Category: Therapy & Counselling

2020 Programs

The following are our programs for the first half of 2020. All dates dependent on sufficient enrollment:


The following are our programs for the first half of 2020. All dates dependent on sufficient enrollment:

Brené Brown Shame Resilience seminar
– Starting Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 pm, targeted to those dealing with shame arising from trauma. $265 per participant. Location TBD.

Individual counselling
– Practicum student minimum $35 per session.
– Senior Therapeutic Counsellor minimum $60 per session (THURSDAYS only)

Free walk-in support and learning group for those experiencing anxiety and other effects arising from trauma.
– 4:00 THURSDAYS beginning FEBRUARY 13. 2nd Floor 576 England Avenue

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) group for those experiencing complex mental health conditions including Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD and C-PTSD, debilitating anxiety, and alcohol / substance abuse.
– 5:30 THURSDAYS beginning FEBRUARY 20, 2nd Flr 576 England Ave.
– Requires individual counselling with a per session cost. Subsidies available for those actively participating in a DBT group
– No cost for DBT group participation.

For further information on any of these offerings, please e-mail



Individual counselling
– Practicum student minimum $35 per session.
– Senior Therapeutic Counsellor minimum $60 per session

Free walk-in support and learning group for those experiencing anxiety and other effects arising from trauma.
– 4:00 MONDAYS beginning FEBRUARY 10

Free walk-in support and learning group for those experiencing cognitive deficits arising from overdose recovery
– 4:00 Wednesdays beginning FEBRUARY 12

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) group for those experiencing complex mental health conditions including Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD and C-PTSD, debilitating anxiety, cognitive deficits arising from overdose, and alcohol / substance abuse.
– 5:30 Wednesdays beginning JANUARY 29 (INTAKE) / FEBRUARY 12 (FIRST SESSION)
– Requires individual counselling with a per session cost. Subsidies available for those actively participating in DBT group.
– No cost for DBT group participation.

For further information on any of these offerings, please e-mail



Individual counselling
– Practicum student minimum $35 per session.
– Senior Therapeutic Counsellor minimum $60 per session

Free walk-in support and learning group for those experiencing anxiety and other effects arising from trauma.
– 4:00 Tuesdays beginning FEBRUARY 11

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) group for those experiencing complex mental health conditions including Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD and C-PTSD, debilitating anxiety, cognitive deficits arising from overdose, and alcohol / substance abuse.
– Requires individual counselling with a per session cost. Subsidies available for those actively participating in DBT group.
– No cost for DBT group participation.

REVISED TIME – 7:00 p.m. Wednesdays beginning FEBRUARY 5, targeted to those dealing with shame arising from relationship difficulties and/or trauma. $265 per participant

For further information on any of these offerings, please e-mail

We acknowledge and are grateful to the Government of British Columbia Gaming Fund which provided funding for the delivery of Dialectical Behavioural individual and group therapy for 2020.

News Release

For Immediate Release Thursday October 24, 2019

BC New Democrats Fail to Deliver on Mental Health Funding for mid-Vancouver Island

The mental health needs of Vancouver Island communities outside the capital region have been treated with indifference by Premier John Horgan’s government. Island Integrated Counselling, one of the largest non-profit providers of affordable and subsidized counselling services on Vancouver Island, with 10 therapists available to meet the counselling needs of mid-Island residents, has been refused any funding from the B.C. government’s $10 million Community Action Initiative program for Community Counselling.

Earl Blacklock, the Executive Director of Island Integrated Counselling, said “There were two principal criteria for the funding – to have qualified professional therapeutic counsellors providing therapeutic counselling services, and to have the capacity to expand to deliver services in other parts of the serviced area. We are the only agency that meets these criteria in this region, and we have demonstrated that capacity by more than doubling our staff and by expanding to Oceanside and the Comox Valley in only one year.” Island Integrated Counselling is one of the longest serving non-profit mental health providers in British Columbia, with more than 21 years of service to the people of Nanaimo and surrounding communities.

