contemplation for personal growth 

Downtown and East Toronto psychologists
West Toronto and Mississauga psychologists

Psychologically minded Toronto author 

 by Jessica R. Gera

Relationship therapy for guys
Relationships--the Gossip Club
Relaxing with goats

Dr. Kim answers questions:

Pornography problem
Counselling for marriage breakdown
Analytically-oriented psychotherapy
How to become a psychotherapist, counsellor or psychologist

When therapy is not therapeutic

Christmas Depression
What do singles talk about in Therapy?

More on my interest in psychology as applied to personal growth...

Psychotherapy and counselling--applied psychology

Online psychotherapy

Nowadays there is increasing demand for online therapy with the development of technology that makes it possible. Psychotherapists in major centres such as Toronto are now available to clients in Northern Ontario and distant parts of Canada...see online counsellor and therapist.  and Distance counselling used to be by phone or asyncronously by email. Today there is also instant messaging, and most popular of all, video therapy. At first Skype was used for this, but there are now professional platforms with much superior privacy, Vsee probably being the most popular in Canada.

Online therapists help you to

Figure out what is bothering you
Find out why you do things
Figure out what is getting in your way
Solve problems and learn problem-solving skills
Understand other people
Cope with difficult people
Stop getting jerked around
Figure out what works for you
Make choices
Be yourself

How counselling works

 A counsellor is trained to listen attentively in order to understand each client's unique situation, experience and perceptions. By doing so, and by coming at the material from the outside, he/she can help the client to think outside the box and see options that have been overlooked.  For some clients it is helpful for a therapist to point out what he/she sees. For others it works better to wait till they see it themselves. So the more open-minded the therapist is, the better the counselling works. Needless to say, if a counsellor were narrow-minded and judgemental, the experience could be damaging instead of helpful. This is one of the reasons that analytically trained therapists spend years doing their own therapy. Although some therapeutic methods put much more emphasis on the relationship between counsellor and client than others, research has shown time and again that it is vitally important regardless of the type of psychotherapy.


Relationship therapy for couples--what works?

Typically psychotherapists practice individual psychotherapy for a number of years before attempting marital therapy, which is more complex and may involve dealing with competing needs and a lot of conflict, sometimes overt and hard to control. Marriage guidance can turn a dysfunctional relationship into a good one, sometimes even after many years of bad history. However, a bad therapy experience can further harm the relationship and the partners' emotional wellbeing.

The couple's and counsellor's goals need to be aligned. If not, there needs to be a discussion, and if agreement is not reached, it is not a good fit. It also follows that if the partners have conflicting goals, the process will not work unless they can be helped to negotiate a basis for working together. The therapist needs to be clear that he/she is not The Judge, and is not there to impose his own or Society's values on the clients. As many clients have a conscious or unconscious misconception about this (for example, some come to therapy hoping that the therapist will tell the spouse that he or she is wrong), it is important for the counsellor to be really clear. At the same time, a relationship therapist has an educational function and needs to be an active participant, so it is a fine line.

In most cases, to enable the partners to solve their problems the counsellor needs to have a deep insight into human motivation, coming from both broad experience and in-depth training. At the same time, an understanding of the society we live in and awareness of how the real world works is important--and this is an area in which social workers usually have most training. Much more could be said, of course. But if the therapist is showing no signs of getting it after a couple of sessions despite your best efforts to be assertive, move on.

Other topics:
Health tips for Toronto residents


Mike Mares personal page, University of Toronto

University of Toronto employee and East Toronto resident Mike Mares

       Nature, and Nature’s laws lay hid in night
        God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
       -Alexander Pope

        It did not last; the Devil howling “Ho!
         Let Einstein be!” restored the status quo.

-J.C. Squire

My interests away from work include psychology, physics, paleontology, modern history, biking and, lately, country living and goats.

Best book I've read lately: Thinking, Fast and Slow by psychologist Daniel Kahneman

Many years of psychological research come together to explain the roles of rational and irrational thinking, with profound implications for psychotherapy.

I also recommend: Trick or Treatment by Professor Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh

Edzard Ernst is a professor of alternative medicine; Simon Singh is an acclaimed science journalist. They explain how therapies are researched and evaluated, and together they explore the evidence for alternative health practices, focusing on four therapies (one of them being chiropractic. I understand that the British chiropractors  sued.)  The book is both carefully researched and easy for someone without a scientific background to understand.

Movies to see if you missed them: The Third Man (suspense)  Glory (civil war)

Series not to be missed:
Of course you saw The Sopranos, which I think is a brilliant and profound picture of homo sapiens as found in the society we're living in. How about Arrested Development,  the funniest and most psychologically astute family comedy I've seen; and The Larry Sanders Show, another great portrayal of present-day North American man, this time as comedy.

Copyright © 2002 M. Mares, since updated