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I have a BA in Psychology, as well as an MA in Counselling Psychology (family specialization) from UBC. I am a Certified Canadian Counsellor in good standing with the Canadian Counselling Association.
Since 1991, I have been working with a diverse range of individuals and groups, including: children, adolescents, families, “at-risk” and street-involved youth, First Nations clients, university/college students of all ages, people on income assistance, and people with mental health issues. I have worked for Richmond Youth Service Agency, Pacific Children’s Shelter Society, Mental Patients Association, Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Kwantlen University College, and Interlock Employee and Family Assistance Corporation. I have provided intake assessment, crisis intervention, individual, family, couples, and group counselling as well as workshops and corporate team-building events.
I use an integrative approach to counselling which draws upon: family systems therapy, Satir’s family therapy, marriage and couples counselling, feminist theory, humanistic-existential therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, gestalt therapy, relaxation therapy, and guided visualization.
For further information, visit Michelle Coulombe's website.
Michelle Coulombe is a Certified Canadian Counsellor who sees clients in Burnaby.
Is this you?
"Other people are making me crazy!"
"Someone close to me has a problem, and it's affecting me."
"My partner is addicted to drugs/alcohol/sex/work/food."
"My partner is a control freak."
"My partner is irresponsible and lazy."
"My boss is my biggest problem."
"I feel overwhelmed, defensive, burned out, disempowered or victimized."
"I continue to be unhappy at home, work or with friends, and I find it hard to take positive steps."
"I feel unacknowledged, invalidated, unappreciated and unloved."
"I find myself saying yes when I want to say no."
"I feel responsible for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions and happiness."
"I feel compelled to help people solve their problems."
"I try to please others instead of myself."
Most people come from families where there was a certain amount of dysfunction or unhealthy behaviour present. Some people come from families where alcohol or drugs were being abused by one or both parents when they were growing up (Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOA's). Others come from families where violence was present. Sometimes it is hard to see how our family may have been unhealthy. Perhaps your parent stopped drinking but never went through recovery to heal and change their unhealthy behaviours. Perhaps your mom or dad was depressed, manic-depressive or anxious and didn't get help. Sometimes our family situation taught us that we were worthless, or that everyone else and their needs mattered more than we did.
Counselling can help you to regain your energy and to focus that energy back on to your own life. It can help you to make the choices that are right for you. It can help you to set limits with people, even those you love, who may be crossing onto your side of the fence. You will feel a greater sense of freedom and less confused as you discover what you are and are not responsible for.
Learning about boundaries is a very important step in many relationship problems. Learning how to express your own feelings, likes, wants, needs, values, dislikes, limits, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs is an important task in building your sense of who you are.
Some of you may have trouble listening to that little voice inside of you, and you may ignore your intuition, your hunches, and your gut feelings. Or perhaps you find yourself losing your temper more than you want to. Or maybe you think that it is important to "get back at" people to pay them back for how they treated you. These ways of thinking and behaving can cause problems in your relationships with others. Others end up feeling irritated, frustrated, hurt, and angry.
Assertiveness training helps you to express yourself in a healthy way, without violating the other person's rights. You will learn about your rights as a human being. You will become stronger and stronger as you learn to listen to your inner voice. Assertiveness helps you to be able to say no without feeling guilty, and to stand up for yourself.
Communication training can reduce the number and intensity of arguments you have with your loved ones or co-workers. You can learn not only how to get your message across, but also how to improve your listening skills and prevent discussions from escalating into heated arguments.
Does this sound like you?
"I feel like I can't cope."
"It seems like I can't stop crying."
"I can't sleep at night."
"I wake up early and can't fall back to sleep."
"There's no point in going on."
"I feel like running away."
"I want to stay in bed all day."
"I have trouble relaxing."
"I can't concentrate at work or school."
"My mind keeps racing."
"I am irritable and critical with the people I love."
These are just some of the concerns and feelings that people may have when they are struggling to deal with difficult situations, challenging relationships, or the loss of someone or something very dear to them. Perhaps you feel some of these things yourself. You may feel overwhelmed, worried all the time, nervous or anxious. You may be feeling depressed, hopeless, guilty, or sad. Or you may feel irritated, frustrated, and angry more than usual.
Counselling can help you to feel happy again, alive, and energetic. It can help you to feel more relaxed and peaceful.
All of the problems listed above can be helped using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT has been shown by research to be as effective as medication for treating depression and anxiety. It also has the advantage over medication in that clients who have been treated using CBT have a lower rate of relapse, meaning that their symptoms are less likely to return. The plan I follow typically includes looking at the body's stress response, what depression is, how lifestyle factors can support you, how your social network can support you, assertiveness, looking at changes in mood, identifying your patterns of thinking, learning how to change your negative thinking, and preventing future reoccurrences. Extra work can be done in the areas of thought stopping, distorted thought patterns, worrying and fears.
