Sharing with you some highlights of my journey to liv wellness
As a competitive figure skater growing up, Sports Psychology was my first taste into appreciating the power our mindsets can have on our emotions and physical performances. Psychology developed into natural interest for me, and became my major in undergraduate studies, with a minor in Women’s Studies.
While working towards my Masters of Counselling degree, I married my two passions of psychology and women’s issues by working at a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing program. There, I had the privilege of being at the ground level and supporting women and their children in rebuilding their lives, their sense of physical safety, as well as their emotional and mental wellbeing.
The process of becoming a counsellor was one of the most enriching experiences, as there is a lot of self-work and increased self-awareness built into it. It was a “becoming,” and I soon got to work in the helping field, equipped with my new skill-set and my passion for women’s empowerment.
My very first client shared with me her experiences of child sexual abuse (CSA). Between our first and second session, with the eagerness of a new therapist, I read a whole two books on protocols in treating survivors of child sexual abuse, and swiftly signed up for a specialization course in working with survivors of CSA. I will never forget on our final session together, she told me never to lose my vigour as a counsellor as I add years to my experience, and I told her I wouldn’t. I still keep that advice in mind to this day.
As I continued my work, more and more survivors shared their stories with me. The meaning of the statistic that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused as children became more and more real to me. It became clear that before building up the empowerment skills I was so passionate about, we needed to first create solid foundation by healing old wounds of trauma.
With so many survivors on the waitlist for individual therapy at the government-subsidized mental healthcare clinic at which I was employed, I was supported by my supervisor in creating a group for female adult survivors of CSA. The process of seeing all these different women from different walks of life go from feeling isolated in their experiences to connected and healing together as a team was nothing short of amazing. I then added a follow-up Empowerment Skills group, which also attracted women without sexual trauma histories.
Along the way, I honed my individual counselling skills with trainings in EMDR, basic and advanced, a variety of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy trainings, and advanced trainings in EMDR with highly dissociative clients (with Dr. Sandra Paulsen), and early trauma, occurring age 0-5 (with Katie O’Shea). I am so passionate about using EMDR to address not only the mind and emotions, but also the bodily impact that trauma has on a person.
After four years of non-profit work, I earned my license to practice privately, and realized my dream of creating a small, beautiful space in the world for safety and healing to occur by opening the doors to liv wellness. Though I work with people from all walks of life, my specialties include:
- life transitions
- difficulty identifying or reaching desired life goals
- issues with poor self-image, self-esteem, self-worth
- fear, anxiety, panic, phobias
- abuse issues (emotional, physical, sexual abuse in childhood and/or adulthood)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- dissociative symptoms
It is an honour every day to hear people’s uncensored stories, support them in creating a vision for their ideal life, be present for their authentic expression of intimate thoughts and raw emotions, and hold a space where healing can take place. Witnessing clients connect the dots, and seeing the dramatic changes in minds, bodies and lives from as little as one EMDR reprocessing session never ceases to amaze me.
Mental and emotional health awareness still has a long way to go in order for the general public to appreciate how very important it is for our wellbeing, and the role it plays in physical illness. My hope for liv wellness is to help reduce the stigma of seeking mental health counselling, so that it can also be used preventatively. It has been such a joy in recent years to see more and more young people seeking my services for just that purpose. Frankly, by the time we get to our 20s and 30s, we all have experiences that can use some healing! In addition, honing our mental and emotional game for work, social and sport performance can bring huge gains. If the time is right for you, please reach out to schedule your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation to see if we would be a good fit.
In my personal life, I love that my career choice keeps me accountable to take care. Outside of therapy and writing, my daily routine includes some kind of cooking and physical movement (especially yoga, and anything outdoors), and I love learning about the impact of food and movement on our minds and bodies. Follow along for healthy inspiration, mind-body knowledge, and updates from me at @liv_wellness on Instagram!
Listen to more about my journey of becoming a Trauma Therapist on the Trauma Therapist Project Podcast here!
All my best to you and your health,
Helen Thomas MC, RCC, LPC