Origins Counselling Blog

*The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Origins Counselling Services.

Understanding the Effects of Childhood Trauma

Many children are exposed to traumatic experiences. These experiences—physical or sexual abuse, living with domestic or community violence, surviving a serious car accident—all have an impact on the child’s development. Depending on the severity, frequency, nature, and pattern of traumatic events, at least half of all children exposed may be expected to develop a range of PTSD symptoms in adolescence and adulthood.


Trauma is an experience. How can this experience transform a child’s life into a terror-filled world that so dramatically alters the child’s trajectory into and throughout adult life? Ultimately, it is the brain that processes and internalizes traumatic and therapeutic experiences. Understanding the organization, function and development of the human brain, and brain-mediated responses to threat are the keys to understanding the traumatized individual and provide the necessary help. 

childhood trauma, Maria Stella, RCC

All experience is filtered by our senses. Sound, sight, taste, touch, in turn, initiate a cascade of processes that alter brain structure and function. Traumatized children develop response patterns (e.g., hyperarousal or dissociation) that interfere with healthy development; these responses can results in more permanent traits. 

The Child’s Responses to Trauma

The body and mind have sets of primitive physical and mental responses to threat. The most familiar set of responses to threat has been labeled the “fight or flight” reaction. There are also other responses to threat. At different stages of development, and in the face of different stressors, response patterns will vary, however, two major response patterns are hyperarousal and dissociation.


1. Hyperarousal: Defensive and “Fight or Flight” Responses

In the initial stages of threat, an alarm reaction is set off. This is characterized by a large increase in activity of the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in increased heart rate, blood pressure, shallow breathing, a sense of hypervigilance, and tuning out of non-essential information. All of these actions prepare the body for defense—to fight with or run away from the perceived threat. If the threat materializes, a full fight or flight response gets activated.


The brain regions involved in the threat hyperarousal response play a central role in regulating arousal, vigilance, emotions, irritability, the response to stress, sleep, and the startle response. Initially following the fear response, these systems in the brain will be reactivated when the child is exposed to a specific reminder of the traumatic event (e.g., the presence of a past perpetrator). Furthermore, these parts of the brain may be reactivated when the child simply thinks about or dreams about the event. Over time, these specific reminders may generalize (e.g., a specific perpetrator to any strange male). In other words, despite being distanced from threat and the original trauma, the stress-response system of the child’s brain is activated again and again.


A traumatized child may, over time, show hyperactivity, anxiety, impulsivity, sleep problems, hypertension, etc.

This also means that components of the fear response, themselves, become sensitized. Everyday stressors, which previously may not have produced any response now bring forth an exaggerated reactivity—these children are hyper-reactive and overly sensitive. This is due to the fact that the child is in a persisting state of fear. 


Furthermore, the child will very easily be moved from being slightly anxious to feeling threatened to being terrorized. In the long run, what is observed in these children is a set of maladaptive emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems which are rooted in the original adaptive response to a traumatic event.


2. Dissociation: The Freeze or Surrender Responses

Children are not particularly well equipped to fight or flee. In the initial stages of distress, a young child will call, i.e., crying, to let a caretaker know that they are under threat. In reality, for many of the maltreated children crying for “help” from a potential trauma is doomed to fail as often the parent causes the trauma. In the absence of an appropriate caretaker response to their initial alarm outcry, the child, eventually after many painful disappointments, will abandon this behavior (a defeat or surrender response). In the face of persisting threat and, depending upon the age of the child and the nature of the threat, the child will respond with hyperarousal or dissociation.


A first reaction in the face of continuing threat may be to freeze. Freezing allows better sound localization, sharper visual observation and environmental scan for potential threat. In addition, lack of movement is a form of camouflage, reducing the chance of attracting a predator. In the face of escalating threat, increasing anxiety and decreasing cognitive processing, the freeze response can provide an adaptive advantage by allowing one to figure out how to respond.


Children who have been traumatized will often use this freezing mechanism when they feel anxious. At this point, they tend to feel somewhat out of control and will cognitively (and often, physically) freeze. When adults ask them to do something, they may act as if they haven’t heard or they refuse. This forces the adult to ask the child to comply often involving more threats. This situation will make the child feel more anxious, threatened and out of control. The more anxious the child feels, the quicker the child will move from anxious to threatened, and to terrorized. If sufficiently terrorized, the freezing may escalate into complete dissociation that is simply disengaging from the external world and attending to an internal world. 