“We serve hundreds of clients each year who require subsidized care, and the Horgan government cuts mean we will no longer have the means to serve more than a third of them,” Blacklock explained. “We have been lobbying the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions for more than a year, explaining our need for additional funding to help meet the growing needs of the communities we serve, and we were assured that this new program would address those concerns. In this, we were misled.”

In the past, subsidies for care offered by the agency came from Gaming Fund grants, but those funds have been declining for a number of years, with the past year’s $25,000 in funding being the lowest ever received. “To meet the needs of our Nanaimo clients alone, we require more than $100,000 in funding annually,” Blacklock said. “We have survived to this point because of donated professional counselling services, but these were intended as interim measures to bridge the agency to a more sustainable funding model.”

While other non-profit agencies on Vancouver Island offer counselling services, only Island Integrated Counselling has made individual and group counselling provided by professional trained therapists its sole focus in mid-Island communities. Ours is the only agency in the region with the capacity to offer a full range of therapeutic counselling services with continuity of care and no wait list. “Our funding needs are not based on future plans to meet mental wellness needs of our communities. We are doing that already, to the benefit of hundreds of members of the communities we serve,” Blacklock said. “We need additional resources to help us deal with the doubling of our client base at a time of declining government funding. The need far outstrips the resources this government provides, and this indefensible decision will only make an unsustainable situation worse.”

The agency must now take the following immediate measures to survive:

  • Plans already well underway to expand our services to a second more accessible Nanaimo location, as well as to offer subsidized counselling services in Tofino, Campbell River, Duncan, and Salt Spring Island, must now be delayed or cancelled. Our plan to begin providing services in the Comox Valley and the Islands off Vancouver Island’s east coast is being revised.
  • A number of our clients receive full subsidy, unable to pay anything for their counselling, while others pay a significantly reduced amount, depending on their income. These clients, two thirds of our total, will receive two more sessions at the heavily subsidized rate, after which they will be required to pay a minimum of $35 per session to be seen by a practicum student and $60 per session to be seen by a registered therapist. It is projected that this will mean more than 50 current clients will be unable to continue counselling services in the short term, and over the course of each year, more than 200 will be unable to access affordable counselling services from our agency.
  • Outside of Island Health, Island Integrated Counselling is the only provider of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) on Vancouver Island. DBT is the gold standard treatment for suicidality and Borderline Personality Disorder and a proven treatment for other complex mental health issues such as PTSD, trauma-related challenges, and dependence on drugs, alcohol, and substances. DBT groups will continue to be offered on a no-fee basis while we await word on whether the increased funding for DBT requested from the Gaming Fund is approved, but the individual component of DBT therapy will be based on the new minimum fees. Most damaging will be the effect on our DBT program for adolescents, which can now be offered only if our minimum cost of $1,200 per client ($60 x 20 sessions) can be recovered from the families of adolescents suffering from suicidality and other serious mental health challenges. Island Health’s waiting lists for DBT therapy grow longer every day.

Despite these measures, reliance on unpredictable Gaming Fund funding is not a sustainable funding model, and it is likely the Horgan government’s decision to not fund our agency will lead to our closure if the government continues to fail to take seriously mental health needs on Vancouver Island. At particular risk are those whose lives have been so disrupted by their mental health challenges that they are unable to meet their own needs for income, housing, and health.

Island Integrated Counselling calls on our Member of the Legislative Assembly, Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, to fight much harder for her constituents’ mental health needs by demanding that her government commit to a sustainable funding model for our agency.

For further information, please contact:

Earl Blacklock, MALM, MDIV, MC

Executive Director

Vancouver Island Integrated Counselling

   and Community Services Society

o/a Island Integrated Counselling

#306 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2L2

129 Alberni Highway, Parksville, BC

250-954-7150 (voice and text)

250-716-8888 (office and messages)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.      There were 190 applications for this funding program, and only a fraction of that number could be given funding. Why call into question the decisions made just because you weren’t successful?

