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For Anxiety, Trauma, Addictions, Unwanted Habits, Chronic Pain, and Work/Sports Performance

Treatment and Motivation Enhancement

Introduction to Treatment and Enhancing Motivation

We all know the experience of wanting to do less of one thing, and more of another. And feeling that other part of our self that wants to just keep doing more of the same - because it feels good, because it's easier, because why not? It's almost like we have two minds inside us. One says, "It's time to make a change, I can do this." The other automatically responds, "But it's too much effort" or "It's not really that bad..." 

It's like this other voice keeps us stuck, blocking the way to where we really want to be. And whether we call it anxiety, avoidance, habit, or addiction, the underlying process is very similar.


This process is essentially caused by a learned behaviour. Learned behaviours are rooted in our primal drive to obtain immediate reinforcement and to avoid unpleasant experiences. This drive for pleasure results in our brain learning how to obtain what we want as quickly and easily as possible. It allows us to effortlessly acquire habits to get more of what we want, and less of what we don't. It's actually quite useful and adaptive.

While we all experience this normal phenomenon, our learned behaviours can start to have unwanted consequences. We can begin to have seemingly uncontrollable urges to give-in to immediate gratification, or to avoid something that seems too distressing. This is because our drive for pleasure "hijacks" the rest of our brain in an attempt to feel good now, no matter how bad we might feel later. Without warning, it pushes us into territory that we didn't intend to sign-up for.


And then one day we realize we've developed a problem that just won't go away. It is when these unwanted consequences start happening - when we notice that our behaviours are taking us farther from what we want rather than closer - that change becomes our new desire. 

This is where motivation enhancement comes in. Even when faced with powerful urges to give-in or avoid, motivation enhancement allows our brains to learn behaviours that are adaptive in the long-run. Behaviours that actually align with our true goals and values. This happens in the more developed, sophisticated part of the brain. With practice, it becomes stronger and more powerful than the primal drive for immediate gratification.

How to Enhance Motivation (Part I)

It might seem counterintuitive, but habits - even the "bad" ones - are actually reflections of a healthy functioning brain. They do not mean that something is wrong with you. They just mean that your brain is wired for pleasure and comfort - like it's supposed to be. When beginning to make changes, this is one of the most important things to recognize.

Fortunately, you can re-train your brain to seek pleasure, comfort, and relief from tension and pain in ways that are adaptive in the long-run. My approach to treatment is rooted in this biological understanding of the brain. We begin by uncovering what caused the problem to develop in the first place. Then we look at what keeps it going in the present, and finally, how you can draw from other parts of your brain to override it in the future. This knowledge is key for developing insight and lays the foundation for treatment.

How to Enhance Motivation (Part II)

Knowledge is power, but knowing doesn't necessarily lead to doing. We need to be able to translate that knowledge into action. And so treatment continues at an experiential level. This means that after exploring and discussing relevant past events and underlying beliefs that are holding you back, I help you activate the area in your brain - in session, in the moment - which is actually causing problems in the present. At the same time, I work with you to activate other areas in your brain that will help you to make changes, and we go back-and-forth between the two. This back-and-forth process results in accelerated learning, leading to enhanced motivation and long-lasting behavioural change.

My approach is very active, hands-on, and different from traditional counselling. It primarily draws from a specific form of EMDR and mindfulness therapy, along with elements of CBT, positive psychology, psychodynamic therapy, and hypnosis. It is useful for various "habit disorders," including anxiety, PTSD/trauma, addictions (e.g., alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, sex), binge eating, and bulimia, as well as targeting barriers to weight loss, smoking cessation, anger management, coping with chronic pain, and maximizing performance in work, school, or athletics.

What to Expect

The first session will include an introduction to treatment, as well as an interview where I gather specific information to individualize your treatment plan. By the second appointment, we officially begin the treatment process itself. 

If you are ready to start living your life the way you want, then I can offer a unique set of interventions that will help get you there faster.

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