It’s been quite the week in Nova Scotia, huh?

The disruption to our lives due to the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented.

Most businesses are closed.

Parks and trails are out of bounds.

People are physically distancing themselves from others.

With the very real possibility that life won’t settle back into its predicable routine anytime soon, many people are feeling more frustrated, overwhelmed and isolated than even a month ago.

Because of this, it was difficult to close my doors and move my practice online.

Not because online therapy is not effective, there is good evidence that teletherapy works, but because I wondered how it would impact my clients.

I wondered how my couples clients, now home with kids out of school and daycare while working from home, would manage to make it to their appointments.

I wondered if online sessions would be workable for all my clients who are moms, especially new moms, who already struggle to find any time for themselves with the increased, relentless, 24/7 demands of ‘pandemic parenting’.

I thought about my clients who were already struggling with anxiety and how the heightened anxiety that we are all facing with the Coronavirus might make each day more difficult to get through.


As a result I’ve made several changes to my schedule including early morning and late evening appointments, in addition to my typical afternoon/evening and Saturday hours.  I’ve also added 30 minute brief/crisis appointments and 5 pay-what-you-can spots for people impacted by income and job loss.


I’m so thankful that over the past few weeks, people have found their sessions helpful.  I’ve had very positive feedback and it’s been a privilege to meet with people and to virtually be invited into their homes.

However, many people who initially started therapy with me were never planning to have counselling appointment online. It can be hard to imagine what an online therapy session would be like or how it could be possible to create a private space in your home where counselling could take place.

If you’ve been contemplating the idea of making an online counselling session work for you, here are some things to consider.





The online therapy platform that I use only run smoothly using Chrome or Firefox.  This means that if you use a MacBook, you need to download Google Chrome a set to your default browser, at least for the time of the session.

You will also be able to hear me more clearly if you have earbuds.  Nothing fancy is needed! Even an inexpensive pair or earbuds will help you block out external noise and any echos or feedback during the call.



Recreating the atmosphere of a therapists office is not always easy at home!  Especially when schools and daycares are closed and roommates and spouses are working from home (to help I’m offering ‘off hour’ sessions either early morning or later at night and the option of shorter sessions).

Find a quiet place in your house (or even in your car!) where you will be able to have as much privacy as possible for your online therapy session.

Use some creativity to imagine a place where you might be able to have your session with focus and openness…… I’ve turned a partially renovated bathroom in our basement into a home office for maximum privacy.  Where can you go?

Even at my ‘real’ office, I have music playing in the waiting room and a white noise machine on the inside to block out any outside sounds.  Can you recreate a similar set up?

Setting a phone with some music playing, just outside the door of the room you are in, will help muffle your voice.  Or, you could try a white noise app like White Noise Lite on your phone.  Put it on the inside of the door, to help keep the sound of kids playing or other household noises from being a distraction.

The more light there is in this space, the more clearly I will be able to see you on the screen. Open your curtains or bring a lamp in from another room if you need to brighten things up for your online therapy session.

Finally, make sure you turn off notifications from social media, log out of your email and exit any other programs you might be running on your computer.  This will help the your device to function optimally and you to be able to keep your focus throughout the online therapy session.

Book a test call with me so we can check it all out!



Get cozy.  Maybe you need your most comfortable blanket, your fuzzy slippers or a nice cup of coffee to relax (is that just me?).

Some people bring their pet into their therapy space with them for comfort.

Counselling sessions, even if they are online, are an excellent opportunity for you to care for yourself well.

All the uncertainty, pressure and upheaval over the last few weeks has kept most people in a heightened state of stress.

My best hope is that our time together will help you be more resilient in the the face of all of the unknown going on around us.  I look forward to connecting with you online in the coming days and weeks.



3 Helpful Tips For Relationship Stress During The Pandemic

3 Helpful Tips For Relationship Stress During The Pandemic

Last week, my husband went shopping at the Superstore.  Somehow while he was gone, I came across a video about wiping down produce and containers brought home from the grocery store.  

It was late when he got home, and I was already in bed, but I wasn’t too tired to mention my thoughts about wiping down the watermelon in the fridge. 

My husband kindly offered to help, even though this is not something he would have done without my prompting. 

His responsiveness helped us to avert what could have been a late night anxiety fuelled disagreement.

Fast forward to a few days later when he got an email from the Superstore telling him to monitor himself for symptoms as a staff member had been diagnosed with COVID-19.  

Now we’re both feeling relieved.  

Under the strain and stress of our current circumstances, many couples are getting stuck in distance, disagreements and hostility. 

The pressure of having kids at home while simultaneously needing to school them, be productive at work and keep up with household tasks is a recipe for increased tension.  

Add to this, the uncertainty and financial tensions that this pandemic has caused and the anxiety of falling ill, and many couples feel pushed to the brink. 

According to recent news, the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on relationships.  I read this week that divorce rates in China rose significantly once the quarantine was lifted,  and while there could be many factors contributing to this statistic, doubt, living in tight quarters under stressful conditions played a part.

Even couples who have a decent relationship, might find that things feels strained over the next few months. Thankfully, stress and strain don’t have to push the two of you apart. There are some evidence-based habits that can help you and your partner navigate the unknown as you both adjust to this ‘new normal’. 

