Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.


Stress and anxiety counselling Burnaby for women and couples

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about things that are out of your control? Do you agonize over doing it just right so you can avoid conflict of disappointing others?

 Perhaps you experience “crises” similar to the following examples:

  1. Your adult daughter calls you frantically from work. This is her first day at the new job and she was supposed to bring various signed documents with her. She has forgotten them and is freaking out. You go into crisis mode with her and drive all the way across town to get the documents for her so she won’t make a bad impression on her first day (especially since she has 3 months probation).
  1. While you were visiting with your friend, during a brief moment of disattention, your child has wandered off into the bathroom and flooded the toilet. There is water everywhere and you feel mortified. Your friends recently renovated this room and now there will be water damage.
  1. You’re divorced co-parent is not on the same page as you are when it comes to nutrition and feeds your child fast food, processed food items and sugary things. At his house your child seems to eat in front of the TV and go to bed whenever. In the meantime you are doing your best to cook only healthy food and limit TV.

Positive psychology approach for stress and anxiety relief with psychotherapist BurnabyWhat do all these situations  – and  most likely others that send you into crisis mode have in common? The crisis is created by the assumptions that you’re making and the story that you create in your head. In the specific moment that things are happening there is no crisis. But your codependency habit turns it into one.

Let’s take the first example. Nothing bad has happened yet. Your daughter may make a poor impression – she may not. It may affect whether she gets to keep the job, or it may make no difference at all. The crisis occurs when you start to create  a story  with a negative outcome in your mind.

Let’s take the second example. Your child didn’t drown. Nobody got hurt. You go into crisis mode, worrying about your friendship and potentially the criticism you will receive from your spouse about not paying attention to your child.

Perhaps you worry that someone is going to be angry with you or criticize you. You might worry about money. But these are all assumptions and again stories about possible future outcomes. From a birds eye view – there is no real crisis. 

Let’s take the last example. Yes it is irritating that your co-parent is not on the same page.  But right now your child is not in a health crises, nor is it becoming obese or needing corrective vision glasses from too much television. You’re going into crisis mode when you imagine all kinds of negative consequences in the future.

Being in crisis mode can become addictive. You get used to running on adrenaline. Underneath all the fretting and chaos lives co-dependency. Many of the stories you create in your head are based on the assumption that you have control over other people’s behaviours or thoughts. But that is an illusion. Even if  someone were to hold a gun to your head and told you to  feel scared they wouldn’t be able to make you feel or think anything but what you chose to feel or think.

Somatic Psychotherapist Burnaby can help you overcome trauma and anxiety

In other words – you can choose to create stressful stories in your head and feel anxious and stressed or you can try to come back to the present moment and realize that what is happening is not a crisis but your co-dependency habits.

Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, well respected author and psychotherapist said: “At any given moment we are able to exercise  the most important freedom of all – the freedom to determine our own attitude and spiritual well-being.”

Responding from a co-dependent place is not a habit you have to continue. You can choose to learn ways to soothe your anxiety thru meditation, breathing practices, self-help books or with the help of a trained professional offering psychotherapy or counselling for anxiety and stress relief such as myself.

How do you feel about ageing? If you are reading this and you haven’t hit your 40s yet, you might not spend any time thinking about ageing at this point in your life.

But if you have passed the 40 or 50 mark then you might have spent some time reviewing your life:

  • Where has it led you so far?
  • Are you being the woman or man you want to be?
  • Are you living the life you have always wanted to live?

For many of us, change or transition is part of the “mid-life” period. Children grow up and leave the nest, parents age and caregiving roles become reversed, marriages fall apart due to “mid-life crisis.

It is natural to re-evaluate goals, dreams and challenges when you are faced with transitions in your life. Life-transition counselling can help you navigate this exciting period which is often overshadowed with “heavier” feelings such as loss or grief.

We live in an era that cultivates and approaches life with a very different mindset compared to the beliefs our grandparents grew up with. Many of us, particularly if we have the privilege of living in a civilized, peaceful and affluent part of the globe have started to embrace the notion that we create our own reality.

