• Why choose Christian Couple Counselling?
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    Why choose Christian Couple Counselling in Calgary?

    Imagine you have been watching your marriage slip away for years.

    Perhaps you finally got to wondering what he had been doing on that computer all of those late nights. You found a spare moment, logged in and started looking at his internet history. When you did, you were instantly greeted by thousands of erotic or pornographic web sites and the hours spent on sites for escorts. Instantly, you understand why he hasn’t been sexually interested in you once this month.


    Perhaps you have felt the sting of her barely hidden resentment for years and, yet, could never figure out why she always claimed things were fine. But, tonight, when she left her phone unlocked, you started seeing text messages from a co-worker popping up on the screen. A few minutes of browsing them suddenly has offered you a very clear picture of why she has had to work late so often this year — and how little hope she has left for the future of your marriage.

    The next few days pass in a whirlwind of first denial, then anger, then furious recriminations followed by deep sadness and then cold silence. Finally, you have time to think.

    As you sit there feeling the crushing weight of betrayal, the self directed contempt for your blindness, the furious rage at your spouse and the terror for the future of your marriage and the family your children so desperately need, one question crosses your mind:

    How can our relationship recover from this infidelity?

    This is just another announcement/posting of an original internal article on why making a choice for counselling that fits with your faith and world view is so important.

    This article is now permanently added to the article section of our primary site — not just a transient blog post.


    (Yes, I’m writing these for S.E.O. purposes but they’re not JUST to keep the Google-Bots happy. Please share with anyone you think would benefit!)


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  • First steps of healing depression
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    Counselling for depression in Calgary

    If you’ve never experienced depression yourself, imagine with me for a moment.

    Imagine what it would be like to be unable to laugh, and unable to cry. To feel like your head is in a grey cloud that follows you everywhere and all of your thoughts just echo inside of it. Imagine living with the sense that you have no impact and the world has no impact on you — where your only release is sleep but the idea of waking up for another 16hrs fills you with dread. Imagine living living inside a glass cell that you can see out of but no one else seems to be able to see you inside of or hear your pleas to get out.

    That’s depression…

    That’s why, for so many people who struggle with depression, thoughts of taking their own lives actually feel comforting.

    If you, or someone you love is experiencing this, know that things don’t have to stay this way. There is a way out and here is a map of the first steps on that journey.

    This is just an announcement/posting of an internal article on what it means to start the journey out of depression now permanently added to the article section of our primary site.


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  • Focus: Can you master your own mind?
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    In my mind, the award for the most incorrectly labeled disorder ever goes to the generalized mayhem that is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    Think about it: We have a disorder that we know is the result of the brain continually searching for external sources of stimulation. We further know that children suffering with such can be treated with stimulant medications and that stimulant, paradoxically, calms the child — likely by providing enough internal stimulation.

    Clearly, it’s not a deficit of attention — if anything, there’s far too much attention being paid to nearly everything at once. (Well, other then the less exciting tasks the child should be focused upon…) Even a momentary glance at an ADHD child playing video games demonstrates that their attention can be stunningly focused and that the problem is much more a question of the regulation of attention.

    Since 1955, the treatment of focus problems or Attention Deficit Disorder has been dominated by one simple strategy: Drugs. Though, in recent years, non-stimulant medications have been tried, the dominant treatment still is the same psychostimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) or derivatives of such used in 1955.

    But, things are changing. Driven by speculation that children can learn to control impulses and that there exists more then enough stimulation within one’s own self if attended to, more and more mindfulness based training is beginning to be tried with this disorder.

    And, it may be a much more effective strategy:

    In their (rather statistics heavy) paper, the researchers simply tried teaching ADHD children Tai Chi. The result?

    These results converge to suggest that tai chi training may help improve attention in healthy young adults.

    That’s typical academic understatement. The Tai Chi actually offered quite significant improvements in a remarkably short period of time.

    While the authors do caution that:

    Further studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate tai chi as therapy for individuals with ADHD.

    The truth is that there already is a substantial pile of studies already saying exactly the same thing. It is becoming increasingly clear that focus, self regulation and the ability to re-regulate a dis-regulated and disorganized mind can be taught along with the ability to simply learn to shut down and reboot your brain.

