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Dr Karen Massey  403-390-1815

Once you become motivated to make changes, you may find traditional and specialized approaches to therapy helpful. Specialized approaches that Dr. Karen uses are: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing ( EMDR), Hypnosis, Integrative Body Psychotherapy, Hope-focused, Solution Focused, and Stages of Change. Counselling approaches are most effective when they align with your goals, interests, and comfort level.

Two Traditional Approaches to Counselling

Humanistic Approach

The underlying philosophy of the Humanistic Approach includes:

  1. You, the client, have an inherent capacity for growth.
  2. External and internal factors are currently blocking your potential for growth.
  3. There is Respect for your subjective experiences.
  4. There is a shared responsibility for change. Once supported in a counselling session, you can make changes because you have the personal resources for change within yourself. The counsellor helps facilitate change by creating a trusting and safe counselling environment. All of your issues are honoured and respected. These issues are seen as invitations for your further growth and learning.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

The second traditional approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) . The underlying philosophy of this approach includes:

  1. Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected.
  2. You want to change your dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours. To change, you need help putting the pieces of your puzzle together so that you can understand the “why” behind your behaviour and what are your barriers to change.
  3. You want to change your dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours. To change, you need help from a therapist in putting the pieces of your puzzle together so that you can understand the “why” behind your behaviour and what are your barriers to change.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR helps you process old memories that cause emotional distress and that are barriers to your making changes in the direction you want to go. Some of these memories may be from trauma such as abuse, others may be disturbing, negative and unresolved life experiences such as from school bullying. EMDR is called a Power Therapy because research shows that it accelerates the therapeutic process.

Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk et al. found EMDR to be more effective than certain medications such as an SSRI in treating trauma, especially six months after the treatment ended. However, the findings suggest that an SSRI may be a reliable first step intervention to help stabilize a person, in conjunction with therapy.

To find more information Google EMDR and click on the official website called EMDR Institute. This website provides a thorough description of the usefulness of this now well researched approach. Wikipedia also provides a good summary.

Due to the success Dr. Karen finds with using EMDR, and the reports back from her clients at how amazed they are by the changes they can make, EMDR is one of the main approaches used by Dr. Karen.


Hypnosis works therapeutically at a sub-conscious level. Therapeutic Hypnosis is a method of helping access your communication processes that take place within you, usually beyond your “normal” awareness. It is the aspect of being able to connect with your sub conscious that makes hypnosis a valuable therapeutic approach. Hypnosis allows you to address problems, issues, or seemingly unachievable goals–resulting in helping you create or affirm your internal sense of self, and subsequently make well informed choices. Working with your subconscious can help to change the perception of your “problems” and thereby change the meaning and the nature of the problem. These changes will create more possibilities for action resulting in greater choices for new directions and action.

Hypnosis allows you to take a break from the thinking work occurring in your head and go more into a heart-felt introspection that can be powerfully integrating and balancing. The use of hypnosis as a valuable, legitimate, and powerful transformative technique that has been acknowledged by the American Medical Association since 1958.

Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP)

IBP helps you heighten aliveness and authenticity by peeling away the layers and strengthening your core self. Core self means our eternal part-a very young child without learned filters gives us a glimpse of our core. In therapy you learn most about yourself by having experiential contact between your mind, emotions and body, and as such, this is an inside out approach. You can find your personal power through learning unique breathing techniques to charge or to calm your energy since breath is the connection between the mind and the body. Breath connects the mind to the body.

A feature of this approach that Dr. Karen often uses is the boundary experience. Clients often report that for the first time they finally understand the meaning and importance of boundaries.

Systemic Family Constellations

The Systemic Family Constellation approach is different than most healing approaches. It works through intuitive, emotional, and energetic connections at a soul and spirit level.

Have you ever wondered why you’re caught up in the same negative dynamics again and again? The relatively new field of Epigenetics is beginning to better prove that family patterns are passed on from generation to generation. You can now unlock these patterns and find freedom from negative influences of your past family patterns. Negative influences include

  • you’re chronically unhappy-marriage, family, work, spiritually, meaning of life
  • you feel “lost”
  • recurring relationship problems
  • accidents happen
  • health problems
  • sabotage your success

Chances are that you are not fully living your own life; instead your life is affected by patterns from previous family generations. You may even be replaying part of a life of an earlier family member. Be the one who stops the path of emotional and even physical pain, and lead the way to a new form of loving relationships and health. Constellations reveal the dynamics around aspects such as illness, relationships, weight gain, career choices, work issues, and realizing your heart’s desire.

Systemic Family Constellations helps you find new ways to solve old problems.

Hope Focused Approach

You will benefit from the well-researched, and internationally recognized hope-work of Dr. Ronna Jevne (making hope visible/deliberate) and Wendy Edey, counsellor at the Edmonton based Hope Foundation, and the hope-work of Dr. Rick Snyder (identifying goals and pathways to reach these goals). For example if you are experiencing depressive symptoms or feelings of being stuck due to pain or health issues then we would look for symbols or metaphors of your hope. If there’s little hope now, we look for what made you hopeful in the past. The language of hope helps create new possibilities and these new possibilities can lead to having a better, more positive future.

Dr. Karen always has her hope for your better future running in the background to support your therapy work.

