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Self-Esteem and Challenging the Negative Narrative of “Me”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, self-esteem is the value we place on how we feel about ourselves, both inside and out. Self-esteem involves understanding our strengths and weaknesses, accepting them, and doing the best we can with that we have. In this piece, Chad Bouma, a Clinical Social Worker and Therapist in the Waterloo region, shares his personal and professional experience on self-esteem.


Think to your own life. Did you (or do you still) look towards others for affirmation and validation that your choices (career, friends, partners, school, etc.) were/are the “right” ones? Do you think that the choices you’ve made are ones that you can feel good about? When I think to parts of my life I can see that there were many times that I did not feel like I had worth, especially in comparison to other people who seemingly were better looking, more athletic, or more intelligent than I perceived myself. I could characterize myself as someone who had low self-esteem.

In my practice, I see various adults and adolescents who are struggling and/or challenged with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, and various other mood/cognitive disorders. When we begin to dig a bit deeper into the reflections of self, it’s no surprise that clients also identify that they either have or are also struggling with self-esteem issues. While not every person I work with faces these two complexities (mental health and low self-esteem), I can’t help but notice the correlation that exists for many.

In other words, how we portray ourselves in regards to our worth and abilities can definitely have an impact on how we experience and perceive our mental health challenges. Low self-esteem can definitely be a contributor and symptom of something like depressive thinking – which then acts as a “double whammy” in our ability to gain greater self-awareness. Does my self-esteem contribute to my depression or does my depression contribute to my low self-esteem? I believe the answer is both; but it also does not mean that we are altogether hopeless in turning things around. Research shows that many mental health disorders are biologically caused, meaning that talking to our health professionals and finding the right treatment (be it pharmaceutical or not) is always the best first option.

Part of the work that I try to do with people through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is to have a very honest conversation regarding peoples’ perceptions of themselves. Feelings of hopelessness or a lack of motivation do not always equate to low self-esteem, so it’s important to go through the arduous process of becoming self-aware. Here lies the possibility of a problem: if someone has positive self-esteem and self-worth then it may be relatively easy for them to identify this as such. But on the other hand, if someone does not feel like they have worth, then exploring that further may not be a rabbit hole that they really want to go down.

Talking about self-esteem is hard, and it’s even harder when you do not want to be faced with the fact that you may have low self-esteem. We live in an age where assertiveness is held as a virtue, and the subversion to more dominant personalities is seen as weak or lacking a spine. Moreover, it can be difficult to hear that your low self-esteem may be a large contributor for why things may not be going so positively for you in terms of your mental health. This does not mean, however, that you are the cause of the problem.

The good news is that your self-esteem can be changed. The bad news is that it might be hard work. Past experiences of feelings of shame, being devalued, or not being affirmed in your identity can cause behavioral and cognitive patterns of thought (“I’m not good enough”) which may eventually turn into core beliefs (“I’ll never be good enough”). It’s these road blocks that can prevent individuals from being able to view themselves in a healthier light. Gaining self-awareness by naming your core beliefs and exploring their origins, although difficult, can become a catalyst to meaningful growth.

Were you bullied as a kid? Do you have a manager in your workplace that is only critical and not encouraging? Do your loved ones build you up or make you feel like you cannot succeed? Do you tend to avoid trying new things or taking on new challenges for fear of failure? Any of these experiences can lend itself to your story and perception of your self-esteem and self-worth – and if it’s a negative perception, it only serves as validation to the negative core beliefs you already hold for yourself.

It’s incredibly helpful to talk to your therapist about your self-esteem and how you understand your own understanding of how it came to be. Particularly in CBT, your therapist will help you identify these negative patterns of thought and emotion and work with you in trying to challenge and change some of those assumptions you’ve made of yourself. Does your boss being critical of you actually mean that you’re not good in your role? Not necessarily. Does a bully at school truly know who you are and therefore your self-worth? Most likely not, and their bullying probably stems from their own self-esteem issues.

You may believe that it is beyond your grasp to change your self-esteem. It certainly takes hard work because of the incredible amount of internalizing and externalizing that needs to occur. But, simply begin with becoming aware of the messages you are telling yourself and try to challenge some of those negative assumptions you hold of yourself. With time, patience, and compassion, you have the potential to begin changing the narrative of your own self-perception.


I am a Clinical Social Worker who is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (although I do not profess to be a purist in this approach!). I currently work part-time for the Delton Glebe Counselling Centre in Waterloo as an Associated Therapist and as a Field Advisor/Off-site Supervisor for the Bachelor of Social Work program at Wilfrid Laurier’s Brantford Campus. Practicing Psychotherapy has shown me that people have amazing stories and I am humbled regularly by the resilience and strength that so many of my clients demonstrate. I am passionate about walking alongside people in their challenges and sufferings, striving to provide an empathetic approach while also helping to provide practical, client-centered support. If you would like to connect with me directly, please send me an email at chadboumacounselling@gmail.com, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment with me please visit glebecounselling.ca or by calling (519) 884-3305.

Sex, Relationships, and Blended Families

Keeping the spark alive in your relationship, especially when parenting and blended family struggles kick in, can become challenging. Therefore, being on the same page as your partner despite these stressors is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. Bliss Counselling’s very own sexologist, Kelly McDonnell-Arnold, and Stepmom coach, Jamie Scrimgeour, discuss tips and tricks on preventing these stressors from entering the bedroom! Check out the video below!

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Combatting Common Desire Discrepancy and Kick-Starting Desire

Let’s kick it up a notch and talk about desire this week!

Has sex become a chore for you? Do you and your partner constantly have disagreements about the frequency of your encounters? Is your partner seemingly disinterested in sex? Are you and your partner never in the mood for sex at the same time?

Reality is, we’re not in a romantic film or fairy tale TV show. Partners don’t always remain passionate for one another at the same time throughout their entire relationship. We call this “desire discrepancy” and it’s incredibly common to experience some level of this in relationships of any length. It doesn’t mean you don’t love one another, it doesn’t mean your sex life is awful, and it certainly doesn’t mean the end of a relationship.