A.      This funding program was ostensibly in response to the need identified by Island Integrated Counselling, and agencies similar in mandate and purpose to IIC, for sustainable resources needed to meet the mental health needs of our communities. Our principal focus is on those facing interminable waits for mental health assistance from their local health authorities, people who can’t normally afford private care because their mental health has affected their ability to be healthy, housed, and employed. There are fewer than 30 such agencies in the province, including IIC, and the Community Counselling program was adequately funded to provide funding for each non-profit counselling agency in the province. The failure to fund Island Integrated Counselling means either that money was clawed back from the program or agencies that did not initially qualify were given funding.

UPDATE: We now know that NONE of the agencies which were ostensibly to be the beneficiaries of this program – agencies offering professional therapeutic counselling services to the communities in which they are located and to which they have plans to expand – none of them received funding. Not a single one. As a result, our agency now has a three month waiting list for those unable to afford the $60 minimum charge for certified / registered counsellors and $35 minimum charge for practicum students. Before, we had no waiting list. Other agencies have also been hit hard. Pacific Centre Family Services Association in Victoria indicated to CTV News that they now expect their waiting list to grow to as much as seven months due to the funding crisis.

Who got the money, then? Some were worthy organizations, doing good work, but few met the program requirements. Less than half offered professional counselling services, a program requirements. Almost none had demonstrated a capacity to scale their counselling services, another program requirement. And no agency provided funding on Vancouver Island did what Island Integrated Counselling does – welcome all those needing help with mental health issues, regardless of who they are or what issue they present with. One provides service to Salt Spring Island only, despite the proximity of the Island to counselling agencies in the capital region. One provides services to sex workers and former sex workers in the capital. One is targeted to immigrants, to an agency that is already receiving significant funding from provincial and federal sources for that purpose. And two were given to Indigenous-run agencies, ensuring that more than 50% of the grants under the program were provided to Indigenous agencies. None offered dialectical behavioural therapy.

In short, the $10 million that was diverted from the agencies on the front line, backstopping the overloaded health care system, will help dozens of people. Properly allocated, it would have helped thousands.

Why would the government allocate the money in this manner? There is little question that political considerations, so close to an election, plays a major role. They chose an unaccountable body to ostensibly make the decisions, ensuring there would be little scrutiny of the process used.

Q.      What were the requirements for funding under the program?

A.      Recipients were required to be a non-profit community counselling agency employing certified or registered professional counsellors with the demonstrated potential to broaden their reach beyond their base.

Q. There are non-profit counselling agencies on Vancouver Island that provide counselling services to the public. There are also mental health agencies such as CMHA that deliver mental health services. Why do you claim to be the only qualifying agency outside the capital region?

A. CMHA does great work, but they do not currently provide community counselling services as one of their emphases on Vancouver Island. An organization such as SOS in Oceanside provides subsidies for counselling, not direct professional counselling. Nanaimo Family Life Association and others train unregistered, uncertified counsellors to offer peer counselling, which is not the focus of this funding. Organizations such as Upper Island Counselling and Vancouver Island Counselling have as their principal focus the delivery of employee counselling services for the employers they serve, with community counselling secondary to their mission. Others such as AVI have a narrow focus, serving a targeted clientele. Only Island Integrated Counselling is a community counselling agency operating on Vancouver Island outside the capital region that has demonstrated its ability to scale its services to serve unserved and underserved Vancouver Island communities.

Q.      Why is it important that funding recipients employ certified or registered professional counsellors?

A.      There are numerous agencies that provide counselling for a variety of issues, but most of these do not use certified or registered professional counsellors for the majority of this counselling. Some agencies that use professional counsellors are set up on a model where they rely on income from employers to provide all or most of their revenue, and their first priority is to meet employer rather than community needs. The best use of this limited funding is to fund agencies like IIC which have as their sole focus the meeting of community needs, using certified or registered professional counsellors. Island Integrated Counselling has one of the highest number of certified or registered professional counsellors of any non-profit counselling agency on Vancouver Island.

