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- Listening closely to your story and concerns
- Examining why certain situations in your life typically go sideways
- Helping you identify and cultivate resources you already possess
- Helping you identify and change self-defeating assumptions and behaviour
- Helping you engage with and shift your feelings about things
- Helping you come up with concrete solutions to specific problems
- Helping you develop a general wellness program
- Tapping into different parts of your self with EMDR, TIR, visualization, psychodrama or meditation
- Engaging family members in the counselling process
- Discussing spiritual questions
- Helping you motivate yourself
- Helping you understand how your present way of doing things fits into your life history.
- Manage urges/cravings in the moment
- Shift disturbed states into grounded ones
- Set up barriers between themselves and the object of their urges
- Identify, manage and resolve the emotional pain that the addiction is (temporarily) helping them cope with
- Identify what they feel, do and think prior to acting on their urges so they have more power to manage them
- Use effective counter-arguments to permission-giving thoughts
- Understand their addiction in the bigger picture of their life history
- Set up and implement If Triggered, Maintenance, and Well-Being plans to avoid relapse
- Process historical or recent trauma (when appropriate)
- Understand the parts of their personality that are contributing to their addiction and the parts that will serve their recovery
- Develop memory tools so they can remember to remember to work their recovery
- Use friends, family and community to help them sustain their recovery
I am a professional Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology. I provide individual and couples counselling. I have been a counsellor for ten years.
As I see it, my job is to work with your better self. Whatever your issue, I assume that you have many resources—intelligence, conviction, determination, as examples--but that these resources are not being fully utilized. I provide a safe space for you to talk about what you’re going through to help you positively shift the way you feel and think about yourself and the world. From there, I will help you set realistic goals and make practical plans so you can make the changes you want to make.
My approach is professional and friendly with a sense of humour where appropriate. I make every effort to adjust respectfully to your way of being. And I hope you’ll accept my constructive challenges to your way of being as well. There are many ways to do therapy. My work with clients is always collaborative and adapted to best suit you. Along with your specific concerns, I often help clients cultivate a greater sense of independence, agency and self worth.
In a given session my role might include:
I will, if you are so inclined, give you homework and help plug you into free community resources.
I offer a free 25 minute consultation.
I am a registered counsellor in:
Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP, for victims of crime, their close family members, and some witnesses).
Residential Historical Abuse Program (RHAP, for people who were sexually abused as children in BC funded residences/homes or BC operated residential facilities).
BC’s Responsible Gambling Program (for problem gamblers and affected others).
Funding for the above three programs is provided by the government.
I am an ICBC Injury Recovery Partner (for ICBC clients injured in automobile crashes; covered by ICBC)
I am a member of EMDR Canada. EMDR is a highly effective form of psychotherapy used primarily for trauma (see additional page)
If you're planning to use Extended Health Care, please check if my services as a Registered Clinical Counsellor are covered.
I offer a sliding scale for those with financial considerations.
Client Fee Individuals:
Client Fee Couples/Families:
For further information, visit David Ravvin's website.
I have an MA in Counselling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology (Toronto/Chicago) and a BA in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia.
Addiction Recovery Work:
In my experience as an addiction counsellor, most people with an addiction want to change and have tried to do so on their own. The reason they haven't succeeded yet is because the addiction itself undermines their ability to change.
I believe we each have a true self, a rational loving self, that doesn't want to cause ourselves harm. An addiction, though, gets a person organized around getting what the body wants, in the moment, for escape and pleasure, despite the negative consequences. The person's true self usually battles against the addiction but the addiction's priorities win out. The addicted person loses the ability to 1) honestly assess themselves, 2) regulate the body, and 3) consistently sustain their will to change.
I believe a deep recovery requires 1) engaging and rebuilding the true self, 2) using simple practices, when urges arrive, to calm and regulate the body, and 3) setting up practices and structures to help a person sustain their will to change over time.
This is not merely about "will-power." It is about developing and following a customized, structured program in conversation with an experienced counsellor. The work is usually hard but very doable--and often transformative.
I help addiction recovery clients to:
I often work with clients who have completed 1st stage recovery work and who want to deepen their recovery.
When people develop and work recovery programs they can recover from addictions.
I am trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and TIR (Traumatic Incident Reduction). I am a registered member of EMDR Canada.
Most of my trauma work is done using EMDR, a powerful form of therapy that involves a very deep and efficient kind of processing. The client focuses on a disturbing memory, generally following it from start to finish, while the therapist facilitates eye movements (or some other dual attention stimulation of the brain). The event gradually becomes less disturbing, allowing the client’s more adaptive--rational and self-loving--ways of thinking to form a new interpretation of the event.
A client, for instance, who was sexually abused as a child can come to think and feel she couldn’t possibly have been responsible for what was done to her, against her will, by an adult, when she was a child. Irrational feelings of guilt and shame are discharged.
I use EMDR with clients who have been in serious accidents, including car accidents, or who have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse in childhood or as adults. EMDR work can have quite profound results, helping clients to rid themselves of such symptoms as sleeplessness, high anxiety, hyper-vigilance and mistrust of others.
I also use EMDR to work with what are sometimes called small T traumas: life events that, while less obviously traumatic, leave ongoing disturbance. These include parental/sibling neglect and mistreatment, bullying, grief and alienation.