    Drugs are one option, but they are NOT the only option.

    And yes, we do work with ADHD — especially in adults. Contact us!

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  • Relationships: Let’s take it for a test drive?
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    Psychology Today

    Cohabitation: Taking a relationship for a test drive?

    Does your partner handle life well? Can you still see a future with her? Do you communicate just as well in the same house? These seem like logical questions that can be answered by living with your potential spouse prior to marriage, but couples who live together before marriage are more prone to marital troubles and divorce. Recent research has sought to determine why.

    Premarital cohabitation has become increasingly common. In the last 20-some years, the number of women aged 19 to 44 who cohabited increased by 82%. One-third of women in 1987 cohabited, compared with three-fifths in 2009-2010, and increases like this are seen for every age group. Just 15 years ago, only about half of women marrying were doing so following a cohabitation experience. Currently among all women 19 to 44, 23% are in cohabiting unions, a percentage doubling that of 20 years ago.

    Much research has suggested that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced or be unhappy in their marriages. However, the findings are somewhat mixed, and researchers are trying to unravel the mystery of the “cohabitation effect,? the increased divorce tendency among those who opt to live together before marriage.

    The above linked article is a really decent summary of the various ideas about why cohabitation generally does not bode well for the future of the relationship. Yet, strangely, the author seems unable to connect the dots to find the answers contained in her own research.

    So, why do marriages preceded by cohabitation test out as weak and prone to divorce?

    Relationships solidify in two separate stages:

    (1). When sex starts:
    Up to that point, the relational dynamics of touch, conversation, time together, love languages etc. are all fluid — as the couple pursues the full consummation of sexual intimacy. Once sex starts, a win has occurred. It worked — and those relational dynamics tend to change only in evolutionary ways after such.

    (2). When you start living under the same roof:
    That’s when the functional dynamics solidify: Shared or separate finances? Temperature of the house? Who does the dishes? Time spent together or apart? How friendships with the opposite sex are handled? Sexual frequency and desires? Generally it takes only a few weeks or months before those elements also solidify.

    When two people move in together but are profoundly uncommitted and focused on keeping their options open, that solidifies as their relational norm. Finally walking down an aisle and exchanging rings doesn’t change a thing.

    And, when real oneness and intimacy doesn’t magically appear along with a wedding cake, things often get ugly really fast…

    This is why the above linked author noted that engaged couples (those where there is a ring, a public announcement, invitations in the mail and uncle Bob already has his flights booked from Germany) who move in together mostly do not show the same negative effects of cohabitation.

    They already were fully intent on creating a relational singularity — and their early move-in also didn’t change a thing. They got the, “We.” They found the relational oneness they were intent on because they spent those first months building it instead of maintaining separateness.

    And, believe it or not, the above understanding is REALLY GOOD news!

    What it’s really saying is that we really do know why marriages preceded by cohabitation test out as weak or prone to divorce and that we know what can be done about it.

    Yes, it’s often difficult for couples to make this transition on their own. But, when a couple takes the time to sit down with us for (pre)marriage counselling and risks unpacking the separateness that cohabitation created, we can very easily help them renegotiate the collective agreement of marriage they bargained and replace it with the oneness they really desire.

    The earlier in the relationship/marriage a couple reaches out for that help, the easier and (Yes, really!) more fun making those transitions can be!

    If this is you, will you reach out before it’s too late?

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  • Are you finally done with antidepressants?
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    Science Daily

    Ending Antidepressant dependancy with mindfullness meditation

    The study aimed to establish whether MBCT is superior to maintenance antidepressant treatment in terms of preventing relapse of depression. Although the findings show that MBCT isn’t any more effective than maintenance antidepressant treatment in preventing relapse of depression, the results, combined with those of previous trials, suggest that MCBT may offer similar protection against depressive relapse or recurrence for people who have experienced multiple episodes of depression, with no significant difference in cost.

