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Individual and Family Counselling

Therapeutic counselling is the skilful and principled use of relationship that provides a safe and respectful environment for people to explore the things that limit the ability to be happy, hopeful, and content in life and relationships.

Therapeutic counselling addresses issues such as: general dissatisfaction with life and relationships,history of emotional hurt and painful experiences, depression, parenting concerns, self-harm, peer relationships, coping with school & coping with change.

Counselling Techniques Offered:

The Hakomi Method

Hakomi is a very respectful and effective approach to personal counselling and therapy. The Hakomi method believes that change happens through our body and mind. The Hakomi method and brain research supports, that the body holds a different kind of memory than our brain. Hakomi Therapy utilizes the process of Mindfulness; helping the client study their experience, find meaning to that experience, and then to create the kind of change that brings about a greater ability to choose what we believe and how we want to be in the world. Kirsti Giacobbo, an Individual/Family Therapist at Gaia, is certified to offer this effective method of therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy

Our mental health counsellor Laura Boileau is happy to be able to provide the option of animal-assisted therapy with Nanuq, her dog, at Gaia Integrative Clinic. In her own life, she has found Nanuq to be a calming, humorous, and compassionate companion. Research has found that the presence of a dog in therapy helps decrease anxiety and depression. Those who have owned a pet know what the research confirms. Dogs help us feel calmer, and their presence lowers blood pressure, increases immune responses, and helps us to connect with the heart.

Narrative Therapy

Our lives are defined by the stories we tell about ourselves. In narrative therapy, the counsellor asks you to describe events from your life that highlight your values, relationships, knowledge, and skills. This type of therapy helps you to see that your life is more than the problem you are facing, and the counsellor collaborates with you to find solutions. Together, we discover how the problem has influenced you, your relationships, and your views of the world while being clear that the problem is not who you are. Through telling our stories we change our relationship to the problems we face so we can move forward in change.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This is a scientifically tested form of therapy that focuses on the interrelationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. It is based on the theory that the way people feel and what they do because of the way they perceive and think about a situation. For example, if you spill a cup of coffee and think “I am so stupid” this will have a different emotional and behavioural outcome than if you think “Mistakes happen”. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on the faulty beliefs and thoughts we have about ourselves and situations. It is often short-term, focused on present situations, and has been proven to be very effective in treating anxiety and depression. Your counsellor will teach you skills that you can apply for the rest of your life.


This type of therapy is the use of the written word to help people heal. There are several different methods. The therapist can recommend fiction or non-fiction books about those who have been through similar situations to help you feel like you are not alone but connected to a history of those who have come before you. This can also help instill hope. Books can also be recommended that teach particular skills or solutions in greater detail. Finally, journaling can be an important component of therapy to help you discover your strengths and re-write your own story.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

This a well-researched evidence-based therapy that is used to help resolve symptoms of trauma, including disturbing memories. The basic idea is that when trauma is experienced, memories can interfere with healthy ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving. This can lead to other mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and addictions. EMDR is considered the industry standard for treating trauma and numerous studies have shown it is as effective or more so than anti-depressant medication and exposure Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Therapy is time-limited and involves 8 stages to resolve the issues that may keep you from moving forward.


Inspired by the practice of Buddhist meditation, mindfulness is the process of becoming aware of and accepting your emotions, thoughts, and sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness skills can be incorporated into many other therapies. This compassionate and non-judgmental focus on the present moment is effective in alleviating many kinds of suffering from anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts.

Creative Nondirective Approach (CNDA)

Valerie Leclerc offers individual therapy sessions using the Creative Nondirective Approach (CNDA), working with adults only.

What Happens during the therapy?

The Counselling Therapist, CT, over the course of encounters that take place at regular intervals, encourages clients to talk about themselves, about the events in their life and how they face them, to share their life history and experiences, and to freely express such experiences, emotions, feelings and inner resistances in their everyday life as well as during the session with the therapist (the helper).

The Counselling Therapist, CT, through these actions, accompanies the client as she or he moves through the different stages in the process of “creative change,” as identified by CNDA founder Colette Portelance:

  • Awareness of oneself
  • Acceptance of who one is
  • Assuming responsibility for who one is and what one does
  • Expression of one’s inner world, one’s emotional experience and feelings
  • Observation of the successive stages of one’s development, leading to new discovering about oneself
  • Choosing protective mechanisms
  • Shifting to creative action

Over the course of the sessions, depending on the situation, various projective methods may be used. Such methods may have a suggestive impact, in the sense that they may stimulate the unconscious and trigger the memories of current or past experiences. They can also make it possible to explore hidden areas or throw new light on areas of which the client is already aware.

Problems addressed in relation to others

Various relational difficulties or the wish to improve one’s interpersonal skills:

  • Couple
  • Parent-child
  • Relations at work
  • With one’s boss (or other authority figure)
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Etc.
  • Conflicts
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Lack of affirmation
  • Inadequate communication skills or the wish to learn how to communicate authentically
  • Rivalry, competition
  • Problems with interpersonal communication
  • Difficulty being respected
  • Locked-in to relational patterns
  • Circle of friends and acquaintances and respecting boundaries and limits

Problems addressed in relation to self

  • Desire to increase well-being in general
  • Desire to achieve greater self-understanding
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Developing self-confidence
  • Self-doubt, self-questioning, wondering about the meaning of one’s life
  • Overcoming fear in order to move forward
  • Losing one’s job
  • Losing a loved one
  • Separation/divorce
  • Personal limitations that are hard to accept (illness, handicap,…)
  • Developing or expanding self-love
  • Personal growth and development
  • Acceptance of self and letting go
  • Freedom to be one’s self, spontaneity, authenticity
  • Learning to become a leader
  • Being freely creative
  • Taking responsibility for the ways in which one is different
  • Dealing with a major life change (turning 40, retirement…)
  • Making decisions
  • Wanting more control, or feeling like one is losing control, in one’s life
  • Needing to talk, listen, understand, to break out of isolation
  • Perfectionism and unhealthy focus on performance
  • Putting other’s needs first, self-negation
  • Wanting to achieve goals and fulfill dreams

Version Française

Valerie Leclerc offre des services de thérapie individuelle par l’ANDC pour adultes seulement.