Solution Focused Approach

Dr. deShazer’s Solution Focused approach helps to shift emphasis off your problems and onto solutions by using such things as the “miracle questions,” “exception questions,” and scaling questions. Examples of scaling questions are:

  1. How important is it for you to make these changes (scale of 1 to 10)?
  2. How willing are you to work at it?

Consistent with finding your hope, a key aspect in this Solution-focused approach is to connect the present to a more positive future and ignore the past for the most part. In some cases only a small change is needed to produce a ripple effect. We bring to the forefront the concepts of:

  1. Possible instead of perfect
  2. How will you know this change is useful?

Stages of Change

Drs. Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente’s six stage program for overcoming bad habits and making changes provides a framework for deciding which stage of change you are in and how to best approach your issues. Different interventions are more effective in certain stages.

Knowing these stages is especially helping when working with addictions.

Theta Technique

In searching for a better way to find the core of clients’ problems, Dr. Massey was recommended by a colleague, Susan Nelson, to consider taking Theta training when the opportunity arose. Dr. Massey followed her friends advice and has now taken all the main courses offered by the Theta organization. This relatively new approach helps you identify and heal deeply rooted dysfunctional belief systems and dysfunctional physical, emotional, mental and spiritual patterns. We all need to have beliefs without limitations such as “I am worthy of unconditional love” or “It is safe to be successful.” Changing the subconscious tapes that have been playing endlessly on a repeating pattern can alleviate the barriers to having a successful, healthy, fulfilling life. You no longer need to let the old patterns “Run the Show!”

The Theta technique works with four levels of beliefs. Core Beliefs are programmed into us in childhood, usually coming from our parents, teachers, family members, friends, and things that happened to us, things we saw and heard. Genetic Beliefs are passed down through generations. Historic Beliefs are carried from previous lifetimes which are consistent with Jungian theory about all humans internalizing beliefs that are connected with a Collective Unconscious. Fourthly, Soul Beliefs are at the deepest level and they represent the entirety of who you are.

German New Medicine

In searching for an approach to better connect the mind to body felt problems and emotions, Dr. Karen was advised by another psychologist colleague, Naeodi Downey, to attend an introductory event for German New Medicine. Dr. Karen followed this advice and subsequently took all four levels of this training.

Dr. Hamer, a physician who initially was an internist, began to develop the German New Medicine (GNM) approach in 1974. It originated following the shooting and subsequent death of his son and then six months later Dr. Hamer was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Using scientific evidence from thousands of CT scans Dr. Hamer has spent his career proving that when a shock happens-such as the death of his son– the shock impacts the psyche, then into a specific part of the brain depending on the type of incident, and the person’s values and beliefs, and then into a specific part of the body.

Knowing the link between a shock, the psyche, the brain and the body helps you understand how to resolve, or at least lessen the health impact of a shock on the body. You can work collaboratively with a registered psychologist and a medical professional to find ways to regain some or all of your health. For example, Dr. Hamer has found a link between a separation shock, feelings of being stuck, and ADHD. Counselling may ease the impact of the separation shock and stuck feelings, some of which likely occurred in childhood such as through hospitalization when mom could not be in the hospital 24/7 and when the child was forced to stay in the hospital. Easing this separation shock and feelings of stuckness may also ease some of the underlying feelings of being unsettled that contribute to attention deficit, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

GNM research suggests that we need to resolve emotional shocks as soon as possible so that they do not eventually result in possibly developing a major or minor health problem. The power of this approach is that it makes us aware of the importance of dealing with a shocking event as soon after as possible.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery is taught at the University of Alberta Masters in Educational Psychology degree program as a basic tool of counselling. Using Guided Imagery you are assisted in creating aspects such as a safe place or a relaxing place. This type of training is empowering because you take charge and recreate the safe place whenever you need it at a later time, for example you may find it useful as part of your sleep routine, or as a way to relax, or as a way to reduce anxiety and prevent Panic Attacks. Panic attacks are a contributor to people going to the Emergency wards of hospitals thinking they are having a heart attack.


Another basic technique taught in the University of Alberta’s Masters in Educational Psychology degree program is learning about breathwork so that as a therapist we can teach others the importance of having calm breathing. Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician in Tuscon, Arisona, is a leading proponent of how breathing can help a person find wellness and stay well. Others such as Ram Das and Shatki Gawain, are also proponents from a spiritual perspective.

Breathing is an integral part of the relaxation process. You will be taught different kinds of breathing techniques depending on the need. Learning a controlled, focused breathing process can be a particularly helpful part of your sleep routine and also a resource to reduce anxiety related symptoms.

Sensorimotor Approach

Somewhat similar in that the mind connects with the body, yet different is a Sensorimotor approach developed by Pat Ogden. She is a pioneer in somatic psychotherapy and the treatment of trauma and developmental issues, and she is the founder of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. This approach uses mindfulness, building somatic resources, and learning how to gradually reconnect to the body since in the past for an abused client it has been a defense mechanism to numb out the body.


To help work through some issues you may find it useful to be guided in focusing your thoughts and feelings inward. By focusing inward you can connect with a felt sense of body awareness and you will be rewarded by your body providing a sense, and perhaps information about a particular problem that you are working on. Focusing integrates the felt body sense and the emotional work. For more information go to The Focusing Institute at


Also taught at the University of Alberta’s Masters and PhD programs is the Gestalt approach. This is one of the first mind-body-emotions approach and it has stood the test of time. There may be times when you will benefit from experiential work when differences in perspectives become the focus of the problem. You may gain insight through experiencing the two-chair technique where you imagine that the person(s) you are having interpersonal difficulties with is in the other chair and you engage in a dialogue with that person.

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