    Over 2 years, relapse rates in both groups were similar (44% in the MBCT group vs 47% in the maintenance antidepressant medication group). Although five adverse events were reported, including two deaths, across both groups, they were not judged to be attributable to the interventions or the trial.

    According to study co-author Professor Sarah Byford, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, UK, “As a group intervention, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was relatively low cost compared to therapies provided on an individual basis and, in terms of the cost of all health and social care services used by participants during the study, we found no significant difference between the two treatments.”

    According to Professor Kuyken, “Whilst this study doesn’t show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works any better than maintenance antidepressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse in depression, we believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.”

    In so many ways, the above linked is not news — psychology has known for years that drugs are not the only or necessarily even the best treatment for depression. It’s no surprise that yet another study has found that therapy is as good or even slightly better then the drug route.

    But, in another way, this is most news worthy.

    Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a grand sounding name for something that is both incredibly simple and drastically limited when considered against all of the other tools we have for non-drug related treatment of depression.

    MBCT is simply teaching a person to be aware/accepting of thoughts and feelings, to remain detached from them and not react to them — perhaps choosing to change a reaction into a reflection.

    Yes, that’s it…

    It doesn’t involve skills at processing pain, addressing emotions, learning about the self, finding general health, coping with trauma, addressing stories from a family of origin, dealing with triggers, coping with lies about God or even getting basic needs met in relationship. (Or about 20 more areas needing to be addressed in the treatment of depression…)

    And, that one, simple, incredibly limited technique still worked as good or possibly even slightly better then drugs.

    It’s almost redundant to even say it but, yes, therapy is a remarkably effective cure for depression!!!

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  • Why saving your marriage matters.
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    Schroepfer will never forget when one of her hospice patients was hovering at the edge of death. She was unconscious, barely hanging on. Her children had all told their mother it was okay to let go. But the woman’s grieving husband hadn’t been able to give his blessing. Finally, after talking with his daughter, he decided he was ready to give his wife permission to leave them. “He sat down beside her and told her he loved her, and that it was okay,? Schroepfer recalls. “He got up to walk back to his chair. Right after he sat down, she raised her head out of the coma, said ‘I love you,’ and died. I was glad their daughter was there too, or I would have thought I’d imagined it.?

    Although medical researchers may not be able to pinpoint where that surge of willpower comes from, they have shown evidence for people’s remarkable ability to hold on and let go at will. David Phillips, a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in statistical analysis of sociological data, has looked at the link between mortality and culturally meaningful events. Just before Passover each year, he found, the death rate for Jewish people fell sharply below normal levels, and rose again immediately afterward. Non-Jewish people showed no change in mortality before or after the holiday. Similarly, he showed a drop in deaths among Chinese people before their symbolically important Harvest Moon Festival, and a corresponding rise after the event had ended. If people can will their bodies to hold out for one more Harvest Moon Festival, one more family reunion, then why not for love?

    After all, love doesn’t just feel good, Coan has found, it is good for us: Happy relationships can protect against the negative effects of stress. In studies designed to measure how social support influences the stress response, Coan brings volunteers into an MRI scanner and threatens to zap them with an electric shock. Periodically a symbol flashes before their eyes, indicating there’s a 20 percent chance they’ll receive a shock in the next few seconds. The goal, he says, is to create an “anticipatory anxiety? that mimics the feeling you get from everyday stressors like a looming work deadline.

    But the volunteers aren’t in it alone. Some are holding the hand of someone they trust — a romantic partner, parent, or close friend. Others are holding the hand of a stranger. Coan has found that brain activity in the hypothalamus, the region heavily implicated in the body’s stress response, differs between those holding a loved one’s hand and those holding hands with a stranger. Clasping hands with a loved one tamps down threat-related activity.

    I put myself through both my undergraduate and graduate training by working at a part time job in emergency medicine. It doesn’t take long working in that sort of a field to have considerable experience with people’s end-of-life behaviours — some, quite peaceful — others, horrific.

    The majority of the peaceful experiences seemed to be marked by two key elements: The people experiencing such had lived lives of relational connection — usually in marriage — and they had lived lives of authenticity within those relationships.

