On any given day, how many times do your internal monologues and thoughts start with, “I should…”? The list of shoulds is seemingly endless, but here are a few classic examples:

  • I should go to the gym.
  • I should clean my house.
  • I should spend less time on social media.
  • I should go out more.
  • I should save more money.
  • I should be a better partner/parent/child/friend/employee/boss…

We could go on and on…and on. Yet the underlying message is always the same: you “should” be better. Many of us hold the underlying belief that “shoulding” is a way to maintain accountability and, if we stop, we’ll become the worst versions of ourselves (lazy, messy, stupid, etc.). “Shoulding” is a way to maintain a feeling of control and that we’re being “good.” So, it’s understandable that so many of us hold on to the “shoulds” and beat ourselves up when we aren’t living up to idealized standards.

How You (Both) Feel Matters: Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples

How You (Both) Feel Matters:  Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples

Negative Patterns in Relationships

Many couples get stuck in a negative pattern of interacting when they are not getting along. Over time, these patterns become automatic, often operating behind the scenes and compromising how we communicate and how we interact with our loved one.

One of main types of negative patterns of interacting is called pursue-withdraw. This pattern can happen when one partner attempts to talk and make connections (pursuing) while the other partner pulls away (withdraws). The pursuer often pursues by demanding, criticizing and blaming, and they might appear angry and critical. The withdrawer often withdraws by shutting down, avoiding or even leaving (physically, mentally or emotionally), and they might appear defensive, dismissive or indifferent. The more the pursuer pushes to talk and resolve, the more the withdrawer feels uncomfortable, numb or the urge to run away. This urge further triggers the fear of rejection in the pursuer and increases the intensity of the need to feel loved. Both people end up feeling hurt, unsatisfied, and alone.

Some Myths About Social Work & Psychotherapy

Some Myths About Social Work & Psychotherapy

Myth: Only “crazy” people or people with severe issues receive psychotherapy.


Everyday, people seek therapy for a range of reasons. Some pursue psychotherapy for treatment of anxiety, depression or other disorders. Others want help coping with life stressors or transitions, like martial strain or separation, parenting challenges, the loss of a job or a loved one, stress, or conflict at work. Others may need help managing and balancing work and family responsibilities, coping with an aging parent, or improving relationship skills. By learning problem solving skills and coping strategies, anyone (young and old) can benefit from psychotherapy.  

Decision Storm: Questions to Ask When Struggling with a Decision

Decision Storm: Questions to Ask When Struggling with a Decision

I’ve recently seen several clients who are struggling with decisions in their lives. This struggle can feel like you’re stranded on a boat in the midst of a hurricane. If you can relate, ask yourself the following questions to help figure out why you may be struggling and get back to smooth sailing.

Do I know how I feel?
We often struggle with making decisions because we’re not sure how we feel about the situation. It can be helpful to talk through how you’re feeling, either by writing in a journal, confiding in a trusted friend, or working with your counsellor. Most of the time the process of narrating what your situation will help clarify how you’re feeling about a tough decision and guide your next steps. 

Do I have mixed-feelings?
Maybe you’re clear on how you’re feeling but are still feeling torn between your options. Often, we’re torn because there isn’t a clear “best option.” If possible, try to get more information about the different options.

Surviving Postpartum: When You're Not Feeling Like the "World's Best"

Surviving Postpartum: When You're Not Feeling Like the "World's Best"

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day when Mothers are celebrated by their families for all that they do and for being “The World’s Best Mom.” But what if World’s Best doesn’t fit with how you’re feeling? What if you really don’t feel like “The World’s Best Mom?” What if you don’t like how you feel as a Mom at all?
If this sounds familiar and if you recently had a baby, you may be suffering from a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD). Whether it’s anxiety or depression, PPMD can make it very difficult to feel confident and comfortable as a Mother. This can make getting through each day difficult, and especially on special occasions like Mother’s Day.

Here are some ideas to help survive in the wake Mother’s Day when you’re feeling not so great as a Mother.

1. Stop “Comparenting.”

Every parent and every experience is different. There is no “perfect” way to be a Mother. Social media only provides small glimpses (usually happy, carefree, picturesque moments) into someone’s life.  These snapshots don’t capture the whole picture or the moments no one wants to talk about (like the hour-long cries, the piles of laundry, and the loneliness). For every organic feeding, hair and makeup done, restful and happy Mom, there are about 3 other Moms who consider getting dressed in a day a MAJOR achievement (and sometimes it is!).  So, let go of whatever homemade organic snack Susie Supermom made on her picture-prefect blog today, and be proud of your own accomplishments. You are doing the best that you can.

Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Lucky 7: The 7 Benefits to Exercise for Your Mental Health

Most people go to the gym or work out to improve their health, build muscle, and have a fitter body. However, exercise can have tremendous impact on our brain and overall mental health.

The next time you debate whether to go work out, consider the following benefits:

1. Stress Reduction

Tough day at work? Consider taking a long walk, or making a quick trip to the gym. The most common mental benefit of exercise is stress relief; it increases levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that regulates the brain’s response to stress.

Meet Our Therapist: Annie Amirault, MSW RSW

Meet Our Therapist: Annie Amirault, MSW RSW

It's nice to get to know you. We think it's only fair you get to know us, too!

1. What made you decide to become a therapist? 

Whether it was my bachelor of social work internship, volunteer experience, or my masters of social work internship, I’ve always derived power and strength from hearing the stories of others. In a way, it’s taught me a great deal about myself and I believe that at some point in life, we need support to get through he challenges for being human. I also was raised in a family of health professionals, so I grew up with an inherent need to advocate and support people in ways that they identified needing help.

2. What do you love most about working at Shift? 

All of my colleagues have different strengths and support another in our learning. I learn so much from my co-workers; it’s helpful to have an open-door policy to facilitate case-consultations, which in turn spurs my growth as a clinician, to adopt different approaches and perspectives. 

Mental Health on Screen: Our Picks for Hot Docs 2017

Mental Health on Screen: Our Picks for Hot Docs 2017

The annual Hot Docs festival opens this weekend, running April 27 to May 7, 2017. Engaging with the stories of others who are exploring mental health issues (and issues that impact our mental health) is a great way to shift your perspective.

Here are some of our top picks for films to check out - plus the reasons why we think they are worth watching.

Click on the titles below to visit the official film page on the Hot Docs website. 

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide

Hope delves into her sister’s life in an effort to explain why her sister killed herself.

Why? Many of us struggle to talk about suicide and maybe this film will give us a starting point for these important conversations.

Building Better Habits? There's an App for That

Building Better Habits? There's an App for That

Often times we think of habits as being negative: nail biting, skipping breakfast, or binge-watching Netflix. However, the power of habits can be used for good.

Imagine making a habit of flossing your teeth regularly, cleaning 15-minutes every day, or making your bed before you leave for work . . .

Take it one step further: imagine clearing your inbox every day, studying a language, or finally running that half-marathon you've always wanted to run. 

The secret behind highly successful people are good habits—things that require hard work, discipline, and consistency. Grit, we know, is the key to success. As psychologists have learned, successful people are not always the smartest; they're simply the ones who are willing to show up every day and put in the work. 

So, how do those of us who don't have the natural tendency for grit force ourselves to form a good habit? First, by understanding the process, and then by holding ourselves accountable. 


Just like with most things, we have to understand the stages of forming good habits...