However, according to sex and relationship therapist Barry McCarthy, “When sex in a relationship goes well, it takes up 15%, but when it’s a problem, it takes up to 75%, therefore, it is important to address low desire or desire discrepancy.”

So listen up — don’t panic.

I’ve put together my top ten tips that will help you to manage your current predicament and guide you to improve your experience and avoid any arguments. This will lead to a healthier and happier sex life!

You’re welcome!

Kelly’s Top 10 Tips for Kick-Starting Desire

Tip #1: Avoid the blame game.

If you are experiencing some level of desire discrepancy, you need to refrain from trying to force your partner to see the situation from your perspective or alternatively, trying to coerce them into changing their mind.

Tip #2: Always communicate.

The key to changing this situation, like many others, is to try and understand your partner’s point of view. Practice empathy when you’re trying to gain understanding of their overall levels of desire and how they are different from yours. Being curious about why they feel the way they do is healthy and opening up to your partner will help.

If a more consistent type of desire discrepancy is on the way, move further into talking about your unfulfilled needs as a couple. Here, I’m asking you to think about positions, massages, non-sexual intimate contact, emotional intimacy or simple, quality alone time away from the bedroom altogether.

Tip #3: Move away from the bedroom.

I’m not talking about sex on the couch or in the car here. Go and try something new as a couple. It doesn’t have to be romantic or sexual — just something different and fun that will remind you of all of the things you both enjoy doing together. This surely will increase that all-important, passion-inducing dopamine.

Rock climbing, a cooking class, a yoga session, dancing — whatever the activity, find something you can do as a pair and that will go a long way towards improving your sexual experiences when you eventually get back to the bedroom.

Tip #4: The art of seduction.

It’s so important to seduce one another, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Take things slow and warm each other up properly.
Expand your view on intimacy. Massage your partner; cuddle up to them on the couch. A good step is realizing that other simple things (besides sex) can be sensual and pleasurable. This will improve your levels of intimacy with one another, and hey, sometimes these small acts can even lead to sex.

Tip #5: Educate yourself and your partner.

Taking time to learn about sex, sexuality, and your sexual response cycle is crucial. Remember, knowledge is power so be sure to feed your sexual intelligence.

Tip #6: Self-pleasure!

Sure, at face value, it may be a singular activity but why not consider inviting and actively encouraging masturbation into your sex life? For many couples, doing so serves as a “valve” that equalizes sexual pressure between partners with different sex drives, allowing the partner with a higher libido to relieve some of their sexual needs.

Watch and learn from your partner as they explore and embrace their own body and learn what physically feels good and how to experience pleasure. Once this has been unlocked, and pleasure has been invited back into the arena, desire will flow more naturally and easily.

Tip #7: Develop your own brand of sexuality.

Spend some quality time putting together a list of conditions that will cultivate good sex and that relate to what you find personally seductive. Your list could include:

  • Do you like the lights on or maybe dimmed?
  • Is sex better right after the shower?
  • What time of day do you feel sexy?

Figure out your list and your partners and meet in the middle.

Tip #8: Quality over quantity — focus on having BETTER sex, not just more of it.

A lot of couples get into a sexual routine or rut, which makes it easy to get bored and eventually, reduces overall desire. Shake it up and get creative! Sometimes, however, it might just come down to something as simple as making eye contact during intercourse. Focus on eroticism, sensuality, and on pleasure sharing.

Tip #9: Sometimes, all you need is a little space.

The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” does apply to desire discrepancy in a similar way. Think about it this way — desire, like a flame, requires some air to really breathe. Sometimes, taking some space mentally to get re-engaged with yourself, your wants and desires, will help you both to get your head back into the game and bring you together again sexually.

Tip #10: Mindful pleasure.

Wherever you are right now, think about something pleasurable, not just sexual. For example, next time you’re in the shower, take a moment to enjoy the water dancing onto your skin, or really sit back and enjoy the pleasurable experience of your first sip of coffee. Whatever it is, dedicate more of your time to enjoying pleasurable moments. Treat yourself well, take care of your overall health/wellness and invite pleasure into your daily life.


Remember: while desire discrepancy is common and normal, it doesn’t and shouldn’t be a permanent problem within your relationship. Make it a priority; take charge and kick-start your desire today.


Certified Sexologist | Owner of Bliss Counselling | Co-Founder Sexology International

Kelly is passionate about providing ‘sex-positive,’ fresh, and reliable sexology information in all its complexity (but in a simple-to-understand message), empowering others to explore and own their sexuality. She’s the down to earth, whip-smart professional who takes her work seriously, but never herself.  Subscribe to her SoundCloud, check out her sexuality series ‘Sex Talk with Kelly’ on Rogers TV, or follow her on Twitter for the latest!

Eat your Herbs

You think of herbs, and you think of the cute little garden you plant every spring, and kill by summer. You think of your standard chives, cilantro or thyme — anything green and summery.

You’ve got to think a little broader than a summer garden here, because herbs and spices are far more vast than a little basil and group together things like cinnamon, garlic, ginger root, cilantro, coriander, tumeric, paprika and so forth. Who knew?

They are the thing that takes a good dish to great, a standard cookie to your secret recipe, and the ‘how to’ of Turkeys. But they serve a far greater purpose then to season the perfect steak. In fact, all herbs and spices alike contain powerful anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Not only that, almost all of them are full of vitamins and trace minerals as well. For example, pure, pink sea salt has 93 rich minerals in a single serving alone. What bang for your buck!

As with anything, fresh is best, and the best nutritional value can be found in fresh cut, crushed or grated herbs and spices from their raw form. They are all derived from plants, seeds, nuts, barks, roots and seeds. You may actually find that your green thumb comes a little more naturally in the winer in your kitchen, when you can control the elements, then in the summer. Basil, cilantro and mint all flourish in the winter on a sunny, warm windowsill, in direct light, with the right amount of water. Don’t be shy, grow whatever greenery you can get your hands on!