    The full article is rather long — but it’s really a compelling and masterful piece which weaves cutting edge research on the relational activation of the brain (and it’s ability to protect us from so many things) and what happens when relationship is lost while mixing such with a clear grasp of how much our decision to live (or die) really does matter.

    And, it’s a sobering counterpoint to a culture that treats marriage as little more then a mechanism for pleasure and which would kick relationships to the curb with little to no thought.

    Marriages really are worth saving.

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  • Tradition: But, we’ve always done it that way…
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    Medical Daily

    Tradition: It can make life rich (big ethnic holiday feasts) and sometimes limited (seemingly arbitrary social taboos about clothing), but where does it stem from?

    New research out of Karolinska Institutet’s Emotion Lab in Sweden attempts to answer that question, by creating a psychological model behind the notion of tradition. It turns out that humans have a tendency to be quite sheep-like: the researchers found that it likely comes from a threat of punishment — as well as people’s willingness to copy others.

    “Critically, many social behaviors, such as cooperation and adherence to religious taboos, are maintained by threat of punishment,? the authors wrote. “However, the psychological mechanisms allowing threat of punishment to generate such behaviors, even when actual punishment is rare or absent, are largely unknown.?

    In other words, people who adhere to tradition often due so for safety and survival. But people who see that tradition doesn’t offer protection from danger are more likely to break out of it.

    “We wanted to find out how these situations function in humans when we need to avoid danger,? said Björn Lindström, a researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and an author of the study. “We discovered that two separate, simple, psychological mechanisms — the copying of others behavior and the rewarding properties of avoiding danger together forms a potent driving force that helps explain how we can create and maintain norms and traditions.?

    The above linked is a rather convoluted mess and could have been much better written.

    Essentially, what it says is that we are a social species plagued by fear of punishment and we tend to believe that other people know better then we do how to avoid that punishment or danger. Because we think others know better, we copy their behaviours so frequently it eventually becomes a culture — what we call tradition — that may enshrine and perpetuate incredibly damaging behaviours for generations.

    Why? Because we are all afraid to change things in case everyone else knew better.

    An interesting counter-point to such is the life of Christ. He came literally hell bent on changing everything — especially the fabric of tradition that kept us in bondage to fear.

    How He did so?

    By cancelling forever the fear of judgment, the threat of punishment and the list of rules itself that made them possible.

    He then offered a new community and tradition based on love instead of coercion.

    In other words, He attacked everything that the above research identified as keeping tradition standing — and then gave everyone something new to copy.

    The increasing irrelevance of our churches could be erased in a heart-beat if they simply went back to such…

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  • Here’s how you spot the next suicide bomber
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    Even if blowing oneself up were instantaneous and the individual didn’t feel physical pain, adds Caouette, there is still great psychological duress. ‘This is not mentioned in our paper, but suicide bombers usually go through a long preparation to make them ready to become suicide bombers.’ They have to say goodbye to or cut off contact with their families, who might not approve of their actions. ‘In the end,’ she said, ‘martyrdom can take many forms of self-sacrifice, whether feeling pain or losing one’s life.’

    The Self-Sacrifice scale creates an unprecendented psychological test of the degree to which individuals are willing to give up ‘their wealth, their important personal relationships, and then their life’ for something they value more highly. As the researchers point out, such traits can have intensely pro-social outcomes as well as destructive ones. Contrary to the idea that martyrs don’t value their life and are depressed, the study found that these individuals were usually constructive and motivated. Still, they were simply willing to sacrifice their closest relationships for something that mattered more – their cause.

    So much of our society (and the spy services which mirror our deepest fears) is focused on maintaining a set of fantasies. Those fantasies are stories we tell ourselves to help us maintain our carefully constructed illusions of safety.

    Illusions like the idea that all terrorists are crazy and all soldiers are virtuous. Fictions like suicide bombers have no other options and are manipulated by others (or poverty) while the marines are volunteers motivated by love of God, country and apple pie. We just blindly accept the idea that terrorism is a random and confusing phenomenon that requires extraordinary measures to control.

