Lost and Alone: Colleen’s Story of Teenagehood

As a teenager, I had a really full social life and some rewarding jobs, but I was reckless and full of self-hatred. I did not understand the connection between the things I had been through as a child and my feelings of anger and despair. I knew that I was in pain but I had no clear vision of what I wanted instead.  Was it even possible to change the self-hatred? I had one teacher in high school that I could talk to without judgement. However, for the most part I had to figure things out on my own. I felt lost and hopeless much of the time.

Self Expression as a Key to Thriving

Much later, as a parent, I was able to put the pieces together with the help of counselling, dance, bodywork and lifestyle changes. I understood that my behaviours were coping strategies from those young years that no longer served my adult self. I got clear about what I actually wanted for my children and myself rather than reacting from an old, hurt place inside. And my life began to blossom.

I offer a safe and non-judgemental space for young people to talk about their lives. If you are a young person coming to see me, my hope is that we can use our time to better understand what motivates you. What do you care about and what do you want to bring forward in your next steps? Understanding yourself better can help you communicate with others. Show kindness to yourself as you align your actions with your values. I will meet parents of teens entering counselling with the same patience and gentleness with which I meet young people. My hope is that parents can reconnect with the values that inform their decisions so they can communicate that to their teenagers. Also, to move to a place of seeing their son or daughter more wholly and with more curiosity. And finally, to soften their own self-judgement around their parenting struggles.

Creative Expression: Colleen’s Background

I have lived and worked in several different countries as a Montessori elementary teacher. In Canada I have worked for years as a graphic facilitator with newcomers and extensively with First Nations families and youth in the areas of youth leadership, the foster care system, the impacts of violence, substance use, financial literacy and career and educational planning. Combining these skills in my counselling practice, I create quick sketches, diagrams, timelines, and charts with clients. This helps clarify situations, set goals and imagine future possibilities. This helps me “get it” and it allows you to correct me when I have not understood. Whether the sketch is on the whiteboard that you take a photo of, or it is on paper so you can take it with you, it will remind you of what we covered in session.

I care deeply about understanding people’s stories. I will help you stretch and see things from different perspectives. And I will offer honest but gentle feedback along the way.

I am a registered clinical counsellor (RCC) with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). I have a deep passion for growing food and for hiking. Also, I use dance as a way to move emotions through my body and keep myself grounded. As a mother, as a counsellor, and as an artist, I am deeply grateful for my full and beautiful life.

If you would like to learn more about our approach,
please check out our “parents” or “youth” page.

For teens and parents to spend time getting to know more about their internal world and learning how to articulate themselves in relationships is such an empowering gift that counselling offers. Book a free 20-minute consultation today with Life Dances Counselling to learn more about how we can help faciliate this experience.

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