Ending Dyslexia

Marlene Lewis

Marlene Lewis

Ending Dyslexia is a free seminar led by Marlene Lewis of Victoria. Marlene is committed to ending dyslexia. While her presentation will be of particular interest to parents of dyslexic children it will be useful for all.

About Marlene: Marlene is a registered speech language pathologist with more than 36 years of experience and a former President and executive council member of the BC Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists. She led the implementation of B.C.’s speech-language, special needs and early intervention programs in her 16 years with the Ministries of Health and Children & Family Development in B.C. She lives and works in Victoria, mainly helping parents improve the reading skills of their children.

Date: Thursday October 6, 2016

Time: Arrive between 5 and 5:30 p.m. for dinner. Presentation begins at 6 and ends at 7:15

Location: The Tap House pub (the old train station, 321 Selby St., Nanaimo), upstairs

Cost of the seminar is free; participants are expected to purchase something from our hosts.

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Women: Are you frustrated?

Angry womanSmDo you sometimes feel like pulling your hair out because you’re frustrated and/or angry?

Would you like to learn how to turn this into a positive forward-moving courageous change in your life that actually improves your relationships?

The next Frustrated and Fed Up women’s group starts in October.Don’t wait! Your life can get better!

Just call 250-716-8888.

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Second Annual Island Integrated Counselling Society Beer & Burger Night

IICS B&B Poster 11x17 04 curvesJoin us for a night of great food and great music at the Island Integrated Counselling Society Beer & Burger Night.

 Date: September 16, 2016

Time: 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Location: Old City Station Pub, 150 Skinner St., Nanaimo

 Tickets: $20.00 each

Order tickets here and pick them up at the door.

Tickets are also available at Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut located in Country Club Centre.

There will be live music, a silent auction, 50/50 draws and meat draws.

 Special Guest performer: Guitarist, Mark Galavan

The proceeds will help subsidise counselling and therapy.

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Recovering from a Loss of Income

What does an agency do when it suddenly and unexpectedly loses a big chunk of its revenue? We’re finding out!IICS-Logo-WEB

Earlier this year we (and countless other non-profits) learned that the amount of funding from the provincial Gaming Fund was being slashed. (Not due to a reduction in the amount of money they are receiving from gamblers.)

Some of the steps we’ve taken to proactively respond to this potentially door-closing move on the province’s part include:

  1. Being sent four practicum students, an intern and a local therapist that can pick up the slack! They will be working with individuals, children, families and those suffering from trauma
  2. Applying to foundations and other agencies for funding
  3. Kick-starting an employee training program to help them function better in their workplace and life
  4. Engaging a crowd-funding campaign to support our critical Eating Disorders program
  5. (Sadly) reduce the hours of several staff members
  6. The Board and staff put on a fun fundraiser event this fall
  7. Restructure the way we receive donations to increase our income
  8. Create a fundraising campaign using Google.  Thankfully it is free to us as a charitable organisation
  9. Connect better with our members and past donors through a newsletter
  10. Encourage people to donate! So far this year we have received several thousand dollars from supportive individuals. We are so grateful!

Some other ideas are being developed. We’re here for the long-term. The community needs us!

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Healthy Family Communication

AGM Speaker

AGM Speaker

What family doesn’t sometimes have difficulties with communication?

This year’s AGM speaker, Bernie Dunning, has had nearly 30 years of experience working with families, helping them to improve their communication. He is a warm and insightful man. You can read some of his excellent articles on this website to get a taste of his gentle wisdom.

Wouldn’t you like to pick up some helpful tips?

Do set your calendar for Wednesday evening, May 11th at the Kin Hut, 2730 Departure Bay Rd. (right on the beach).

This free event begins at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

The Kin Hut @ Departure Bay

The Kin Hut @ Departure Bay

For more information do call 250-716-8888.

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Eating Disorders Intern set to begin

Eating Disorders Intern

Eating Disorders Intern

We are pleased to announce that Brandi Nielsen (BSW, MSW, RSW) will be joining us this year as an intern with our eating disorders program!

Brandi has been a Registered Social Worker in Alberta and British Columbia since 1999. She completed a masters degree in clinical social work through the University of Calgary in 2013 where she began to develop and foster her skills as a strong and compassionate therapist.

Her diverse experience in a variety of settings includes hospitals, home care, mental health, youth services, Child and Family Services, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and the non-profit sector. She has worked with people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life from people struggling with homelessness, addiction, and trauma on the downtown Eastside Vancouver, to families coping with illness and the grief and loss of a loved one. Brandi currently holds a position with the Island Health Authority working with people who are in acute mental health crisis.

Brandi has a strong passion and interest in working with persons coping with eating disorders. She has been touched by this issue in both her personal and professional landscapes, and has decided to dedicate her next year towards employing and fostering her therapeutic skills in this area. She has completed the eating disorders training through Island Integrated Counselling, has experience in assisting to organize and facilitate eating disorders conferences, and has co-facilitated psycho-educational groups for youth and women with eating disorders.

Brandi’s practice is informed through a client-focussed and holistic lens, where she collaborates with clients to draw upon their strengths. She employs a variety of therapeutic approaches and modalities suited to client individual needs towards supporting them to create their preferred life story, and live their best lives.

Brandi is excited to begin her internship with Island integrated! She will be supervised by Jacqueline Gautier, Island Integrated’s seasoned eating disorders therapist. She looks forward to accepting appointments beginning the first week of February, 2016.

Welcome Brandi!

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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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

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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!