I myself love to use herbs and spices when I cook. It just kicks it up a notch, and helps me steer away from added salt, sauces or dips for flavour. My favourite trick is to add a combination of basil, cilantro and peppermint leaves to my salad mix! Such a savoury treat for the pallet.

Here are a few of my favourites, and their benefits! These are super easy to incorporate into everyday dishes:

  • Cinnamon: a warming spice that helps to balance blood sugar, aids in fat loss and reduces inflammation best on apples, in coffee, in soups.


  • Basil: light and savoury, this herb compliments a variety of dishes, is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral in nature delicious in salads, pasta and as pesto.


  • Mint: calming for the digestive system (every wondered why restaurants give out peppermints?) best consumed as tea, but I love it in salads!


  • Turmeric: a bit of an acquired taste, but is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been known to aid in joint and arthritic pain best in soups, tinctures and smoothies – also a powerful dye, so careful with your wooden cutting boards and fingers!

pile of fresh turmeric roots on wooden table

  • Cayenne: a somewhat feared, yet versatile spice, aids in digestion, the absorption of nutrients, boosts circulation and is your BFF during cold and flu season best in chilis, soups, smoothies, and tumeric/ginger/lemon tea.


Try my made-from-scratch basil pesto for a big bang of benefits! Can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, and is great on zucchini noodles, pasta, salmon and tomato slices!



  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water and drained
  • 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp of pink sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil *add a little extra as you blend if needed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon



Add all ingredients to your blender and pulse until smooth and you’re done!


The Four R’s of Correcting A Child

After reading my Being Mindful Of Your Nice To Nag Ratio post, I heard from K.J. Dell’Antonia at The New York Times Well Family Blog. She wondered, “What do you do when you have to correct a child because it is necessary, as in the case of a special needs or speech issues?” This is a great question! It’s very easy to get into a negative pattern of correcting or nagging too much to the point where our children feel counterwill towards us.

Dell’Antonia went on to post this super article: Are We Helping Our Kids Or Nagging Them? In it, she shares her personal experience where she ends up feelings as though she is sending her, “…unlucky child off to school with the extra burden of never getting anything right.”

I believe this is an important question to ask: Where is the balance between coaching and nagging?

It would be nice to draw a definitive line we could generalize to all children on this issue. Unfortunately this isn’t possible as our kids have vastly different tolerance levels for how much correction they can take and different levels of ability.

What I can generalize are four suggestions to saying your redirection in a way that won’t inadvertently plant the seeds of negative core beliefs in the child’s mind.


The more friendly and gentle your reminder can be delivered, the better. Constantly repeating yourself can be quite frustrating! If we start to use a sharp tone, our child might start to tune us out or feel badly. Think of the word: “NEUTRAL” before you start talking.


Show your child that the reasons for the instructions are not because of a lack of capability or a personality flaw, but more as instruction to grow.

Be very careful to keep personalized words like “you” or “why can’t you” out of your redirection. In the case of the mom whose child is pulling his hair so hard, he is creating bald spots, rather than saying, “Why can’t you stop pulling your hair?!” use language that focuses on what needs to be done. Saying, “Hands down,” with a smile, or simply, “Hands,” will remind this child to stop pulling. Also, “When your hands are off your hair, then it can grow back.” This is an example of the When/Then parenting technique.

If the child continues to do something like this and is old enough to have a conversation about it, the parent could try, “I see that remembering to not pull your hair is hard. Let’s think of what we can do to remind you to stop.”

In the case of speech correction, perhaps explain to your child that you are helping her mouth to grow so she doesn’t feel like she can’t get anything right. That means saying something like, “I know that saying ‘s’ is hard. I’m going to remind you how to say that letter so your mouth can grow better.” This way the child will view the redirection as a learning point rather than because there is something faulty with her.

Children who are constantly corrected might start to believe they can’t get it right because there is something inherently wrong with them. Use your words to convey this isn’t the case.


Children need two kinds of breaks when they need regular instructions to learn or be safe: a break from hearing you give redirection—to have their parent be “fun mom” or “fun dad,” and a break from you altogether.

Remove your coach or teacher hat and interact with your child in a playful manner. Behaviour often heads south when a child reaches his or her correction tipping point so when you see this coming; think of ways to play your way through it. Let your child lead the activity to give her the feeling of having some power.

A child uses play to resolve conflict, work out things that are bothering her and get all the ya-yas out so provide your child with opportunities to play without you around. Exercise and being outdoors will make that play time that much more valuable.


One of my parenting mantras is, “Connect first. Instruct second.” If you are constantly instructing, then your child’s connection tank needs to be all the way full. Consider how you can interact with your child so your child believes she is connected, loved, important, heard and capable.

Looking for more parenting help? I invite you to look through my Facebook page for positive parenting information.

The post was originally published at YMC.ca.


Psychotherapist, Parenting Educator — www.andrealoewen.ca

Head of School — Infinity School www.infinityschool.ca

Meditation Has Changed My Life and the Very Sense of Who I Am

​​To imagine that one can ​survive horrible hospital stays, car accidents, ​multiple ​death​s​ of a loved ones, traumatic​ life​ situations and, yes, even insomnia by simply practicing meditation is a radical thought.

We know that meditation has been around for thousands of years and practiced by people from all walks of life and on all parts of the globe , but there is one common myth about meditation, however, that often leads to a sense of failure and why people give up on the practice.

This is the Myth: That meditation is supposed to work to calm and quiet the mind.

