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I’m 16 and I don’t know what to do with my life. What can I do?

First of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s hard to know what the future holds when you are in your teens.

It’s through life experiences and exploring more about yourself that you’ll be able to find areas that you want to pursue. And know that there will be many different pathways you can take and that’s ok! If you view it as a journey, keeping learning more about yourself and keep an open mind, you’ll better equip yourself for finding things in your life you are passionate about and/or jobs or careers you want to pursue.

I would suggest working towards….

  1. Joining a school club
  2. Volunteering
  3. Working
  4. Traveling
  5. Exploring your own strengths
  6. Exploring Post secondary plans
  7. Taking up new hobbies
  8. Obtain life experiences
  9. Being curious about the world around you

Best of luck finding that path for yourself. Remember to have gratitude for what you have in life already.

How To Find Your Why, Passion, And Purpose In Life – Holistic Wellness RN

1   Squamish Spit Estuary Trail

This peaceful nature preserve is a flat, easy wander that is only a short 10 minute drive from downtown Squamish.

Located at the tip of the Howe Sound and bordered by the Spit on the west, the Squamish Estuary provides some of the best local views of the Stawamus Chief and is home to literally hundreds of species of birds and other habitats. The 3.2 kilometer trail features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Getting there:

Heading north on the Sea to Sky Highway, continue past Downtown Squamish until you reach Industrial Way where you will turn left. Turn right at the Queen’s Way intersection and follow Queens Way until it curves left and becomes Government Road. Take Government Road 1 kilometre past the train tracks, to a small sign for The Spit on your right. Continue down the gravel route until you reach another T intersection where you will turn left. Follow the gravel road until you reach the hiking trail head signs on your left for the Estuary.

2.  Four Lakes Trail

This hiking gem in Alice Lake Provincial Park weaves its way through 4 different lakes and can be competed in 2-3 hours.

4 lakes trail

Roughly 5km north of Squamish on Highway 99 sits the picturesque Alice Lake Provincial Park, home to a classic Squamish hike. The 4 Lakes Trail is an easy 6.5 km loop that meanders through creeks, second growth forest and visits four distinct mountain lakes. Which makes it a great place for calming oneself from the stresses of day to day life.  

Getting There

Alice Lake Provincial Park is located along Highway 99, 5 km north of Squamish on the east side of the highway. Follow the signs for the park and the trail is accessed either via Alice Lake itself or via the Stump Lake entrance, which is just opposite the entrance to the park and offers its own parking for hikers.

 

3.  Ray Peters Trail

Walk among mature evergreens right off highway 99. The Ray Peters Trail weaves its way through various branches or smaller trails, but is fairly easy to navigate because it is surrounded by roads at its edges. Hiking here can take from 30mins to 2 hours depending on the trail you take.

Ray Pe

This popular Squamish trail, the Ray Peters trail is great for all ages and users. This gently sloping area is the remains of a very large piece of the dormant volcano on Mt. Garibaldi that blew off and slid 10 kilometres down eons ago. Now part of the Cheekye Fan, it is a rambling expanse of pleasant woods and some old pavement from a defunct trailer-court of the 1960s. The area is a peaceful getaway close to Squamish.

Getting there:

The most convenient access point is just across Ross Road from the lower parking lot at Don Ross Secondary School, because this gives assured parking. There are also a few trailheads near Highway 99.

 

4. Loggers Lane Trail

Running along Loggers Lane Road lie a few easy trails to get out for a family walk. This is probably the best of the trails for the younger crowd due to the small distances.

Loggers lane

Combined with the busy Loggers Creek Trail, Nature Trail provides a large area of paths among old trees, wetlands and bubbling brooks. Prior to the Mamquam River changing its course westward in 1921, this area was its estuary. The maze of side channels along the original path of the river provided the necessary mixing of fresh and tidal waters that salmon and trout need for rearing juveniles. This was a prolific fishing area and the Squamish people caught a lot of their wintering supplies in the old mouth of the Mamquam River.