Q.      Not all of Island Integrated Counselling’s counsellors are certified or registered. What role would those who do not have certification or registration have played in your services had you received this funding?

A.      None of the funds from this funding would have been used to subsidize care by non-certified or non-registered therapists. However, our practicum students, who are nearing completion of their training, give us the ability to target particular needs with a student’s particular skills. Our sole unregistered therapist has substantial experience in dealing with anger management and the offering of group training. We will always develop therapists with skills and training needed by our clients so that we are able to continue to meet the needs of our communities. By using this approach, in the past 15 months we have doubled our number of registered and certified therapists and tripled the number of practicum students providing care for our clients.

No Waiting

NO ONE who lives in the Nanaimo area needs to delay or deny themselves the help they need to be mentally healthy.

We often hear from clients and members of the public that they sought help for themselves or their loved ones, but they couldn’t afford it, or there was a long waiting list.

Island Integrated Counselling has no waiting lists. We currently have eight therapists available, with many spaces available on their calendar.

And no one is turned away from the help they need because of their inability to pay the full cost of their therapy.

Tell your friends. Or connect with us for yourself or your family. 

Call 250-716-8888.


Or text 250-954-7150.

We are here to serve you.

When Men are Abused

Other very insightful articles on this website outline how women can become abused by men. This is (by far) not the only time partners are abused! Men are also abused by women, and gay couples can abuse each other.


When the abuse is between a man and a woman it is more often true that the man is abused verbally and/or emotionally than physically due to the usual difference in physical size and strength. But because women are far more likely to report physical assault than are men, and police (sadly) often believe women more often than men when they have been called to a situation of assault, men are usually afraid to physically respond when they have been assaulted by a woman. She may “only” slap him across the face or kick him (or worse) but these actions are also considered to be assaults.

Consequently men can find themselves in a situation in which they are a) being physically assaulted and b) dare not respond even to protect themselves and c) may not be believed or taken seriously when they report the incident to the police. What is he to do?

Regardless of whether the man is being physically or emotionally abused he needs to first firmly inform his partner that this conduct is unacceptable, to not accept any responsibility for her abuse of power, and to act on his belief that he deserves to be treated better than that. This usually means leaving the situation and letting his partner know that the conversation will not continue until such time as she can be respectful toward him. If he has been physically injured, regardless of whether he is believed, he needs to report this to the police. This may be a key step to helping her to finally get help, even if she is never charged.

In order to be strong enough to act with self-respect he will need to believe that he does, indeed, deserve better. Anyone who is abused has usually endured a history of such, so often lacks this self-respect or self-esteem. Professional help is often needed if friends or family are unable to reach him.

The best way to address a man who is being abused in any form is to let him know of your concern, that you love him and that you believe he deserves better. If he responds well to this then you may be in a place to listen to him say what he is experiencing, being careful not to try to counter his sense of shame but to appreciate that he is willing to risk this with you. Then he may be open to doing something about his situation.

Regardless of the gender, abuse is degrading and undeserving. Anger is usually fear-based (e.g. a fear of the mate leaving the relationship).

Help is available. Our agency runs a group specifically for women who struggle with anger. Our caring, informed staff are available to help anyone do better. Just contact us.

Life can be much better.

Violence Between Intimates


There are many forms of violence one can talk about. There is violence toward children on the part of adults, which includes sexual abuse. There is also violence toward women and men in the work place.

Here I would like to focus on violence toward women in intimate relationships. This would include adults dating or married or living in common law. This would also include heterosexual and gay and lesbian relationships. This article will not include women who are involved in prostitution and, as a result, are abused.