Traumatized children use a variety of dissociative techniques. Children report going to a “different place”, assuming persona of heroes or animals, a sense of “watching a movie that I was in” or “just floating” responses. Observers will report these children as numb, robotic, non-reactive, day dreaming, acting like he was not there, staring off into space with a glazed look. If immobilization or pain is involved in traumatic situations, the dissociative responses will become more predominant.


Because the brain changes during development in response to experience, the specific pattern of neuronal activation associated with responses to trauma are likely to be internalized. The specific symptoms that develop following trauma are related to the individual’s pattern of response present in the severe situation. If, in the midst of a traumatic experience, the child dissociates, and stays in a dissociative state for a long period of time, the child will internalize a sensitized neurobiology related to dissociation, predisposing to the development of dissociative disorders. On the other hand, if a child utilizes mainly a hyperarousal response which persists, the child may develop persisting hyperarousal symptoms.

Working with adults who experienced childhood trauma

Studies have shown that adults who experienced childhood trauma tend to be highly reactive to perceived threats. Their behaviors often correspond to the post-traumatic responses and may include withdrawn behavior, reenactment of the traumatic event, or avoidance of circumstances that remind one of the event, physiological hyper-reactivity, anxiety and stress. Because these adults may be dealing with preverbal and often unconscious memories they tend to internalize response patterns which can turn into traits. So how do we work with this type of memory and is encoded by the brain in the body?


1. Normalizing the Symptoms and Concerns

It is important to help clients understand their experiences, educate them about common PTSD symptoms. Education about loss and trauma, processing emotions, utilization of existing strengths and resources and exploration of existential and spiritual concerns are some areas included in this process. Initially amplifying positive moments where clients can access internal and external resources may increase their sense of connection and later assist the trauma processing.  


2. Working through Hyperaroused States and Dissociative States

By becoming aware of levels of hyperaroused states and dissociative states clients learn to pay attention to the moment-to-moment reactions and eventually shift these states instead of focusing on the traumatic details of their traumatic storyline.   


Gently brining attention to the body where the trauma memory is encoded, using images, gestures, and tracking sensations clients begin to learn how their body and mind reacts to emotional triggers and how to bring their experience back into a window of tolerance zone where emotions are slightly uncomfortable but not overwhelming. 


3. Cultivating Therapeutic Presence

Presence entails cultivating a safe and supportive relationship with clients, one characterized by deep emphatic listening, attunement and compassion. It also includes consistency and clearing up misunderstandings, gentle eye gaze, a soothing voice, and ability to contain various emotional states that arise in the clients’ process while showing a responsive face and social engagement skills.

Maria Stella is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in trauma, grief and loss.


First Nations Residential Schools

Kuper Island residential school
Kuper Island Residential School 1891 – 1974, public archives

For those wanting to better understand First Nations people in Canada, it is extremely important to recognize the history of colonization and the residential school system.  This history has had a profound impact on First Nations communities.  


In the mid-1700s European explorers arrived and began to establish land claims.  In 1763 King George III recognized Aboriginal rights and title to land through the Royal Proclamation.  However, the new settlers were given permission to colonize and purchase First Nations lands.  The settlers and other colonizers brought disease that spread to even remote First Nation’s communities and there was massive loss of life.  Around 1820 Industrial and residential school systems began and were run by Christian churches.  Reserves of land were set aside for ‘Indians’ to live on.  Both the residential school systems and reserve systems were created with the intention to civilize and Christianize Indians.  The 1867 Indian Act was created as a policy that focused on the assimilation of Aboriginals into society.  The Enfranchisement Act of 1867 legally enables this assimilation.  

History of Residential Schools

Church run residential schools begun in the early 1820s and in the 1880s the federal government began to establish residential schools across Canada.  In 1920, under the Indian Act, it became mandatory for every Indian child to attend a residential school and illegal for them to attend any other educational institution.  Children were taken from their families and if family members tried to intervene they were subject to imprisonment.  These children were as young as 4 or 5 years and their stay in residential school could last up to they were about 16 years of age.  Some of the children depending on where they were from returned home for the summer or holidays.  Other children didn’t get to leave the school and stayed there full time.

Being Taken

Prior to residential school, some children had very limited experience with non-indigenous people.  They were used to a more traditional lifestyle and some only spoke their native language.  After being taken from family and a life that was familiar to them, they were transported far from their home and exposed to a way of life completely foreign to them.

