Mental Health Counselling

Mental Health Counselling
Services in Calgary

Mental Health Counselling is a big step and can be an overwhelming world if you are just starting to explore it. There are so many different providers out there that it is hard to know where to start. First of all, congratulations on getting to this point. Your experience has taught you that you cannot keep doing this alone and it takes a lot of strength and courage to admit this. Below you will find information about Sana Psychological’s logistics and approach to mental health counselling so that you can see if we will be a fit for your needs.

The short story

At Sana Psychological, Paige Abbott (Registered Psychologist) works with mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression, anger, self-esteem, trauma, as well as Addiction of any manifestation.

Mental health services start off with 1-2 initial sessions to get to know you and the issues you are facing. Background information will be gathered along with a number of dimensions, treatment goals established, and a general plan discussed. This, of course, can change over time as needs and situations shift. External referrals can also be provided if desired or needed to support you in your journey, including health centres and distress centres, social workers or family services, or Alberta Health Services programs. The cost of individual appointments is a $200/50 minute counselling session. These appointments can occur in person or by phone or video and are available to anyone who is located in Alberta at the time of receiving services. Treatment can be short- to long-term (so less than 6 months or longer than that) depending on needs and preferences. Support is also available to family members and concerned loved ones. The logistics of this can be discussed and determined on a case by case basis.

The longer story

Mental health counselling is an opportunity to meet with a professional who is empathetic, non-judgmental, and there to provide processing support as well as recommendations. Mental health counselling can help provide a structure for healthy living that involves changes in physical, emotional, relational, and even spiritual, financial, and cultural health. It is multi-dimensional and involves many small action steps that your therapist can help you identify and be accountable for taking. A trained professional can help you come to a better understanding of your underlying patterns, triggers, as well as strengths so that you can continue to modify your healthcare plan into the future, whether you are still engaged in counselling or not. Sana Psychological is here to provide processing, support, and education to help you do different in order to be different.

How Do You Know if You or a Loved One Has a Problem? Challenges with mental health issues can take a variety of different forms and impact your well-being in different ways. Below is an informal self-test to help you gauge whether or not mental health counselling would be recommended. Take some time to answer the following questions. Have you struggled with any of these experiences in the past 3 months?

If you indicated that you are experiencing 2 or more of these symptoms within the past three months, then it would be important to explore mental health care and counselling. These symptoms only tend to appear as mental health challenges progress. While they may still be minimal and mild for you, it would be best to get proper support to prevent the progression of these symptoms.

Treatment Approach

For those who already have a strong level of self-awareness, social support, and self-care resources, mental health counselling may be a shorter-term process (around 3-6 months generally).

Counselling services at Sana Psychological are always available to you so there is no need to commit to a duration of sessions, this is meant to act as a general guide. You and your therapist will discuss your goals, needs, and develop a plan accordingly. The door is always open for those who want to return, even if they stepped away from counselling for a period of time. Sana Psychological believes in a ‘dental model’ of counselling where you come regularly for mental health check-ins rather than waiting for a crisis or emergency to hit before seeking support.

For those who are new(er) to mental health counselling, do not spend much time self-reflecting or in pursuit of self-development, have more severe symptoms, and/or have multiple mental health concerns occurring at the same time, mental health counselling can become a more intensive and longer-term process.

Mental health counselling usually begins with an initial appointment to gather background information with a recommendation for follow-up usually within 1-3 weeks after the first appointment. The follow-up session involves getting to know you further and starting to explore barriers, successes, and feelings coming up with the work that you are doing outside of counselling sessions in your daily life. After a few initial sessions, appointments can start to be spaced out depending on your situation and needs. We would prefer to meet with you less often or a longer period of time in order to capture the natural ups and downs of life in order to provide more accurate support and recommendations. If this does not work for you, please let us know and an alternative plan can be sorted out. Paige Abbott is the Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological who will be providing either in-person or Technology Assisted Counselling sessions, depending on your needs and preference.

Paige enjoys creating meaningful relationships and connections with the clients she supports and hopes that this will be true for you. She has found that this inspires people to take care of themselves more accurately outside of counselling and also provides them with a safe space to come back to at any time. If you have some different concerns to explore, please bring them up and we will shift the treatment focus as needed. Counselling is a fluid, flexible process that is meant to meet people where they are at. The door is always open so even if you find you drifted away from counselling for a period of time, you are welcome back whenever you see fit.

You can anticipate that the first one or two sessions will involve gathering as much background information as possible about you, including, strengths, coping network and tools, as well as problems and challenges. Information is key to providing you with customized support and recommendations. Mental health counselling is about much more than just your symptoms and will involve exploration and development of the self in many different areas, potentially including relationally, in communication, with boundaries, and more.

Paige Abbott has been trained in a number of therapeutic modalities that she incorporates flexibly into her counselling sessions, including, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Solution-Focused Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. Follow-up sessions will start with a check-in to see if there are any acute experiences or feelings that need to be processed, seeing how you are doing with the recommendations and feedback from last time, followed by an establishment of the plan and focus for the remaining appointment time. Paige is active and engaged in her counselling sessions and sometimes can present more like an extrovert than the introvert she is! Paige likes to ask questions, offer feedback and reflections, as well as recommendations for things you can think about and/or take action on outside of counselling sessions. Paige believes in small steps to change and incorporates this philosophy into her counselling approach by encouraging the next step of action that pushes you out of your comfort zone while not overwhelming you.

