Life is full and it is busy; work, children, spouse/significant other, friends, other commitments, and if you have time - you, your interests, your needs. Such a delicate balance. It really is a house of cards. While I am writing this from my own perspective as a working woman with a young family, the way we build our lives are fairly universal. And each comes with its own demands and challenges. It also has its joys, wonders and excitement. One thing I am finding, even when I created the above “life list”, is that people have a hard time finding time to put their well-being first.
Recently, I was having coffee with a friend and she commented, “I don’t know how you do it,” referring to my new career expansion, in addition to, having a 6-year old and being on leave with a 5-month-old. Honestly, I wouldn’t say I have no idea how I do it, but I don’t always know how I get through it either! But knowing your limits and when to get help makes a difference. A solid foundation is key to any house and a house of cards is no different. The foundation of the house of cards is yourself. If it needs maintenance, all the other life areas you’ve built on to will be affected too because they rely on your health.
At any time, my seemingly “put-together self”, may have a wind gust blow through (and not just by my 6-year-old stomping around the house, roaring like a dinosaur). The wind gust refers to events that may or may not be predictable and still catch us off guard. Being in Saskatchewan, we know wind. It can be a sudden 100km/hour gust or a few days of swirling wind blowing across the prairie. The damage to the house depends on the force or flying objects it is hit with; just like in our lives. Sometimes, we are hit with one or multiple events in a short amount of time, either one can cause damage.
But even a house of cards can withstand wind gusts with a solid base for support and some glue to hold it together. We cannot control many events in our lives, but we do have control over our actions and thoughts. The most important foundation is your self-care and knowing when/where to get extra help.
For me, this past spring was one of those gale force winds. It started on a Tuesday, a cherished family member passed away the morning I went into labour with my second child. Within the span of a few weeks, several events occurred that upset what was supposed to be a time of respite with the new baby. Yet, I was thrust into a whirlwind of emotions that impacted not only myself but my family too. We dealt with two serious family health emergencies and the ensuing care needed, coping with the loss of a family member and pet, Covid-19 restrictions, home-schooling and the general demands of a new baby; for me and my husband, it was a lot.
My house of cards began to topple. I had little control over any of those events, but I do have some control over myself (my actions and my thoughts). In times of crisis, taking care of yourself is the only thing you can do. That realization hit me in the middle of the night. I needed some extra support and I needed it immediately. So, I made a phone call someone I knew would care if I called them at 2am. I got the support I needed and a plan to get me moving forward. My house of cards survived the storm and I gained some skills and insights into myself.
At our clinic, we sometimes use a simple Self-Care model to see where our clients are at. It is a simple model that can be completed and tweaked any time. It is a “What do I have?” inventory of sorts. Knowing what you have, helps you see what you need.
Physical: How am I sleeping? Am I eating properly? Am I exercising? What level of substances (alcohol, cannabis, CBD oil) am I using? When’s the last time I had a medical checkup?
Social: Who are the people I have around me? What social supports do I have?
Personally, I would not be able to manage without a support network. Social support networks look different for everyone, it may include a partner, family, a close friend or two, in-person social groups.
Interests: What do I enjoy doing? This may include your job or school, volunteer activities, hobbies and other activities.
Spiritual: Where do I find purpose and meaning? This may or may not be associated with religious practices.
Once you completed the inventory, it can be easier to see the area of self-care you can work on. It is something I can do and that I control, even when wind gusts blow through. I have always found that once the self is taken care of, tackling the other areas seems more doable.
Be kind to yourself, you are the most important thing you've got!
Chantelle Koop, M.Ed, R. Psych. (Provisional)
Hi, I’m Deb Bissonnette. I am a social worker and a counsellor. I was born and raised in Swift Current, SK and, I have strong family ties to the community. I moved away to attend university, which took me to Saskatoon for 5 years and to Scranton, PA, USA for 2 years. I hold a Bachelor degree in psychology and a Master degree in social work. After beginning my career in B.C., I returned to Swift Current to raise my family. I am a proud mother of 2 adult children.
For over 25 years, I have worked helping children, families and adults. For 12 years, I worked in child protection in both B.C. and SK. I have also worked for the Saskatchewan Health Authority in Mental Health Services for the past 15 years. Throughout my career, I have gained extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Grief Therapy, Solution Focused Counselling, Children of Trauma and the Physiology of Trauma, Violence Threat Assessment (VTRA), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST), Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), and The Incredible Years Parent Group Leader training. I enjoy serving my community and assisting people with finding the resources that they need to live better, more fulfilling lives.
