Gordon MacLeod RP, CTP Dip., Member CAPT
I am a Registered Psychotherapist and a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. A colleague once asked me how I defined "change". A seemingly simple question, however, returning to it periodically has proven itself to be a useful exercise for me.
At times freeing and exhilarating; change can also be a fear-inducing struggle. We may know at a very deep level that a new direction is necessary while at the same time we avoid every opportunity to make the needed shift.
My first career was as a singer, performing with orchestras and opera companies across Canada and Europe - an amazing opportunity for a young person, one for which I am extremely thankful. However, at some point I began to confuse my singing persona with a more authentic realization of my self. As my self-esteem became increasingly linked to my career, it was evident that a change was needed.
While still a student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, I had been befriended by a young man with Down's syndrome. We ended up sharing an apartment for a year. As he was non-verbal, much of our time together was spent in silence but, as I came to learn, an absence of words does not mean an absence of communication. When I stopped singing professionally, I returned to the world of my friend, working as a personal support worker for developmentally disabled individuals. Today, in addition to being a psychotherapist; I manage an employment program for disabled adults.
I have been a therapist since 2003, working with clients ranging in age from late adolescence to post retirement who have struggled with issues including trauma; depression; heightened anxiety; substance abuse and other addictive behaviours; family turmoil; difficulties establishing and maintaining healthy relationships; and grief from the loss of a loved one or the ending of a significant relationship.
While studying to be a therapist, I was fortunate to have been exposed to a variety of therapeutic models (including psychodynamic, solution-focused, and cognitive-behavioural and most recently Sensori-motor psychotherapy). Being able to draw upon a wide palette of approaches affords me increased flexibility when addressing the particular issues and learning styles of my clients.
My time as a singer helped me to develop good listening skills. To interpret a song effectively you must to be able to feel how the music changes you personally. That is how I view psychotherapy. Carl Jung said that an effective therapy was difficult to facilitate unless the therapist, as well as the client, was willing and able to change.
So back to the question posed by my colleague. I have seen how change as a result of an effective therapy can manifest as coming to view the world around us as a more welcoming environment; trusting that relationships with others can be nurturing and resilient; perceiving the future with less fear and an increased sense of hope.
A therapy based on respect, trust and integrity and facilitated in an environment that is welcoming, buoyant and safe, can help us to develop the tools to deal more effectively with the daily stresses we face as participants in our modern age. It can show us how to interact with others in a more open and effective manner, by first seeing ourselves in a more authentic light, accepting our perceived frailties in a less judgmental manner while acknowledging and activating our strengths.
If any of what I have written here seems to resonate with you, I would be pleased to meet with you for a free, no-obligation consultation. Here's a map to my office at St.George and Bloor handy to the TTC .
Note: As I am not a Psychologist or Registered Social Worker, my fees are not generally covered under employee health plans.
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