St. Mary's Mission residential school
St. Mary’s Mission Residential School in Mission B.C., from Mission community archives.

Residential School Abuse

I’ve heard from some residential school survivors who described sexual abuse that began as they were being transported to the school.  These children were already frightened and grieving after being separated from their families and community.  Many have told me that upon arriving at residential school they experienced further trauma.  I’ve heard of children thrown into dark closets, physically beaten and brutally sexually assaulted on the first day of their arrival at the residential school.  For those who weren’t immediately abused in these ways, almost all experienced delousing treatment, their hair being cut and being placed into institutional clothing and were given a number rather than a name.  If they arrived with siblings who were older or siblings of the opposite gender, they were separated and placed in different parts of the school.

The children slept in large dorm rooms.  Terrified children would lie awake listening to other children crying through the night.  For many the sexual abuse would come in the night when someone would either climb into their bed or take them into a staff person’s bedroom.  Some of the sexual abuse was initiated as if from a caring place as the child was comforted and given treats.  Some of the abuse that occurred was brutal with forced oral sex and sodomy.  

The abuse that existed in many residential schools across our country was horrific.  In the years I’ve worked as a therapist, I’ve heard no description of abuse more terrifying that those I’ve heard from residential school survivors.  I’ve heard of a young child who witnessed another child kicked in the face because she was crying for her parents.  That child flew down a flight of stairs, hit her head and died in front of the other child.  I’ve seen survivors with their teeth knocked out or who’ve had damaged eardrums from being struck.  Although the physical scars and damage are significant, many focus on the overall experience of living in an environment with no compassion or caring.

The frightened grieving children were beaten for crying, beaten for speaking their language and given very negative messages about their ethnicity.  The children were underfed and fed terrible foods.  For some the physical and sexual abuse that they endured, went on for years.  Some children were abused by priests, brothers, nuns, principals or other school staff.  Some children were abused by older children who passed on the learned abuse they had lived through.

Long-term Impact

Once released from residential school, many of the children who were now young adults felt alienated from their families and communities.  Some drifted to the streets and sought to numb themselves with alcohol and drugs.  Some died at a young age through violence and suicide as they could not live with the pain of what they had endured as a child.  The schools had done little to educate many of the children and some adults I’ve worked with are illiterate and this had dramatically affected their ability to secure employment, a driver’s licence and handle many of the day to day tasks we take for granted.  I’ve worked with adults who are haunted with the sounds, smells and horrifying images forever imprinted on their soul.  They see children who hang from rafters in the school or who jumped from the top of the school to escape their daily torment.  There are adults who live with the shame of what they endured or who live in fear of being close to others and have not learned how to be in relationship with others.  The disease of residential school got spread to communities where incest, alcohol abuse and domestic violence became rampant.  Children who were abused, not nurtured and made to feel ashamed of themselves; did not learn the skills they needed to go on to be loving parents or spouses.

Overcoming the Legacy of Residential Schools

I have sat in awe in hearing not only of the horrific abuse that some children have endured, but also at the courage and compassion that many were able to demonstrate while living in the darkest of environments.  In spite of everything that was being done to them, many children tried to help or protect other children in residential school.  As adults some First Nations people have moved on to heal themselves and to be inspirational forces in their families and communities.  The courage, strength and wisdom I have witnessed is a testimony to the capacity of humans to overcome even the most devastating of experiences and to emerge as examples to all of us of our capacity for greatness.

The End of Residential Schools

As the Canadian government continued to receive reports of mistreatment of children in residential schools, they began to disconnect their partnerships with churches.  However in the 1960s a large number of First Nation’s children came into care through the child social welfare system.  Children were taken from their families for reasons that they wouldn’t have been in non-indigenous families.  This period of time often referred to as “the sixties scoop” illustrated the continued lack of recognition of the differences in First Nation’s communities and lack of respect for their culture.  Concerns regarding First Nation’s children in government care continue to this day. 

The Aftermath

The last B.C. residential school closed in 1984.  The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.  In 1998 the Canadian government’s statement of reconciliation and Aboriginal action plan includes $350 million in healing funds.  In 2002 the Government announces an alternate dispute resolution framework to provide compensation for residential school abuse.  In 2008 the government launches the Indian Schools Truth & Reconciliation Commission.  The documentation of neglect, mistreatment and abuse continues.  The aftermath of the residential school will be felt for generations to come.  

