Author Archive Tony Lapointe

ByTony Lapointe

Oakhill’s COVID-19 Response

We are committed to the physical and mental health of our clients and staff. To that end, we are practicing social distancing as recommended by health officials which means many service providers are only providing services via telephone or video calls for the foreseeable future.

Our offices remain open for in person sessions if you have not been in contact with anyone with the virus, are not showing any flu like symptoms or have traveled outside the country.

We are also diligently cleaning all major touch point areas in our offices including door knobs, office equipment, chairs, couches and bathroom fixtures.

Clients are of course welcome to wait outside if they choose to prevent being in closed areas in our waiting rooms as well.

If you have any questions about your counselling sessions or our response, please don’t hesitate to contact our office or speak directly to your service provider.

Thank you for your patience in this unprecedented time and stay safe!

ByTony Lapointe

What you’ve thought about addiction is wrong

Here is a video from Ted Talks by Johaan Hari about addiction and his finding that the root of addiction is about bonding and repairing broken relationships. What are your thoughts?


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ByTony Lapointe

Separation and Divorce

Every relationship has its struggles and conflicts. Sometimes, those struggles are difficult to overcome and a couple makes the difficult decision to end their relationship, either mutually or one of the parties decides to leave. Whether you are the one who left or the one who was left, entering a period of separation brings about many changes that can be difficult to navigate.

When a separation occurs, there are multiple layers of things going on all at once. Not only are we trying to process and heal from the relationship ending but, if children are involved then we have to help them navigate changes as well all the while trying to negotiate a fair and equitable arrangement with the ex-partner. And if children are involved, developing some sort of co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone while still trying to process and heal from the separation and loss.  It is a complex season full of ups and downs.

To begin with, self care is fundamentally important. Taking care of your emotional, physical and mental needs are crucial if you want to navigate this season well. We have a tendency to focus on others around us rather than ourselves but the reality is, if we’re no good to us then we’re no good to anyone else either. How can we possibly help our children process their grief if we aren’t processing ours?

Ensuring you have adequate support, people that can help and that you trust to listen to you is a good first step. Maintaining a positive, respectful and assertive approach with the other party is also fundamentally important.  Regardless of what they’re doing…we are always in control of our behaviour.

There are several services available that can assist you in this season. Parenting after Separation is a free, 3-hour program offered by Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services in Abbotsford and Chilliwack on behalf of the Ministry of Justice of BC. It provides basic information about terms, legal process and options available as well as education about what parents and children are experiencing during the separation process.

The Family Justice Centre is another resource that most communities have. They offer mediation services to separating parents but will only mediate for parenting related issues. Other topics such as asset and liability division will need to be done through a lawyer or mediator. They also offer a list of community resources that can be helpful in this season.

Finally, counselling can also be very helpful. At Oakhill, our qualified professionals provide the space you need to explore and process feelings about the separation and will work with you to develop a new sense of self that is confident and positive.

While separation can be difficult, there are people ready and willing to help you through this difficult season. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services. We are more than happy to help. That’s the Oakhill Advantage.

ByTony Lapointe

Recovering from Depression

Many people experience an episode of what we call depression at least once in their lives. As a matter of face, research shows that half of North Americans will experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. And while there are similarities with people’s experiences of it there can be some differences.

Many experiences can lead to feelings of depression. The death of a loved one, changes at work, birth of a child, or feeling overwhelmed and stressed over a period of time or any number of other reasons.  Feelings of depression are perfectly normal but do need to be addressed before becoming more severe.  In my opinion, feelings of depression are the body’s way in its own wisdom to protect itself. So the presence of depression is not inherently bad but it is a signal to the person that something needs to be addressed. Its like the dashboard light on your car. It tells you the system needs to be worked on.

Depression can be classified as mild, moderate or severe and can be either situational (like after the death of a loved one or unanticipated changes at work) or something more long term that comes and goes.  Common symptoms include increased (or decreased) appetite, insomnia or fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, bouts of crying, thoughts that others would be better off if you weren’t alive and a decrease in enjoyment with activities that once use to bring joy or excitement.  People who experience depression can tend to feel hopeless or powerless to change their circumstances and that it will “always be this way.”

Depression can also look different with men. While the above symptoms may be present, men can also have a tendency to have angry outbursts (like road rage) and an increased tendency to risky behaviour like dangerous driving or engaging in risky sexual behaviour (like having intercourse without protection).

There are several ways to address depression, most notably Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and/or mindfulness techniques. The main premise behind CBT is that our thoughts lead to how we feel which leads to our behaviour and that if our thoughts tend to be negative, our behaviour tends to be negative which then reinforces our negative thinking. The outcome with CBT then is to identify and reframe negative thinking to something positive (or believable) as an alternative so that we can restore a sense of personal power and control over our lives.

There are several options available to address depression. You can reach out to your local Mental Health Office, register for the Bounce Back program through the Canadian Mental Health Association or contact Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services to speak with one of our qualified professionals.

ByTony Lapointe

Group and Education Services

Group education and counselling is an effective and powerful tool that can bring about significant changes for participants at a substantially reduced cost.

Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services offers groups on topics such as anger management, relationships, communication, anxiety, depression and addiction.

We also offer workshops to professionals and the general public on topics of interest. Please call us or send us an email if you are interested in participating in one of our groups, if you need additional information or would like to discuss your worksites unique training needs.  We’re here to help!