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Inspirational speaker Fred Anderson spoke at our AGM Nov 16th

Fred Anderson

Fred Anderson

Fred Anderson is a popular motivational speaker and course leader. Well-known in aboriginal circles, now his reputation as a native painter is gaining him appreciation around the world.
We were honoured to have this powerful orator as our key-note speaker for this year’s AGM!

From the many comments we received Fred touched many hearts!

“Fred Anderson is amazing, and so much fun. Thank you so much!

“I really enjoyed the talk. Had some important things for me to hear.”

“It was great to get out to hear Fred this evening, what an inspirational speaker! I really enjoyed how much he believes in himself and his ability to transcend his challenges, not falling victim to them, rather using them as a springboard for growth, wisdom and forward momentum. A great message, all delivered with so much humour.”

Click here for his presentation.

On top of this Fred gave away three of his beautiful prints at our event! Click here to see two of them!

Thank you, Fred.

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The Illusion of Power and Control

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As humans we seem to be drawn to seek control over our environment and ourselves. When we are infants, we immediately attempt to control our environment by making sure we are fed and changed. Later, we try to get our parents and siblings to do our bidding. Parents often talk about the power struggle with their children –their experience of not succeeding or celebrating the illusion of success.

As adults we talk about being in control of our feelings and our environment, be it work, play, or home life—but are we? People who seem to exhibit control all the time get a lot of praise. They are usually seen as strong people and are rewarded for not crying; or as people say, not “falling apart”. Usually women have been seen as weak for being “too emotional”, and have even been referred to as “hysterical”. They were traditionally hidden from unpleasant things and experiences.

However, this cultural norm seems to be disappearing. At this point, it is important to mention that as we grow up in our families, one of the tasks is to develop enough self-esteem to be able to deal with the eventual feelings of powerlessness or not feeling in control of our lives.

Those who are obsessed with controlling are usually called “control freaks.” They feel very anxious and vulnerable if they give up their attempts to have power and control over people close to them. Control and power gives them a false sense of well-being. However, power and control can be counterproductive, and even dangerous. Being obsessive about power and control can lead to a disorder called Anxiety Disorder, which can be treated with medication and/or talk therapy. One of the reasons control leads to a debilitating Anxiety Disorder is that it is impossible to feel powerful and in control at all times. A vicious cycle can occur: the minute we feel not in control, compromising our sense of power, we want to get our life back into control; yet there are just some times when this is not possible. So, we may become involved in behaviours which are fruitless: such as making sure things are done RIGHT; being authoritarian; and being in control of all situations. The more we may seem to fail, the more desperate we become, and then, we work harder and harder to try and get some order back into our lives. This can happen in all aspects of our life.
Here are some examples involving work and relationships. This article will concentrate on these two areas of our lives.

It happens at our job, when in the process of making things work, we start to feel we are losing control. We can become very authoritarian, ruthless, and unjust. This causes others to revolt, and then we feel we have to become more authoritarian. You can see where this pattern is going. It seems to be difficult for some people to cope with their feelings of not being in control. Instead of working with people, they compensate by being authoritarian and then create a tense work environment.

In relationships, we have the capacity to become violent when we feel unloved, and seem to be losing the ability to make our partner love us. This is the foundation of violent and abusive relationships. It is usually men who are involved in abusing women, looking to power and control to get their needs met. As a result of low self-esteem, we want to feel we have power and control over the person we love. This gives the Illusion we have secured our partner’s love. However, as we know, this sense of control and power can lead to abuse and violence toward the person we love.

Typically we tend to think the abusive person does not really love his partner. How could he love a person he always abuses? The abusive person loves his partner, but behaves in a way which destroys love. Because of his low self-esteem, he is always trying to manipulate the loved one, first through charm and excessive acts of doing for the other. Then, when the first signs of a threat to their love is perceived in his mind, he becomes controlling and authoritarian. The trigger could be his partner talking too long to another man at a party, or supper not being served on time. Women, as a result of their socialization, may over-ride their feeling of being in danger, and may believe that they can get this man to be the “giving person” he was in the beginning of the relationship. This type of thinking on the part of women can lead to disastrous results. For some men, even murder is not out of the realm of behaviors to set the relationship straight. (If I cannot have her, nobody can.)

Our culture warns us about thinking such thoughts, but we witness how some legal authorities and abused women will allow for excuses on the part of the spouse. We hope that the spouse will change based on his saying so. Our seeming inability to live with feelings of loss of control and power will inevitably lead us to the illusion that we can get control.

The above example is an extreme case, but many relationships do become abusive (i.e. being pushed, or being put down) as a result of not being able to respond adequately to the fear of losing a partner, and due to low self-esteem. It is important to recognise our feelings for what they are. This will help us to react in a way which will enhance the relationship –instead of destroying it.

Another situation which is of importance is having control and power over the children we are raising. Here again, this control and power we feel is an Illusion. In reality we do have control over our children, because ¬they allow it and want us to have control. Children and parents want to keep the bond they have with each other. Children want their parents in control, but eventually they look for areas in the relationship where, as they say, “they can be their own person.” This is natural but parents sometimes “dig in” to make sure they keep control. Then children revolt. This situation offers another mile-stone in the parent’s relationship with their children, and it is very important for parents to stay in communication with them.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

However, if children are feeling they are being unjustly treated and feel they can never win, they will start to rebel in a serious way. Justice, like with adults, is very important to children. If at any time they feel they have no power in the relationship, they will show parents they cannot control them. In this situation there is no amount of punishment that will make them obey. The only way into their lives is to re-establish the bond. In some cases this can be quite difficult.

As you can see, no matter what the age, we may voluntarily allow another person to have control over us at any particular moment of a relationship. It is an illusion to think and behave in a way that communicates “you are mine,” and, “I always know what is best.”

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

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