The Journey of Psychotherapy

There are many types of psychotherapies, and each separate type of therapy targets one type of system or area of functioning of a person. However, we are made up of many memory and information processing systems (cognitive, emotional, behavioural, somatic, attachment, narrative, etc.). These need to be comprehensively addressed for optimal therapeutic change. This then necessitates an integrative approach where all the systems and areas of functioning are addressed. My counselling approach attempts to address these systems in both the experiential (implicit) type of processing and the more verbal and conscious (explicit) type of processing so that integration of the two occurs. The main goal of psychotherapy is to bridge the gap between maladaptive implicit memories of experiences with more adaptive ways of thinking, feeling, behaving, and relating in the present. This process is called integration.

Traditional therapy (talk therapy) tends to focus on just the verbal forms and leaves the experiential forms largely on the sidelines. However, the explicit form is of great significance too because making what was implicit explicit brings the previously dissociated memories into cortical control that allows processing, inhibition, and organization of impulses, reflexes, and emotions. However, it seems that ‘talk therapy’ must also combine action and adaptive simulated lived experience in order to impact the experiential memory systems (i.e., somatic-sensory, motor, and emotional). The experiential memory systems are the first to arise in development and form most of the information processing that occurs, which happens outside of conscious awareness.

To some extent there seems to be a reciprocal impact of the memory systems on one another. This is not to say that the cognitive can form an experiential memory proper, but it can produce greater awareness of that domain and have limited interrelated effects (within the sphere of its function) on one another. For example, cognitions can trigger emotions; emotions can elicit cognitions; impulses elicit emotions; emotions and impulses can lead to behaviour. The limitations of the interrelation is their ability to form memories in that domain and the presence or absence of embodied experiences and action. This presence or absence can be reflected by whether it is associated with the right or left hemisphere. The right hemisphere is more tied with emotion, and somatic-sensory memories, and the left with more analytical, logical, and sequential tendencies. Trauma can form faster but this is to do with fear and a generalized interpretation, and we are trying to form a positive, contexualized interpretation.

The first step in therapy is to learn about the brain and how your mind reflects the brain’s processes so that you know how best to influence your mind. The second step is to learn the processes for implementing the interventions. The third step is to learn how to foster neuroplasticity. And the fourth step is learning the stress management so you can remain regulated during exploration and repair of implicit memories. The fifth step is learning principles for implementing. This is called self-directed neuroplasticity.

This is important so you can create lasting therapeutic change. Because the type of memory that we need to change is more experiential in nature we need to make the healing process reflect lived experience which heavily involves the more procedural, emotional, and somatic (body) types of memory processes - in addition to the important language-based processes as well that are part of our lived experience. The experiential processes tend to be less focused on in traditional therapy so an emphasis on impacting these through experiential interventions is made.

Self-directed neuroplasticity can be used for therapeutic intervention or even when simply wanting to deepen a positive experience in daily life and make it stick in your implicit memory more. Over time this can help contribute to a more positive and adaptive background mood.

I also teach you how to work with the natural tendencies of your brain, such as the generalizing tendency and the negativity bias so that you can even more clearly and effectively think, feel, behave, and relate better with others. I also show clients how to cope with and resolve psychological issues that originate from past experiences that have stuck with them in unconscious (implicit memory). If you are ready for the journey, no need to pack your bags, our job is to help you lighten the burden and clear your path to happiness, peace, and well-being.

Until next time, keep up the excellent work on your journey in counselling!

Alistair Gordon, M.A., R.C.C.
Registered Clinical Counsellor #13561

  • When I decided to find a counsellor, I tried to find someone that I could relate to, someone that is like-minded and down-to-earth and with Alistair I really found the right person. He uses an integrative approach, showed me techniques to relax and get aware of my emotions, and helped me see things in a new perspective. Of course this is an ongoing process but I enjoy meeting and working with Alistair every time. The downtown office is a very neutral place – not too intimate, not too clinical – which is helpful to overcome apprehension, especially the first couple of times. What I find remarkable is that Alistair almost always knows what I’m trying to say, even if I can’t put it into words. Working with Alistair helped me a lot and it was the right decision to put my trust in him.

    - Michael S.

  • Alistair really cares about you the person, and I could really feel him trying to tackle my challenges. He was also very available for off-session contact via text and email. I think he did a great job with confronting me where I needed it. Alistair always could remember the important peoples' names in my personal life, which really helped with talking about my problems. I really felt like I was talking to a friend.
    Definitely feels great that they're options out there get help and I achieved a lot with Alister in as little as 5 sessions.

    — Max A

  • I have been working with Alistair Gordon as my counsellor at Wellspring for almost 6 months now and cannot begin to tell you how far I have come with his help. I have tried working with other counsellors and therapists in the past but never really found one that clicked for me. I always felt judged, unsupported, and rushed at those appointments until I booked my first appointment with Wellspring and with Allistair. Read More

    — Elyse Renouf

  • I am a young professional which for a long time now, has struggled with anxiety, insecurity, and difficulty in finding effective life coping mechanisms. Alistair was referred to me by a friend and upon the first meeting, I found Alistair to be empathetic, compassionate and intuitive. I have now been seeing Alistair regularly for 6 months and through that time my anxiety has significantly decreased, Read More

    — Kahir Lalji

  • I am very glad that I had the chance to work with Alistair. It was easy to connect right from the start. He uses an integrative approach, showed me techniques to relax and helped me see things in a new perspective. One of Alistair’s most remarkable qualities is that he almost always knows what I’m trying to say, even if I can’t put it into words. Contacting Alistair and working with him was definitely the right decision.

    — Michael Silberhorn

  • I had no experience with therapy and was unsure of the whole process. Alistair made everything very accessible and unintimidating. It was clear that he puts quite a lot of effort and preparation into every session. I'm so glad that I decided to do this, and could not have asked for a better person to help me with this. I would highly reccomend Alistair to anyone who has ever thought that they might benefit from talking to a professional.

    — Edward Hicks

  • I enjoy how sessions are collaborative where I can take the lead for the direction of what we talk about, and at the same time I know that Alistair will offer helpful guidance and insight along the way. I also like how we focus on the future instead of just the past. I find this to be empowering and helpful to move forward in life.

    — RM

  • Alistair is an awesome counsellor. He has been so helpful in working with me through some tough times in my life. He's always been available to chat with me in-between sessions. I'd recommend Alistair to anyone - he's really the ideal counsellor in my view.

    — JG

  • I have always felt very comfortable with Alistair. He has a calming presence, and you can tell he cares about being the best counsellor for you. He helps you with all aspects of your concern, and is always able to help me find a solution to the problem I'm having.

    — SD

  • Mr. Gordon is someone that captures the spirit and the heart of active engagement. He is empathic, genuine and incorporates action and creative problem solving into his practice. I have no hesitation in recommending Mr. Gordon as an effective career and personal counsellor.

    — Dr. Norman Amundson

    Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia "Active Engagement: The Being and Doing of Career Counselling"

  • Alistair is an exceptionally talented counsellor and has always demonstrated strong ethics, great compassion, wisdom and respect for others. I highly recommend him as a counselling practitioner.

    — Dr. Marla Buchanan

    Director of the UBC Centre for Group Counselling and Trauma,
    University of British Columbia