Getting there:

The best access point is parking at the Squamish Adventure Centre and crossing the street to the paved path and turning right. Soon you’ll be immersed in the forest with a couple pathways to chose. Alternatively, parking at the Smoke Bluffs parking lot of Loggers Lane works as well.

 

5.  Ocean Front Loop- Newport Beach

Squamish’s most dog-friendly beach, Newport Beach, is the site for an easy loop for the family. The rustic, sandy centrepiece of Squamish’s oceanfront where dolphin, whale and other marine life sightings are not out of the ordinary.

Getting there:

There is an access point for walking trails in Downtown Squamish near the corner of Vancouver Street and Second Avenue.

From Downtown Squamish, head west down to the end of Cleveland Avenue past the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co. and turn left on Vancouver Street. There, you will see the Yacht Club. Turn right. Signs will direct you towards the beach.

Be aware of the development in the area that may affect this route. The Developer states “Public may experience trail closures from time to time on the loop trail. We encourage users to park closer to the Yacht Club or Brew Pub and start the loop from there or, park at Newport Beach on the Oceanfront.”

 

Therapeutic Nature Based Therapy: Nature as a Healing Partner

Ecotherapy

As our technological society advances and urbanizes, it is apparent that we are putting distance between ourselves and how our ancestors once lived. Could it be that perhaps our distance from nature could be having an impact on our psyche? There are some that aim to bridge this divide by bringing humans back to their roots, in nature. Nowhere is bridging this divide more important than in the therapeutic work that counselling professionals do.

Ecotherapy is the name given to a form of experiential therapy that incorporates counselling interventions in the natural world to improve the client’s growth and development. There are wide ranges of treatment programs, which aim to improve mental and physical well-being through doing outdoor activities in nature. Examples include nature-based meditations, physical exercise in natural settings, horticultural therapy, adventure therapy, conservation activities and therapeutic nature-based counselling.

What is Therapeutic Nature-Based Therapy

Nature based therapy

Therapeutic nature-based counselling is an aspect of ecotherapy that has shown great results for work with individuals and/or groups. It encompasses working with clients in a natural setting with an end goal of individual and/or family wellness. This style of therapy has a close relationship to family systems theory in that both theories recognize the inter-relatedness of being and our surroundings. Nature is viewed as a healing partner in the counselling process. For instance, when an individual is depressed, they often retreat into indoor spaces, isolating themselves from the world around them. Using a nature therapy approach can help encourage individuals to move outdoors while still engaging in therapy.

Further, nature-based counselling helps cultivate awareness in individuals as they explore their relationship to themselves, others and their sense of place in the world and natural surroundings.
The fundamental process for therapeutic practices in nature is the reconnection to nature as a reconnection to self. (Jordan, 2009)

Effectiveness

Research on the effectiveness of therapeutic based nature therapy is limited but encouraging. However, there has been considerable research into the effects of individuals spending time in forests. Several studies demonstrate the unique factors that forests can have on individuals and the counselling process.

In Japan, a very popular and well-studied concept is Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing. This involves the simple health improvement strategy of immersing oneself into a forest. The effectiveness of this practice is well documented with benefits such as immune function enhancement while in contact with forest environments. It also has been shown to lower elevated stress levels when in natural environments (Lee et al, 2012).

The therapeutic rationale for having experiences within nature is to encourage clients to awaken their senses. An important step in truly grounding oneself through distress. Buzzell and Chalquist (2009) cite enhanced self-concept, self-esteem and self-confidence as benefits to therapeutic nature-based therapy. They also believe that to facilitate treatment of mental health issues or improve family relationships, employing nature is a potent therapeutic intervention. It has been shown to improve mood, anxiety, stress, and depression. It has also been demonstrated that it works well for a variety of ages. Nature therapy is about utilizing these demonstrated benefits in order to help facilitate a client’s therapeutic goal.

The traditional office setting can be seen to be an intimidating experience for some clients. The face-to-face interaction can be off putting and cause unease in some. Moving therapy to an outdoor space can alleviate this as some people experience nature therapy as less intimidating than an office setting.