In our consumer and industry driven part of the world, what that reality looks like is heavily influenced by the media and ultimately by politics.

Ageing or better said “preserving youthfulness” is a multi-billion industry that encompasses everything from cosmetics to supplements. While different messages about the benefits or drawbacks of ageing compete for our attention, our cultural heritage and family values continue to have a large impact on our attitudes and beliefs.

Hence, your mindset and your internalized beliefs will influence the ease with which you might navigate life transition periods or why you might seek life transition counselling.

This is good news! Why? Because you can choose the thoughts you think.

Fascinating studies from people like Ellen Langer at Harvard, show that the belief system someone has by the age of nine determines what they believe about aging. Those who believe that as you age you become wise and that there are positive things associated with aging, add seven years to their life.

If you didn’t grow up with a positive belief system about aging, it’s not too late to shift your way of  thinking. Dr. Christian Northrup’s response to the question of how women can overcome guilt and other self-perpetuating abuse, is to switch focus.

Switch your focus from everything that can go wrong to everything that can go right.

Therefore, when you are navigating a transition period in your life connected to mid-life change and the prospects of aging, think positive thoughts, think about the things you love and focus on living the life of your dreams… it might just extend your life span and will certainly help you make positive life changes.

Making others happyAre you getting bigger because you’re keeping yourself small Part 2

Are you busy making sure everyone around you is happy, i.e. do you spend your life pleasing others? Do the needs of those dearest and nearest to your heart control what your day looks like? Do you feel like you can never do what YOU want?

Part 1 of this series discussed how assuming responsibility for the wellbeing of others can contribute to emotional stress. Feelings of anxiety, worry or pressure can trigger Emotional Eating or other unhealthy coping habits like shopping addiction or internet addiction for someone who has gotten used to soothing inner frustrations from the “outside.”

When you are busy focusing on the happiness of others, it’s easy to get disconnected from your own needs.

What do I mean, when I talk about “needs”? I like the definition of needs by Manfred Max Neef, an economist from Chile known for his human development model based on fundamental human needs.

Manfred Neef identified 9 basic human needs that we all share:

  • Sustenance – the basic physical needs such as food, air, water and shelter
  • Safety and protection
  • Love and affection
  • Empathy
  • Rest, recreation, play
  • Community
  • Creativity
  • Autonomy
  • Identity – need for meaning and purpose – need to contribute to life and how our efforts are making life and our surroundings richer.

In this post I would like to focus on the need of Autonomy.

In my work with clients, I have noticed that a yearning or longing for independence or, shall we say a perceived lack of freedom to be who you want to be and do what you want to do in your life can be a contributing factor to emotional eating, overspending or other self-soothing activities.

We all need autonomy.

Having autonomy implies freedom and choice. Your ability to listen and trust the voice in your heart increases, when you have the freedom to make your own decisions and follow your volition.

Low self-esteem and closed-mindedness dramatically impact autonomy.

When you are the prisoner of your inner critic which is telling you that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t deserve certain things, you lose your freedom. While perhaps nobody in your environment is curtailing your autonomy, you end up limiting your own freedom.

Getting caught up in feeling responsible to make everyone happy, can leave you feeling like there is very little room left for you to exercise autonomy.

Journaling can be an excellent tool to help you get in touch with what you really want and the person you really want to be.

Try this exercise called “Emptying out” at the end of the day. Mentally go thru your day and remember those moments when you felt frustrated, hurt, disappointed or anxious or any other emotions that left you feeling stressed and contracted. If you’re an emotional eater for example, go back to all the times you ate when you weren’t hungry physically.

  • What was going on for you?
  • What inner conflict were you caught in?
  • What would you have really liked to do or say but didn’t?
  • Why didn’t you?

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where we will look at the need of rest, recreation and play and how playing can impact your weight.

In the meantime, I wish you continued success in making positive life changes.