1) Pay Attention to Your Own Emotions

Truth is, most of us are feeling a little messed up right now. Whether it is the uncertainty of your financial situation, the pressures of working out of a makeshift office indefinitely while your kids bicker in the background or the grief of missing out on events you can’t attend or activities you can’t participate in, all of us are facing a certain amount of emotional upheaval.

Yet, the strange thing is, no matter how much we love our spouse, when we feel anxious, overwhelmed or irritable we often take it out on them.

When our emotions are heightened, our vulnerable feelings can comes out as anger and frustration.  We argue over details about about kids and scheduling or opinions about hand hygiene rather than having a more vulnerable conversation.

If we remain disconnected from our own emotional experience and show our more reactive emotions to our spouse, rather than acknowledging what is really going on for us, it’s unlikely we will get the connection and support we need.   

Take the time you need for self-care. Try some strategies to manage anxiety and worry more effectively. Enter into your conversations with loved ones with an open heart.

2) Be Present

Two is better than one, is more than just a pithy saying; connection with someone we are close to literally makes difficult tasks seem less daunting.  In this study, researchers found that study participants estimated a hill to be less high if  they were with (or imagining being with) a close supportive other. 

It’s fascinating; rejection and isolation are coded in our brains in the same way as physical pain.  By the same token, loving responsiveness from a loved one is soothing to our nervous system and helps us to find our sense of emotional balance.  Hand holding has even been shown in fMRI studies to make the pain from a shock less painful.  Emotional connection with a safe loved other soothes our nervous system and gives us the perspective of obstacles being less hard to climb. 

Look for ways that you can can connect, even briefly, to be present for each other in the midst of this chaos.

Can you still have coffee together before parting ways to your own separate parts of the house for your work day?

Or send each other jokes by text?

Go for a walk together before dinner?

Simply being in the same space as your partner is not the same as being present with them. When your partner comes to talk or ask for support, be sure to respond. Put your phone down or turn off the TV. Hold hands. Tune into to what they are saying.

3) Be Responsive

Sue Johnson, a leading couples therapy expert and creator of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy says that emotional responsiveness is what makes or breaks relationships.

Being able to identify and speak our needs directly in a way that helps our partner to lovingly respond, is an important part of a healthy relationship.  

I truly felt cared about and slept much better because my husband responded to my late night request to wipe down fruit. 

In tight quarters, under emotional strain, it can be more difficult to be tuned into the needs of our significant other.  But doing your best to be responsive to them will undoubtedly go a long way to improving your ‘togetherness’ in this crisis.  

How can you be responsive to your partner?

Sit and truly listen without going to a fix-it response?

Offer a hug?

Ask them what they most need from you?

I believe that this can be a time for you and your spouse to learn to relate to each other differently and grow stronger as a couple through this weird and unexpected time. 

*If you are experiencing intimate partner violence or feel unsafe in your relationship please use this link to reach out for help.*

5 Warning Signs It’s Time to Try Couples Counseling

5 Warning Signs It’s Time to Try Couples Counseling

When you first fell in love, you could never imagine that someday the sound of your partner chewing could make you want to scream. It’s inevitable that once we are out of our honeymoon phase and reality sets in, we realize that all relationships take work and compromise. But while some couples may hit bumps in the road every so often, other couples find themselves in bigger trouble, with neither party knowing exactly how to fix things.

If you are in a relationship that is no longer feeling healthy, here are 5 warning signs that it may be time to try couples counseling:

1. There is No Longer Healthy Communication

Once you have a communication breakdown, you are unable to rationally share thoughts, feelings, and concerns with each other. Beyond this, unhealthy communication tends to leave one or both partners feeling depressed, angry and hopeless.


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2. Trust Has Been Broken

When there has been infidelity, it is very difficult for the couple to rebuild trust and repair the damage. While there is no magic pill to recover from an affair, a therapist can offer tools and strategies to rebuild trust.

3. You’re More Like Roommates

If you and your partner act more like roommates than romantic partners, this indicates a lack of intimacy and a potential need for professional help.

4. One or Both of You Has Begun Acting Out

You try to mask your real feelings for as long as possible, but then you start to act out the hurt and resentment you may be feeling. For instance, if your partner has been unfaithful and you have agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out. But over time you find yourself lashing out, acting rude and trying to make them believe you are having an affair so they will feel the same kind of hurt. This acting out is unhealthy for both people and is a BIG indicator you need to seek some help.




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5. When the Only “Solution” Seems to be Separation/Divorce

A break from negative energy can be very helpful to the relationship. But among couples who have filed for divorce, as many as 40 percent are “mixed agenda” meaning one partner still hoping to save the marriage.

Additionally, up to 40 percent of divorced people have regrets about deciding on divorce, often because they feel they (and their partner) didn’t try hard enough to make the marriage work.

Thankfully, couples counselling can help you and your partner look at all of your options for your marriage or relationship before you commit to a path forward. I have taken specialized training from the Doherty Relationship Institute to help couples in this situation. 


