Ottawa-Carleton, ON
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Counselling and Therapy

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Anxiety in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction Dylan is afraid of the dark. Tricia hates to eat in front of other people. Eric becomes sick to his stomach and throws up if he has to speak aloud in class. Fears and worries are a very normal part of life for children and adults. However, if these worries become cause for concern because they are affecting day-to-day functioning significantly, we refer to these excessive worries as anxiety. How Common are Anxiety Disorders? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in children and adults. Roughly 6% of children and youth have an anxiety disorder that is serious enough to require treatment. How Long ...
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Bipolar Disorder in Children and Youth: Information for Families
What Is Bipolar Disorder? All of us have changes and swings in our mood which are normal. There are times when our mood is up, and we have more energy and excitement about things. There are other times when our moods are down, and we have less energy.   However, people with bipolar disorder  have periods of extreme mood change that  cause serious problems in their lives.   In the classic form of bipolar, people have episodes of depression and of mania, when their mood, energy, thinking and behaviour gets stuck for a period of time at a very  low or a  very high level. Hence the term, ...
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Borderline Personality Disorder in Adults
Introduction All humans are social, and one of our deepest needs is to attach, or feel connected to others. After all, we cannot survive without others. When we are young, our most important attachments are to parents and adult caregivers. As we become older, our attachments change to include friends and peers. In adulthood, it changes to focus on romantic partners.    Because one of our deepest needs is to attach, it is natural then, that one of our deepest fears is lack of attachment, or rejection, or abandonment. For people with borderline personality disorder, these fears become overwhelming and ...
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Bullying in Children and Youth: Guide for Caregivers
What is Bullying? Bullying is a form of aggression in which one individual is exposed to deliberately harmful actions by a more aggressive person.  Bullying can be physical (e.g., hitting, pushing, tripping), verbal (e.g., name calling, insults, put-downs), social (e.g., social isolation, rumours) or cyber (e.g., threats or insults spread through internet or cell phone).   It is also possible for the same child to be both a bully and a victim. There are also "provocative victims" (term coined by Olweus, 2001), who display negative behaviours that annoy bullies and lead them to take action.   School ...
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Children and Youth Coping With Grief, Bereavement and Loss: Information for Families
Introduction At some point, we all face the loss or death of a loved one. This is a difficult experience for a person of any age, but is particularly hard for young people. Adults may be uncertain on how to respond to the needs of children during this time. They might be overwhelmed with their own grief or have questions about how to explain such a difficult concept in ways that children can understand. Even when adults respond the best that they can, a child may still be overwhelmed by grief issues.    This article describes how children are affected by grief and bereavement, and what family and friends can do to support a ...
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Depression in Adults
What is Depression? Everyone has times when they feel the ‘blues' or when they get sad from time to time. Depression on the other hand, is a sadness so severe that it can cause: Difficulties functioning at home, work or school Changes in sleep, energy, appetite and concentration, Feelings such as sadness, anxiety, irritability or anger, Low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness. When extremely severe, people who are depressed may have thoughts of hurting themselves. How Common is Depression? Depression is a common condition that can affect anyone at any age. In any given year, it is estimated that ...
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Depression in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
What is depression? It is normal for children and youth to feel sad from time to time.  But this sadness doesn’t stop them from going on with their everyday activities.  And it goes away on its own.  Depression, on the other hand, is a sadness so severe that it interferes with everyday life.   Typical symptoms of depression (aka clinical depression, or major depressive disorder) are: Feeling sad, worried, irritable or angry Lack of enjoyment in life, or troubles enjoying anything Feeling hopeless and worthlessHaving troubles coping with everyday activities at home, school, or ...
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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
What Is It? Most of us have experienced some form of dissociation at some point in our lives. For example, you may have dissociated or spaced out during boring situations such as a long, boring drive, and then not really remember how you got somewhere. Or you may have experienced stressful situations where you were numb or spaced out and can’t really recall what happened. However, when a person is faced with overwhelming stress as may happen with abuse, dissociation is a normal process that can happen to deal with the stress. For example, a child who experiences sexual abuse may ‘space out’ as a way to protect herself ...
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Emotions: Helping Young Children Cope with Emotions
Introduction Your child was not born knowing how to control feelings or calm down, and needs to learn this from you. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. A loving relationship with your child is the best way you can help him or her learn to deal with difficult feelings. Unpleasant Feelings that Your Child May Have Anger   Anger is a common feeling and temper tantrums are normal in young children. They are your child’s way of letting you know that he or she is feeling angry, upset or frustrated. Try to find out what is bothering your child and respond differently depending on what is ...
