Healing Waters Counselling Studio

  • What is PTSD and how do I know if I have it?

    Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological reaction that can manifest itself after a traumatic event. An event is considered traumatic if the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. The person's response can involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror.


    PTSD symptoms are divided into four separate clusters, including:

    1. Re-experiencing 

    Re-experiencing, or reliving, the traumatic event includes these symptoms:

    Frequently having upsetting thoughts or memories about a traumatic event

    Having recurrent nightmares

    Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a flashback

    Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event

    Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, when reminded of the traumatic event

    2. Avoidance 

    Actively avoiding people, places, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event includes these symptoms:

    Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event

    Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event

    Making sure you're too busy to have time to think about the traumatic event

    3. Hyperarousal

    Feeling keyed up or on edge, known as hyperarousal, includes these symptoms:

    Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep

    Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger

    Having difficulty concentrating

    Feeling constantly on guard or like danger is lurking around every corner

    Being jumpy or easily startled

    4. Negative thoughts and beliefs

    Thoughts and feelings about yourself and others may become negative and can include these symptoms:

    Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event

    A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities

    Feeling distant from others

    Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love

    Feeling as though your life may be cut short

    Many of these symptoms are an extreme version of our body's natural response to stress. Understanding our body's natural response to threat and danger, known as the fight or flight response, can help us better understand the symptoms of PTSD.


    To be diagnosed with PTSD, you don't need to have all these symptoms. In fact, rarely does a person with PTSD experience all the symptoms listed above. To receive a diagnosis of PTSD, you only need a certain number of symptoms from each cluster.

    Additional requirements for the diagnosis also need to be assessed, such as how you initially responded to the traumatic event, how long you've been experiencing your symptoms, and the extent to which those symptoms interfere with your life.

    Coping With Symptoms

    The symptoms of PTSD can be difficult to cope with, and as a result, many people with PTSD develop unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol or drug abuse or deliberate self-harm. Because of these risks, it's important to develop a number of healthy coping strategies to manage your PTSD symptoms. Coping strategies you can work on incorporating in your life include:

    Learning how to cope with anxiety

    Finding healthy ways to manage your emotions

    Learning how to cope with unpleasant thoughts and memories

    Managing sleep problems

    Being able to identify and cope with PTSD triggers

    Managing flashbacks and dissociation

    Getting Treatment Is Important

    If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it's important that you get the help you need. Many people have recovered from PTSD through treatment. However, unaddressed symptoms of PTSD can get worse over time and may contribute to the development of other psychological disorders, such as major depression, substance use disorders, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders.

    Healing Waters Counselling Studio offers PTSD counselling for individuals and on-site Trauma counselling for families, first responders and businesses.

  • Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships

    Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships

    A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:

        Mutual respect





        Separate identities

        Good communication

        A sense of playfulness/fondness

    All of these things take work. Each relationship is most likely a combination of both healthy and unhealthy characteristics. Relationships need to be maintained and healthy relationships take work. This applies to all relationships; work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships.

    What are signs of a healthy relationship?

    A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship.

    Below are some characteristic that may be present in your healthy relationships.

    While in a healthy relationship you:

        Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship

        Maintain and respect each other’s individuality

        Maintain relationships with friends and family

        Have activities apart from one another

        Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences

        Are able to feel secure and comfortable

        Allow and encourage other relationships

        Take interest in one another’s activities

        Do not worry about violence in the relationship

        Trust each other and be honest with each other

    What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?

    At times all relationships will have some of the characteristics listed below. However, unhealthy relationships will exhibit these characteristics more frequently and cause you stress and pressure that is hard to avoid. This tension is unhealthy for both members of the relationship and may lead to problems in other areas of your life.

    While in an unhealthy relationship you:

        Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner

        Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person

        Feel worried when you disagree with the other person

        Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/used to enjoy

        Pressure the other person into agreeing with you or changing to suit you better

        Notice one of you has to justify your actions (e.g., where you go, who you see)

        Have a lack of privacy, and may be forced to share everything with the other person

        Notice arguments are not settled fairly

        Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument

        Attempt to control or manipulate each other

        Notice your partner attempts to controls how you dress and criticizes your behaviors

        Do not make time to spend with one another

        Have no common friends, or have a lack of respect for each others’ friends and family

        Notice an unequal control of resources (e.g., food, money, home, car, etc.)

        Experience a lack of fairness and equality

    If your relationships have some of these characteristics it does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship. By recognizing how these characteristics affect you, you can begin to work on improving the negative aspect of your relationships to benefit both of you or leave the relationship.


  • How do I know if therapy is for me

    Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be “crazy,” desperate or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy. At the same time, therapy isn’t usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. So how do you know when it’s time to see a therapist?

    Most people can benefit from therapy at least some point in their lives. Sometimes the signs are obvious but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you can’t figure out what it is. So you trudge on, trying to sustain your busy life until it sets in that life has become unmanageable. Before it gets to this point, here are five signs you may need help from a pro:

    #1 Feeling sad, angry or otherwise “not yourself.”

    Uncontrollable sadness, anger or hopelessness may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with treatment. If you’re eating or sleeping more or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, or just feeling “off,” talk to someone before serious problems develop that impact your quality of life. If these feelings escalate to the point that you question whether life is worth living or you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out for help right away.

    #2 Abusing drugs, alcohol, food or sex to cope.

    When you turn outside yourself to a substance or behavior to help you feel better, your coping skills may need some fine-tuning. If you feel unable to control these behaviors or you can’t stop despite negative consequences in your life, you may be struggling with addictive or compulsive behavior that requires treatment.

    #3 You’ve lost someone or something important to you.

    Grief can be a long and difficult process to endure without the support of an expert. While not everyone needs counseling during these times, there is no shame in needing a little help to get through the loss of a loved one, a divorce or significant breakup, or the loss of a job, especially if you’ve experienced multiple losses in a short period of time.

    #4 Something traumatic has happened.

    If you have a history of abuse, neglect or other trauma that you haven’t fully dealt with, or if you find yourself the victim of a crime or accident, chronic illness or some other traumatic event, the earlier you talk to someone, the faster you can learn healthy ways to cope.

    #5 You can’t do the things you like to do.

    Have you stopped doing the activities you ordinarily enjoy? If so, why? Many people find that painful emotions and experiences keep them from getting out, having fun and meeting new people. This is a red flag that something is amiss in your life.

    Although severe mental illness may require more intensive intervention, most people benefit from short-term, goal-oriented therapy to address a specific issue or interpersonal conflict, get out of a rut or make a major life decision. The opportunity to talk uncensored to a nonbiased professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-changing.

    You may have great insight into your own patterns and problems. You may even have many of the skills to manage them on your own. Still, there may be times when you need help – and the sooner you get it, the faster you can get back to enjoying life.