There was an article on the CBC news web page about family violence. The article reported that every 4 days a woman is killed by a family member. Here is the reference for the article, well worth reading ( A book I highly recommend is called “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence” by Gavin de Becker. His main thesis is that, just like animals, we are programmed to be fearful and take Fearfulmeasures to protect ourselves when we are in situations which may contribute to our harm. However, he says that because of our socialization we tend to over-ride these feelings, and tell ourselves we are being foolish and this cannot be. He says women especially tend to be socialized to nurture and take care of the other. As a result some women do not pay attention to their feelings of being at risk, and over-ride their feelings –at their peril. It seems to me that as a society, which includes the courts, there is some of this going on. In our minds we tend to minimize or even disregard statements made by women about fears of abuse or being abused depending on how sensitive we are to the plight of women regarding intimate situations. Even our language re-enforces control over the other in intimate relationships. Men and women talk about MY WOMAN, and women talk in terms of MY MAN. We even introduce ourselves by our position in life, not by who we are. We are introduced as “this is my wife” or “this is my husband”, and our name comes second. I contend that language is important because it speaks to our interior life of how we feel and see ourselves vis-a-vie the world.

There is a progression with regard to women being abused in relationships. The progression happens gradually. Usually the male sees himself as taking care of his partner, and is so insecure he is on the lookout for any act of his partner which seems like he is losing her. In his mind, dominating her becomes the safe way of keeping her, and he can take this attitude all the way to thinking, “if I cannot have her, no one can”. He does not see his actions as control but as caring for his loved one. However the more he cares (controls) for her the more she wants to distance herself from him (to be her own person).

In the beginning of the relationship this behaviour on his part is seen as loving and caring. He is always THERE, and being ATTENTIVE. The only request he denies her is when he decides she is not being logical and reasonable. He disagrees with her not because he sees the situation differently, but because she is being “stupid” or not “logical”. I think this is why others seem to down-play the woman’s complaints, because he is such a nice guy, and he speaks so flattering of her and is so caring.

Here are the steps a woman must be attentive to:

First there is the message received in the relationship that the woman’s thoughts and feelings are not valid, or “faulty”. The male partner becomes the authority on what are the correct feelings and thoughts to have about any given situation or experience. In my opinion this usually progresses gradually.

Second: Along with monitoring her thoughts and feelings he next becomes the “decider” on what is appropriate to wear, and when the house is messy. Along with being unreasonable, and illogical most of the time, the partner finds herself now being “provocative”, or “slutty” if she wears certain clothes. She is also now not a good house keeper.  Control starts to creep into every part of her life.

Third: He always wants to move to isolated areas. This has a lot to do with controlling who she socializes with. He feels more secure when she has very few friends, as they may have, from his point of view, terrible ideas. Isolated, he has more of a chance to monitor and control her friends. At this stage of the relationship, when they socialize he becomes critical of her spending too much time with some males. He perceives her as always flirting, or being with friends who have the WRONG ideas. At this point she may start to stand up for herself out of her perception that she is being unjustly accused. Her opposition and his attempt to control turns into fights where he may start to put her down even more forcefully through intimidation.

Fourth: When they are fighting, the fight turns from words to physical actions such as pushing her, and grabbing her forcefully. At this stage when one asks the women, “Is he violent toward you”, she responds by saying no, “He only pushed me.”

Fifth: The fights become more violent in that the words and the pushing become more intense. He now hits her. The violence becomes more intense because she is not responding to what he wants from her. His ego is being threatened. He fears he will lose her, evidenced because she is starting to rebel. He also fears his friends looking at him in a critical way, meaning, “Why can’t he control his woman”? This means he is seeing himself as a failure, a shame he cannot tolerate. So now he now  totally blames her for his misery.  All these factors increase the violence. After violent fights, he apologizes, and promises he will never hit her again. His behaviour is meant to keep her in the relationship, hoping she will be more compliant.

Sixth: Now he is becoming desperate. He starts to threaten suicide because he sees her as not loving him. Or he starts threatening to kill her, and the children, saying if he can’t have them no one will. Gavin de Becker feels that murder between intimates is the easiest act to predict, because the perpetrator always tells her he will do it. De Becker believes that most victims and most of society over-ride the threats because of socialization issues. We are conditioned to believe that a family man would not do such a deed, even thought statistics indicate differently. I personally think that the reason authorities have trouble believing the threats involves their perception of the perpetrator. Most perpetrators are Anti Social, and their pain is very real.  This makes them very convincing when they say they would not kill their spouse and/or their children. However, their pain is totally based in having low self esteem as well as seeing the other and society as totally responsible for their suffering.