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Fear of Vomiting (Emetophobia) in Children and Youth
What is the Fear of Vomiting (Emetophobia)? It is normal to dislike the thought of vomiting, but for someone with emetophobia, the thought of vomiting is so terrifying that it can end up controlling a person's life.   The person may: Avoid going out, due to fear of vomiting Avoid eating in public places (such as restaurants), or with other people Avoid any place or situation where there is the slightest possibility that the person (or others) may vomit Become upset even at the mere mention of the word ‘vomit,' or synonyms like ‘throw up', ‘barf,' ‘puke,' ...
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Infant Mental Health: Comforting Your Baby
Introduction Crying is the main way your baby can tell you what he or she needs. How you respond when your baby cries during the first year of life will teach your baby if he or she can count on you.   No one can comfort a baby ALL the time. What matters is that most of the time, you try to comfort him or her. Three Very Important Times To Pay Attention To Your Baby's Cries When your baby is sick When your baby is hurt When your baby is upset (for example, when he or she is sad, frightened or lonely) Comforting your baby at these times does not spoil him or her. It makes your baby feel respected ...
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Mental Health Services for Children and Youth
What is Mental Health? Mental health (like our physical health) is a resource for living.  It allows us to learn, work, play and find enjoyment in life.  It helps us through tough times.   From a child or teen’s point of view, mental health means things such as…        I feel like I have things to live for I feel hopeful and good about the future I like myself I’m satisfied, content or happy with life I feel that people care about me I feel in control of my life What is Mental Illness? People have mental health problems ...
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Mindfulness 101: The Basics
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening right now. When you practice mindfulness, you turn your attention to your thoughts, emotions and body sensations in the present moment. While doing this, you do your best to accept what you’re experiencing, without labelling it as ‘good’, ‘bad’ or anything else. This can help you feel calmer and cope better with stress and frustration. Focusing on the present helps us to:   • Feel less depressed – as we often do when we worry about the past • Feel less anxious – as we often do when we ...
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Neurofeedback: Information for Patients and Families
What is Neurofeedback? Our brains consist of billions of neurons that use electricity to communicate with each other. When our synapses are firing, they create electrical activity that can be measured as “brain waves”.   In many conditions, our brain waves are disrupted and not functioning properly. Thus we can have too many of some types of brain waves or not enough of others.   Neurofeedback is a type of therapy that can help individuals to better control their brain waves, which may thus be helpful for various brain conditions.  What is the Evidence for Neurofeedback? Evidence suggests that ...
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Panic Attacks in Adults
Introduction Dave had his first panic attack about 3-months ago. He remembers the exact day and time it happened; he was at work, trying to meet an important deadline when out of the blue, he felt this sudden attack of intense panic. It passed after about 10-minutes, but he had to go home early that day. Since then, he continues to get attacks and they appear to be getting worse. The last one happened when he was out shopping. Since then, he only leaves his home to go to work, and otherwise tries to stay home, out of fear that another attack will happen.... What are Panic Attacks? Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense anxiety and ...
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Relationships
Introduction In our lives, we have many relationships, and all of these make a difference to our mental health. When our relationships go well, it helps our mental health. When we have problems with our relationships, it can cause stress and problems for our mental health.   Perhaps the most important relationship in our lives is our romantic relationship, i.e. the one that we have with our spouse, partner, husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend...   The following advice about our primary romantic relationship comes from the Gottman Institute, which is dedicated to the study of marital relationships -- what makes them, ...
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Seasonal Depression (aka Winter Depression)
What is Seasonal Depression? "I used to really hate the winters. I'd get sad and start crying for no reason. I'd just hibernate - stop going out, sleep all the time, and couldn't stop eating carbs, and I'd gain ten pounds every winter. And then I realized that really what I had was winter depression."   Seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD, season depression or winter depression in North America) is a type of depression that occurs in the fall/winter months. It usually begins in late fall or early winter and goes away by summer, and is felt to be due to the seasonal lack of sunlight.   But ...
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Selective Mutism in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
“She won't speak to anyone…” Jane is 6 years old and can dance and sing in front of her family…. she might even be the next Idol! But in music class she is paralyzed by fear and can’t say a word.   Jay is a 7 year old boy who plays soccer with his brothers and talks excitedly about his favorite World Cup team. Yet, at recess time, he stands alone watching the other kids play soccer and doesn’t speak when others ask him if he wants to play. Some of the kids think he’s a snob, and so they ignore him.   Mary is a 5 year old girl who talks at home with all her brothers, ...
