A new counselling service has opened its doors in Morden, and owner Colleen Doerksen hopes Open Skies Coaching and Counselling will make a difference for those struggling with issues.
Doerksen has been working as a school psychologist for 27 years, and she said Open Skies has been many years in the making. “I’ve always wanted to do more therapy, more follow-up,” she said. “In the school system there’s so much need. There’s not a whole lot of time to do that follow-up that I want, so this is my way of kind of making the time.”
Doerksen said she had always wanted to be a nurse, but when she was in hospital at age 16 she decided that it wasn’t for her. “I ended up helping a couple of friends get over a disagreement and help the relationship and really liked that feeling,” she said.
From there, Doerksen got into psychology, got her Masters, and has never looked back.
After a breast cancer surgery in 2015, Doerksen was off for two years and is now back to work at 40 per cent. Open Skies operates separate from the school system.
One of Doerksen’s focuses will be on past trauma and how to help people step past them and help them. She will be going to Chicago next week to receive specialized training in neuroplasticity treatment for trauma.
“I look around and I see where the needs are,” Doerksen said. “With everything that’s going on in the world, addiction, depression, anxiety, those are big things and underneath all that is past trauma. In the last few years that’s what I’ve been seeing a lot.”
Doerksen said she is driven to see results and help people overcome their traumas. She said it’s good to see that people are starting to talk about mental health and seek help. “I think we are as sick as our secrets,” she said. “When we keep things secret nothing gets done. The person doesn’t see the real us.”
“People don’t need to know the details of another person’s life, but at the same time they need to share some of those details in a way that’s going to put them on a better road to recovery so they don’t have to go into addictions and such,” she added.
Doerksen said she wants people to step away from feeling there is a stigma attached to mental illness. “People that we highly respect have had mental illnesses,” she said. “I suffered post-partum depression, and what a terrible feeling. The happiest part of my life, and [I thought] ‘Why am I feeling like this?’”
Doerksen said she got help right away, and she hopes that through Open Skies she can give others that same help.
“Everybody’s truth is a little bit different,” Doerksen said. “If that truth isn’t working for that person, then I can share a different perspective or another way of looking at it. Black and white thinking puts a lot of pressure on a person.”
“I really want to encourage people to be gentle with themselves,” she added. “Whatever pit they’re in, anxiety or depression or trauma, there’s hope.”
Doerksen said it’s always good to have multiple places someone can go, as some therapists may not be a good match with people and everyone brings their own skill set. “I’m glad that there’s other places around to refer and hopefully in the future there will be even more,” she said.
In the spring, Doerksen plans to train in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that targets traumatic events and focuses on making those memories easier to deal with.
“The whole idea behind this is not to re-traumatize the person,” Doerksen said. “I don’t want to have someone sitting here and feel worse when they leave for any length of time. Sometimes things get a little worse before they get better because they’re facing things that nobody wants to face but they have to sometimes to get through it.”
“You don’t want them going over and over the details and not doing anything with it,” she added. “There has to be a purpose to it.”
Doerksen will also be offering life coaching for those looking for self-improvement.
Another counsellor will be joining Open Skies in January, and Doerksen has welcomed a student on a practicum.