I believe contributing to the future of my profession is important. Therefore, I have been able to share my knowledge and expertise as a field instructor for many social work students through the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary (MSW program) and the University of Regina.
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with family and friends as well as helping others in need.
Hello! My name is Erica Houde and I am an Associate Psychologist at Brunswick Creek Psychology Services. I have worked with Dr. Conor Barker (Clinical Director) within and outside of his practice for several years, but I have had a desire to work with people for as long as I can remember. Take a scroll through my childhood keepsakes and you’ll find a note from grade six that reads: “When I grow up I want to be a ….psycologist”. Though I’ve had my eye on this profession for years, my ideas about what it means to be a psychologist and a helping professional in general, have evolved over time.
At present, my work is a combination of assessment and counselling. When it comes to assessment, my goal is to understand a person’s history, obtain a profile of an individual’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and provide recommendations that may benefit a person in their academic studies, in their occupational work, and in their social functioning. Moreover, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to help an individual achieve a new level of self-understanding, and to witness a person’s relief as long-unanswered questions are finally recognized and understood.
In my work as a counsellor, I truly believe in the power of creating a soft place to land. I tend to take a client-centered approach, and I want you to feel as though you are in an environment, and with a person, that you are physically and emotionally safe with. I believe in “walking beside” my clients, rather than leading or directing them; I believe in offering information, and teaching tools that clients can choose to accept and practice when they feel ready. Ultimately, I want to offer my clients a service that helps them move towards a healthier, fuller life.
I promise am not always as serious as I sound; I love to have a laugh and make people feel at home. Hope to see you soon!
I’m a new resident to Leader, Saskatchewan and excited to share that I am providing counselling, psychotherapy and assessment services to residents aged 16+, as a licensed Provisional Psychologist. I work as part of Brunswick Creek Psychology Services and support clients in-person and over video therapy.
Being born and raised in Toronto, I have gained a considerable amount of experience working with a diverse range of individuals, as well as supporting clients through a broad spectrum of presenting concerns. My previous work comprises of assisting individuals who have struggled with homelessness, mood disorders, personality disorders, stress, various types of trauma, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, suicide, self-harm and more.
As a mental health advocate, I am driven to share my knowledge and care to the people of Saskatchewan through offering an empathic safe space. I use a blend of therapeutic modalities including – but not limited to – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, Somatic Psychotherapy, Feminist Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) and mindfulness.
I look forward to working together in efforts to end stigma in accessing mental health services, as well as encourage patients/clients towards a lifestyle of inner peace and healing.
Christianna Zolis, M.Ed., R. Psych. (Provisional)
Hi, I’m Chantelle Koop.
I’m psyched to start a new adventure as part of the Brunswick Creek Team!
I am a reformed city girl; my husband and I live on an acreage, southeast of Swift Current, with our two sons and an albino corn snake (she was a classroom gift that became a home gift) and several farm cats.
I grew up a hop, skip and a jump away, in Moose Jaw, SK. I attended French Immersion from kindergarten to grade 12, and graduated with a bilingual diploma. During my last years of high school and throughout my Bachelor of Education degree program, I worked as an aide at Valley View Center, a care facility for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. My daily interactions with the residents taught me inclusion, compassion, humility and the value of a smile.
I moved here, to Swift Current, for a teaching position, where I met my husband and I have been here ever since. Teaching taught me creativity, problem-solving, patience, the value of multiple perspectives and the excitement of helping others be successful.
My LOVE for learning continued to beckon me; so in 2013, I returned to the University of Regina to complete my Master of Education in Educational Psychology degree. And in 2017, I completed my Post Degree Certificate in Special Education through the University of Saskatchewan.
I have a passion for assisting people find solutions that help improve their school/work life, relationships, and overall sense of well-being. I feel strongly that the knowledge and skills I have acquired will help me meet the needs of my clients. My counselling background is in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Reality Therapy, though, I will be taking Accelerated Resolution Therapy training in the coming months and look forward to offering that as well. I will also be assisting clients with identifying cognitive strengths/weaknesses through assessments and provide recommendations and interventions. This summer, I was excited to complete the ADOS-2 & ADI-R training, and offer autism inquiry to my skill set.
I am a HUGE football fan (Saskatchewan Roughrider & Green Bay Packers). I also enjoy reading just about anything with a cup of tea (I have a tea-rific collection) and spend hours crafting; I’ll try anything that allows me to challenge my creativity. Also, I love puns.
Chantelle Koop, M.Ed, R. Psych. (Provisional)
My name is Mark Brooks and I am delighted to come on board at Brunswick Creek Psychology services as Academic Strategist. I’m really excited to start working at Brunswick Creek because I love teaching and watching the delight in a student’s eyes when the ‘aha’ moment comes.
