What is counselling?

Counselling is the process of talking to a mental health professional to receive help with physical, emotional and mental health issues in order to improve well-being, alleviate feelings of distress, and resolve crises.

Counselling helps people of all ages function both personally and in their relationships. It addresses the emotional, social, work, school and physical health concerns at different stages in their lives.

Counselling can focus on typical life stresses and more severe issues that people may struggle with as individuals and as a part of families, groups and organizations.

Why would someone see a counselor?

People come for counselling because it feels good to let go of the thoughts and feelings they’ve been carrying around…it offers a safe harbour to release heavy burdens. Some people may have individuals in their lives they can speak to about their worries but feel they don’t want to burden them. Others want an unbiased perspective on an issue they are struggling with in their life. Sometimes, people don’t have individuals in their life who will just listen….without turning the conversation on themselves or “one-upping” them.

What symptoms would be addressed by a counsellor?

  • ADHD
  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Adjustment difficulties
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Career Issues
  • Chronic Pain
  • Coping Skills
  • Decision-making difficulties
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief
  • Identity
  • Insomnia
  • Learning/Skill difficulties
  • Life Transitions
  • Parenting
  • Performance Issues
  • Relationship Difficulties
  • Stress Management

Who are the counsellors here at Safe Harbour?

Carmen Okhmatovski

Individual and Relational Therapist

Julie Long

Founder and Counsellor

Nan Campbell

Individual and Relational Therapist

Nicole Versluis


Natalie Koleric

Individual and Relational Therapist

Natasha Ross

Individual and Relational Therapist

What would an appointment look like?

The first appointment is usually nerve-wracking for most people because you are going to a new place with the expectation of sharing very intimate aspects of yourself with a person you just met. In addition to talking about the issue that prompted you to seek help, the main goal is to determine if you feel comfortable with the counsellor and confident that she can help you with your problem.

Once you arrive at the office, there is paperwork to fill out which takes 5-10 minutes.

Before their appointment, some people also like to jot down ideas that will paint a picture of their life when the counsellor is doing the history taking that happens during the first session. Those ideas could be high lights and low lights of a person’s life, supportive people or pets in their life, and activities they do that help them feel better.

How does it work?

Therapy offers perspective, a mirror, for people to clarify their thoughts and feelings. It isn’t dispensing advice but rather encourages people to hear what their own self is saying. We all know what we need, we just need help teasing it out!

Therapy provides psycho-education about life topics affecting client’s lives in order to teach them how to self-regulate and cope with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

After all, therapy is about equipping a client so that they can manage on their own. It helps clients learn how to tune into themselves so they can self-reflect and notice what is happening in their life – to be their own mirror.

Different counselling approaches.

  • Attachment-based
  • Brief Solution Focused
  • Cognitive Behavioural (CBT)
  • Eclectic
  • Emotionally Focused
  • Family Systems
  • Feminist
  • Interpersonal
  • Mindfulness-Based (MBCT)
  • Narrative
  • Positive Psychology
  • Psychodynamic
  • Strength-Based
  • Structural Family Therapy
  • Trauma Focused

Who developed this approach?

Modern counselling psychology therapies can be traced back to the work of Sigmund Freud in the 1880s. Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and others developed approaches based on Freud’s work. These first wave approaches focused on the dynamics of the relationships between different parts of the psyche and the external world.

A second wave of psychological theory began with B.F. Skinner’s work which focused on explaining people’s behaviours rather than their unconscious thoughts.

A third wave of humanist theory stemmed from the work of Carl Rogers’ client centred work that focused on the experience of the person. It is due to the work of Frank Parsons and Carl Rogers that the word counselling is now used.

What’s the difference between all the different therapists who provide talk therapy?

A counsellor, clinical social worker, and marriage and family therapist are masters-level trained therapists in psychology or a similar discipline, who assists clients in managing mental health through therapeutic interventions, similar to a psychologist. Some may be covered by insurance companies.

A psychologist has a doctorate (Ph.D.) in Psychology who is able to diagnose and assist clients with therapy and is covered by insurance companies.

A psychiatrist has a medical degree (M.D.) who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness often prescribing medication and is covered by Manitoba Health.

Listen on Apple Podcast Listen on Google Play


Receive emails on new blog posts, our latest podcasts and information on Safe Harbour Therapy.