I know this to be false. Do not get me wrong, a feeling of calm and a quiet in one’s mind is sometimes a result of meditation, and a lovely one at that, but the purpose of meditation is not to calm the mind or the self. You have not failed if your mind does not become like a still pool reflecting the moons image, as a result of this practice. It is the nature of the mind to keep generating thoughts, endlessly, whether meditating or not. Some 70-80 thousand of them a day. Some people who have meditated for decades continue to house a wild animal, (affectionately known as monkey mind) inside their heads. The purpose of meditation is not to change the nature of the wild animal/monkey, not to turn it into a docile rabbit. Rather, the purpose is simply to observe the monkey — to SEE what is happening within your own mind and your own self. That’s it! Nothing fancy.

Noticing the mind jumping about — doing its monkey thing — is meditating. If the mind quiets, as a result of being observed, (which it often does) that’s wonderful, but whether it does or not is of no consequence. What changes as a result of meditation is not necessarily the speed and frequency of the thoughts that appear, but rather our relationship with those thoughts.

Through the practice of meditation, we become less identified with the story lines that runs through our head, less convinced that our thoughts hold some inherent truth or importance, and less committed to solving each problem/​trauma/ experience​​ about which our thoughts remind us. You could say that we lose a degree of interest in the monkey mind’s song (or screech). Sometimes the mind quiets as a result of our lack of interest — of our paying it less mind — and sometimes it just screeches louder. Again, neither outcome is a testament to the success or failure of meditation, just something else to notice.

So what is the big deal, then? Why all this talk about meditation when (possibly) nothing about the mind changes as a result of it. What is startling is that everything can change as a result of not trying to change anything. It’s​ counter-intuitive. Really. We do not set out with the purpose of changing who we are (or if we do, we simply notice that too), and yet who we are changes once we are simply allowed to be.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers.

What happens as a result of witnessing our own mind (without judgment or commentary) is that, over time, we realize that we are actually not that mind, nor the thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and all else that it spews out. We realize that the mind will happen on its own, generating content, with or without our participation. We realize that who we are, our very identity, is the one who is witnessing all that ​goes on. All that monkeying about. ​In meditation, we become the silent witness. The purpose of meditation is not to change our mind, but to awaken the self that is aware of it!

You are successfully meditating IF you meditate. If you take one moment to see what is occurring inside your own mind — without getting involved in its contents, without engaging in the dialogue, the story line, just looking, with curiosity — you are doing it right. ​For 45+ years I have been practicing to ‘be the witness’. To not buy into the stories. To just be with what is. To practice a radical act of love. And I am still ‘practicing’. ​

“It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time with yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

PATTI MOSESpatti-green-top-lattice


Patti started her own meditation practice in her teens and maintains a daily practice into her 60’s. She has spent countless hours, days and months in silent retreats and created a beginners Meditation class over 10 years ago. Patti then went on to expand her teachings to include Advanced courses, Book Study Groups and 1/2 Day Silent retreats. Never satisfied with the status quo, Patti then channelled her creative juices into the “Mindful Living” Line which includes Mindful Cushions (zafus), Mindful Mats (zabutons), Yoga Eye Pillows, Scented Sachets and all things Mindful. Patti is also local therapist who uses Mindfulness and Meditation in her Private Practice and finds it especially effective for clients with depression and anxiety. Patti can be reached at pattimoses@gmail.com or by texting or calling 519-503-0400

LGBTQIA+ Term Definitions

The inclusive acronym for sexual identity is continuously evolving. Here is a comprehensive* list of LGBTQIA+ Term Definitions:

*This list is neither comprehensive nor inviolable, but it is a work in progress toward those goals. With identity terms, trust the person who is using the term and their definition of it above any dictionary. These definitions are the creation of a cultural commons.

Advocate – (noun) (1) a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group. (verb) (2) to actively support/plea in favor of a particular cause, the action of working to end intolerance, educate others, etc.

Ally – (noun) a (typically straight- or cis-identified) person who supports, and respects for members of the LGBTQ community. While the word doesn’t necessitate action, we consider people to be active allies who take action upon this support and respect, this also indicates to others that you are an ally.

Androgyny/ous – (adj; pronounced “an-jrah-jun-ee”) (1) a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; (2) occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy.

Asexual – (adj) having a lack of (or low level of) sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest or desire for sex or sexual partners. Asexuality exists on a spectrum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex to those who experience low levels and only after significant amounts of time, many of these different places on the spectrum have their own identity labels. Another term used within the asexual community is “ace,” meaning someone who is asexual.

Bicurious – (adj) a curiosity about having attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning).

Bigender – (adj) a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).

Biological Sex – (noun) a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned [or designated] at birth.”

Bisexual – (adj) a person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to male/men and females/women. Other individuals may use this to indicate an attraction to individuals who identify outside of the gender binary as well and may use bisexual as a way to indicate an interest in more than one gender or sex (i.e. men and genderqueer people). This attraction does not have to be equally split or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders or sexes an individual may be attracted to.

Cisgender – (adj; pronounced “siss-jendur”) a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and male-assigned). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not trans*, they are cisgender.

Cross-dresser – (noun) someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex.

Demisexual – (noun) an individual who does not experience sexual attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with another individual. Often within a romantic relationship.

Fluid(ity) – (adj) generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, bi and straight).

FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F – (adj) abbreviation for female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; abbreviation for male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.

Gay – (adj) (1) a term used to describe individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly used when referring to males/men-identified people who are attracted to males/men-identified people, but can be applied to females/women-identified people as well. (2) An umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.

Gender Binary – (noun) the idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or.

Gender Expression – (noun) the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally measured on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”

Gender Fluid – (adj) gender fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days.

Genderqueer – (adj) a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid). Genderqueer people may think of themselves as one or more of the following, and they may define these terms differently: may combine aspects man and woman and other identities (bigender, pangender); not having a gender or identifying with a gender (genderless, agender); moving between genders (genderfluid); third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation.

Gender Variant – (adj) someone who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society (e.g. transgender, transsexual, intersex, gender-queer, cross-dresser, etc.).

Intersex – (noun) someone whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. In the medical care of infants the initialism DSD (“Differing/Disorders of Sex Development”). Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now considered outdated and derogatory.