I can also help you if you have generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, social phobia, specific phobias (fears), or obsessive compulsive disorder using instruments developed by Dr. David Burns. There are a variety of cognitive techniques (dealing with thoughts) that we can try as well as emotional techniques. The idea is to try 3-5 techniques per session and fail as fast as we can until we find the technique that brings about a powerful emotional reaction. This will be your technique that you can use on yourself whenever the negative feelings or thoughts try to get their hooks in you again.
Other forms of therapy which I use for these issues may include:
1. Looking at your early relationships with your family for patterns which may be repeating themselves in your intimate relationships and friendships,
2. Relaxation therapy, guided visualization and relaxation training for stress or anxiety.
There are many other issues that I am qualified to help you with. I can help you to feel better about yourself, make an important decision, explore your personality, values, interests and skills to help you choose or refocus your career path, manage your time better so that you have more time for the things you love to do, calm yourself down when you are feeling stressed out or angry, manage your children more effectively and lovingly, resolve recurring issues with your sisters, brothers, mom or dad. I can help First Nations peoples with a respect for their unique culture and spirituality, an understanding of colonialism, residential schools, and the impact that this has had on them.
What is an eclectic approach?
My approach to counselling is an eclectic approach, which means that it is a blend of several different therapies. Your needs and issues help me to decide which type of therapy will be best suited to you at this time.
As a person-centred therapist my philosophy is that people naturally move toward greater functioning, awareness, trust in themselves and self-direction. I bring an attitude of genuineness, warmth, empathy, and respect to your therapy in order to provide a safe and permissive place for you to express your feelings, and explore your problem(s). My clients take an active role in therapy and assume responsibility for the goals of their therapy. You can chose which goals we set together and which goals you want to work on first. I see you as being the expert on your problem, and I believe that you always have a choice in deciding whether or not to participate in therapy exercises. Working with me, you will always have a choice.
I primarily use cognitive-behavioural therapy for depression and anxiety. In using this form of therapy, I act primarily as an educator or trainer. Therapy focuses on changing thoughts and actions in order to change how you feel. We would work together to identify faulty thoughts and thinking patterns and replace them with more realistic and rational thoughts and thinking patterns. Your beliefs about yourself and the world are also examined and you will be encouraged to challenge the truth of your faulty beliefs. A wide range of techniques can be used in this approach. I will often give you take home inventories, reading assignments or other practice homework. This allows you to get more for your money than just your time in the session with me.
I often use: relaxation therapy, guided visualization, meditation and mindfulness exercises for clients who come to me with stress and anxiety. We might do an exercise in the session where we work on tightening and relaxing all of the major muscles in your body or simply relaxing all of these muscles. Guided visualization is an exercise where I help to bring you to a relaxed state through picturing certain things in your mind, imagining certain smells, and imagining that you feel certain sensations, all in a relaxing, peaceful place in your mind. Relaxation CD's, tapes, or MP3's which walk you through Progressive relaxation (long form and short form), passive relaxation (long form and short form) and a guided visualization exercise can be purchased for a nominal fee. I offer several meditation exercises which focus the mind on releasing itself from thoughts, feelings and physical sensations which we can often get "stuck" on.
Being a feminist therapist, my relationship with my clients is one of equality where my clients' well-being (both males and females) is of the utmost importance.
As a family therapist, several family therapies influence my work. As a follower of Virginia Satir's family and couples therapy, I believe that we are all unique and equal in value. I believe in the importance of enhancing a person's self-worth and nurturing to bring about growth. I believe that the client's awareness of the issue is the first step towards change. I believe that self-acceptance, (including acceptance of those parts of ourselves which we may see as undesirable), and acceptance of others is critical to the process of healing, and that change is always possible. One area we would look at in therapy is your coping stance (or style) under stress as well as the coping styles of your family members and partner.
Minuchin's Structural family therapy is most useful when a child or adolescent is understood by the family as the identified patient. This therapy sees a well-functioning family as one that can carry out its functions of supporting, nurturing, regulating, and socializing its members, while at the same time, handling stress, conflict and problems. A dysfunctional family is seen as one that is unable to fulfill its function of nurturing the growth of its members. Boundaries between members of the family may be too weak, where members may be too involved, intertwined and intrusive with one another. Boundaries may also be too rigid, where members are poor communicators, emotionally distant and unsupportive. To get rid of the source of the family's complaint, the structure of the family is transformed.
Parenting can be one of the most challenging jobs in the world and it's one that you can't quit! It makes it even tougher if you yourself had parents who used guilt trips, shaming, punishment, spankings, yelling or other disrespectful methods. If you just can't seem to get a handle on your kids, if they just won't listen to you or respect you, parenting help is here! When parenting issues are your concern, Adlerian Parenting also known as Democratic Parenting, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), and Positive Discipline are the approaches that I teach parents.
Call me at 604-731-7714 if you would like more information on any of these topics or if you would like me to help you with your specific issue.
Client Fee Individuals:
Client Fee Couples/Families: