<![CDATA[William Cooke and Associates Counselling and Psychotherapy - Blog]]>Sat, 16 Jan 2016 08:25:57 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Career Transition Adventures: From Engineer to Counsellor in Private Practice]]>Tue, 12 May 2015 18:24:12 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/career-transition-adventures-from-engineer-to-counsellor-in-private-practiceLike many of our career counselling clients, our associate Rhea Plosker is creating a unique life and career transition for herself. Six years ago, she returned to University to start a Master of Counselling degree part-time while still working in her first career as an Engineer and project consultant in health care and not-for-profit organizations. 

Rhea joined William Cooke and Associates in January 2013 as a post-graduate intern, and became an associate with the practice in January 2014. 

Rhea has been blogging about her Adventures in Private Practice for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Her story makes interesting reading for clients wishing to learn about another's career transition and for counsellors and counselling students considering a career in private practice. 


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<![CDATA[Couples Counselling: What to expect]]>Thu, 05 Feb 2015 23:18:25 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/couples-counselling-what-to-expectWe see a large number of couples and families in our practice. Some couples seek us out for marriage preparation or marriage enrichment counselling, but the majority of people who reach out for couples counselling are in the midst of a relationship crisis.

Counsellling with couples is a specialized skill and we strongly recommend that anyone seeking help find a therapist specifically trained in couple and family therapy.  Counsellors who are members of the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy have met the highest clinical standard required by any professional body in Ontario.  The OAMFT website includes a useful, "Find a Therapist" feature for qualified counsellors throughout Ontario.  William is a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor with the OAMFT, teaching and supervising couple and family therapists from a Narrative Therapy perspective.

What to expect in a first counselling session also applies to couples counselling.  Most often, we work with both partners together throughout the entire couple counselling process.  From time-to-time, it may be helpful to meet with one or both partners individually for a session.  In that case, the partner attending acts as an ambassador on behalf of the relationship:  it is still a couple's session, even though only one partner attends.

We are regularly contacted by one partner in a relationship who believes their relationship needs help but their partner refuses to come to counselling.  They ask, "is it possible for me to come for couples counselling and get help for our relationship if my partner won't come?"  In this situation, we first make suggestions on ways to invite the reluctant partner to attend.  One of the most successful ways has been to invite that person to "come once and decide for yourself if it's helpful."  But we also share that it is very much our experience that in fact, and surprisingly, it is possible to see positive changes in a relationship when only one partner seeks help.  Simply put, help is help and it doesn't matter through what door it comes - it just matters that it comes!

We often meet with couples less frequently than with individuals but for a longer session - normally 90 minutes.  We regularly provide couples with a summary of the session and, when learning new skills is involved, we will give homework and tasks to try at home.  Once there is clear progress in overcoming a problem, we will often space out meeting times, meeting monthly or every-other month in order to solidify the gains.



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<![CDATA[What to expect from your first counselling session]]>Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:35:14 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/what-to-expect-in-the-first-sessionOur clients have described the first session as a "professional, collaborative consultation."  We put our heads together with you to understand the problem that has come into your life and we begin to map out ways that your relationship with that problem can be changed for the better.  Common problems include:  problems with mood (depression or anxiety); problems in a relationship (conflicts, broken trust, concerns about intimacy and closeness, violence); problems stemming from recent or past traumatic events; family conficts (with children, teens or parents); some form of addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography); problems at work (conflicts, need for a change, returning to work after a leave); challenges with education or career planning, or a general state of unhappiness.

Prior to your first appointment, we will communicate with you by phone or email and send you a client information form which you can fill out and bring to the first session.  _
If you are meeting at our office, we will provide directions on how to get there by car or public transit.  Your appointment time, fee, extended health coverage and payment options will all be confirmed in advance. 

Our office at 2133 Bloor Street West in Toronto is located in a warm and welcoming century home. The owner, Andrew Grenda, operates Paris Hair Salon on the main floor.  You will take some external and internal stairs to our second floor offices, where you will find a waiting area with a washroom.  We provide water, and there are many coffee shops in the area if you would like to bring a coffee or tea with you.

In our first meeting, we get to know one another.  We invite any questions you have about the counselling process, how we work, who we are, our backgrounds or approaches.  We ask you what has you thinking that counselling might be helpful at this time in your life or relationship.  We learn what you may have tried already to address your concern - what has worked and what hasn't.  We learn how you want life to be different, and why.

As the session concludes, we will summarize our understanding of what brings you to counselling, what outcomes you hope for and where you see counselling fitting in.  We will let you know if we believe that we have the expereince and skills needed to help you.  We share a preliminary map of the counselling process we anticipate and how long it might take.  We discuss fees and budgets.  We invite you to go home, review the experience, and let us know if you'd like to proceed with a follow-up appointment.


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<![CDATA[William Cooke & Associates Counselling Approach]]>Tue, 20 Jan 2015 22:33:59 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/what-will-counselling-be-like
     We are proud of our collaborative counselling practice. Collectively, we have expertise in many therapeutic approaches that you might have heard of, including Narrative Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Mindfulness practices, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Family Systems therapy.
    What do you need to know about the therapeutic approach used at William Cooke & Associates, and what can you expect when you come to see us?

    1. We work to create a healing forum that is safe and productive.  We will treat you with the same respect and courtesy that we expect to receive when we are seeking professional help.  We will respect your time and your privacy.  We will will listen with care and consult without judgement or 'agendas' for your life.

2. We respect that you are the expert in your own life:  We understand that you have skills, values, goals, resources, abilities, beliefs, and commitments that can help you overcome the influence of problems in your life.  We will be curious and ask you questions to help put you put words to hidden stories of your life highlighting values, strength, possibility, and hope.  We will offer observations and ideas for your consideration, while always respecting that you will decide what steps are the right ones to take in your life.

3. You are not your problem:  We avoid referring to a person as a problem, such as "He is depressed."  Rather, we believe that our problems can be separated from us, and we will work with you to see problems for what they are, and how they are influencing your life. "When did depression first come into your life?"

4. We are expert in process.  Once we are able to see clearly the difference between person and problem and understand how and why a person or a couple desires to live and relate differently, we provide  'maps' for healing and new skills for living and relating.  We support you in making desired changes.
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<![CDATA[How do I find the right counsellor for my needs? Read William's interview with the Toronto Star....]]>Tue, 20 Jan 2015 21:58:31 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/picking-the-right-counsellor-for-your-needsFinding the right counsellor can be a difficult thing. We recognize that clients are often looking for help at the most difficult and vulnerable times in their lives. We have put together a list of resources that might help you find the help that you need and decide if we may be the right fit for you. We welcome any questions you might have for us at info@williamcooke.ca or at 416.762.0330. 

William was interviewed for an article by Amy Brown-Bauers, published in the Toronto Star:  How to find a therapist.

The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association has developed a website called Talking Can Help to assist you select the right counsellor for your needs. 

For those seeking grief counselling, Bereaved Families of Ontario has put together a web page How to Choose a Counsellor.
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<![CDATA[Practice Reflections for 2014]]>Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:44:45 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/happy-holidaysWe have a tradition of sending out cards each December to our clients, friends and colleagues.  We include a meditation and newsletter of Practice Reflections.  Here is a summary of our 2014 edition.

If our counselling practice were an orchestra, we would have three
sections corresponding to brass, woodwinds and strings:  the counselling section, the supervision section and the education section.  

Counselling.  Since the practice began in 1996, individual, couple and family counselling has been the centre of the work.  We consult with clients on a broad range of mental health concerns, with specialized interest and training in work with couples, those who mourn, workplace issues and increasingly with teens, young adults and their families.  

Supervision.  In 2009 William completed the accreditation to become an Approved Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Since that time he has provided clinical supervision to practicing Social Workers and to AAMFT members working towards acreditation as Clinical Fellows.  Beginning this past January, William has provided group supervision to the Social Work team of the Regional Cancer Program at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie.  

Education.  We have a strong, ongoing interest and commitment to education. This past year our 'classroom' included supervisees as well as colleagues who attended workshops on Narrative Therapy and Grief.  In January 2014, we welcomed Rhea Plosker, as a first Post-Graduate counselling intern. Rhea is now an associate working within the practice.

All of us at William Cooke & Associates would like to wish our clients and friends the very best for 2015 and to share with you our December 2014 newsletter and  a Winter meditation
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<![CDATA[Solution Focused Group for Caregivers of Stroke Survivors]]>Sat, 13 Sep 2014 02:25:09 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/solution-focused-group-for-caregivers-of-stroke-survivorsRhea Plosker started working with stroke survivors and their family caregivers at Providence Healthcare Centre in 2012, as part of her Masters degree practicum and project. She designed a group for caregivers of stroke survivors that has been running at Providence since 2011. She is the co-author of a paper "A Solution Focused Group for Caregivers of Stroke Survivors" (Rhea Plosker and Jeff Chang), published in the Fall 2014 peer-reviewed Journal of Systemic Therapies, and accepted for presentation at the 2012 Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Conference.  Rhea continues to work with stroke survivors and family caregivers of loved ones experiencing illness and disability through our practice.
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<![CDATA[Returning to work after a mental health leave: BRIEF Symposium Seminar led by Rhea Plosker]]>Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:32:31 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/returning-to-work-after-a-mental-health-leave-brief-symposium-seminar-led-by-rhea-ploskerRhea led a seminar titled "Many Happy Returns: Returning to Work After a Mental Leave" at the annual BRIEF Symposium held by the Center for Brief Coaching at the University of Toronto. 

At William Cooke & Associates, we see many clients experiencing workplace challenges. An ill-fitting workplace might bring anxiety or depression to our lives, or other life events might bring the need for changes at work. We work with our clients providing counselling and psychotherapy services as well as career counselling and coaching support for workplace concerns.

Rhea Plosker brings a unique perspective to our practice around workplace concerns, as she started her counselling and psychotherapy career after more than two decades as a corporate technology executive and independent consultant. 


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<![CDATA[Narrative Therapy Summer School:  Narrative Therapy and Grief.]]>Wed, 02 Jan 2013 02:46:53 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/narrative-therapy-summer-schoolWilliam Cooke and colleagues Margotte Kaczanowska and Suzanne Thompson were invited by Angel Yuen, to teach a module on Narrative Therapy and Grief at the annual Narrative Therapy Center Summer School  July 9th-12, 2012 in Toronto.  Approximately 75 people participated.

They presented “Goodbye and Hello: Narrative Therapy and Grief”.  Here is the description of that presentation:
"So many therapeutic metaphors and practices emphasize closure and moving on as the primary markers of healthy grief and mourning. Those who can't or won't move on have often been seen as "resistant" or experiencing some form of "pathological grief".  NarrativeTherapy, as well as helping us to accept and say good-bye to those aspects of a relationship that have truly died, has opened new doors to "Saying Hello!" to the ongoing relationship with our loved ones that always existed and transcends death."

The workshop combined theory, participant exercises and a live Narrative interview with a workshop participant and four Outsider Witnesses. 

The leaders led a follow-up group with a dozen Summer School alumni in the fall of 2012 to provide an opportunity to learn about and experience these concepts in a small group setting.  Similar workshops have been provided to:  The Bereavement Ontatio Network Annual Conference (a full day pre-conference workshop); Dr. Olga Sutherland's graduate class in the Couple and Family Therapy program at the University of Guelph; the clinical team of the Max and Bea Wolfe children's bereavement program at the Temmy Latner Centre for Pallitative Care at Mt. Sinai Hospital.


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<![CDATA[Collaborative Private Practice:  A Workshop for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the OCSWSSW]]>Wed, 23 May 2012 01:35:28 GMThttp://www.williamcooke.ca/blog/msw-field-instructors-of-the-year-award-2012William was invited by the planning committee for the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers 2012 Annual Meeting and Education Day to present a workshop to members on innovations in private practice. He and colleagues Margotte Kaczanowska, Martin Frith and Sabrina Samsudeen told the story of how in 2009-2010 a 450 hour practicum was ‘built’ for Sabrina’s MSW Field placement at Ryerson University, and when all of the dust had cleared, William and Margotte had received the MSW Field Instructor of the Year award! The workshop was entitled: Collaborative Private Practice – Revenge of the Village People because when William was first asked by Sabrina and Ryerson to consider creating an MSW field placement, he realized it would "take a whole village to raise an MSW intern", a challenge previously considered impossible for a private practice. ]]>