If after reading this you feel that you’d benefit from some additional support with your relationship, reach out.  Even though we cannot meet face to face right now, online couples counselling is easy to access and effective. I offer free 15 minute consultation appointments so we can make sure we’ll be a good fit.  All of my appointments are being done online through a secure video platform or by phone for people who live anywhere in Nova Scotia.


Ten Tips to Have the Best March Break Ever

Ten Tips to Have the Best March Break Ever

March Break is just around the corner, which we know means added stress, expense, and energy being expended – something we as women have in short supply already. But add in excited kids without their normal structure, the pressure and envy we feel over the perfect family trip everyone else seems to be taking, and our own responsibilities that necessitate staying home over spring break and it feels like we are losing before spring break has even begun.

 Often times we think we need something grand to make March break special, but that is simply untrue. The biggest detriment to having the best spring break ever is the baggage we carry with us – we already struggle to balance all of the things in a routine week; it all threatens to self-destruct when the routine is thrown upside down and social pressure makes us think we need to do more.

Rather than allowing social pressures, an internalized sense of failure, or even simple miscommunication with your kids to cause dread over spring break before it has even begun here are ten tips to help you take back the control and have the best March break ever.

 A little planning and a lot of being intentional can make an at-home March break extraordinary – and maybe even your best spring break ever without adding to your own stress.

 10 tips to have the best March Break ever


1. My best tip ever for creating something special for the kids is to ask them what they want
Find out directly from them what spring break means to them and the ideas they hold dear. Often times we as moms are bummed out because we can’t do a Disney trip over March break, while what our kids really want is to eat ice cream for breakfast or to have you play a few rounds of Mario Kart with them.

Note: If your child brings up something they want to do but you can’t make happen, that’s ok! Tell them their idea sounds like a lot of fun and, as best you can to their age, explain why it can’t happen right now and redirect their brainstorming to more realistic ideas.

2. Make a list of your responsibilities during spring break
Whether it’s continual care of an elderly loved one, or a demanding work schedule, or the running of a household, make a list of everything that you need to take care of during March break. Once you have your list assess it honestly – is it all necessary? Is it important enough to be dealt with this week or can it move into another week? Knowing what needs to stay – and what can go! – will free your mind up mentally when you have the kids home during March break. They don’t need you every moment, but the moments they do have you – let them have all of you! And you’ll rest easy knowing you planned for this time with them.

3. Simplify as much as you can
This is definitely piggy backing on number two, but it can’t be emphasized enough – if you want to enjoy your children during spring break your life needs to be simplified. Whatever your normal arrangements are – homeschooling, co-op, or traditional day school, your children’s schedule is going to be vastly different during their spring break and yours should lighten up, too, in order to relax and enjoy this time. Write down your commitments and let go of the mental guilt for what you are letting slide for the week.


4. Hire help for the week or trade hours with another mom
Considering hiring help for tasks you need done this week – have a big work commitment you must do but are fighting the guilt of putting the kids in front of the tv? Hire an energetic teen to play with your kids and let go of the guilt knowing your kids are having the time of their life! Or perhaps hiring a house cleaner for the week before would give you greater peace of mind. Think through and consider if paying for a service would enhance your spring break experience with your children. Alternatively, there’s likely a mom in your community in a similar situation to you and you could arrange a trade off of watching each other’s children while the other has a few hours to herself.

5. Scope out some free fun things to do for inexpensive ways to get out of the house
Some of the fun things we know are happening can be found here:

 6. Make up a fun tradition to do with your children every day of March break
You might feel overwhelmed and maxed out, but March break is only five week days long. Five days. You can do anything for five days! Why not add a fun ritual for those five days? It can be something silly like eating breakfast under the table every morning, or maybe hot chocolate with a different board game every day.  Pick something simple that you can sustain every day of spring break, and yet something that it is a little out of the ordinary and will just tickle the heart of your child(ren) and make your heart smile, too.

7.  Try different foods each day
Our family has a tradition of buying a new food item from the grocery store every week and it has been SO much fun to expand our world through food. I would highly recommend you find your own way of making this work for your family. One fun way to adopt this during March break would be to try a different ethnic food each day. You could buy pho from a Vietnamese restaurant for supper one night, and the next day try Tamales from a Mexican restaurant for a snack. If that is a little too adventurous for your family, try a different flavour of potato chips or ice cream each day.

8.  Binge watch a show WITH the kids
Maybe you can watch some favourites from when you were a kid and stir up some nostalgia.  Or ask them what show they’d like to watch with you…and really engage in it with them.  Or plan a family movie night wth great snacks.  These are some of my kids’ best memories.

9.  Head to Micheals or the Dollarama and buy fresh supplies for current interests or hobbies
Everyone loves new pencils, notebooks, colouring books or paints – you know what your child is into and loves. Help feed their interest and breath new life into their hobbies with fresh supplies to use during their school break.

10.  Create a reading basket.
Nurturing a habit of reading is really important in our home, and keeping cozy blankets and baskets of interesting books near couches and chairs encourages the kids to grab a book and flip through it.

Approach March Break with the flexibility life demands but also with the intention of fostering a beautiful and fun week with your kids. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be the best March break ever.


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