Overcome your anxiety and depression with connection and meaning. Surprise yourself with professionally facilitated weekly group therapy sessions that are both affordable and effective.
Life can become overwhelming. Anxiety, depression, a stalled career, and relationship issues can take their toll on our ability to thrive every day. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve misplaced the ability to feel great – to feel vital and alive. You’re likely stuck and not sure where to turn.
What’s worse, mental health services here leave a lot to be desired. Long waiting lists, sporadic appointments, and inconvenient appointment times get in the way of getting help. Sure, there are therapists out there that you could see more quickly, but they cost upwards of $150 per hour. You don’t have insurance, nor do you have that kind of money. At the same time, you know that you want help. You don’t know where to find it.
I know what it’s like to struggle
Twenty years ago I was in Toronto. Alone, overwhelmed, and disappointed by my life, I was struggling. I struggled to keep a job. I struggled to have relationships. I struggled to go to the post office to pick up my mail. Every day was a struggle. I didn’t realize that I had issues with anger, depression, and anxiety.
A mentor of mine recognized my struggles. They suggested that I might want to talk to someone – someone professional – like a psychotherapist or counselor. At first I was appalled. I balked at the suggestion. What? I’m not crazy. I don’t need a therapist… I slowly learned that getting help didn’t mean that I was crazy or broken. I just needed help.
So I opened up the yellow pages, found a psychologist and made an appointment. I went. It was terrible. She was terrible. She wore flowing clothes like a character from The Lord of the Rings. Everything was soft colors and floral patterns. Her voice was airy, soft, and kind of arrogant sounding. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. What’s worse? It cost me a hundred and fifty dollars – and that was twenty years ago!
The next day I went to the duty doctor. I figured I could just go and get some pills and feel better. The doctor started asking questions. I felt my face turn red. My eyes started to get wet. I kept talking, still hoping for pills. I was there in his walk-in clinic talking for half an hour. I felt exhausted. In the end, he took out his pad and scrawled on it. The words were not what I had expected to see. It was a phone number with the words ‘group therapy’ written below it.
No pills? I asked. No pills, he replied. He explained that he figured I might want to try talking to someone first. I told him about my objections to the first mental health professional I saw. He assured me this would be different. I objected to the fact that this would be in a group setting and that my story wouldn’t be private. I told him that I was really uncomfortable with the idea of group therapy. That’s exactly why you should go to group, he replied.
So I went to group therapy to deal with depression and anxiety. My first thought on group therapy? It was affordable. It cost only twenty dollars a session. Sure, it was awkward at first. But, over time I began to appreciate the people in the group. Sometimes, they would notice something about me, or understand something differently than the therapist did. It felt great to be seen. Other times I would find myself irritated or ‘triggered’ by members of the group. This gave us all, me, the person, and the therapist, plenty to work on.
I progressed quickly with group therapy. Anxiety fell away. I woke up from my depression. I felt more comfortable in my own skin. My emotions, reactions to things and my ability to get along in life improved. I worked more. I began making more money. My quality of life improved.
Now I’m a therapist
I work with people with anxiety, depression, and relationship problems every day. I get regular calls from people who want help and can not afford my services. I’m here to help those people with affordable, regular, professional group therapy on Tuesday nights from 7 until 8:30 beginning November 19, 2019. Sessions are $25 each and take place in my studio at 2 Wallace Street in Dartmouth.
Jim challenges you to look into the root of problems from a genuine place. Like any agent of change, he would not get a person to look squarely on at their trials and tribulations, fostering ownership of their frailties if he had not gone through that process himself. His own self discovery gives him the insight to push people to their potential, sometimes to uncomfortable places. Jim is at once curious and present. It is this infectious curiosity which makes people want to talk to him, but also makes him strive to find the ‘realness’ in every person and situation.Lucy Decoutere
This might be a fit if:
Jim has taught me that I am of value and that I have a voice that is worth being heard. He brightens a room with authenticity and enthusiasm; his willingness and acceptance to travel alongside me through my own growth have been a source of comfort I could depend on throughout many years. His passion for life reminds me that this is a life worth living. It seems evident to me that Jim’s approach to life is composed of both love and hard work and approaching both with dedication and commitment.”Cristal Laberee OCT
This might not work if
- Your mental health issues are such that you can not leave your home
- You are heavily medicated and under the supervision of a psychiatrist
- You believe that groups are way too much for you
- You think therapy should be free
- You don’t have twenty five dollars per week for therapy
- You believe that if you just ‘stay positive’ your reality will change
- You think therapy is bullshit
- You are so attached to your phone that you are unwilling to turn it off completely for an hour and a half
- You are big on gossip and you do not have the ability to respect the privacy and confidentiality of group members
What will it be like?