A client, for example, who is perpetually weighed down by resentment towards his mother can come to see and feel that while she has very real shortcomings she is not the ogre he perceives her to be; and that she can be engaged much more constructively by using his own inner strengths, some of them passed on to him by his mother. Disturbed feelings subside and better relationships result.
Scientific research has established that EMDR is an effective form of treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); 20 randomized controlled trials have been conducted supporting its efficacy (see EMDR Institute, Inc. website [Research Overview], or New York Times, March 2/12, “The Evidence on EMDR”).
Men’s Work, I believe, is about coming to understand how our maleness sometimes contributes to our suffering and confusion (and to the suffering of others). Virtually no men come to counselling to do “Men’s Work” but most counselling with men is implicitly Men’s Work.
We talk about our isolation, the Superman we’re not, the loser we sometimes feel like, the better self that doesn’t get expressed, our confusion around emotional situations, and the avoidant things we do instead of dealing directly with our anger and disappointment. Men’s Work requires that we admit some weakness, ask for some help, reconsider some of our assumptions, think and talk deeply about our lives and feelings, and then change our behaviour in the world.
If this sounds too much like women’s work, Men’s Work is usually done in a mostly Guy Way. With some laughter, reasoned argument, a sense of comradery, a knowing (but not too knowing) understanding of how the world works, a reliance on inner resources, and then a good action plan.
In my experience as a counsellor, the most striking feature of anger is its ability to override a person’s reason and basic decency. Something human goes offline and something animal takes over. My initial work with clients involves helping them to be aware of their anger and the situations that give rise to it. Where does it first start surfacing in my body? What and who is triggering me? Clients are given strategies to manage, in the moment, rising anger.
The two keys to long term anger management success—that is, anger resolution-- are a maintenance plan and at least some deeper exploration into the issues.
With maintenance in mind, I help clients to anticipate challenging situations; to use communication skills to defuse potential conflict, to schedule regular how-am-I-doing check-ins with themselves and others; and to have strategies to help them remember to remember to practice what they’ve already practiced successfully. When clients maintain these practices over time a lot of anger begins to resolve on its own.
Deeper exploration into the issues involves delving into the reasons for a person’s anger. Were you a victim of abuse or mistreatment yourself? Why are you frustrated with your life? Why do you get into conflict with people? Why is there inconsistency between your values and your behaviour?
If you prefer a more structured anger management program, I offer a customized 6-10 session program. Clients will develop a number of tools, including a map of their escalating anger, a list of their triggers, practices to manage anger in the moment, communication and conflict resolution skills, an anger log, and a customized maintenance plan. The concept of a Democratic Self will be presented as a model of masculinity that promotes self-awareness and healthy relationships. Mandated clients generally must take at least 8 sessions and should check to make sure this program meets their conditions.
At Touchstone Family Association in Richmond I developed and co-facilitated Men, Anger & the Family, a group for men who committed violence against or who were otherwise abusive towards their partners or children. The group promoted democratic relations over master/slave (top dog/bottom dog) relations. I gave presentations about the group at the Ending Relationship Abuse and at the Healing Families/Healing Communities conferences. I also facilitated one of the province’s Review of Abusive Men's Services focus groups (Richmond).
Grief counselling usually takes on two forms: normal grief and what is sometimes called complicated or prolonged grief.
It is normal to feel sadness at the loss of a loved one or with the loss of a way of life, perhaps after losing a job or a lifestyle because of illness or age. People often feel unsupported and alone after these losses and it can be very helpful to talk to a counsellor about what they’re going through and how they can take care of themselves.
Complicated grief is usually related to the loss of someone very close and sometimes to the tragic or violent nature of their death. This grief involves a deep disturbance, often with persistent debilitating thoughts, intense sorrow, and a long-lived yearning. With clients suffering from complicated grief, I often use EMDR (see above), a powerful form of psychotherapy developed to treat trauma. EMDR involves a very deep processing of feelings, thoughts and body sensations. I find that clients can often achieve considerable relief after just a few sessions.
My depression work with clients usually involves two therapeutic approaches: 1) listening and responding, non-judgmentally and constructively, to their stories; and 2) encouraging them, if they’re ready, to behave in ways that will lift their mood and substantially change their life. Clients usually know approximately how much re-interpretation-of-themselves-and-the-world work they want to do and how much change-of-behaviour work they want to do. I follow their lead and, where they’re not sure, nudge them in directions I think will be useful.
Re-interpretation work usually begins with conversations about the more immediate matters that are weighing on a client: such as a failing marriage, a dissatisfying job or a general sense of hopelessness. From there the discussion usually expands out into related themes that likely have played out at other moments in their life: such as a sense of being too passive or of making the same mistakes over and over again.
We will also explicitly discuss inner resources a client possesses that they can use to lift themselves out of their depression: such as determination, intelligence, courage, and a sense of their own dignity and power.
These conversations are usually enough to shift a person to a place where they can start to change their behaviour. At minimum this work involves developing regular self-care practices: such as exercise, healthy eating and/or meditation. It also generally involves discussing ways clients can interact differently with other people: such as being more assertive, more pro-active, and less reactive.
These two counselling approaches work hand-in-hand in helping a client overcome depression.
Marriage and Couples Counselling
I have been doing Couples Counselling for 10 years.
I have a Certificate in the University of Guelph’s/American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists’ Couple and Family Therapy Studies program.