Lisa Shouldice MA, RP, CCP, Psychotherapist

Individual, Couple & Family Counselling / Psychotherapy



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What Makes Marriage Last?

Posted on 25 May, 2015 at 10:20 Comments comments ()

I have been rereading a well-known book by a pioneer in marital research, John Gottman. He has spent his career researching marriage and what makes it last as well as being satisfying for both partners. What struck me in that most of us assume healthy communication is the key. Marriage therapy often at least includes an element of this if it is not the main target. As a couple counsellor, most people that call me for couple counselling say their main issue to communication. BUT according to Gottman it is not as important as we think. Healthy couples that last can fight dirty too! So assuming there is no actual abuse between partners, active listening is not the key to a long-lasting, healthy marriage. So what is? The bottom line seems to be FRIENDSHIP! What stems from that is a natural curiosity, knowing each other and connecting deeply as a result. So if you feel disconnected from your partner set up some time to chat about your lives and what are your current concerns, struggles, highpoints and dreams. Have fun with it and bring a natural curiosity with you!

How Was Your Mother's Day? What Is Your Role In Supporting Your Partner When the Relationship With Mom is Strained?

Posted on 12 May, 2015 at 15:15 Comments comments ()

Picture it….Mother’s Day and you’re going in the in-laws to “celebrate”, but your partner’s relationship with their mother is a bit of a train wreck!? Ouff. Do you suddenly feel sick? What is your role? How do you support your partner in a healthy way?


I would suggest that it is to be supportive, but not over involved. What does that mean? It is natural to feel protective of you partner, but please remember that it is their battle and family relationship. They need to work this through. You are there for emotional support because your presence as a loving, supportive other will ground your partner. You can empower them on the way there and process and reflect on the way home. They need to learn how to be assertive and demand respect in their family relationships.


However, to sit there quietly and listen to your loved one be berated by their family is simply not real and I get it. It would have a lot of power if you are a lovely, caring, helpful person that after critical comments start, gets up and says calmly, “I am sorry. I cannot listen to this. I will be in the car”.


You may have to remind your partner that in a healthy relationship your role is to support them in making the best decisions for themselves, not rescue them. While the “inner child” may want this, the adult needs to fight their own battles. Give it a shot if your Mother’s Day with the in-laws was a trial!


Sending Love and Light!


How I Feel About Being a Psychotherapist

Posted on 1 May, 2015 at 11:00 Comments comments ()

Today I will practice what I preach and send gratitude out to the universe!


I am so lucky to be a therapist. I knew I wanted to be a therapist from the age of about 12. I was reading a book called “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”, by Joanne Greenberg (1964) when my calling was revealed to me. This is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young (teenage) woman that spends four years in a mental institution. Her struggle and hard work is guided by a brilliant Psychiatrist. It was not an easy struggle. It was also not a medication-based intervention. I remember knowing that I wanted to work with people who struggle with mental health issues. I want to stand beside and support people while they look for the source(s) of their issues and challenge themselves to find healthy ways to live every day.


I feel honoured to be a Psychotherapist that works on-on-one, with couples and families to support them is finding health together and be a witness as they transform and find their way to love. I feel gratitude for being a part of the transformative energy in the universe that we all possess and can tap into.


I have a passion for human stories and am awe-struck by the ongoing strength it takes to battle mental health issues. I am humbled by you and feel so lucky to have this calling. I feel spiritually fed and revitalized by this journey and pleased my clients are a part of it.


Thank you!!


Feelings and Grounding

Posted on 22 April, 2015 at 11:30 Comments comments ()

The best way to deal with difficult feeling is to “sit” with them for awhile. Not to get stuck and stay there for too long, but to learn how to feel it, listen for the wisdom, receive the teaching and let it go. All feelings are a part of who we are for a reason. Learn to use feelings as a tool to support your life and you will love them, even the tough ones.


Use to ground when dissociating from difficult feelings.


Place both of your feet flat on the floor and square or uncross you body.


Using tactile sensation choose something to focus on and redirect your energy. If you are on a bus or subway, simply use something on you, maybe the jeans you are wearing. Run you hands over it asking yourself questions about how it feels. Become mindful of the feeling under your finger tips. This will externalize your thoughts.


