How and/or why did you become a therapist?
I actually started out in education, and then marketing and hadn’t really considered psychotherapy as a career because, initially, I didn’t really know/understand what a psychotherapist did. It was when I was doing my mindfulness training that I learned more about counselling and psychotherapy and realized it was a blend of everything I loved and enjoyed in my previous careers – it allows me to listen, to help people with what really matters to them, and has a level of conversation and connection that I appreciate every day. Plus my background in mindfulness and other emotion regulation skill teaching provided strong foundations for me to come into the profession equipped with strong tools and resources.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
The changes in clients that make them feel amazing about who they are. Seeing someone go from believing something they want, or some aspect of who they are is inaccessible, and then being able to step into a more effective, skillful, and self-loving space is awesome to me. Ultimately, the later – being able to not only accept, but also love, honour and celebrate the person within, is my favourite part.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
As an eating disorder specialist, one of the more unique things about my practice is actually being able to help people heal and connect with others through the very thing that initially caused pain – eating and food. Otherwise, I don’t know if it is unique or special, but I do love a DBT approach to very skill-based interpersonal skill development, mixed with an attitude of reality-acceptance and really acknowledging where we have control in relationship, and where we do not.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
I sometimes discuss with clients the idea that there are 3 parts to any relationship: you, the other person, and the “dynamic” between you. Seeing the dynamic, the “fit” between the “stuff” that is the clients, and the “stuff” that is the other person’s helps to loosen some of the expectations of control, recognize more realistic boundaries, and to consider the idea of “fit” rather than over-focusing on control and/or self-blame.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
As an eating disorder therapist, I really feel that the stigma and shame surrounding eating disorders in general is enormous. We are getting better and better, as a society, about reducing metal health stigma, but ED seems to be lagging still. I think we could all look at our relationship to food, eating, and body image and really consider what it is that we are promoting – love and acceptance and reality, or the commercialized ideals that make us all suffer to some extent.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
On the therapist end – thinking YOU can change a patient. It’s their journey, we guide and support and so what we can but it is and always will be up to the client.
On the patient end – hoping that the therapist can fix it. The changes will always need to come from you, BUT that also means all the progress also comes from within you. You have what it takes, a therapist simply hopes to help you access that.
Joelle received her Master of Counselling Psychology (MA) from Yorkville University and is a Registered Psychotherapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor in good standing with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, respectively. Joelle runs a private psychotherapy practice in Toronto where she (along with her therapy dog, Peanut) specializes in treating Eating Disorders. She is also an Eating Disorder Counsellor at Bellwood Health Services.
Joelle has been working in mental health and therapeutic fields for over four years. This includes working as a Counsellor at Bellwood Health Services and Georgian College, experience with Catholic Children’s Aid Society, and therapeutic work I have through teaching mindfulness meditation and through a number of not-for-profit organizations over the years. You can learn more about Jeolle Anderson at kernelofwisdom.com.