I think that women who are in a situation where they are being threatened need to disappear from the area, and leave no trail of where they are going. Court orders will not work in these situations. His goal is to get rid of his psychological pain. Her goal needs to be safe.

These six stages are red flags to which women need to pay serious attention. Their decision to leave or stay, of course, needs to be their decision. I have encountered couples who have been in therapy, and the violence never happened again. However, even going to therapy needs to be looked at with some caution. It can be an opportunity for the perpetrator to blame the therapist, and seeing his spouse as aligning with the therapist against him.

It is also important to mention that some relationships stop at the  second stage, and never go any further. In the end the spouse and society need to work at taking these red flags seriously, and realize the attitude and behaviour of men controlling women, of seeing women as something to be used, is very deep and has a long history. I hope this article will be of some help in moving beyond this attitude and the risks it endears.

Reduce Anxiety

Click here for the slides presented for a seminar given by Renee Bueckert October 20, 2016 on how to reduce anxiety.


Some take-aways:

  1. Anxiety doesn’t have to run (ruin!) one’s life.
  2. It can be alerting us about something that needs to be changed in our lives
  3. Breathing is a good thing!

Of course you may wish to involve one of our therapists in assisting you through these steps. Just know that there is hope!

End Shame

Shame Creating Havoc
Shame Creating Havoc

All of us suffer from shame at times, but it turns up as embarrassment, anger, anxiety, fear, distancing, arguing, convincing, pleading, addictions, eating disorders, suicidal wishes, and much more! Most relationship problems are rooted in shame (communication problems are merely the symptom).

What can you do about it? Lots! Risking sharing one’s shame to another (if appropriate) can help -especially if the other does not try to ‘make’ us feel better but simply appreciates the courage it takes in sharing it. Obviously a skilled therapist can also help.

You can read the resources from a shame seminar (shame-seminar) and/or go through an exercise booklet (dig-deep-activity-2-0). Both were created by Mary Moore of our agency.

People Who Do the Right Thing (But Never Feel Rewarded)

Failing to make life Perfect
Failing to make life Perfect

By Bernie Dunning, MA

There are individuals who feel frustrated about their life because despite believing they are always doing the right thing, they keep on failing. They can’t maintain close relationships and/or they fail at their parenting efforts.

Tragically they may tend to pride themselves for being righteous. They are nice people, who work hard, and are usually successful in business terms. There homes are well kept, and they would feel terrible if other people saw their child misbehaving or their house untidy. If this were exposed they would feel so bad they would become extremely self-critical, and come down hard on their child who misbehaved or a spouse who left a mess.

Why? They tend to see everything around them as a reflection of how people see them. Unfortunately the more they work at controlling events and people around them, the more they feel events and people seem out of control! I am sure most of us can identify with this dynamic in our own life to some degree; however I am talking about an extreme: people who Freud would diagnose as operating primarily from their Superego. These are folks about which others would say: “God save us from people who are always right.”

These perfectionists focus on “Rules and Standards.” It is difficult to argue with them as they are mostly right!

These folk are quite rigid, and for the most part do not see “Gray” in human interactions. Ironically they often attract those who love “a good time,” but they end up judging their choice of a mate as “one who is not responsible.” This becomes another disappointment in his or her life, leading to yet even more rigidity.

They have a difficult time softening this outlook on life for obvious reasons. Why should they? They are always holding the moral high ground. They see change as compromising their standards, and thus not being true to themselves. They see behaviours as good or bad, and have difficulty opening to the possibility of having good and bad in the same behaviours.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

For instance they would fail to appreciate that their son came home on time but instead focus on why he went to a place he is not allowed. That son would be questioned: Why did you do this? His struggle to totally obey his parent’s orders would be irrelevant. The focus would instead be on the disobedience.