You can also use something visual if you are in public and do not want to draw attention to yourself. Some people find visual cues helpful. Choose something remarkable around you. Ex. Brightly coloured. Again, focus your energy on it and ask yourself questions. Describe it in as much detail as you can, pretending you are describing it to a person that has no idea what it is. Colour, shape, tactile cues, energy, anything at all that comes to you.


This is a redirecting of energy to ground your body when either feeling intensely or feeling numb due to intense feelings.


Gratitude Meditation

Posted on 12 April, 2015 at 11:05 Comments comments ()

Try this! See how it makes you feel. Observe if your day goes differently.


I surrender to the universal, guiding, healing and loving energy of the universe.


Please help me to be open to guidance and insight.


Please guide my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my thoughts to be healthy, my mouth to speak clearly and with compassion, my hands to heal and connect.


Help me to be changed by the people I meet today.


Help me to trust.


I send out my spirit helpers to keep my life ever changing and evolving.


Thank you for my family, friends and calling/vocation. Thank you for my life.


Writing/Journalling for Mental Wellness

Posted on 9 April, 2015 at 11:25 Comments comments ()

When you are having intense feelings or going through a time of transformation, undergoing lots of changes, writing or journalling can be very helpful. Especially if you find yourself feeling preoccupied about something in your life.


The process of journalling about emotional topics engages both sides of the brain and helps to process in a different way than other tools you may use. Try this:


Sit in quiet, private space with the intention of writing for a half hour to one hour.


Take a moment to look inward and decide what topic has some emotional weight and/or has been on your mind. If you have been distressed about something or are grieving someone, this may be obvious and you are simply taking space to process it. This is your time.


Write in a stream of consciousness style without trying to worry about spelling, grammar etc. Try to simply let it flow. You may find it is awkward at first but it will loosen up.


You may be surprised at what you say. I find this is an important way to take time to process if you are going through something but need to get on with your life. Ex: you are going through a divorce and need to work and focus on your children. Rather than trying to stuff down your feelings or ignore them, try finding a space to write about these intense feelings. It will make getting through your day easier.


New Canadians Stress and Depression

Posted on 6 April, 2015 at 11:10 Comments comments ()

Article currently published in April edition of Hi-Rise Community Newspaper

Canada’s new immigrant population faces myriad challenges when joining us here, in search of a new and different life. These difficult adjustments frequently lead to depressive symptoms for these courageous people. If you are a new-comer to Canada this is likely obvious, if you are not, this article may contain some new ideas.


Moving an entire family is a huge step, and only the beginning. Coming to Canada often involves changes in economic and social status, loss of income potential and a strong, supportive family network. So upon arrival the loss and fears faced are already enormous and now…learning or improving new languages, getting a job in Canada (where likely educational requirements are different and restrictive) in a country that has exhibited more and more racism and prejudice recently, especially since traumatic experiences, like 9/11 and other terrorist acts.


All of these transitions involve a complete change of lifestyle and values. Many of these changes are forced on newcomers and involve having to give up the celebrations, rituals and formal/daily dress that are grounded in thousands upon thousands of years of tradition and religious beliefs. However, many feel they must change to ‘fit in’ and be successful in Canada. At other times it is a legal requirement.


This initial cultural clashing will eventually lead to an adaptation of sorts, but the result can involve incredible loss and numerous fears. New Canadians are now building their family here and need to find the balance of instilling values within their family unit that will enable their children to thrive in Canada, but also be grounded in their cultural and religious traditions within a Canadian culture that is often far more permissive. Gender roles and interactions are often also extremely different.


The result is often psychological, emotional and physical symptomatology experienced as what we refer to as Depression, here in Canada. Disappointments are often experienced and social isolation can be the result.


It takes incredible courage and perseverance to immigrate to Canada. I do not think I would do as well as most of these amazing new Canadians do. They face great challenges and deserve compassion and respect. I welcome you new Canadians. I am glad you are here.


