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Who I Work With

I work with people who want meaning and dignity in their lives and a desire not to be undermined by their pain and hardship. They want insight into their difficulties and skills that make a real difference to their problems. They are very capable in most areas of their life but don’t know how to be free of troubling feelings and symptoms.

When people have trauma in their near or distant past, they tend to have distressing, lasting symptoms that seem irresolvable. They’ve been coping with them, but they never go away. Past events may have been life threatening, terrifying, overwhelming, or deeply shaming and humiliating.  My clients have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused either as children or as adults or both.

Many times a ‘small incident’ has been dismissed as unimportant in my client’s thinking but very much alive in their feelings and behaviours. The child was too young to gauge the actual degree of threat and also too young to take what happened. This is why we can’t define what’s traumatic by our adult assessment of the magnitude of the event. It’s the child’s experience that is being expressed in the symptoms, not the adult’s.  And the symptoms live on.

Trauma symptoms may be present even though many aspects of my clients’ lives are positive. Such issues as career, family relationships, or creativity may be positive while only some aspects of life are negatively impacted by trauma.

My clients need specialized help with their symptoms because they are the outcome of traumatic experiences. Trauma treatment in psychotherapy requires a focused approach that does not frighten or stress the clients, rather helps them to feel safe. Research supports the importance of mindful, positive attention to body experience in trauma treatment.

In order to heal, many of the clients I attract have already entered a physical or meditation practice to support their spiritual, emotional and physical health. They want some specialized help but they want their therapy to be in line with their values and beliefs. They value their personal growth and healing as a contribution to their relationships, their family, their community and the planet.

Here are some of the symptoms that I help people with:

Intense Fear: Those who have experienced trauma often have nightmares, night terrors and/or panic attacks. Feelings of dread recur and to a disproportionate degree for their present life. They have trouble feeling safe and calmly present in their body. They may startle too easily. They are too wired up. Even if they are not thinking about the trauma, something that feels like the trauma can trigger them. They can’t fully relax and feel safe. They are easily scattered and their thoughts and behaviours can seem chaotic.

Lack of Energy and Vitality: Feelings of depression, helplessness and emotional immobility are frequent symptoms for those that have experienced trauma. People may feel spacey and weird or numb and absent from life. They can feel helpless and hopeless. They may have difficulty enjoying or having intimacy. There is a loss of playfulness and spontaneity and a lack of joy because there is little emotional energy. They can have trouble getting close to others.

Who Succeeds in Therapy?

Those most successful in psychotherapy are very serious about resolving their difficulties and are willing to dedicate themselves to the task, as long as it feels right and good along the way.

They make and keep regular appointments and keep their personal work active between the sessions.

They want to be open and honest in the sessions and at the same time, they know that I don’t want them to comply to anything at all that does not feel right inside themselves including talking about something that is too distressing and therefore not helpful.

They expect to experience improvements step by step until everything they have hoped for can be resolved. In the end they expect substantial gains.

They ask questions and expect answers about how they can resolve their difficulties.

They want a partnership with me. They are in charge of what they want to work on and what feels right along the way. I’m in charge of asking good questions, teaching new skills, being insightful and observant and most importantly, being supportive and encouraging.

Sample Client Scenarios

The following are composits of real people and situations. All identifying information has been altered to protect the identity of my clients.

Robert was a successful, award winning Real Estate Broker in a long-term intimate relationship with his partner Bill. Even though his present life was filled with security and love, confusing episodic feelings that he wanted to get away from his life partner troubled him. He had frequent night terrors and nightmares. As his therapy progressed he recalled that he had been physically attacked by a group of men in High School because he was gay. He realized that he was always tense and never felt fully safe and relaxed.

Jane wanted to come off the anxiety medication that caused her to feel flat and uninvolved. She was neglecting important matters such as her finances, her household and her relationships. Retired from an executive position in one of the major banks, she was in a financial position to enjoy a wonderful retirement yet had no enthusiasm or inspiration. She wanted to feel alive but not to return to the overwhelming anxiety that she experienced before taking the meds. Many years ago a man had broken into her apartment while she was home and she had talked him out of raping her.

Mary grew up with a mother who was very frightened and needy, so much that from an early age of 4 or 5, Mary needed to care for her. She had to comply to mom’s wishes even though they were excessive and unreasonable and especially for a young girl. Mary came to therapy as an adult with crushing anxiety that would even sometimes result in Mary calling in sick to work. She was worried that she could lose her cherished position running a social service agency. She did not yet understand the connection between her anxiety and her early experience. Her body was remembering the early situation in which there was overwhelming anxiety and no one to help her with it.

Rose had been raped as a teenager and then when she sought help from a counselor was once again sexually abused by the counselor. She had developed many self-help skills and was very successful in her career in broadcasting. She came to therapy to get assistance with frequent attacks of terror, nightmares and an inability to be physically intimate with her partner that she very much loved and cherished.

His father beat Bob every day until he ran away from home at 15 years of age. He owned a successful chain of retail stores. He requested therapy for anger management. He also felt very blue about the sorry state of the world with all its cruel and unfortunate realities. When he wasn’t working productively he spent a great deal of time alone, feeling not fit for human company.

Sandra was blamed and made the scapegoat of the family by her mother while her father drank and gambled. While this continued through her whole childhood, Sandra had the amazing attributes of intelligence and the ability to work hard. She became a physician and a specialist in pediatrics. Her personal life was fraught with pain and chaos, as she repeatedly became the victim of her husband, her children, and her friends. She came to therapy not knowing how to have healthy boundaries. She could no longer stand feeling so alone and mistreated.

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Nancy Christie BFA, CYW
Suite 404
170 The Donway West
North York Ontario
M3C 2J2

Certified Sensory Motor Psychotherapist Advanced Practitioner
Member Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy
Member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
Clinical Member of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists
"You can’t do what you want until you know what you’re doing."
—Moishe Feldenkrais