Doucette (2004) outlines the nuances of walk and talk therapy as walking outdoors whilst engaged in counselling. Walk and talk therapy happens outside the usual confines of an office space. In Doucette’s research with adolescents, therapist and participants met over 6 weeks, once per week for 30-45 minutes or walking outdoors on school grounds. This research found considerable improvements on individual’s moods. Participants discussed what had happened that week and they were taught strategies during the sessions, which included ways of managing stress and painful situations, positive self-talk, mental imagery and through focusing techniques to reduce stress.

Considerations

Moving from the confines of the traditional four walled therapy space involves some considerations in order to be successful. It is important that during the initial client assessment that any initial fears about the outdoors be discussed. Comfort levels with the weather can vary and are important to mention. If the client gets cold easily, it obviously best to avoid the outdoor space when the temperature dips down. Client safety in outdoor spaces is important and so it is recommended that simple well-worn paths, which do not have any obstacles, are best.

It is imperative that the therapist knows the area well before embarking with clients in an outdoor space. The therapy should be the focus, not trying to navigate both of you back from an unknown path.

The confidentiality piece is important and needs to be addressed at the initial assessment. While the four walled office space provides you with a contained, private venue for intimate discussions and limited interruptions, the outdoor space brings with it other challenges. For example, it should be discussed what the client is comfortable with when other people are encountered on the trail. Would they prefer to stop conversation, lower their voice, or continue talking?

Case study

Michael was a bank teller. His past counselling experiences had not been positive. Michael mentioned that his previous counselling sessions had brought up very difficult feelings that he did not know how to handle. At assessment, Michael talked about his family history, which included how his mother and father’s marriage had been unstable with numerous splits and walkouts. He noted that his father was very volatile in his family interactions while his mother had been very self-absorbed. Michael had grown up with a poor sense of self, quite often adapting himself to others’ needs and wishes in order to be liked. Michael was mistrustful and it was apparent that he felt attacked and persecuted through the therapist standard line of assessment questioning. There were long pauses and silences in the subsequent sessions and Michael reported feeling very ambivalent about therapy. The therapist suggested they might meet outdoors and walk together, as the sessions indoors felt so difficult, and for them both to see how this felt. They met at a local municipal park, walked, and talked as they made their way through a quiet forest loop. In the session, Michael talked more about how he felt and the session went well. At the end, the therapist asked Michael how he felt about this way of working. Michael report that he found it much easier to talk without the room and the eye contact of the therapist and that compared to his previous experiences of therapy it was much easier to open up and share with the therapist outdoors which they were walking. In subsequent sessions, they met in forest locations, walked, and talked. The therapist also found it easier to tune into Michael on an embodied level and make contact with him more easily than he had done indoors. At times, Michael would stop and make eye contact with the therapist when he had an important thing to say in therapy. As the sessions progressed, Michael was more able to initiate contact in this way in the therapy and began to be more able to stay in touch with painful feelings whilst moving outdoors.

Integrating Nature into your counselling practice

Incorporating therapeutic nature-based therapy into your practice is not for every client or clinician but there are many that would benefit from the alternative setting for therapy. When you think of those resistant clients that really struggle in the traditional setting, it can be worth it to look for new spaces to engage them in therapy. By incorporating nature in a relational way into your practice, this can support new internal perceptions which help individuals to reflect, challenge and support new ways of thinking on their therapeutic journey. Nature has been healing through the times and so, an important consideration for clinical work. As society becomes more urbanized, it will be important for therapeutic work to remember the inherent connection we have to the natural world. As Abrams so eloquently describes in his book The Spell of the Sensuous, “By acknowledging such links between the inner, psychological world and the perceptual terrain that surrounds us, we begin to turn inside-out, loosening the psyche from its confinement within a strictly human sphere, freeing sentience to return to the sensible world that contains us.”