10 Questions to Test Your Relationship!

Posted on 3 April, 2015 at 11:40 Comments comments ()

Is your relationship healthy? Do you need to work on intimacy with your partner? Take the test! 10 questions to help you figure out if you need to re-focus your energy on your relationship.


1. Do you trust your partner?


Huge question! Do not just consider sexual fidelity but whether you would trust them to do an important errand or plan an important event without your guidance or intervention.


2. Do you enjoy your partner’s company?


3. Do you laugh together and have inside jokes?


This is one of the best predictors of marital/couple bliss! It is a great ways to end conflicts as well.


4. Do you know your partner’s recent/current stressors?


5. Is your partner an advocate for you? Another way to say this is Do you feel they believe in you?


6. Do you fight about finances?


This is one of the number one reasons couples fight and it can erode your relationship. Make a plan and stick to it.


7. Do you keep secrets from you your partner? Why?


8. Have you seen each other at your best & at your worst?


Huge test of whether you relationship has hit and maintained real intimacy!


9. Do you talk about the future?  Make new plans?


10. Do you communicate non-verbally?


Really reflect on this one. Most of human communication is non-verbal. What is the evolving nature of the non-verbals between you and your partner?


Anxiety & Meditation

Posted on 1 April, 2015 at 15:00 Comments comments ()

Anxiety is like a temperature. A temperature tells you there is an infection or virus in your body. Anxiety is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong in your emotional centre. It means “too much”, “overload”, “this is too much to handle”. So the first step is too LISTEN and figure out what you can change in your life to decrease your stress level. Too much change at once is naturally going to lead to increased anxiety. This is a time to increase self-care and be gentle with yourself.


However, there are people that due to genetics &/or a difficult childhood have a lower threshold for anxiety. The result is it takes fewer stressors to experience anxiety symptoms.


Anxiety Symptoms: (Diagnostic & Statistics Manual)


-feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness

-problems sleeping

-cold or sweaty hands

-shortness or breath

-heart palpitations

-an inability to be still and calm

-dry mouth

-numbness or tingling in the hands


-muscle tension



MEDITATION is a great way to raise your anxiety threshold and manage anxiety symptoms. Meditation starts the breakdown of the chemicals naturally released in our body that leads to anxiety symptoms. Please start with three minutes a day to ensure you stick with it and make it a regular part of your life. After a meditation you will always feel relaxed, but we are talking about you changing your threshold for anxiety. This takes daily practice. There are many ways to meditate and you will need to explore and figure out what works for you. When you first start you will not be able to stop your thoughts or clear your mind completely. This takes a lot of practice. It helps to focus on something ex: your breath or a candle. You may find a progressive relaxation is a good start. Please stick with it. It really works!!!


LGBT Coming Out to Family & Friends

Posted on 20 March, 2015 at 11:10 Comments comments ()

Coming Out to Family & Friends


Wow! Congratulations on making this decision! But isn’t it terrifying too?! Every experience of deciding to tell your social circle you are gay, lesbian or bisexual is different. It is also unpredictable. You may assume it will be Ok because you have an open-minded parent, BUT there is a difference between being open to anyone else being LGBT and your own child. This can be a challenge for any parent. I do not say this to scare you, but to prepare you. You will need to have either a trusted person in your life to talk to during this process or a professional to support you. Especially if you come from a faith community or culture in which being LGBT is simply not accepted. It is important to keep in mind that this time is not just about you. Please recognize that you may be changing the perceptions and worldview of the people in your life. This will take time. Please be compassionate but ALWAYS expect and insist on being treated with personal respect. If you have a family that is willing to work it through with you, you will need to create a safe place for the people in your life to say and ask what they need to in order to take this new information into their spirit.



Your mother may wonder what she did wrong.

Your sibling may feel there is an important part of you they have never known and need to grieve this.

Your grandmother may worry about you and you being judged by others.

Yes, there are some stereotypes inherent here and it will be easy for you get angry. But these are also real feelings and concerns for your friends and family members. If a safe place is created to explore this together, this can be a time to strengthen yourself and your family. But if the reality of your family is that it is not accepted, please remember that you deserve love and respect. There is support out there. I wish you love and light!