What Are My Core Values?
Starting my own private practice in counselling means that I have the opportunity to help you in ways that feel true to who I am. Here are my six core values: hope, curiosity, courage, flexibility, context, and relativity.
My mother was an eternal optimist, and as an adult, I am finding myself more like her every day. She was an amazing problem solver, and saw hope and possibility just around every corner.
Although I might get caught up in the worries and stressors of day to day, I know that eventually things will work out. My favourite acronym is H.O.P.E. “Hold On, Pain Ends”. As a clinical social worker I strive to come from a place of hope. I don’t give up … or if I do, I find another path.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.
— Martin Luther King
I have a voracious need to know and to understand.
“Empathy and understanding must precede advice.” –Dr. John Gottman, relationship expert
In my work, I know I can’t make assumptions – and I have so many questions. In returning to school, when my professor couldn’t answer them, her only response was, “so Kirsten, when are you going to get your doctorate?” In my personal life I am an incorrigible lifelong learner – I cope with stress or trauma by learning everything I can about the nature of that particular challenge. Maturity and time (and some helpful mentors!) have taught me to balance my curiosity with the mindfulness skills of awareness, acceptance, and letting things be.
Making the choice to go to counselling means getting out of your comfort zone. It can mean personal growth and change by confronting your demons, rather than pushing them down because they are too scary to face.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin
Once you can recognize your vulnerabilities – then they aren’t so painful anymore. In the safe space that counselling creates, lays the capacity to learn about what scares us and thereby promote change and growth in our life. My style is reflective and relational, as experience has taught me that it is the only way to build trust. Having that trusting relationship allows you the courage to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, paving the way to a better life.
In trying to gain a sense of control over your life, sometimes you do your best to anticipate everything that can go wrong. Sometimes you dream big dreams, and you may even go into a depression when something comes along (such as an unexpected health challenge) to prevent you from achieving them. You might have trouble letting go, or struggle with finding a new path.
I strive to live my life day to day and deal with challenges as they arise. Even as a little girl I was always slow to judge, and more inclined to see multiple sides to an issue. (Sometimes that makes decision making hard!) Reframing is a wonderful skill that promotes empathy and allows you to view aspects of your life from multiple viewpoints. Cognitive behavioural therapy teaches you that in thinking about things differently, you often find that you feel and react differently.
“What if I hadn’t been abandoned? What if I had been set free? What if I was meant to soar?”
– Amy Ferris, authour
When it comes to most human fallibility there is no right or wrong answer. In clinical social work, we have many truths. Counselling teaches you self-compassion (to honour your own truth), and empathy (to understand what is true for others in your life). At that point, you can see if there is any piece of it you can come on side with!
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
– Friedrich Nietzche
As a whole, clinical social workers differ from related disciplines (such as psychology, or medicine) in that they bring a “person-in-environment” perspective. This means that I view individuals and their behavior within the context of their social, economic, physical, familial, and spiritual environment.
One of the ways this influences my work is with older adults. Rather than independence (which can create loneliness), it is much better to is promote interdependence (which creates community). No matter how old you are, or what your health is like, you may still have the capacity to bring added value to another’s life, as that person does to yours. We are all connected and part of the whole.
In my experience working with families who have children with mental health or neurobehavioral disabilities, I put the focus on changing the environment, rather than changing the child. This could mean many things related to the routine, expectations, and/or physical environment in the home and/or school.
My periods of strongest personal growth come when I set aside time for deep reflection. For me, this comes (mainly) through writing. For others, it may come through talking, or walking, or creating, or spending time in nature, or with animals. I haven’t always had a lifestyle that supports reflective practices.
“We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.”
– Zen saying
When you find yourself in need, counselling offers structured time and accountability in your own practices of reflection and growth. As a counsellor, having my own practice means that I am able to offer you time and focused attention, to support your insights on your personal journey.
I find email counselling particularly helpful in this process. In the process of writing, reflecting, revising, and writing some more, you are reflecting more deeply, and moving closer to achieving your goals.
Taking the Next Step
Feeling more confident about taking the next step in choosing the right counsellor? Learn about the flexible choices available to you, or contact Kirsten with your questions or to book an appointment.