Lesbian – (noun) a term used to describe women attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.

LGBTQ / GSM / DSG / + – (noun) initialisms used as shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality, there are many different initialisms people prefer. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (sometimes people at a + at the end in an effort to be more inclusive); GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities; DSG is Diverse Genders and Sexualities. Other popular options include the initialism GLBT and the acronym QUILTBAG (Queer [or Questioning] Undecided Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bisexual Asexual [or Allied] and Gay [or Genderqueer]).

MSM / WSW – (noun) initialisms for “men who have sex with men” and “women who have sex with women,” to distinguish sexual behaviors from sexual identities (e.g., because a man is straight, it doesn’t mean he’s not having sex with men). Often used in the field of HIV/Aids education, prevention, and treatment.

Pansexual – (adj) a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions –

Polyamory/Polyamorous – (noun/adj) refers to the practice of, desire to, or orientation towards having ethically, honest, consensually non-monogamous relationships (i.e. relationships that may include multiple partners). This may include open relationships, polyfidelity (which involves more than two people being in romantic and/or sexual relationships which is not open to additional partners), amongst many other set ups. Some poly(amorous) people have a “primary” relationship or relationship(s) and then “secondary” relationship(s) which may indicate different allocations of resources, time, or priority.

Queer – An umbrella term, which embraces a variety of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits of those who do not adhere to the heterosexual and cisgender majority. The term queer includes, but is not exclusive to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transpeople, and intersex persons, traditionally, this term is derogatory and hurtful, however, many people who do not adhere to sexual and/or gender norms use it to self-identify in a positive way.

Questioning – (verb, adjective) – an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual Orientation – (noun) the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one feels for others, often labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to (often mistakenly referred to as sexual preference)

Sexual Preference – (1) the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in. (2) Generally when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to.

Skoliosexual – (adj) attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people and expressions (people who don’t identify as cisgender).

Trans*/Transgender – (adj) (1) An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms. Trans with an * is often used to indicate that you are referring to the larger group nature of the term. (2) A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on sex assigned at birth.

Transition(ing) – (noun & verb) this term is primarily used to refer to the process a trans* person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.

Transsexual – (noun & adj) a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. Transsexuals often wish to transform their bodies hormonally and surgically to match their inner sense of gender/sex.

Transvestite – (noun) a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (“cross-dresses”) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification (often called a “cross-dresser,” and should not be confused with transsexual).

Two-Spirit – (noun) is an umbrella term traditionally used by First Nations people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders (both male and female spirits).

Ze / Hir – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. Pronounced /zee/ and /here/ they replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Alternatively some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender neutral singular pronoun.

Visit TheSafeZoneProject.com or itspronouncedmetrosexual.com for more information on definitions.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold & Joanne Z. Flannery

This post was originally published on the Sexology International BLOG.

Bell Let’s Talk

In 2010, Bell created a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health. This January marks eight years of the momentous Bell Lets Talk campaign, which has profoundly impacted Canada and access to care and research from governments and supporting corporations.

With the support of everyone across Canada, Bell has donated over 86 million dollars to mental health initiatives. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate five cents for:

  1. Every text message sent through their network (this means turning off iMessage);
  2. Every phone call, both local and long distance, made through their network;
  3. Every view of their Bell Let’s Talk video on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter;
  4. Every Facebook profile picture updated with the Bell Let’s Talk frame;
  5. Every snap sent with the Bell Let’s Talk filter on Snapchat; and
  6. Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk on Twitter.

Every interaction counts. Let’s show our support again and make this year’s impact even greater! #BellLetsTalk

What can you do to make a long-term impact? As Mahatma Gandhi said,

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Here are five ways you can start making a change today:

  1. Choose your words carefully: The words you use make a difference.
  2. Educate yourself: Contribute to ending the stigma by knowing the facts and myths surrounding mental illness.
  3. Be kind: Simple acts of kindness, such as smiling or inviting someone for coffee, can initiate a conversation and let someone know you are there for them.
  4. Listen and ask: Be a good listener and ask how you can help.
  5. Talk about it: Break the silence by challenging stereotypes and talking about it.


If you need someone to talk to, we are here for you! Click here to book your consultation.

With Love,

Your Bliss Team

How to Do Parent-Child Relationship Repair

We all have parenting moments we regret. The other day I was hard on my son and felt very badly about my behaviour. Even though we may have the tools to do so, calming down when our kids are melting down, sometimes for the most ridiculous reasons, can feel impossible to do.

It is important to do relationship repair after rough parenting moments. This helps our relationship with our children deepen, stops trust-rifts from growing, and also shows them how to have empathy—a concept that can’t really be taught. Taking time to address what we regret teaches our children how to admit when we are wrong, seeing the impact of our mistakes on another person.

Here are the steps to relationship repair with your child (and your partner, too):

Calm all the way down.

Eat, have a shower, go for a walk, or close your eyes for a few minutes—whatever calms you. Take time for the sad, mad, or scared feelings to work their way through. How this happens will depend on your personality, as some people prefer to talk, sing, or draw their feelings out, whereas others prefer to move around.

Invite your child to speak with you well after everyone has had time to regroup.

Start by opening the communication door with a gentle tone and without direct eye contact (at first).

Calmly invite your child to hear you out. If there is a closed door between you and your older child, you can try this, “Hey, I made a mistake and would like to talk to you about that. May I come in?” When you go in, sit down beside her, if possible. If she is in a chair that won’t fit both of you, just sit nearby.

If your child is little and playing on her own, go sit beside her, initially avoiding eye contact. Try something like, “Hey, I made a mistake. I’d like to fix that.”

Ask how your child feels about your behaviour—without defending yourself.

For a little one, try something like, “Did you feel scared when I shouted?” (Please brace yourself for the answer—my kids have said, “YES! You scared me TOO MUCH, Mommy.”)