Logistics

Counselling appointments are available in person in Calgary, Alberta and/or through Technology Assisted Counselling which can consist of phone or video sessions depending on what works best for you and is most comfortable. The cost for each 50-minute appointment is $200. Sessions are available to Calgarians, Albertans, or anyone who is in the province of Alberta at the time of their appointment as this is Paige Abbott’s jurisdiction of licensure. Payments that are accepted at Sana Psychological include cash, credit card, e-transfer, and direct billing with a number of insurance carriers.

Mental health counselling is customized and tailored to meet your unique needs. Services can be short-term with a more specific focus, usually on a specific symptom or to work on building up specific coping tools. For mental health problems that have been chronic, more severe, and/or multiple symptoms, longer-term counselling would likely be needed for maximal results. If this is not possible, please discuss this with Paige so that she can be aware of the parameters that sessions are operating within. To get started, all that is required is an initial e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment. At Sana Psychological there is no waitlist and we will get you scheduled in as soon as possible! This is typically within a time period of a few days to a few weeks. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate walk-ins or provide drop-in, 24/7, or crisis services, including statutory holidays.

For loved ones

Mental health counselling can involve concerned family members or friends who want to participate in the process. This often means a joint appointment or series of appointments to establish healthy communication and boundaries that are optimal for support and mental health. Sometimes this will mean that the loved one comes in for their own support in conjunction with their loved one receiving support or separately. While joint appointments wouldn’t be considered specific family counselling sessions, sometimes we want to change before our loved one does and, rather than wait for them to do something, we would encourage you to consider supporting yourself in order to support those you care about. Living with and around mental health challenges is draining and can impact the healthiest of us and cause relationship issues. There is no shame in admitting that you are in need of some additional support at this time. In fact, it is a sign of strength and courage to acknowledge this and be open to outside support.

Sana Psychological believes in doing different in order to be different so congratulations on taking this step for your future self!

Frequently Asked Questions

A: If this is on your mind, it might be worth talking to somebody. Anyone can benefit from counselling and we all have mental health. Nobody’s mental health is perfect and we all need to work on certain things from time to time. I like the ‘dental model’ of counselling- come in for periodic check-ins to ensure things are on track and you are living in accordance with your goals and health, rather than waiting for a crisis to hit. Certainly, if there is an acute crisis, that is an important point to seek support but being proactive has a lot of benefits for people.

A: If they are someone that you are close to and you feel comfortable sharing your observations and concerns in an assertive, compassionate, non-judgmental, non-controlling way, then this can be a helpful action step to take. However, sharing your concerns does not guarantee any change will happen on their part. I recommend that concerned loved ones and supports engage in their own self-development and recovery. This supports you in your life and prevents burnout and drain, while also providing helpful modelling to those around you. When your loved one is ready, they will take the necessary steps to look after themselves. Counselling can help focus on appropriate boundaries, how to be a true support rather than controller or enabler, and developing healthy communication during a difficult time.
A: I hope I can help. Obviously, with counselling, there are no guarantees, but it is my hope to draw in what I have learned over the past decade-plus of working with clients to support you. Specializing in Addiction Psychology has offered me so much in working with mental health, believe it or not, so it is my goal to translate some of what I have learned in that realm of Addiction Counselling, to supporting people in their mental health journey. A big part of this is educating people about their brain and common sticking points, plus exploring how to navigate through/around these. Combine this education with practical feedback and recommendations and you have got yourself a recipe for change!
A: I wish that there was a way to step through or over the history gathering but that is an essential part of the counselling process. I am not a therapist that spends a lot of time focusing on the past and it is not our starting point to focus on past trauma or major points of distress. Rather, I like to understand people’s current life and context- their work/education, relationships, hobbies, coping, and so forth so that we can build on that. Sometimes knowing that we are not going to jump into past trauma and discomfort eases people’s apprehensions about starting with a new provider. Even for people who have gone to multiple therapists over the years, none have complained about my approach to history gathering.
A: What I have been told by clients is that they appreciate how pragmatic I am, meaning that I provide feedback, tools, and strategies that are realistic and can be implemented. I have also been told that people appreciate my way of working with the brain and that this is a unique perspective and approach they have not heard before.
A: No. I work with individuals aged 18+ (or very mature minors) to improve health and wellness. Many of my clients’ experiences would not warrant a diagnosis or psychiatric label, yet they find a lot of benefit from the work that we do to improve their overall quality of life.
A: I am a Counselling Psychologist and not an assessor. An informal assessment is done by every clinician in therapy; however, if you are looking for a diagnosis then I would encourage you to seek out a professional psychological assessment as this will include a more extensive clinical interview and psychological testing that is not offered at Sana Psychological.
A: Mental health tends to ebb and flow for people. There are natural periods where symptoms are more intense and harder to navigate, and times where things subside. Counselling can help prolong the quieter, less active periods and reduce the intensity of flare-ups. I obviously cannot guarantee what your personal outcomes will be since we have not even met yet! Change depends on a lot of individual factors combined with the therapeutic relationship and tools being recommended. If you show up with openness and willingness, there is a great chance that helpful change will occur for you.
A: For some people they are and there will be periods of greater activity followed by times of remission. For others, mental health symptoms may be in reaction to an acute stressor and subside after the stressor subsides. Time and experience will provide more information about which of the categories applies to you.