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Self-Harm Behaviours in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Mary's Story Mary is a 12-yo teenager who has always been somewhat quiet and shy, so her mother was surprised when she found out that Mary started dating a boy this school year. But lately, Mary's been a lot moodier than usual. And just the other day, Mary's mother caught a glimpse of Mary's forearms and saw that they had scratches and cuts all over them. Like most parents would feel in such a situation, Mary's mother felt suddenly scared and confused, and thought to herself "This is terrible! I've no idea how to deal with this! What am I supposed to do!" What is Self-Harm? Self-harm (or the official ...
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Separation and Divorce
Introduction Separation and divorce happens often. In North America, close to 40% of relationships eventually end up in separation or divorce within 15-years (Kreider et al., 2002; Department of Justice, 1997). Separation and divorce is stressful to children and youth for many reasons. Their family, as they know it, is changing profoundly, and they have no control over the situation. Some may feel that if parents are leaving each other, parents could leave children too.   Other reasons children and youth find the experience stressful: Conflict between parents. It’s hard to imagine a separation or divorce ...
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So You Want To Be Happy? The Secret to Mental Wellness and Happiness
What is the Secret to Happiness and Mental Wellness?  Everyone wants to be happy, i.e. have mental wellness, the state of well-being where we feel contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure or joy. Throughout history, people have struggled to find the secret to happiness.   Mental wellness can be defined as the “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community” (Health Canada, 2014).    But simply living a life of pleasure is not enough to lead to a life of ...
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Social Anxiety Disorder in Adults
Introduction It's the adult who has never dated because he's too shy to talk to members of the opposite sex. It's the quiet employee who is underappreciated by his co-workers and underpaid by his company. It's that great, funny person that you know, but who suffers from loneliness because s/he is too shy unless around close friends and relatives... Overview It is normal for everyone to be shy at certain times. For example, many people would have some nervousness about doing a big presentation, or about meeting a new boss for the first time. Having "just enough" shyness is good because it helps prevent people ...
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Social Anxiety in Children and Youth: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Introduction It's the student who struggles at school because she's too afraid to ask questions in class. It's the teenager who suffers from loneliness from not having any friends because he's too shy to talk to anyone in school. It's shyness so severe that it gets in the way of life...   Shyness runs along a spectrum. It is normal for everyone to be shy at certain times. It is appropriate to be more shy in some situations than in others.  Some cultures value shyness more than others, especially for children. Social anxiety disorder is more than just normal shyness - it is shyness so severe that it gets in ...
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Stress
(Original title "Learn About... Stress", from the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division) Introduction You have a major deadline coming up tomorrow and you still have a ton of work to do. Your child’s principal called; your child is being disruptive…again. You have 12 people coming over for dinner this weekend and you still have no idea what you’re going to make. On top of everything else, your mother isn’t feeling well but refuses to go to the doctor. Your muscles are feeling tense, you find yourself nervously tapping your feet as you sit at your desk. Your thoughts keep racing around in your ...
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Suicide
Introduction Suicide is not a topic most people want to talk about; but odds are you know someone who has attempted or died by suicide. Maybe you’ve even lost a friend, family member or coworker to suicide. At last count, 3613 people in Canada took their own lives. That’s more lives lost than from traffic accidents and murders combined that year. Suicide has been called a “hidden epidemic,” it’s time to take it out of the shadows. Who does it affect? Studies show that up to 90% of people who take their own lives have depression, substance use problems or another mental disorder—whether diagnosed or ...
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Supporting a Family Member or Friend with Mental Health Needs
Introduction If someone you love is sick, it can be scary. When they are sick with a mental health issue it can be especially scary. It can be hard to see someone you love in pain and it’s confusing when someone you know well is not acting like themselves. You know how you would take care of them if they had a cold or flu; but what do you do when their illness is a mental one? Just like if someone you love develops diabetes, someone with a mental illness needs extra love and support. You may not be able to see the illness, but it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless to help. How do I know when to help? Some signs that a ...
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Waiting for Mental Health Services: What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
1. Keep in touch with your mental health service provider  Ask to be put on a cancellation list (if your provider has one). This gives you the possibility of being seen more quickly. If another family cancels an appointment, your service provider calls you to see if your child or teen can make the appointment time. If not, you can wait for the next availabale appointment. Make sure your provider has up to date contact information for you, including a number where you can be reached during the day.    Let your mental health service provider (or family doctor) know if your child or teen is getting worse. Your ...
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