Irene's Insights - Cloverdale Counselling - Marriage Counselling, Psychologist (Provisional), Addictions, Trauma, Art Therapy

Learn to Love Your Body Group

The learn to Love Your Body group is an 8 week extensive exploration of your body using a self drawing of your actual size. Every week further exploration will occur thru the art therapy process and techniques like the cognitive triangle of cognitions, feelings and experience for societal biases and the self esteem triangle of self worth, love and growth to determine where you are at. Awareness and strategies will be explored and implemented. The importance of self care and supports will be explored. How your family of origin affects your love of yourself using genogram will follow. Your thought process affects how you feel about your body and cognitive distortions will be explored and these patterns changed. Finally a review of all that was learn and a body meditation celebration. Through this process learn to love yourself!

This group will run for 8 weeks 6:30-8:00 pm from September 27 to November 15, 2019 at Cloverdale counselling at 9562 82 Ave Downstairs Edmonton Ab please call 780-232-1055 to register $250.00 for 8 weeks and payments can be arranged. Check your health plan for group coverage. Irene Haire MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist.

Learn to Love Your Body

The reason I decided to do a group “Learn to Love Your Body” is because I went thru years of not loving mine. My partner used to tell me my body was beautiful and as good as or better then any of the film stars he saw on television, but did I believe him, not a chance. Did I really see defects as I compared myself or was it just that I felt overall defective. I have done many hours of self growth and development since that time and I’m an old woman now but guess what? I love my body now with all its defects, parts missing, wrinkles and scars that happen with life experience and into old age. I treat my body better now then I have ever treated it in the past. Believe it or not treating your body well, makes you love your body more.

To draw your body in art therapy is to externalize it and look at it rationally. That will be our first step in “Learn to Love Your Body”. We will also do foot prints and hand prints and add items to make points that we need to make. We will look at parts of our bodies we do like or love already and then we will look at parts we don’t love or like and maybe even hate. I often think of the water experiment that was done to explore what happens to water when negative things are said to it. The structure apparently changes and there is a significant difference between water spoken to positively and water spoken to negatively. A large part of us is water and imagine what the possibilities might be if we were gentle and compassionate with our bodies instead of negative. Perhaps some of our disease states are at least partly related to our criticism of our complex amazing bodies.

A good start in the right direction to loving your body is to explore self care for your better physical, mental and psychological state. Do you eat regularly and eat the foods that are needed? Do you follow the Canada Food Guide and eat proteins, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the quantities recommended? The body needs three meals a day and 2 or 3 daily snacks of good quality food. Do you exercise at least 3 times a week for ½ hour or more. Exercise gets everything moving and raises neurotransmitters in the brain. It is needed for the cardiovascular system, the bowel, the brain and many other organs. Sleep is another important aspect of self care as your body needs to regenerate physically, mentally and psychologically. Sleep does all those things for you. Some things to do to encourage good sleeping habits is to go to bed and get up about the same time daily, have a quiet, dark bedroom with comfortable temperature control, use your bedroom for sleep and sexual activity so you associate it for those things and not with TV watching, paying bills etc. Some relaxation activity before sleep can be helpful and exercise in the morning can facilitate sleep that night. Things that aren’t helpful are any stimulating activity just before sleep except sexual activity which helps you relax and sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can effect sleep negatively so use them sparingly and not close to bedtime.

An excellent support system of friends and family is a helpful way to appreciate yourself more as they reflect their appreciation of you to you. Keep the Negative Nellies away. And are you a good support for you? This is probably the most important support you can have. Check your thoughts and what they say to you. For every negative thought balance it with two positives and this is a good start in the right direction. There are many other thought processes we will review during our time together to make you your best support person.

Its not too late to join our group called “Learn to Love Your Body” with start date to be announced at 6:30-8:00PM at 9562 82 Ave Downstairs please call Irene at 780-232-1055 if you are interested.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com info@edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Healthy Self Esteem

Healthy self esteem is what we all strive for! What is healthy self esteem? Healthy self esteem according to many resources I have read, is the way we value ourselves and various aspects of ourselves. Its how we balance our view points about ourselves whether they are our weaknesses or our strengths. Strengths may be celebrated and weaknesses could be worked on as they are recognized. At risk situations might affect self esteem. At risk situations might be triggers to our past which activate our core beliefs. Our core beliefs are what we think and feel about ourselves because of various life experiences. An example might be that you were criticized as a child and some of those criticisms became what you thought of yourself. They may not be true but because you heard them over and over again they became beliefs about yourself by yourself and thus core beliefs. Core beliefs Can be strengths or weaknesses and weaknesses may get triggered and don’t serve you so can be worked on to get positive change. Other triggers can be relationship breakups or disputes, traumas or health issues or losses of important people, pets and jobs. The foundation of self esteem according to Glenn Schiraldi is a triangle of three factors; unconditional worth, growth and love.

