My Backstory: On this page, I decided it might be important to share a bit more of my backstory, as it relates to becoming a therapist. As I child I was raised with a great deal of trauma, with multiple abusers, in a home and a culture where most people lived from a place of unresolved pain. I was raised in extreme poverty. I was also the fattest boy I knew, beginning a lifelong struggle with food that has only gotten resolved in the last few years. I also just so happened to be a smart, oddball little gay boy in a time and place where that had to be a very intense secret - it was so great a secret that I didn't figure it out myself until I was 21 and started therapy (just over 3 decades ago now).
Young adulthood had it's challenges as well. At University I found freedom and I found healing - but I also found alcohol, which I proceeded to abuse for several years. After that, Recovery from alcohol was a powerful time of healing in my life.
Then came what I refer to as "The Grieving Years". I lived in Florida at the time, which was one of the epicenters of the AIDS epidemic, and during the worst of this time (just as the HIV drug cocktails came out) I lost many of my best friends to this cruel disease, with the death of a very close friend once about every 9 months for 5 years. Each of them brilliant young men with so much to offer the world, each of them dying a cruel and painful death... My heart and my spirit were broken after this, for some time...
Strength through adversity: The point of sharing all this is that each of the painful eras I discuss here have, through the alchemy of personal growth and counselling, become a point of calm and centered strength for me. I am grateful for all of it, and when I say I am a "Strength-based" therapist, it comes from a place where I have seen, both in my own life and in countless others, how the greatest of personal difficulties can be transformed into the greatest of strengths.
The Gift of Counselling: Thus I am an ardent believer in the power of counselling! Counselling played the major role in transcending some of these difficulties of my early life, and it continues to serve me well. It was a lot of deep work that put me on the path toward wellness, peeling away the dysfunctions and difficulties to create a life that is filled, on most days, with a sense of clarity and grace. Having found freedom, I take it now as my mission to work helping others find this same happiness and empowerment.
Over the years I have also had the advantage to see many different counsellor's, some better than others. Before my counselling education I learned how to be (and, in a few cases, how not to be) a counsellor from each of these men and women who helped me.
The Career Path: I come to counselling as my third career. My first career was as a florist and small business owner; and my second was as a Support Worker for differently-abled children and adults. (I still do work in this field). While working in Residential Program management, in a home with many violent and challenging behaviours, I realized that my greatest skill set was in counselling. I saw how well I supported my staff team in a very challenging work environment, and realized that what really excited me about this work was the practical but heart-centered role I played in supporting others through adversity. This led me on the path toward this counselling career.
What I bring to the room:
- Education and Training: I received my Diploma of Professional Counselling from VCCT in 2011, and founded VIDA that same year. I interned as a Counsellor with Qmunity. Professional development is a constant in the field, and currently I am largely focused on Hakomi Therapy training, though I have also had a focus on Existential Analysis, and also Positive Psychology.
- History: While I bring to the room many hours of experience in counselling sessions, I believe that both the abundant career and life history I bring with me are at least equally important.
- Personal Gifts: Personal qualities which I hope to bring into the room are: a deep empathy (I have experienced the struggle first hand), a quick intelligence and ability to listen beyond the words, a hearty sense of humour ("life is too important to take so seriously"), and, hopefully, a healthy dose of humility.
To my current and future clients: Your healing journey is a noble journey and I would just like to take this opportunity to say that I feel deeply honoured to do this powerful life work with you...