional ritual of our society isn’t something that has helped you grieve and move forward, and there’s something else that you need to do. This is likely why celebrations of life have become so popular, because people often prefer to celebrate the life of the individual in a way they would have preferred.

If your loved one really loved animals, perhaps you may volunteer at an animal shelter in their honour, or donate some treats or toys. Maybe you go to their favourite restaurant and order their favourite food with some of their closest friends. Or maybe you plant a garden or a tree in their memory. You can choose to do whatever feels right for you, and whatever makes you feel closer to that person.

4.    Spend time with Loved Ones

Another advantage to celebrations of life is that it allows individuals to speak more freely and talk about the individual in candid ways. Spending time with others who loved this person and being able to reminisce about good times you all had can be extremely healing. While we expect sadness following the passing of a loved one, we often forget about how many positive memories we have with that person. When we spend time with others, it allows us to create a dialogue of positivity around celebrating the individual’s life while also allowing you to mourn their passing. Laughing about funny things that happened, remembering how sweet they were, and just talking about them in a positive light can help you move forward in realizing that this person had an impact in your life, and nothing can ever take that away.

5.    Be Patient with Yourself

This is probably the most important part. Everyone’s grief process is different, and you cannot rush your feelings. Furthermore, just because someone seems ‘okay’ on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re not hurting on the inside. You may decide to return to work and go back to a ‘normal’ life, and that’s okay. You may also feel really sad and cry often, and that’s okay too. Likely, you will have good days and bad days, and having a good day doesn’t mean you didn’t love that person – it just means you’re moving forward. Life is a rollercoaster of emotions, and we have to ride them out even when we’re grieving. So not only should you practice being patient with yourself and your emotions, but also compassionate. It’s okay to be happy sometimes, or angry, or sad.

All in all, every single person experiences and expresses grief differently. We don’t need to fully understand it, but we do need to practice being compassionate towards the process for others, as well as our own process.

Remember, there are people who love and care about you, and you do not need to go through this process alone. It is important to reach out to others during this time, whether that be family members, friends, coworkers, or a therapist. Grief is an extremely difficult and transformative life process, but also a sign of incredible love and devotion. As Thomas Campbell said, “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”.

 

By Jennifer Thomson and Kayleen Edwards

Hearing the term “self care” can trigger an automatic eye roll from some, who think of self care as the cliche bubble bath, face mask, or other stereotypical things they may have seen in media. Self care seems to be a buzzword these days, with more and more people using it on social media, television, and marketing. But what does self care actually mean?

To us, self care is something that you do to be a good friend to yourself. Self care activities are things that make you feel recharged, energized, and more like yourself. These activities can come in many shapes and forms. The examples below are just a starting point for the possibilities of self care activities that you may do.

Self Care Ideas

Physical Relationships Creativity Spiritual
·Go for a walk

·Try a yoga YouTube video

·Join a house league for a sport of your choice

·Have a dance party in your kitchen

· Have a warm bath

·Do stretches

·Make a warm cup of tea

·Organize something in your home

·Go to bed early to get 8 hours of sleep

·Get a Massage

·Drink more water

·Spend time in the sun

·Text someone

·Call someone

·Go for coffee

·Tell someone how you feel

·Tell someone why you appreciate them

·Cuddle with a loved one

·Create boundaries – say “no” and express your needs

·Turn off your phone after a certain time

·Limit time on social media

·Play a board game with loved ones

·Go on a date with your significant other

· Journal

·Get an adult colouring book

·Paint

·Make a card for someone

·Look up and make a new recipe

·Take art lessons

·Take dance lessons

·Repurpose an object

·Learn a new skill on YouTube

·Visit the library or book store

·Start a blog

·Work on a home project

·Do some gardening

 

·Spend time in nature

·Meditate

·Pray

·Journal

·Listen to meaningful music

·Find and listen to podcasts that inspire you

·Look up and save inspirational quotes

·Visit a sacred place

·Create a sacred place in your home with candles or scents

·Watch the sunrise or sunset

·Help someone

·Volunteer

 

Did any of these surprise you? Are there some that you are already doing, but never thought of it as self care?

Our challenge to you is to pick at least one of these activities to do for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be a daunting process that requires a great deal of time and energy! Even one small self care activity like ensuring you’re getting enough water or sitting outside can make the world of a difference.

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

kayleen@rootsinwellness.ca

Have you often thought about coming to therapy, but then… didn’t? Many things can get in the way of making the call and showing up to that first therapy session.

One of the most common things to get in the way of setting up a therapy session is the fear of the unknown. Often, people aren’t sure what to expect the first time they attend a therapy session, including where to go, what their therapist will be like, and what will happen during the session. This is especially compounded if someone is suffering from anxiety or depression, two symptoms that can make leaving home pretty difficult.

We are here to help clarify what you can expect during your first session with us!

Before the appointment: You are always free to phone or email us to ask us questions before booking any appointment. Once you have decided to book, you may choose to book a free 15-minute consultation call, or to book the one-hour session first. These both can be booked either online, or by phoning or emailing one of us.

Location: Our office is located at 428 Aberdeen Ave. in Hamilton, Ontario. The closest intersection to us is Dundurn St. and Aberdeen Ave. A good landmark is the Aberdeen Tavern, which we are next door to. You can park in the driveway if there is space available, or parking is also available on the road free of charge.

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Office: Our office is located in the lower level of the building. When you arrive, please enter through the side door to the left of the building and go down the stairs to get to our office. You can have a seat in the waiting room, where we have magazines and music to enjoy while you wait. Generally you will not be waiting long, and we should be out to get you in less than five minutes.

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Start of appointment: If it is your first appointment, there are some housekeeping items we have to go over at the start of the appointment. The main one is signing our consent form, which is a formal agreement to enter into a therapeutic relationship with one of us. We will review the form with you verbally, and then give you a chance to review the form on your own to ensure you understand. Please feel free to ask questions – it is important that you feel informed and that you fully understand consent to participate.

During appointment: Have a specific issue you’d like to address in the first appointment? Great! Not sure what to talk about? That’s okay too! We will always ask if there is a specific issue you were hoping to work on or discuss during the first session, so that you don’t feel it is just us asking questions. If you aren’t sure of what to bring up first or there isn’t something specific you can think of to discuss in the first appointment, we will usually ask more questions about the difficulties you have been experiencing so that we may have a better understanding of how to help.

However, it’s also important to us that the whole appointment isn’t just asking questions, and that you feel you are receiving help and ideas right from the start. We will generally give some suggestions or ideas as to what we can work on, and then give you the option to choose what you feel would be most helpful for you. Therapy that is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist is our goal, instead of the therapist just leading the way!

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End of appointment: At the end of the appointment, we may assign “homework” for you to think about or work on for the following week. This homework is always optional, and is totally at your discretion as to whether you have the time and feel if it would be beneficial for you or not. We will also usually discuss what we feel would be beneficial to work on during our next session, so that you have an idea of where things are headed.

We will ask you if you would prefer to book your next appointment then, or if you would prefer to have some time to think about things and email us after to book. We will then process payment, whether it is made via cash, cheque, credit card, or e-transfer. We will then provide you with an invoice, which you may submit to your extended healthcare benefits insurance provider, if applicable.

All in all, you can expect our therapy appointments to last approximately 50 minutes, give or take.

We hope this post clarifies the process of working with us and that learning this information may empower you to take steps towards your own healing.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact me at (289) 689-7194. I’d love to hear from you!

Kayleen Edwards

Registered Psychotherapist