Unconditional worth is what every human being is born with. It’s simply you and you are equal to all others on our earth. It’s independent of what you do, your education, your wealth or any other exterior factor. Its your worth as a human being and you simply have to accept it. The non-acceptance can hold you back.

Your growth is what you do to elevate your self esteem through books you read, changes you make, therapy, courses you take and people you learn from. Awareness and openness leads to growth. Often adults come to therapy in mid life when their children are grown and they want more from life than they are getting. They want to feel different about themselves.

Love is a big factor of self esteem and this starts with love from your family, extended family, friends, teachers, church and finally and most important love of yourself. The love of self is impacted by your core beliefs. Do you have positive or negative core beliefs? Often it’s some of both. Change can help. Other factors that may hold you back are traumas. Become aware of the trauma in your life. I often here people say “oh that happened years ago and doesn’t impact me at all.” Do not be so sure that it doesn’t impact you because it does.

You might wonder, where do I start? Group therapy is a good start to learning about self esteem and it can be inexpensive.
Self esteem is the current theme of the Drop-in Art Therapy groups on Friday at 2pm and 4pm for $10 per person please call or e-mail or simply drop-in at 9562 82 Ave Downstairs Edmonton.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com info@edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Passive, Aggressive and Assertive Communication Styles

Passive, aggressive and assertive are communication styles. Which communication style do you use? Maybe at times you use them all but which one would you like to use most often? Learn more.

Passive communication is defined as not expressing thoughts, feelings or beliefs in an honest straight forward manner but expressing them in a hesitant manner and thus allowing others to disregard them. This style violates your own rights and often disrespects other peoples’ ability to handle their own responsibilities or problems. For example “I don’t like it when you talk to me that way” which is assertive unless you say it passively. Passive includes the way you say it, the tone of your voice and your body language. Are you looking down when you are talking or making eye contact? Other things to notice are; long rambling sentences, beating around the bush, hesitating and pausing, throat clearing, apologizing, saying words like if you don’t mind, if its not a bother, sort of, maybe, using a sing sung voice, saying it soft or overly warm, or uttering qualifiers, dismissals, superior and/or self put downs. The non-verbals might be looking down, averting your gaze, bending posture, wringing hands, covering mouth, or trembling jaw. The thinking style is; I don’t want to upset anyone, my feeling don’t count and I don’t count.

Aggressive Communication is defined as communicating to get your rights met by expressing your needs, beliefs and thoughts but with a method that hurts others. Communication may be aggressive, superior and may leave a devastating effect on the other person. The style of communicating might be abrupt, fast, fluent, firm, sarcastic, blaming, threatening, full of put downs, racist, boastful, and opinionated. Body language may be starring, intruding, lots of gesturing, invading your space, sneering, and seemingly angry. The thinking style is; the world is a battle field, I’ll get you before you get me and I’m number one.

Assertive Communication is a way of expressing feeling, thoughts and beliefs without hurting others and still getting your rights met. Things you notice are; speaking fluently, relaxed firm voice, steady, tone is rich and warm, sincere and clear, volume is right for the situation, brief cooperative statements that are to the point, distinguish between fact and opinion, constructive criticisms, valuing others opinions, willing and open. Body language is open hands, receptive listening, erect body stance, honest feeling expression, steady features and jaw relaxed. The thinking style is; I won’t allow you to take advantage of me and I will let you be who you are.

Communication styles can be learnt, improved and/or changed to reflect who you are and to authentically express your feelings, thoughts and beliefs so you let you, be who you are and allow others to be who they are.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com/ email info@edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Acceptance in Healthy Relationships

Acceptance in Healthy Relationships can lead to growth in yourself and others. Acceptance of yourself and the other person is important in a healthy relationship. Acceptance of yourself as you are right now and not how you will be after you lose weight or change your hair or makeup, or change in any other way. Acceptance of who you are right now and who your partner or other person in your relationship is right now, helps make way for change.