 John Hayashi is a Registered Clinical Counsellor.  He is an approved Indian Residential School Counsellor.  He has also helped provided residential treatment groups for residential school survivors and been a health care provider at Truth & Reconciliation national events.


The Challenge of Parenting After the Death of a Child

Bereaved parents are often confronted with the task of dealing with both their sense of pervasive loss and the ongoing, daily demands from their surviving children. The challenges of parenting bereaved children are daunting, requiring skills, energy, and patience. Consequently, it is common for parents to seek professional help for themselves and their children.


A therapist can assist and prepare parents for attending to the grieving process and revisiting the loss over time as surviving siblings grow up and are able to hold a deeper understanding of the death and its profound reverberating effect. 

Therapeutic Interventions

Suggested therapeutic interventions may also include adjusting to their children’s diverse grieving styles, possibly dealing with the task of parenting an only child, dealing with the idea that parents may now feel powerless to protect their existing children from pain, and the attempt to make meaning of an incomprehensible event.


Other helpful therapeutic responses include experiencing the feelings of grief: looking at photos, writing a life history of the child, writing stories about the child, making art of pictures of the child, and creating a ritual for the child to celebrate their life and honour them. 

Changes in Surviving Children

The impact of the death of a sibling has the potential for changing personality traits and behavior of surviving children. Whether these changes are helpful, such as heightened sensitivity, understanding and maturity, or unhelpful, such as increased worry, aggression and withdrawal, the parents may actively engage in identifying these changes, and responding in way to facilitate the grieving process as well as in the affective development of the surviving child. 

Revisiting the Loss Over Time

Surviving children seem to have the need to review the death as they mature and are able to accommodate a deeper understanding of the loss at successive  developmental stages. This process can be difficult for parents as they continually revisit the painful memories. These issues intensify with adolescents including ambivalence between parental overprotection and allowing distance for healthy growth. 

Diverse Grieving Styles

Differences in grieving among family members may give rise to isolation, critical response and suppresion of grief expression that breaks up the family unit. Alternatively, the contrasting grieving styles may complement and facilitate this process.

Parents Feeling of Powerlessness

Many parents realize they cannot do anything to alleviate the surviving children’s pain and therefore experience not only their own sorrow but also the frustration and despair coming from not being able to reduce their children’s anguish.  

Meaning Making

To alleviate the pain for the tragedy, parents often find ways to provide their surviving children with a sense of hope. During this process parents come to terms with the loss themselves and work through feelings of guilt and sadness. The most common way for meaning making involves religious beliefs — understanding death as part of a divine plan — and a desire to help others who also suffer.  

Grief and Loss Research

Recent research based on in-depth interviews with parents who had lost a child and had one or more surviving children found that bereaved parents do not “recover” from the loss. Instead, they pick up the pieces in the face of the devastation, and restore both a sense of self, and a sense of the family. 

Maria Stella Origins Counselling Grief Loss Parenting

Maria Stella is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in trauma, grief and loss.


How Do I Make Sense Out of Having a Drinking/Drug Use Problem?

This question, or one like it, is a question that a lot of people ask either of themselves or of someone that they care about when they begin to realize that the frequency of problem using has increased substantially. For a response to this question listen in on the conversation that follows.

Cocktails alcoholism rehab addiction

A Lifestyle Problem

J. Doe: So how did this happen to me? I just want to be like everyone else. How do you make sense out of this?


MBS: Your question is an important one because the way we think about or understand a problem influences a great deal how we respond to it.  Some people over time start to depend on the mood altering effects of alcohol or a drug to enjoy, face or cope with an ever increasing number of situations. This dependency leads to excessive using and ultimately damage to a wide variety of life areas. In short what we have is a lifestyle problem. The problem is solved when the person becomes aware of the need to behave differently and becomes willing to learn and practice a new approach to life. This means enjoying life, facing life situations and coping with life’s ups and downs in new ways.


Prone Person + Encouraging Environment + Drug = Drug Use Problem

J. Doe: Okay, substance misuse reflects a lifestyle pattern but why me?


MBS: Well let’s look at one way of thinking about how it is that people learn patterns of alcohol or drug using behaviour. If we take a person who is attracted to the effects of a particular drug and put him/her in an environment that encourages the use of this drug, it is highly likely that we will see an increase in the amount of the drug that is ingested. With increased amounts ingested  the likelihood of damage increases. Here is a simple little formula that I use to make sense out of what is going on in a person’s life.  Take one PRONE PERSON, add an ENCOURAGING EVIRONMENT and finally add a MOOD ALTERING DRUG such as alcohol or heroin and it adds up to a DRUG USE PROBLEM.

The Encouraging Environment

J. DOE: What is it that might make my environment encouraging?


MBS: First of all, your environment can refer to your culture, your community, your family, your friends, or your work place. User friendly environments make the drug available, tolerate excessive use, promote the drug as a way to feel good, present drug use as the in thing or a sign of maturity, place a high value on comfort and kicking back, and associate the drug with party time etc.. Imagine going to a club with a bunch of friends all of whom have three to five drinks containing alcohol. Now imagine going to a club with a bunch of friends where a few have a single alcoholic drink, some drink an espresso and some a coke. With which group do you think you are likely to drink the most alcohol? 

partying, binge drinking, alcoholism, addiction, rehab

The Prone Person

J. Doe: Are you suggesting that I might be a prone person?


MBS: That is for you to decide. What I am suggesting is that there are internal factors that increase the likelihood of an individual using drugs to alter his/her mood or feelings. For example, someone who is passive and relies on others for direction; or someone who feels powerless and at the mercy of others; or someone who constantly wonders if he/she is good enough; or someone who looks to others for reassurance; or someone who lacks confidence; or someone who is chronically resentful is likely to be attracted to a substance that can quickly alter how he/she feels at the moment. 


J. Doe: I have heard that addiction is caused by genetics. What about that?


MBS: There are many factors that contribute to addiction. Research does suggest that some people have a biological predisposition to use mood altering substances.  At this point we don’t know how the predisposition reveals itself or who has this particular predisposition. It is important to remember that predisposition does not mean predestined. However, if you have a family history of addiction, it may be wise to monitor your use of mood altering substances.

drunk, passed out, alcoholism, addiction, rehab

Some Good Questions to Ask

J. Doe: So if I want to answer the “Why me?” question, you are suggesting it would help to look at myself and ask to what extent I am prone and then to ask how encouraging my environment is?


MBS: That would be a very good place to start.  Answering these two questions will really begin, a) to help you make sense out of the problem that you have become aware of, and b) to help you decide to what extent you would benefit from making changes within yourself and to your environment in order to change your lifestyle.   

By Dr. Martin B. Spray R. Psych. #0599


Over the years I have worked within the addictions field with thousands of men and women who have challenged themselves to sort out, a) what the impact of their drinking/drug using has been on themselves and those around them and, b) what they need to do about it. You can find out more about my work here.


Is My Drinking/Drug Use Getting Out of Hand?

This question or one like it, is a question that a lot of people, one time or another, ask either of themselves or of someone that they care about. For a response to this question listen in on the conversation that follows.

Problem Using or Addiction?

Is my drinking/drug use getting out of hand? Addiction, counselling, Martin B. Spray, R. Psych

J. Doe: If I get high or drunk and drive my car into a telephone post, do I have an addiction problem?


MBS: Not necessarily. If you have never been drunk before or high and this is a onetime event, what would be most accurate to say is that while you do have a problem, that problem could be described in a number of ways. For example, it could reflect a problem in judgment, a temporary transportation problem, a problem with resulting shame, an insurance problem, a legal problem, a financial problem or a relationship problem if the car belongs to someone else. As far as substance using is concerned, what you have demonstrated is problem using, that is using that has resulted in some kind of damage to yourself and/or to others. 

Problem Using or Problem User?

J. Doe: What you seem to be focusing on is what problem using is.


MBS: That’s right. A person or those around him/ her may start to get concerned about his/ her substance use when the frequency of problem using incidents increases. This means that when the individual uses, his/her use results in damage of some kind some of the time but not all of the time. When this happens we begin to think less of isolated incidents of problem using and more about someone who seems to be a problem user. The severity of the problem will depend on the kind of damage that results, the frequency with which damage occurs, the amount ingested prior to the damage and who is impacted by the damage.

cannibas leaf, Is my drinking/drug use getting out of hand? addiction, Martin B. Spray, R. Psych

Problem User or Alcoholic/Addict?

J. Doe: So what is the difference between a problem user and an alcoholic or an addict?  


MBS: “Alcoholic” and “addict” are terms that I avoid using because of the confusion created by the many different definitions that people have come up with over the years. However, the terms do exist within our culture. As I see it, the alcoholic or addict is a person whose use results in damage of some kind almost every time they use. This person’s use may or may not be sporadic but when he/she does use it is invariably excessive and invariably results in damage. 

A Good Question to Ask

J. Doe: In other words addiction, when it comes to substances, is about a continuum of increasing use, increasing amounts ingested, and increasing damage to oneself and/or to others. 


MBS: Yes! So, if someone is wondering whether or not he/she has a substance use problem, here are some good questions to ask. Does my use of alcohol/drugs ever injure me or those around me; result in conflict with those around me; or impair my ability to be the kind of father/mother, employer/employee, friend, or person I would like to be?


J. Doe: What if I answer yes to any of that?


MBS: Then it would seem reasonable to think that a substance use problem exists. What do you think? 


By Dr. Martin B. Spray R. Psych. #0599


Over the years I have worked within the addictions field with thousands of men and women who have challenged themselves to sort out, a) what the impact of their drinking/drug using has been on themselves and those around them and, b) what they need to do about it. You can find out more about my work here.


Understanding Domestic Violence and Abuse

What Leads to Relationship Violence and Abuse?

John Hayashi, Understanding Domestic Violence and Abuse, Origins Counselling, Victoria BC

People who demonstrate violent or abusive behaviours may have come from a background of abuse, violence or loss.  There may have been violence or abuse in the home when they were growing up.  Even if there was no violence, they may have been exposed to attitudes or beliefs which laid a foundation for future abusive or violent behaviour. People who tend to be abusive in their relationships often verbalize beliefs and myths about relationships that support them being abusive such as, “all couples fight and as long as no one gets seriously hurt it’s not a problem.


Another possible factor in promoting unhealthy relationship patterns, can occur when children do not get sufficient nurturing and support from their caregivers.  When children don’t get what they need in order to become healthy adults, this can result in low self-esteem, insecurities and feeling easily threatened about losing their relationships.  They can be overly focused on their needs being met and have difficulty accepting their partner’s needs and anything that distracts their partner from focusing on them.  I’ve worked with people who feel threatened by their spouse having a career, having time with their family and having separate interests.

Identifying Violence and Abuse in Relationships

When someone tends to operate in an abusive way in relationships, their relationships are largely based upon power and control.  They exercise control in their relationships through physical and psychological methods.  They often dominate the decisions made in key areas such as finances, parenting, socializing, family moves and rules of the relationship/family.  People, who seek to be in control in their relationships and homes, generally have difficulty with their emotions.  They tend to either swallow their emotions, rely on substances to cope with stress in their life, or have limited responses to emotional situations.  One example of limited emotional responses, is the person responding to a variety of situations with anger.  The events might involve loss, uncertainty, change or other stressful events, but the emotion that is most evident is anger.

Change and Moving Towards Healthy Relationships

As in any change in human behaviour, it is largely dependent on how much the person wants to change and or recognizes the need to change.  For many I’ve dealt with in my career, the motivation to change often comes from an external source.  In other words rather than the person one day waking up and saying I want to change, it comes from an outside source such as child welfare, legal services or their spouse threatening to leave the relationship unless there is a change in their behaviour.  Even with an outside motivator, the person often struggles with accepting that what they have been doing is inappropriate and they need to learn new behaviours.  None of us want to see ourselves or what we do in a negative way.  People who are being abusive or violent often try and justify or explain what they do.  It can come as a real blow to their self-identity, to face the fact that their way of thinking and behaving has been inappropriate and they have to make changes.  Moving from external motivation to internal motivation is an important step in a person making real change in their life.  Internal motivation can be a desire for improved relationships, deeper intimacy and a person wanting to feel better about themselves.  When people are internally motivated they tend to demonstrate a much greater willingness to acknowledge their past mistakes, an openness to trying new behaviours and participating in support/counselling services.  

John Hayashi M. Ed., RCC  

Along with a general counselling practice, I began working in the area of domestic violence treatment in 1990 and also worked for over 11 years as the therapist in a police department.  While working in the police department, I dealt with many examples of domestic violence in the community that resulted in varying levels of assaults and professional follow-up.  I continue to work in the area of domestic violence and abuse.