    Because of this, we buy into lies like the idea that it’s impossible to profile a terrorist, impossible to spot who will perform a radical act and, thus, we need to spy on everyone. (So, let’s all let our governments pass crazy national spying laws — C-51/Patriot Act — that violate every right or freedom anyone ever fought and died to give our societies.)

    Sadly, the above linked not only demonstrates that the reverse is true, it even provides a testing tool for such.

    Turns out that most of America’s Marines are poor people with no other options and petty criminals who are compelled by the legal system to put their bodies on the front line.

    And, suicide bombers are constructive, highly motivated relationally connected people from families are not at all good with them ending up dead who are incredibly ideological, who have undergone intense voluntary training, who are rationally willing to sacrifice themselves and driven by an altruistic passion for a cause and the need to belong with others motivated by the same.

    You know, exactly what we would like to believe about our military men…

    This is really not a mystery and, it’s so well understood, we can even replicate studies of such with hot sauce… Those understandings make it trivial for operatives on the ground to spot potential threats — if we actually had people on the ground instead of behind desks reading everyone’s emails.

    We appear perfectly capable of profiling, testing for and identifying people who would make great military or police officers right from grade school without putting an entire population under invasive surveillance.

    Exactly why should we buy the idea that we need to put an entire population under such to find the tiny handful of people who fit under the heading of the term, “Terrorist?”

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  • How to learn.
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    People who learn quickest show the least neural activity, a new study finds.

    The research flies in the face of the common myth that the key to learning is trying harder and thinking it through.

    Instead, quick learners in particular showed reduced brain activity in the frontal cortex, an area linked to conscious planning.

    In other words: good learners don’t overthink what they are trying to learn.

    Professor Scott Grafton, who led the study, said:

    “It’s useful to think of your brain as housing a very large toolkit.

    When you start to learn a challenging new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, your brain uses many different tools in a desperate attempt to produce anything remotely close to music.

    With time and practice, fewer tools are needed and core motor areas are able to support most of the behavior.

    What our laboratory study shows is that beyond a certain amount of practice, some of these cognitive tools might actually be getting in the way of further learning.?

    So much of the education system (and the operational norms of our society) functions from the assumption that mastery results from trying harder, and that trying harder is fundamentally motivated by reward and punishment — motivating the brain to focus.

    Yet, when we look at successful education systems, what we see are short school days, low stress on children, incredible attention to care for all aspects of the child’s well being and learning through grasp of context and purpose.

    Those children learn because they are relaxed enough to explore and the actual learning becomes more of a body memory and a familiarity rather then the result of strenuously attempting to remember.

    The same thing occurs when we look at faith communities that bring real change to the hearts and minds of people. They too are a place of quietness, safety, grace, gentleness, freedom, peace and exploration.


    The same thing is true of therapy as well.

    Shame, fear, guilt and judgment all simply can’t have any place here…

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  • Just relax and have a glass of Shiraz…
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    Brain Blogger

    Have you ever heard of the “French paradox?? This concept originated in the 1980s and refers to the epidemiological observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular diseases despite having a diet rich in saturated fats.

    Although it has been argued that the French paradox may be an illusion due to statistical distortions and the way health statistics are collected in France, it did promote a lot of research interest around what could be allowing the French to eat saturated fats and avoid cardiovascular disease. Soon, many possible explanations for the French paradox started to emerge. But the one that stuck (at least in pop culture) was that the low incidence of cardiovascular diseases in the French population could be due to their high per capita consumption of red wine.

    The article is well written – and at least mostly true. Well worth the read.

    But, there is one foundational error — the idea that dietary fat = heart disease — that moves the entire article away from the right conclusion.

    All along, the real heart disease culprit was inflammation from excessive garbage carbohydrate consumption and insanely high levels of stress that caused the fats to stick to everything. And, yes, the French see much lower levels of such.

    Yes, some of the protection was actually all of the fat they do eat that displaced carbs from their diet, but that’s unlikely to be the whole picture…

    Perhaps the real reason for the other half of the, “French paradox,? is simply that they, as a people know how to stop, sit down with friends, relax and just have a glass of wine.

    For all we know, the same may be possible with orange juice too…

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