What is acceptance? Acceptance is facing reality and its present circumstances. Present circumstances might include who we are, where we live, who we live with or without, where we work, our transportation, how much money we have, what responsibilities we have and what we do for fun. Acceptance is easier when life is running smoothly but when challenges come that is when change is resisted. When our dreams and hopes for the future have to change, than acceptance becomes more difficult. Acceptance does not mean adapting to abuse. Abusive behavior is not part of acceptance. It means accepting and acknowledging our circumstances for the present moment, evaluating circumstances from a place of peace and making appropriate changes to solve the problem. Acceptance is for the present moment with sincerity and from the gut.

How do we accept losses, changes and problems others often hurl at us to achieve peace? Melody Beattie suggests every change brings us through a five stage process first defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as stages of grief. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
1. Denial is the state of refusal to accept reality and often shows up as minimizing the importance of what’s happening, denying feelings around the loss, or mental avoidance by sleeping, obsessing, compulsive behaviors and keeping busy.
2. Anger may come out as rational and/or irrational when confronting others about a problem. Professional help may be needed to avoid a catastrophe.
3. Bargaining is an attempt to postpone the inevitable and sometimes negotiations can be reasonable, productive and achievable and other times not.
4. Depression can be the exhaustion at the end of the struggle when reality sets in. This is the stage of the process that has been avoided up till now and we must surrender and perhaps forgive. The process is worked out and through.
5. Acceptance is not necessarily a happy time but it’s a letting go of the struggle and coming to terms with what is. This can be a time of peace.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com/info@edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Needs are Respected for Everyone in a Healthy Relationship

Needs are respected for everyone in a healthy relationship! Taking care of others and not getting your own needs met is never a good practice, as it often leads to resentments. We all need our needs met and helping and getting nothing in return is almost never healthy. In healthy relationships, taking care of each others always goes both ways. Being respectful, and getting respect is evident in the way you express yourself, with words, feelings, boundaries and thoughts.

How can you be respectful in your expression? One way to express respect is thru your choice of words. Words can be used to be assertive in your communication style instead of passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive. By being assertive you express honestly what you are needing and feeling. “I feel hurt when we don’t spend time together as we haven’t seen each other much this week, are you extra busy?” Another way to be respectful is to speak kindly without using the four horsemen in every day communication. The four horsemen according to Gottman, are contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. To avoid these is one way to be respectful. The dictionary defines respect as a deep admiration feeling for someone or something because of their abilities, qualities or achievements.

Expressing and acknowledging feelings is another means of respecting others. Some people are uncomfortable with feelings and will avoid mentioning them or will address them as cognitions which can feel disrespectful. At times we may withdraw our feelings from people we think might hurt us based on negative experiences in the past. Our feelings are very important; they count, matter and are special. Our feelings are indicators of our internal self and how we communicate to others in the world as well as ourselves. Our emotions connect us to our truth, our self preservation desires, our self enhancement, our safety and our goodness. Our feelings also connect us to our conscious, our thought process, our intuition and are signs of our energy.

What about our thoughts and expression of them? Remember our minds work well to think, figure things out and make decisions. We can figure out what we want, need and when to do what. We can have opinions and learn to trust our thinking and our abilities.

Setting boundaries is a way we can be respectful of ourselves and others. Boundaries allow us to value ourselves, our time and our space as well as do these same things to others when we express them.

Being respectful, and getting respect is ways you express yourself, with words, feelings, boundaries and thoughts. In a healthy relationship all the people involved give and receive respect.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562-82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Good Relationships Require Effort

All relationships require effort to start, to maintain, to be responsible to each other, to resolve conflict, to be supportive and to end the relationship if need be. Its realistic to expect relationships to take work at times.

The start of a relationship is often very exciting as the initial love is easy and beautiful. This period of time usually lasts between 3-6 months and each person sees the other thru rose colored glasses either ignoring their faults or not seeing them. All things are wonderful. After this time period, reality sets in and the couple have to get to know the real person and accept all the things that were initially ignored. This may take some effort and communication skills may be needed to be calm and respectful thru this process. Gottman’s 4 horsemen often show up at this time.