With older children, perhaps something like, “I feel badly about how I behaved. Are you feeling mad at me? It’s okay if you do. I’d like to hear what you are feeling and thinking.”

Leave lots of space for your child to respond. The more she is able to talk about what is going on in her mind and body, the more she will process the event, leaving less to hold as a grudge later.

Talk about what you regret. Name it.

In an age appropriate way, validate your child’s experience with you by explaining what you feel badly about. “I am very sad (use a feeling word) that I yelled so loudly at you.” (Don’t defend yourself… “But you were freaking out about cutting the sandwich the wrong way… which is RIDICULOUS”). Perhaps what your child did was unreasonable and irrational, but that is what kids do. We can respond to that ridiculousness without hurting them.

Problem solve—how are you going to act in the future?

It’s time to dust off your calm-down plan, which didn’t work well enough for you in that parenting moment you regret. It is so very hard to stop ourselves from going into defend/attack/scream mode when someone flips out on us. The first step of shutting down that physical reaction can feel unmanageable, can’t it? Try some different plans until you find one that becomes automatic for you.

When I was having a tough time remembering my plan, I went back to the basics and told myself to just “Freeze.” Even that is hard to do! Each time you feel your blood boiling, tell yourself something like, “freeze,” “pause,” or “stop.” That one word might be enough to regroup and remember the next step in your plan (mine is to count back from 11). After you are calm enough to think rationally, use your good reason to talk yourself and your child down.

This is the most important question when your child is losing it and you feel like doing the same: What does my child need right now?

Respond to that need, then take time later to ask yourself the same question. What do you need to feel more rested, less exhausted, less at the end of your rope? What can you do about that? Is there something compromising you that makes being friendly or logical hard?

Talk to your child about his/her calm-down plan.

If the bad parenting moment happened because your child was having a complete meltdown, talk with your child about his/her calm-down plan. Please know that it is just as hard for your child to reel in the automatic, intense instinct to shout, throw, or yell as it is for you. It will take time to find a plan that actually stops people from “letting their mad turn into mean.”

Let the plan evolve as each freak-out happens. What is working? What isn’t? Adjust as needed.


From the bottom of your heart, look your child in the eye, and say you are sorry. Hug, cry—show your sadness. Explain to your child what you are going to do to stop yourself from behaving that way again. Discuss your action plan moving forward.

Walk your talk.

Remember what you told your child. Write the steps out and put them somewhere you can see them. The next moment of tension is an important one—your response will affect how much your child trusts you. If you are able to do what you intended, your child will believe you, which can sustain your relationship through future snags.

If you have another regretful parenting moment, and another, and another, your child is likely to stop believing and trusting you. This belief usually translates to other aspects of life—your child may start to give up on you—that you will be able to be there for him/her.

Understand that some moments are too big to recover from.

If a very scary, traumatic interaction happens between a parent and child like violence, alcoholism, or drug use, threat of walking out, or long separations, it may not be possible to recover from that without long-term support from a skilled mental-health professional.

If you have experienced difficult times in your life, which are affecting how you interact with your children, please consider getting help. Perhaps that help can come in the form of self-help books, chats with friends, journaling, or the treatment and care of a counsellor, doctor, or other trusted practitioner.

The post was originally published at YMC.ca.


Psychotherapist, Parenting Educator — www.andrealoewen.ca

Head of School — Infinity School www.infinityschool.ca


5 Mood Boosting Foods

Did you know food can impact your mood? Wow! Isn’t that empowering? It puts you, the consumer, in the driver’s seat. After all, food is composed of nutrients, which affect our brain chemistry, therefore, influencing mood. Today, I will highlight five mood boosting foods, how they work in our bodies and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Before we jump in, I want to share that people often seek dietitian-support to better manage physical health (i.e., cholesterol lowering, blood sugar control, digestive issues, etc.). However, less often do people proactively seek dietitian-support to optimize their MENTAL HEALTH. This needs to change! Diet is a modifiable factor and one that’s often overlooked when addressing mental health.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience a mental-health condition such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in his or her lifetime.

Food is composed of nutrients –> impacts brain chemistry –> impacts mood


Salmon is mood-boosting because it contains a high amount of Omega 3 fats. These anti-inflammatory fatty acids are beneficial for heart health and brain functioning. Specifically, the EPA and DHA fatty acids (in Omega 3’s) help with maintaining integrity of the brain cell membrane, to send signals to other parts of the body and reduce inflammation. Salmon contains vitamin D which can help with management of depression and support immune functioning.

In a large research study of 4,644 New Zealand adults, fish consumption was associated with higher reported mental health status. Research has found lower intake of omega 3’s appears to be associated with risk of depression. More research is still needed in this area; however, research is promising, especially from EPA fatty acids.


Dietary Omega 3’s:

Health Canada recommends adults aim for at least two servings of fish per week. This would approximately meet the recommended (500 mg) dosage of DHA and EPA daily. However, most people are not even getting to 100 mg of EPA and DHA daily. Try your best to consume adequate omega 3’s (through diet) and if necessary, your dietitian can recommend supplements.



Lentils are a mood-boosting food loaded with the B vitamin folate, which is needed for the production of serotonin (neurotransmitter and happy hormone). Lentils are also high in fibre, making them a low glycemic index food or complex carbohydrate. Fibre-rich carbohydrates slow the release of sugar into the blood stream. This helps regulate mood and stabilize energy.


Ideas for Incorporating Lentils Into Your Diet:

I like to recommend clients start by using lentils in place of meat or in combination with meat-dishes. For example, if you are making a spaghetti Bolognese (beef and tomato sauce), try adding cooked lentils with beef to extend the recipe and boost the nutrition. You can also swap out the meat and go for meatless Bolognese using lentils. To make a folate-packed casserole, soups or sauces be sure to include other folate-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, avocado.



Bananas are mood enhancing because of the effect of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that supports the production of serotonin (ie., your happy hormone). Tryptophan may also help with sleep, and we all know sleep impacts our mood. Bananas are also a good source for potassium, fibre, and Vitamin B6, all of which help our bodies utilize that mighty tryptophan!


