Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Individual Psychotherapy & Stress Reduction: 4 Basics

June 26th, 2011 · individual psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, stress, stress reduction

stress reduction

Individual psychotherapy can enhance mental resilience and stress reduction.  Increasing our capacity to cope with stress is a vital concern.  A recent StatsCan study shows large recent increases in the number of Canadians over 15 who report that most days are extremely or quite stressful.  Reducing stress matters a lot in a time like ours.

Since the great Dr. Hans Selye of the University of Montreal coined the term “stress” in 1950, our understanding has grown immensely.  Selye and his colleagues have shown us very important things about this important psychological state:

  • It Can Cripple

Selye pioneered the connection between mental stress and its physical manifestations in coronary disease, ulcers and many other  illnesses.  In its physical manifestations, stress can rob us of our health, or sometimes even our life.  Stress can also cripple us psychologically, taking our enjoyment of life, and, sometimes preventing us from carrying out even rudimentary tasks.

  • Personal Factors Can Increase Its Severity

Personal psychological factors can directly affect the way an individual handles stressful situations.  A powerful example of this would be when an individual has experienced post traumatic stress disorder through physical abuse in childhood, violent crime or accident, exposure to combat, or similar factors.   Other kinds of of psychological wounding also greatly increase the difficulty of dealing with stress.

  • Problem or Symptom?

All too often in therapy, symptoms are treated, and we think that eliminates the issue.  But depth psychotherapy knows that just treating stress may leave big underlying emotional issues untouched.  There is a great deal more to us than initially meets the eye.  Stress is often fundamentally connected to how we relate to ourselves and our lives.

  • Is Your Stress Related to Your Life Journey?

Stressful states can be related to what is going on in the deepest levels of the conscious and unconscious self.  To put it in Jungian terms, if the way of life of a person is fundamentally at odds with the true nature, or the unlived life of that individual, this is an enormous stressor.  This can especially be true at midlife.  On the other hand, a better connection with his or her own real identity may often bring a dramatic reduction in an individual’s level of stress.

Personal stressors may be an urgent invitation from body and mind to embark on a personal journey of discovery of the true self.

What do you think about stress in our age? I’d welcome your comments or emails.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario



PHOTO: © Picstudio |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario  (near Mississauga)


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Jungian Psychotherapy & Major Life Transitions: 4 Truths

June 19th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, life transitions, major life transitions

major life transitions

Major life transitions are a primary concern of Jungian psychotherapy and depth psychotherapy, because they matter so much to human beings.  Such transitions include: movement from one stage of life to another; major illnesses or injuries (great piece from Globe & Mail on this) ; career change or job loss; and, changes in key relationships.

There’s much to be learned about transitions from the archetypally based initiation rituals of aboriginal peoples.  From that perspective:

  • Life Transitions are Journeys

Life is a journey, composed of a series of journeys.  The journey is a fundamental human metaphor, but  life transitions have a particular character.  As in initiation rituals, there is a phase of disorientation, what anthropologists call the liminal phase.  In this stage, we don’t see the way forward, and we have to rely on something we don’t understand to pull us through.

  • Life Transitions Involve a Death

In a key transition in our lives, something must die.  Our old relationship to ourselves and the world must pass away, to make room for something new.  This is the pain in major transitions: something within us screams in protest that this can’t happen, that our old way of viewing our lives is the way.  We may deeply grieve its loss, yet the old way must and does die.

  • Something is Trying to be Born

In every life transition, no matter how painful, something is trying to be born in our consciousness.  There is a different understanding of life, self and others that is pressing forward.  It may be something we are extremely reluctant to let be born, yet it is pressing forward, wanting to exist in us.

  • Receiving A New Name

In initiation ceremonies among aboriginal peoples, the initiate will often receive a new name upon completing the transition of initiation.  This reflects what has occurred: the person who was has died; in his or her place, someone new exists.  So it is in our transitions: we are no longer who we were.  We have a new consciousness and new relationships.  We move forward into a new, unfamiliar world, with a new awareness.

One of my most profound transitions resulted from the birth of a child who was deaf.  It has taken me a very long time to understand how this has changed my whole approach to being myself and being alive.

What have been the profound transitions in your life?  I’d welcome your comments or emails.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville and Mississauga Ontario



PHOTO: © Pavel Losevsky |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario


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Burnout Treatment : 4 Jungian Insights

June 12th, 2011 · burnout, burnout treatment, treatment for burnout

burnout treatment

What is the right kind of burnout treatment?  Burnout is the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, often work related stress.  It often occurs when a person feels overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands, which can be from work, or sources such as long term caregiving, or heavy family demands.  Burnout leads to disengagement, emotional blunting or numbing, helplessness and hopelessness, loss of motivation, and detachment and depression.

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  • Honestly Acknowledge Emptiness and Loss.

Often burnout sufferers have a great sense of hollowness or emptiness.  Only through acknowledging what has been lost can they move beyond this.  What do I hope will come back?  Do I remember times in the past that were full of vitality and joy?  It’s important to ask: what do I really yearn for, at this stage in my life?

  • Can You be with Yourself, Instead of Caught up in Doing?

Often those in burnout are so totally caught up in work or tasks that they have little time for themselves.  This is particularly so with recreational time, and also time with their own thoughts and feelings.   It may well be essential to take that time, even if you meet a lot of inner resistance and guilt feelings.  It can be especially important to spend time away from technology: laptops, cells, smartphones, and especially social media, so that you spend time talking to you, not others.