The 4 horsemen of communications are criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness. The Gottmans’ have research showing if this form of communication habit continues, the couple will be separated before 7 years together. How does a couple break out of the “4 Horsemen” habit of communication? It takes conscious effort on both sides to stop. When I work with couples I ask them to pick a word that signals them that the 4 Horsemen have appeared and this often helps them with awareness, as awareness is the first step to change. With criticism Gottman suggests to complain instead of criticizing because criticism is really blaming. Horseman number 2 is contempt which includes many disrespectful words (sarcasm, hostile humor) and body languages messages (eye rolling, sneering) and replace all these with respect and you’re back on track. Defensiveness often shows up with criticism but can also be a victim stance. Gottman says take responsibility for your half of the problem, be respectful and again you are back on track. Stonewalling is the final horseman that is hard on relationships. Gottman says when people get really angry the tendency is to stonewall as anger is a fight and flight response.  Take a break from each other and calm down (about ½ an hour) and resume discussions. Make sure you let your partner know you are taking a break for ½ hour to calm down and want to continue talking after that. Avoid the 4 horsemen and you’re half way there.

Responsibility to each other can take some work too and Gottman has many strategies to connect couples and to turn towards to help couples feel they want to support each other. Usually the better communication helps as this brings couples closer when they are respectful.

Resolving conflict can be another area that is tricky and can take some skills and practice. A helpful strategy is to follow “fair fighting rules”. Some of those rules are becoming aware of what the problem is that is bothering you before you have that talk, focusing on one problem at a time, be respectful, watch your language and own your own feelings with “I statements”, no yelling, no stonewalling, take turns talking, and compromise. These rules help couples or any relationship stay on track.

Ending a relationship can be very painful and if you don’t do the work before a breakup you will probably repeat the same pattern all over again so I always recommend counselling if the problems can’t be resolved.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Healthy Relationships: Talk About Everything


Honesty and communication are the core of a healthy relationship. While it is important to share happy moments, it is also positive to recognize that conflicts are a normal part of a relationship. Learning to navigate conflicts can help you to resolve them. First recognize that being open is a goal to have with safe people. Sometimes simply being able to express one’s feelings to a concerned and understanding listener is enough to relieve frustration and make it possible for an individual to advance to a problem-solving frame of mind.

In order to communicate in a healthy way, there are five strategies that can help.

  1. Focus on the problem, not the person. When a disagreement leads to insults, raised voices or sarcasm the conversation will not be productive. Focus on the problem without placing blame. If the disagreement becomes personal take a break.


  1. Use reflective listening. When both parties focus only on getting their own point across neither will be understood. Try restating in you own words what your partner said and check with your partner that you understand. Next share your side. Your partner should reflect back what you say until they also understand. In this way both will feel understood even if they still disagree.


  1. Use “I” statements. Begin your sentence with I. For instance I feel…. Or I think…. In this way we show we take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings instead of blaming the partner. Using “you” statements will cause the other to become defensive. For instance you always… you never….


  1. Know when to take a time out. When things are becoming argumentative, insulting or aggressive take a break. Have a plan in place to have a time out that is agreed upon that either person can call time out. One acronym to keep in mind is HALT. If you are Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired take a time out. Make sure that you return to the issue, it is important not to leave them unresolved.


  1. Work towards a resolution. Disagreement is normal. If it becomes clear that you cannot agree focus on a resolution instead, find a compromise that is acceptable to both. Ideally a compromise would benefit both people. Ask yourself if this disagreement matters to the relationship and if not move on.


Anne McMaster & Irene Haire MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice at 9562 82 Ave Downstairs Edmonton, Ab 780-232-1055 http://edmontonpsychologistpros.com

Healthy Relationships: Alone Versus Unhealthy Relationship


It is better to be alone than in a unhealthy relationship. Destructive relationships damage your emotional health and your self esteem.  It may not be easy to find someone to be in a healthy relationship with but its worth the search. The longer you are in a destructive relationship the less time you have to look for a healthy relationship. Sometimes you may only be in a healthy relationship with people who you see for therapy and that’s ok as this starts to give you good guidelines.

What are some of the benefits to being alone? Melody Beattie in Co-Dependent No More says you can learn to like and love yourself and have” a love affair with yourself”. Learn to value yourself and even love yourself and be more compassionate to yourself. If you don’t like or love yourself then you don’t recognize your self worth. All humans have the same self worth though some may not recognize or honor it. Recognize your self worth. Learn to accept your thoughts, feelings and your body as they are all amazing.

How does this love affair with yourself start? Start by telling yourself you are good enough. Realize that everyone has similar negative feelings and thoughts but they push thru them. Then they set goals for a better life and proceed to have a better life.  Value yourself and make choices and decisions that enhance your self esteem and improve your life.