For further reading:
– Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind – Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist
– Nature and Therapy: Understanding counselling and psychotherapy in outdoor spaces – Martin Jordan
– Eco psychology – nature as therapist http://counsellingbc.com/article/ecopsychology-nature-therapist
– Back to Nature – Martin Jordan https://www.academia.edu/1502225/Back_to_Nature

References:
Abrams, David (1997). The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World
Doucette, P.A. (2004) Walk and Talk: an intervention for behaviourally challenged youths. Adolescence 39(154), 373-388.
Jordan, Martin. (April 2009) Back to Nature. Therapy Today
Jordan, Martin (2015) Nature and Therapy: Understanding counselling and psychotherapy in outdoor spaces

Juyoung Lee, Qing Li, Lisa Tyrväinen, Yuko Tsunetsugu, Bum-Jin Park, Takahide Kagawa and Yoshifumi
Miyazaki (2012). Nature Therapy and Preventive Medicine, Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health, Prof.
Jay Maddock (Ed.),

nature therapy

Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy

As a result of stressful situations in daily life a, research is pointing us in a direction of getting back to our roots. Nature therapy, a health-promotion method that uses medically proven effects, such as relaxation by exposure to natural stimuli from forests, urban green spaces, plants, and natural wooden materials, is receiving increasing attention.

 

It is empirically known that exposure to stimuli from natural sources induces a state of hyperawareness and hyperactivity of the parasympathetic nervous system that renders a person in a state of relaxation. This state becomes progressively recognized as the normal state that a person should be in and feel comfortable.  Could this immersion in nature be helpful for you?

 

 

Parenting in a Digital World-Strategies from Ross Laird

teen digital parenting

Ross Laird, PhD RCC is a clinical consultant and best-selling author on themes of addiction, trauma, creativity, and healing. He has won multiple awards for his writing, clinical work, teaching, and scholarship. He offers up the following 8 strategies for parenting in a digital world.

1. Be mindful about screen time.

2. Don’t sacrifice interpersonal communication.

3. Limit recreational screen time.

4. Resist new and fancy gear.

5. Explore the emotional benefits that kids derive from online cultures.

6. Practice digital transparency.

7. Focus on self-regulation and collaboration, not surveillance.

8. Talk things through.

3 Ways to Train your Brain to be Happy

Three Blessings

You must teach your brain to seek out the good things in life. Research shows merely listing three things you are thankful for each day can make a big difference. This technique has been proven again and again and again. One of the reasons old people are happier is because they remember the good and forget the bad.  Gratitude is a powerful force for training your brain.

Social Comparison

People probably encourage you to not compare yourself to others. Research shows it’s not necessarily harmful — but only compare yourself to those worse off than you.  When you compare yourself to those that are better off than you, this does not lead to positive feelings and may make us feel worse.  

Tell Yourself The Right Stories

When your vision of your life story is inadequate, depression can result. Psychotherapists actually help “rewrite” that story and this process is as, if not more, effective than medication.“Retrospective judgment” means reevaluating events and putting a positive spin on them. Naturally happy people do it automatically, but it’s something you can teach yourself. And when it comes to the future, be optimistic. Optimism can make you happier.

Eric Barker – Time Magazine

youth health

Child and Youth Mental Health support for BC

 

As part of the provincial government’s Ministry
of Children and Family Development, they are a
free and voluntary service. In each area of the
province, Child and Youth Mental Health
(CYMH) services are offered to infants, children
and youth up to 18 years of age who are
experiencing mental health challenges. They also
have specialized teams in the province who
focus on Indigenous children and youth.

Child and Youth Mental Health services use a
team approach, which includes some
combination of master’s level clinicians, social
workers, psychologists, nurses, and outreach
workers who provide a variety of services and
specialized programs.

Services offered include: intake, assessment,
treatment, case management and consultation.
These are available based on need, current
demand, and best fit for the individual and
family. The assignment of services is
determined by the CYMH intake clinician or
team in consultation with the client or family.
Many locations offer therapeutic groups and
parenting skills sessions. Many of their local
teams can provide children and youth direct
access to psychological and psychiatric services
or arrange these services through a referral.
In addition, we can advocate for you with the
schools, physicians, social workers or others
who may require more understanding of you
and your child’s concerns