Comment se déroule une thérapie?

Le thérapeute en relation d’aide, au cours d’entretiens qui ont lieu à intervalles réguliers, invite son client à parler de lui-même, de ce qu’il vit et de comment il vit les événements de sa vie, à partager son histoire et ses expériences de vie, à laisser libre cours à son vécu, ses émotions, ses sentiments, ses résistances, tant dans sa vie de tous les jours que lors des entretiens avec l’aidant.

Par ses actions, le thérapeute en relation d’aide accompagne son client dans le passage des différentes étapes du processus de « changement créateur », selon sa créatrice, Colette Portelance :

  • la prise de conscience de lui-même;
  • l’acceptation de ce qu’il est;
  • la responsabilité de ce qu’il est et de ce  qu’il fait
  • l’expression de son monde intérieur, de son « vécu », de ses émotions;
  • l’observation des enchaînements des étapes de développement vers de nouvelles découvertes de lui-même;
  • le choix des mécanismes de protection; le passage à l’action créatrice.

Au cours des séances, selon les besoins, diverses méthodes projectives peuvent être utilisées. Les méthodes projectives peuvent avoir un impact suggestif en ce sens qu’elles peuvent toucher l’inconscient et susciter le rappel d’expériences vécues, présentes ou passées. Elles permettent ainsi d’explorer des zones cachées ou d’offrir un éclairage nouveau sur les zones connues.

Problématiques abordées en relation aux autres

Difficultés relationnelles diverses ou désir d’améliorer ses compétences relationnelles :

  • couple
  • parent-enfant
  • relations de travail
  • avec patron (ou autre autorité)
  • famille
  • amis
  • collègues
  • etc.
  • Conflits
  • Échecs relationnels
  • Manque d’affirmation
  • Manque d’habiletés de communication ou désir de faire apprentissage de la communication authentique
  • Rivalité, compétition
  • Problèmes de communication interpersonnelle
  • Difficulté à se faire respecter
  • Prisonnier de systèmes relationnels (patterns)
  • Choix de l’entourage et respect du territoire et des limites

Problématiques abordées en relation à soi

  • Désir d’augmenter son mieux-être en général
  • Désir d’une meilleure connaissance de soi
  • Estime de soi à augmenter
  • Confiance en soi à développer
  • Doute de soi, questionnement sur soi, sur le sens de sa vie
  • Peurs à dépasser pour s’actualiser
  • Perte d’emploi
  • Perte d’un être cher
  • Séparation/divorce
  • Limites personnelles difficiles à vivre (maladie, handicap,…)
  • Amour de soi à développer ou à augmenter
  • Épanouissement et développement personnel
  • Acceptation de soi et lâcher-prise
  • Liberté d’être, spontanéité, authenticité
  • Apprendre à s’assumer comme leader
  • Déploiement de sa créativité
  • Assumer ses différences
  • Faire face aux étapes de vie (quarantaine, retraite…)
  • Prises de décisions diverses
  • Désir de prendre du pouvoir sur sa vie ou sentiment de perte de pouvoir sur sa vie
  • Besoin de parler, d’écoute, de compréhension, de sortir de l’isolement
  • Perfectionnisme et performance malsaine
  • Oubli de soi, négation de soi
  • Besoin d’atteindre des objectifs et de réaliser des rêves

(AEDP) Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy

AEDP therapists work with clients to build a secure base so the client can work through overwhelming experiences – while undoing aloneness with such experiences. Client’s emotional experiences, (be they painful or joyful, or in the past absent of optimal care giving) are processed in the here-and-now working towards having a corrective emotional experience. Informed by attachment studies, the secure base is effectively established through the therapist’s moment-to-moment tracking of the dyadic affective attunement, disruption, and repair. It is in the attunement, relationship, and experience of emotion with a safe other that the brain can engage in creating corrective neurological pathways to heal from trauma. (adapted from AEDP institute website)

(EFT) Emotion Focussed Therapy for Individuals

Emotions are adaptive, guide attachment, and have a tendency toward growth. EFT focuses on helping people:

  • become aware of and express their emotions;
  • learn to tolerate and regulate emotions;
  • reflect on emotions to make sense of them, and transform them.

Learning about emotions is not enough; in EFT clients experience emotions in the safety of the therapy session. EFT helps clients become aware of and make productive use of their emotions in their daily lives. Clients learn which of their emotions they can trust and rely on; and which are residues of painful memories and are problematic to their current life, and need to be changed.

(EFT) Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples

image010(EFT) Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples is a strengths-based approach developed by Dr. Sue Johnson.

“The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster an adult loving relationship.” (Taken from Dr. Sue Johnson’s website).

EFT therapists work with couples to build new cycles of bonding interactions and replace negative cycles such as pursue-withdraw or criticize-defend. These new cycles then become self-reinforcing and can create permanent change. The relationship can evolve to become a safe haven and a healing environment for both partners. This approach to therapy is helpful for any relationships intimate, parent-child, sibling and/or family therapy.

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