Imagine being at home beforehand, likely feeling a bit nervous, a bit anxious, and still determined. You get yourself ready and force yourself out of the house. You arrive on Wallace street ten minutes early and find parking on the street. You find it strange to be going to therapy in the ground floor of a house but based on your intake call with Jim, you know to just walk up the driveway and let yourself in the side door.
You get inside and see that the walls of the waiting room are covered with masks and artwork. This is a bit weird you think to yourself. You hang up your coat, take off your shoes, and put on some slippers. You walk down the hall where Jim greets you and offers you a glass of water or some herbal tea. Happy to see such a warm, welcoming face you politely decline – you’re still too nervous to imagine drinking anything right now.
Jim is a compassionate professional with high integrity, professionalism, and knowledge on how to promote the psychological well being of individuals. He has great insight and expertise into human relationships and behavior. I recommend him to any adults and youth who are looking to talk to someone who can provide guidance in a practical and nurturing manner.Dr. Kiran Pure, Psychologist
You get further into the space and find several other people there already. They are sitting in a circle. One person is trying to make small talk. Another is looking at their phone. Yet another person looks about as nervous as you feel. You take a seat beside them and they greet you with a quiet hello. Jim reminds the group that cell phones are not permitted during the session and asks everyone to turn them off.
More people slowly arrive. Awkward small talk dominates the room. Jim eventually announces that we are all here and it begins. Jim outlines rules of confidentiality and how the group will engage with each other. Some things will involve Jim working directly, one-on-one with an individual in ‘the hot seat’ with the group watching. Other activities will involve smaller private chats.
Jim asks that everyone find someone that they think is friendly or safe. You have no idea how to gauge that in a group of strangers. Jim suggests to just ‘trust your gut’ and ‘go with it’. You look next to you to the person who seemed as nervous as you are. You turn to them and start to talk.
As you chat about what brought you here and what you hope to accomplish in therapy, you begin to relax. You even get the courage to introduce your partner to the group. Jim encourages you to reveal something about yourself: What led you to this person? What about them made them safe for you? You reveal to the group that your partner looked just as nervous as you felt and as such you felt comfortable with them. Other group members nod their heads in approval. Others pipe up and say that they were nervous too.
You continue to work with others in the group and are surprised by the fact that things are much more comfortable than you imagined they would be. You’ve become so comfortable in fact that it’s shocking when Jim announces that it’s twenty after eight and time to wind down and wrap up. Where did the time go? As the group ends, you notice that you feel exhausted. Satisfied and exhausted, you leave for home knowing that although next week will offer new challenges, you are ready for more group work.
Over time you grow more comfortable with yourself. You start making different choices. You slowly get unstuck. Things are moving so slowly that you don’t notice right away. Spring arrives and people begin to see you differently. They can’t quite say what has changed but they notice something ‘different’ about you – something they can’t put their finger on. Touched by the compliment, you wonder to yourself why you waited so long.
Group therapy is not a situation where you go once and it is over. With time and dedication however, you can connect, learn, and grow. By working in a group you have an opportunity to develop the ability to overcome social anxiety, get unstuck and improve your relationships. As part of a group of people dedicated to changing and growing together, it’s difficult to stay stuck.
Unfortunately I can only host so many people at a time. This therapy group is limited to fourteen people. The first group begins on November 19. Change takes time. I don’t know when I’ll offer another group like this.
Low cost psychotherapy in Halifax
Take a look around. There are free therapy groups out there. They may be difficult to find, or fit into your life but they are there. There are free therapy options also. Waiting lists are huge. Times for groups and appointments are inconvenient. You can skip the line by signing up for these weekly sessions. Individual clients pay $125 per hour long session with me. For $25, you get help from both me and the group for an hour and a half. For a little more than a movie and a small popcorn, or that daily latte, you can start to work on improving your life each week.
Life is not life without risk
There is no guarantee that group therapy will be for you. Before you become a group member however, you can sign up for a free half hour consultation. Done in person, you’ll have an opportunity to meet me. We will talk about some of the issues you are facing and some of the things you would like to change through therapy. You’ll see the space. By that time, you’ll likely have a better idea if this is for you or not. I understand that group therapy can seem daunting. The consultation meeting is a great time to air your concerns about the process. Things might fit better than you had imagined.
PS: You can make changes in your life. Anxiety, depression and relationship issues don’t need to hold yo back. There is affordable consistent professional support for you in this therapy group. Group therapy can have quicker and longer lasting impacts than individual therapy. The changes you want to make are closer than you have imagined.
I’ve known and worked with Jim since 2005 and he never ceases to surprise. Jim works incredibly well with people, both teenagers and adults. He inspires teens to step WAY out of their comfort zone and thrive in that unknown place. With teachers, Jim brings people out of themselves and and helps them examine the big and small things in life. Jim knows when to play and to be serious. He breaks walls and invites people to step beyond them. But the thing I respect about him most is that he is more than willing to take those journeys himself. That is the true mark of his gifts.Timothy Miller OCT