Banana-Boosting in your Diet:

Include bananas in your breakfast by slicing half a banana on top of your hot or cold cereal. You can pop it into your smoothie or have it as a snack with peanut butter or almond butter. Click HERE to download the Dietetic Directions 16 Healthy Snacks. Banana is awesome to use in baking. Try Mom’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.



Kefir is like a “drinkable yogurt” with 10 to 20 different probiotic strains whereas yogurt has only a few. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that may improve mood. Science is still evolving in the area of the ‘gut-brain connection’. It is sufficient to say that we want to feed our gut bacteria (with probiotics) to support our brains and mental health.


Ideas for Incorporating Kefir Into Your Diet:

  • Drink it! Plain.
  • Add it to a smoothie
  • Enjoy with cereal instead of milk
  • Combine with nuts, granola or high fibre cereal to make a parfait
  • Add chia seeds and keep in fridge overnight to thicken to pudding
  • Use as a substitute for yogurt or buttermilk in baking


Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is another mood-booster because the antioxidant beta-carotene helps with reducing free radical damage to brain cells. Sweet potatoes can also prevent oxidative stress leading to DNA damage, which appears to be a common in emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. The carbohydrates in sweet potatoes help with serotonin production. If you are trying to restrict or avoid carbs, click here to read my blog, In Defence of Carbs, Stop the Hating.


Bottom Line

Your overall health includes your mental health. The foods you eat impact your brain chemistry and how you feel. Take time to check-in for how you’re feeling. Think about how lifestyle and/or diet may possibly be worsening symptoms. Lastly, take action and try some mood boosting foods!

P.S. Know that you are not alone. Professional support is available for diet and mental health.

Now it’s your turn. What do you enjoy as mood boosting foods? Do you find certain foods end up negatively impacting your mood?





Andrea D’Ambrosio, a Registered Dietitian and owner of Dietetic Directions, a nutritional counselling and education company in Kitchener. Founded in 2012 with the mission to inspire busy people to achieve life-long behaviour changes through motivational coaching and mutual goal setting. Dietitian services are covered by many extended medical benefits. Saturday appointments also available

Click here for your free download of Dietetic Directions’ Power Snacks Guide.

How to start a meaningful conversation about sex

Do you find your communication about sex satisfying, or is the topic a source of tension?

Many of us grew up in sexual secrecy. Afraid to speak up, we often learn to associate pleasure with guilt and shame. Sex and sexuality is a taboo topic in most homes for children growing up. Parents aren’t talking about sex with their kids or their partner. In my work as a sexologist and therapist, I give people a common language and help them to feel more comfortable talking about and exploring sex.

A significant portion of my work is helping people rediscover their personal sense of craving, so I encourage the clients I work with to start having suggestive conversations to help them revitalize their sexual side and erotic energy.

Letting go sexually can only happen when people feel free from feeling responsible for the fragility of the other.

In the past, sex used to be considered a marital “duty.” Today, pleasure and sexual freedom are generally more accepted and encouraged. However, traditional power structures, poor sexual education, and persistent myths and stereotypes about sexual performance and what’s considered “normal” continue to hold many couples back from creating the sexuality and relationship they desire.

We’re doing ourselves a disservice when we lie to our partners about what we need thinking we’re protecting them. The result is a dissatisfying sexual experience for everyone. Before you can approach an exploratory conversation about sex, you need to get comfortable with the topic and create a safety net by nurturing the health of your relationship.

Getting comfortable with your desires serves two purposes—You end up modelling the positive behaviour you want your partner(s) to follow, and you “normalize” the behaviour, making it easier for your partner(s) to accept it as part of their worldview.

There’s an unfortunate misconception that fantasies, fetishes, and kink necessarily “objectify” and “distance” lovers from one another. Usually, just the opposite is true. Sharing your private sexual cravings with a partner can increase trust and intimacy. It’s a special, beautiful, and private piece of who you are that you’re sharing with someone you care about.

Sexual exploration can only take place once we feel safe. When you feel safe enough to be vulnerable, you can move beyond your insecurities and connect on a soulful level. In the overstimulating, high-speed world we live in, we’re culturally forced into a seemingly limitless barrage of superficial chatter. While small talk is harmless but effective in maintaining an amicable roster of acquaintances, this nonstop superficial conversation is toxic to intimate relationships. We’re so used to small talk it’s easy to wake up one day and realize we don’t know our partner at all.

If this sounds familiar, here are some ways you can enter into a mature era of sexual connection:

  1. Build a safety net by enhancing emotional intimacy. You need to start with a solid foundation, so first work on your relationship. If things aren’t going well outside of the bedroom, it will absolutely impact the health of your sex life.
  2. Ask yourself “what do I want?” If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, how will you ask for it? Spend time getting really clear on what you want.
  3. Read together. Researching the topic of sex and sexuality will broaden your horizons. Doing it together may help to excite you with fantasies, possibilities, or both.
  4. Start a conversation. Simply say that honesty is important to you, and you care about your partner’s pleasure. Not sure where to start? Try one of these conversation starters:
  • What do you love?
  • Are there certain things I do that you like more than others? Why?
  • Are there certain things you don’t enjoy doing to me?
  • Is there something we haven’t tried that you’d like to explore?
  1. Be open to your partner’s feelings. Let your partner have their own experience with your suggestions and resist the urge to control.
  1. Start small. When you introduce your partner to fantasy or fetish, start small. Enjoy the process of exploring your edges by going slow. Start with the smaller stuff then go deeper from there.


Communication is essential to a great relationship and sex and pleasure. Being able to confidently approach the topic of sex with your partner(s) offers a path to express what you want and crave. When you can express what turns you on, you’ll be more likely to get it—and take your pleasure to new heights. Be bold, open and honest with your partners… you only have more pleasure to gain! Sexual communication is a skill that takes practice. Practice makes perfect (pleasure) and will grow your sense of health and connection.