Be gentle, loving, attentive and kind to yourself. Value your feelings, needs, wants, desires and all that you are made of. If you have a hard time with this act as if and change the destructive pattern. Accept yourself and start where you are at and then work to become more. Develop your gifts and talents, trust yourself, respect yourself and be true to yourself. Last of all, honor yourself as this is how you will find yourself.

Nathaniel Branden says for a better life and improved self esteem, honor the self by being; willing to think independently, to feel what you feel, want what you want, and need what you need. He adds that you need to desire and suffer over what you are vulnerable about. He further says preserve an attitude of self acceptance, live authentically, refuse to accept unearned guilt, be committed to your right to exist, and be in love with your own life.

You may find that as you develop your relationship with yourself to be healthy and loving then people who come into your life will be loving and kind too.

In my counselling work with clients either individually and with couples I often see evidence of people making changes in themselves and then finding healthier relationships after. This really makes sense logically as we become more comfortable around people we can relate to whether they are unhealthy or healthy like we are. We can change the pattern and have a healthy relationship or at least a healthier one. Other ways to change to healthy relationship patterns are through reading books, viewing information videos, taking courses or workshops and looking around you for role models that show you what a healthy relationship is.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com

A Parenting Story

No More Shoes in the Back Porch: A Parenting Story
Studies done by Diana Baumrind, who was a developmental psychologist, show the best parenting style is the authoritative style of the three types she studied in the 1960s. Authoritative parents hold high expectations for their children but are fair in their approach. This style of parenting is sometimes referred to as “democratic” and involves a child-centric approach. Characteristics of the authoritative parenting style include the following; listening to their children, encouraging independence, placing limits, consequences and expectations on their children’s behavior, expressing warmth and nurturance, allowing their children to express their opinions, encouraging their children to explore and discuss options, and administering fair and consistent discipline with the children’s input once they are in their teens. People with authoritative parenting styles want their children to develop reasoning and independence and these parents have high expectations for them. They are flexible parents and allow their children to explain circumstances and reasonably adjust their responses as needed. The effects of authoritative parenting is the best for stable child development and children raised this way tend to be more capable, happy and successful.

I was reflecting on my parenting lately and know I could have done a better job if I knew than what I know now. Now, meaning since I have learnt a lot about parenting with my psychology education but too late as my children are grown up before I learnt these skills. I learnt from experience too but that didn’t always help my children though it may have at times. I remember going to listen to a psychologist lecture about parenting at our children’s school long before I went into the field of psychology and learnt a little about parenting from him. I even put some of what I learnt into practical use.
The one idea I picked up from this parenting lecture was to make my children more responsible for their actions. In other words start making them responsible humans in our society gradually so the lessons eventually become a habit. That rang true for me and I decided to put that one lesson to use. Looking around home I sometimes saw messy rooms with scattered cloths that I ran around picking up on laundry day and shoes scattered all over our back porch. More shoes then I thought we could possibly own and with 2 closets sitting empty in that same entry way. At times I could hardly open the back door for shoes. Guiltily I noticed a few of mine and my partner’s too. Well maybe the back porch was a good start. At supper the next evening I announced that any shoes left outside the closets would get pitched out. The looks on those innocent faces were hard for me to see without backing down. Being the democratic person I generally am, I quickly let them know mine and their dad’s were up for grabs too. My partner’s face became alarmed as he glanced towards the back door. The girls both dashed towards the back door and quickly put their shoes away in the closets and threw their dad’s out. Mine were neatly put away because of course I had the home advantage. This became quite a fun game for all of us and quickly worked with a back porch with never a shoe around or at least not for long.

Another idea that quickly came to me was that I needed help with dishes after meal times. I quickly established a rule that the cook never has to do dishes with me being the most frequent cook. This worked like a charm with my partner pitching in when he didn’t cook and me doing the same when he did.

My third idea that didn’t work so well was the laundry scattered all over the girls’ rooms. I generally closed their doors so I wouldn’t have to look at the mess and once weekly was their thorough clean up time to neat up their rooms. I announced that I would wash what was put in the dirty clothes laundry shoot that led to my downstairs laundry room. Well they mostly ignored it no matter what I said so I decided I couldn’t allow my children to wear dirty clothes to school and continued to sometimes pick up laundry as before. It did work sometimes and I wasn’t looking for perfection just habitual responsibilities and that I did accomplish. Overall I believe I accomplished the job of raising responsible children as I have two wonderful adult daughters today.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building 200-9562- 82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.edmontonpsychologistpros.com