  • Who am I Now?

Work identity, or persona, is not the same as your real identity.  To try and understand who you are in yourself, outside of your work or other role can be key to recovering your lost vitality.  To truly sift reactions, thoughts and feelings, in order to distinguish between your roles, and your own deepest feeling self takes patience and effort, but can connect you again to your real life.

  • What does the Unconscious Say?

People are unaware of their unconscious self, and its reaction to events in their lives.  In burnout, much is going on in the unconscious levels of the self.  Often, this is reflected in the dreams of the burnout sufferer, and also in reactions to daily events that the sufferer may experience, without any clear idea of from where these feelings or thoughts might come.  Often the unconscious can shed a great of light on conflicts and the nature of the individual’s burnout reaction.

A therapist with depth psychotherapy expertise may help greatly in the healing process, and with bringing material to consciousness.

Have you experienced burnout?  If so, how did, or does, it affect you?  I would welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville and Mississauga Ontario



PHOTO: © Pumba1 |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )


Why Anger Management Therapy is More Than Managing Anger

June 7th, 2011 · anger, anger management, anger management therapy

anger management

Anger management is an incredibly popular buzzword.  There is even a Hollywood comedy entitled Anger Management , but anger, and its close cousin, rages, are often far from funny.  However painful and difficult coming to terms with anger can be, though, it’s an important encounter with the undiscovered self.

Confronting our anger involves an encounter with what Jung called the shadow, that part of ourselves that we can’t or don’t want to acknowledge.  As I learnt in my own case, coming to terms with our angry side can demand a lot.

  • Managing Anger Symptoms is Good, but Doesn’t Address the Root Problem

Techniques and practices that control expression of angry feelings can be important to avoid damaging outcomes.  But really dealing with their root causes, such as deep levels of constraint and repression, or deep resentments over fundamental wounds in our lives — this involves much more.  Without that kind of deep level encounter with the roots of anger, many people will never be able to really come to terms with it, or to really understand it.

  • Getting Angry is a Very Individual Thing

The roots of anger can really only be understood if you truly know the individual who has it. When a person is consumed with a certain type of anger, it is rooted firmly in that individual’s self and his or her story as a person.  It is only as the person opens up that story to themselves and to others that the real nature of the pain and sorrow underlying the anger, becomes apparent.

  • Anger Often Gets Turned Inward — Even While It’s Blasting Outward

When its expression is thwarted, angry energy needs to go somewhere.  If it cannot be expressed outwardly, the individual will direct it in upon him- or herself.  Recognizing this, and finding ways to move beyond ruthless self-put-down or self-attack, is often key to healing.  This is compassion for our own being; not a technique.

  • Anger Contains Vital Energy, If Only We Can Get to It

This is a fundamental truth of depth psychology.  A part of us that really wants to be fully alive is often locked within our anger.  If we can discover how to connect with and release that energy, we can find a very important and precious part of our lives.  This is the promise of a depth psychotherapeutic approach to anger.

How have you experienced anger in your life, and how have you come to terms with it?  I would welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

Link to Brian’s Main Website



PHOTO: © Alexsmithg |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )

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Issues for a Psychotherapist in Mississauga or Oakville

June 2nd, 2011 · Mississauga, Oakville, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, psychotherapist in Mississauga

psychotherapist in Mississauga

A psychotherapist in Mississauga or Oakville or surrounding areas faces some key issues that recur frequently.  Therapists in urban or rural areas face them, too, but they take on very specific forms in suburbia.

  • Isolation and Connection

It may not be apparent, but many people in suburban communities have to wrestle with loneliness, despite all the messages of family and togetherness.  The struggle that many people face is to find some meaningful connection with others.  No one wants to find themselves totally isolated, whether through geography, lack of time to make connections, or inability to find people with whom they have anything in common.

  • What is Persona: False Self, Real Self, Identity

We all need to wear social masks, but in suburban communities, those social masks can be particularly thick.  We may even have a lot of trouble distinguishing between our “social mask” — and who we really are.  Beyond the mask, what is really my own?  What do I really think and feel? What do I really want for myself?

  • Wealth: Too Much, Too Little

We pretend money is very rational, but wealth is actually a particularly emotional subject.  That is certainly true in suburban communities, where peoples’ identity very often hinges on their wealth and possessions.  People wrestle with how much is enough and whether they have to sacrifice who they are to make enough wealth for their needs.  This can be a real source of pain.

  • Hidden Pain

In communities like ours, we often subtly and unknowingly put pressure on people to look good.  And very often people do look good, and hide away the pain and difficulty in their lives, and then feel even lonelier.  People need some place where someone will listen to their story, and really witness and accept what they are going through in their lives.

  • Don’t Get Old!

How does one age with dignity and grace in communities that are all oriented to youth, family and children?  In our current, aging population, people are often made to feel that getting older is failure.  Couple that with the present environment where getting a job past age 55 is greatly more difficult, and getting older starts to feel like almost a crime.  We’ve lost the sense of wisdom and completion that goes with getting older in many cultures.

These issues call for psychotherapy that will bring healing, connection, meaning, and a resilient sense of personal identity.  Depth psychotherapy, such as Jungian analysis can bring this, by grounding us in our own deepest selves.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

Main Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice



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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )

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