The opportunity to learn about their son, and what difficulties he is having with his world, are thus lost. So, too, would the opportunity to recognize and affirm his effort of coming home. You can see that any affirmation of his effort is gone.

It is no wonder that this type of personality has difficulty sustaining emotional contact with other people! When a person experiences being alone in their world it is little comfort to them to hold the attitude that they are right about most (if not all) issues.

They confess in therapy that they give their spouse everything (new car, jewelry, and a nice house); yet the spouse still complains and is unhappy. The perfectionist complains that they give their children everything –yet the children are unhappy and always asking for more. They moan: “my children are never happy.”

The problem is they have a difficult time connecting on an emotional level. Being present to what is going on with a person’s internal life of feelings and emotions is extremely hard. I think this is a difficult area because there is no control about what might emerge nor how “these feelings coming at me” can be dealt with.

Here are a few tips on how to get out of this conundrum.

First: They need to understand and accept that they are lovable for who they are as a person, not for what they do. I think this is very difficult for the personality we are talking about. Claiming our own lovability is a process; it takes some a life-time to finally have the sense they are lovable for who they are as a person. This is important in order to stop feeling they have to do something to fix someone or something. Consequently this allows others to take responsibility for their own life. Which brings us to the next point.

Second: They need to begin to let go of taking responsibility for those around them, and to make sure others are always on the straight and narrow. They need to realize they cannot make their children happy, and understand that people choose to be happy. Learning how to play is very helpful in order to overcome the sense that they are being “irresponsible” when taking care of themselves. As they overcome this fear of being irresponsible they will eventually be able to enjoy the experience of play.
In other words, they need to better balance the inner dynamic of responsibility and playfulness. When these two qualities are out of balance we become unhappy people.

I notice that people who are stuck on one of these qualities tends to marry a person who has the other quality; they eventually end up hating each other because the responsible person becomes “super” responsible (and see their partner as being super irresponsible) while the playful person sees the other as being too controlling –and no fun! Therefore each person becomes more ‘married’ to their preferred way of functioning.

These two dynamics are key to a satisfying life: accepting oneself as a lovable person, and thus trusting that others will love us for who we are; and working at keeping a balance in our life between being responsible and playfulness. These are vital to not falling into the trap of being the Law and Order person, the fear that my family and others will be going to ‘hell in a handbasket.’ The other danger of not having this balance is eventually giving up on people, thus becoming a very lonely person.

Bernard Dunning holds an MA in Family Systems Counselling, and is a volunteer Board member with our agency.

Becoming a member could save a life


On Wednesday of this week I was told by a client that she very much doubts she would be alive today had she not engaged in our services. She was not being dramatic.

Jacqueline Gautier, our Eating Disorders therapist, said that her clients are at an even higher risk of dying from that condition.

You can help us raise funds by simply becoming a member. How so? When you become a member (or rejoin) our agency we have a better chance at receiving the funding we need from the provincial government’s Gaming Fund. With these funds we can reach far more people whose lives or relationships are in crisis, making an even greater positive impact in our community (one that reaches as far away as Port Alberni and Duncan).

Did you know that we are the only agency in the mid-island area to offer eating disorders therapy for adults by a highly experienced Eating Disorders therapist? We have a growing reputation: we are about to take on an Intern who will be learning from Jacqueline, helping us to extend our services for the next few months.

Did you know that we’re the only agency in this region that offers a group that helps women use their anger more helpfully? And that we run a preventative program in a local high school that mentors teens while they learn practical skills? Or that we assist hundreds of clients a year with professional therapy?

We so believe in what we are doing that this year the agency will use at least $20,000 of our savings to keep the doors open and serve the growing number of clients.

We are hard working volunteers and staff. Our overhead costs are extremely small (over 95% of donations go directly to running programs).

We invite you to renew or take out a membership. It is by donation (suggested $5 for low-income to $20). The donation/membership direct link can be found immediately to the right. Any amount $20 or more will receive a tax receipt.

Thank you for helping us help others!