If your find yourself feeling stuck, therapy and counselling can help. And if you’re stuck on an issue, you can make a single appointment to make sure you dedicate time to addressing it without phones, kids, and other distractions. If you’re looking for someone who will see you, I have a roster of great therapists.

Trust: Creating a Flexible, Non-binary Model

When I was in high school, I was a Theatre Arts Nerd. We had a Drama teacher in my first year who gave us a trust exercise: we paired up with one partner facing away from the other, and then we leaned back with our eyes closed until we toppled, to be caught by our partner. Reverse and repeat a few times, until the teacher said, “Great! Now that you all trust each other, we can begin!” I distinctly remember thinking, “Wait, what? I trust my partner to catch me while the teacher’s looking, but I wouldn’t trust ANY of them to catch me if we did the same thing outside on the yard after school, say; I wouldn’t trust [X] with my locker combination. And I *certainly* wouldn’t trust [Y] alone with my cat.”

I didn’t know it then, but that was my first introduction to the idea that trust is not best viewed as a binary state. Fast forward 30+ years, and now, based on ongoing client work, I’m starting to come to new conclusions about the problems I’m seeing when we (culturally and relationally) view trust as ONLY a binary state in which trust either exists, or it does not, where it has been earned and granted, or it has not.

It’s my experience that a lot of people around me seem to treat trust as a “one and done” kind of arrangement: once you have earned my trust, you have it till you lose it. But too often I encounter vast differences in how people define “trust”, so I’ve come to treat it as “umbrella terminology”, or a word that encompasses many different meanings and interpretations to different people, and which can be broken out of absolutist thinking to apply to smaller concepts: it becomes less of a question of “do I trust you or not”, and more a case of recognizing that there are things that I trust in you (or trust you to do), and things I do not.

When clients come into the office and say, “I don’t trust my partner”, my first question is always seeking clarity: “Don’t trust them to what?” There’s usually a laundry list of complaints from an aggrieved partner, so the counterbalance is always to ask, “Is there anything about your partner that you do trust, especially as a positive engagement or encouragement?” (so the litany of complaints doesn’t get reworded and repeated). At that point, we can reframe the conversation so that it’s not an absolute, all-encompassing lack of trust, but rather specific areas that need work. We’re not trying to fix a massive problem, but rather something smaller, more specific.

Recently, a number of client conversations drove home for me that trust really isn’t best viewed as a “grant once till it breaks” scenario; that’s too big, and honestly impossible for a partner to hold our trust on all fronts all the time without ever once disappointing us. Instead, like acts of faith and grace, I’m coming to see trust as something that works best when approached as an active, conscious, daily practice. “Today, I CHOOSE to trust [X]. In this moment, I choose to trust [X] to do [Y].” I’ve watched, over and over, as people struggle with the notion that trust must be an all-encompassing, binary state where it’s either on or off, and if trust has been compromised in one area, then the corollary belief is that there is NO TRUST anywhere in the relationship, period. It’s just all broken. As one might imagine, that’s a hard thing to manage within a relationship, viewed on that kind of absolute scale. Also, the pressure between partners to trust absolutely when one partner might not have have the capacity to do so for any number of reasons, is a pressure that becomes toxic and corrosive in a hurry (as much because of the pressure itself, even if implied rather than explicit, as because of the request to trust, specifically).

It’s a part of the Mythology of Love that “trusting someone with your whole head and heart” is how love *should* work. I think many of us want to trust that way, or believe that we *should* because that’s what all the romance novels and movies tell us is right and true. Ergo, failing to engage with absolute trust somehow becomes a subliminal, internalized message of failure on our part in relationship. The more I do this work (as a client as well as a therapist), however, the more I realize how much of our own selves we simply can’t see, so how can we trust someone else to hold what we ourselves don’t always know is there? How can we ask for, let alone trust, someone’s informed consent to try to hold parts of us that they maybe can’t see or understand, either?

But when we can break the idea of “trust” down to smaller, more manageable pieces of identifiable and articulated expectations, and we can break the process of trusting down to conscious and deliberate daily practice of choice, I’m seeing amazing shifts in how people connect to the idea of “trust” when reframed this way. It reduces the pressure to embrace trust as an absolute state when, because of personal anxieties or insecurities and vulnerabilities, trust may be a difficult thing to engage on ANY level. It’s proving to be much easier to get to an acceptance of a more nuanced *state* or process of trusting once we break out a more nuanced definition or suite of definitions, for the word itself.

A friend of mine wrote, “I’ve tried to work with building trust through a series of small risks and commitments. You commit to do a thing, you do it, that increases my trust that when you commit to do some other thing you will. The more times there is risk and success, the more trust builds, the greater the variety of risks and success, the more deep and varied the trust.” I think a lot of people work this way, though even in this model, I see people still practicing it in a binary fashion: trust builds in a linear manner, but failure at a task up the chain compromises or destroys all of the trust built to that point, rather than establishing trust for an array of individual tasks of qualities. My ex and I, for example, found there were all kinds of things I trusted him to do, but “I trust you to tell me what I’ve asked to be informed about in a timely manner” was often not one of them, nor was “I trust you to respect my needs around time management and communication thereof”. (And in reverse, sometimes there wasn’t a lot of trust directed to me around “I trust you to match actions congruent to the labels you have assigned people/places/situations/etc.”, so the contextualized trust challenges went both ways. Therapists are often imperfect humans too.)

I’m going to have to do more pondering on this, but remodeling “trust” as a persistent and flexible decision process rather than a rigid binary state is getting a surprising amount of traction with clients, so clearly there’s something there. Developing better tools for implementing this kind of conceptual shift on a value that is so deep in the core of many individuals and their relationships remains a work in progress, so stay tuned for updates!

Karen Grierson, MTS, RP

DSC_5962 Colour Web-3

Post originally appeared on Karen’s blog.


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