When I’m not working, I spend my time expressing my creative side. I love to garden – dahlias, hyacinths, and hollyhocks are my specialty. I’m also musical. I direct a choir, Noteworthy Chorus (Two Flats But Not Too Flat), for which I arrange and write a good deal of the repertoire. I’m also a language geek. I found out my gift/love for languages when I enrolled in French immersion in the second semester of grade ten, and graduated with my certificate of bilingualism in French. I love to travel and can speak phrases from all the countries I’ve visited. I’m also conversationally fluent in Spanish, and Korean. An extension of my love for languages and my creative side, both, is creative writing. I’m currently in the middle of bringing a strong colourful character, Talulah Fairweather, to life.
There are likely only two things that exceed my love for languages. The first is animals, and in particular, dogs, or the doogs as they are affectionally called at our home. My friends call me the dog whisperer. You’ll also find other furry four-footers and several aquariums chez nous.
Oh, I said there were two things, didn’t I? The Coca Cola Company will never go out of business so long as I am around. Spend any time with me and inevitably you’ll see me with a can of Coke in my hand.
Mark Brooks, B. Sc.
I grew up on a farm in the Swift Current area, and, although I’ve travelled and moved a lot since high school, this town will always be home. It is a place of comfort, safety, and happiness for a lot of people – but challenges and troubles, pain and disappointment, happen here, too. Life doesn’t always make sense; personally, I’ve known my share of confusion, of feeling lost among the familiar.
At the end of the day, “community” takes work. It takes real effort to try to connect when you feel disconnected, or to reach out when you feel alone. I do this job, as a counsellor, because I want to honour those efforts. I want to be on the other side: the person willing to listen to your story, to witness your struggle and your triumphs.
I completed my training at Briercrest Seminary in 2017 but didn’t realize that my degree would only be the beginning of my education. Turns out, I learn the most from my clients, rather than from textbooks. You teach me what you need, who you are; theories on human development don’t quite cover it. But even though I’ll always be “client-led” as a counsellor, I’ve also learned to seek out tools that allow me to give something back, to be of real help – if help is indeed what you want. (At the moment, I’m learning TEAM-CBT; come and ask me about it and we can see if it works…!)
I believe anyone can change if they want to, but sometimes it takes another person holding your hand to summon that desire and put that first foot forward. I’ve needed a lot of help in my own life; I’ve drawn strength from others, sometimes family and friends, sometimes professionals. Together, we help make sense of each other and our lives.
Outside of work, I’m a mother of two. I love to read novels, to climb trees, to bake cakes, to shop at thrift stores, and to go on road trips. I thrive equally on soulful talks and crazy adventures. I believe hope is a good thing (even if it was in Pandora’s box).
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Jordi Wieler, M.A., Canadian Certified Counsellor
Brunswick Creek Psychology Services has moved to our new space in downtown Swift Current! We are now located in the Professional Building at 12 Cheadle Street West. Mark has been busy setting up the artwork, furniture, and yes, the aquarium, and I must say, it's starting to look pretty spiffy. I have been busy orienting three new clinicians to the space. Watch for these clinician profiles as they get posted.
This Friday afternoon, I'm thinking about how this practice has grown and changed. It started dinner at Original Joe's where I said to a friend, "you know - I'd really like to do some counselling out of North Side Medical Clinic." I met with Dr. Savoy, and spent four years working with her physicians and staff, sharing an office with Dr. Val and her love of cat decor. It's why we still have a phrenology cat! Then we moved to the condo, changing from a clinical setting into more of a home setting. Then COVID hit, and we moved from the home setting into a virtual setting, something none of us planned for. Now, we are transitioning again to a full service psychology practice, providing counselling, assessment, treatment, academic tutoring, and supervision.
Brunswick Creek will be expanding it's service delivery based in Swift Current, but offering services across Saskatchewan and the country. Our services will include:
We will be adding additional content to our social media and blog posts in the coming days. Stay tuned, and keep in touch, we are here to help! For more information or to book an appointment, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 306 700 3141.
Yours in mental wellness,
Dr. Conor Barker, Ph.D., R. D. Psych.
Clinical Director, Brunswick Creek Psychology Services
Brunswick Creek CReeKside Corner
This is a blog authored by the clinicians working at Brunswick Creek Psychology Services.This blog serves to share with our community who we are, what we do, and why we are passionate about human potential and wellness.
306 700 3141 (call or text)
306 700 3142
118 - 12 Cheadle St. W.
Swift Current SK
Brunswick Creek Psychology Services
Swift Current, SK