Richard is a specialist in teaching men & couples the science of overcoming conflict, procrastination at making changes and other blocks.
What allows us to break free from age-old patterns that seem part of our biology? To make changes in our lives our own parents were not able to? How can I make changes when others around me don’t want to change and they’d rather I not change either? These questions are important to me and many of the clients I work with.
I dreamt of becoming a helper that would make an impact on the world since I was young. Coming from a humble family with roots from the Ukraine & Ireland, I learned what it meant to work hard and fight for the equality of others, seeing my parents dedicate their lives to those with disabilities.
We moved from Ontario to BC when I was about 6. I excelled in school, though not having a lot of money meant I sometimes felt an outsider at the small private school my parents worked hard for us kids to attend. I grew up in the church and saw the many great things about Christianity, the amazing sense of community, as well as the damage that can be had by some individuals with a mix of ego and little formal training in counselling. Perhaps some of you reading this have experienced similar trauma, and are “recovering Christians” learning to heal, or have taken a different direction, either way I am always willing to hear from clients about this, as for many, making sense of themselves spiritually or at least asking “What is my purpose?” is very important to the healing process.
It was clear our parents loved us very much but the stress of extremely high-need, sometimes aggressive clients, and a system that undervalued their work, tolled on them. Fights about whether there would be enough food or money for the mortgage were common, with one or the other parent leaving in a huff, conflict unresolved. As the oldest, whether right or wrong, I grew up with the message to avoid conflict whenever possible. I also felt very responsible for my parent and sibling’s fighting, their emotional togetherness, and the hyper-responsible, “take care of everyone and everything,” part of my personality became a big part of who I am.
I went straight to university after high school, first pursuing a degree in Biology to become a medical doctor, a profession I grew up to know from my Irish-Ukrainian roots as respectable. I even worked in a family friend’s clinic. About half-way through my degree I did the unthinkable, switching to Psychology. This was a big turning point in my life as I perhaps made the first truly grown-up, on-my-own, decision of my life. My parents were skeptical.
I picked Psychology because I knew it would still allow me to help people, and I thought perhaps at a deeper level than I saw in the doctor’s office. (Also I was tired of determining the sex of hundreds of fruit flies in Biology labs). At the doctor’s office, the same patients time and time again would return, the same or sicker. Some almost everyday. It was clear these people needed more than a pill and (if they were lucky) 10 minutes with the G.P.
There was a study recently that a doctor or nurse spending just 3 minutes explaining what a medication was for increased the chance that person would actually use that medication by at least 30%. If there was a follow-up call asking about side-effects and generally how the patient was doing on the new meds, the rate of compliance would skyrocket to near 80%. When you consider that this study was conducted on “frequent-flyer” type patients (the 20% of patients who use 80% of the health system’s resources), I can tell you this is quite amazing, as these type of patients often fill their prescription and leave it sitting on the counter for weeks to months.
What does this mean about us as people? Relationship is everything. We need people in our lives that can guide us through change, not simply “prescribe” solutions and throw us out to dry. We need people that will give us a gentle nudge and keep us accountable. Ultimately, we need people who care about what is happening in our lives, both the good and the bad. Beyond anything else as a counsellor I strive to provide this type of relationship with my clients.
There is a saying by Carl Rogers, the great Person-Centred therapist, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” In addition to accountability, I also know that the thing that really changes people is having a relationship with someone that lets them be themselves. To not to have to put on an act in front of another person. To be present, flaws and all. Usually, before we can accept ourselves and love ourselves and other’s unconditionally, we need someone’s help and permission first. An other must love love us unconditionally, non-judgmentally. It would be nice if this wasn’t so, but the fact is, we grew up with messages from teachers, parents, the media, and others that told us “It’s Not OK” to be ourselves. These messages are what Rogers calls “conditions of worth,” and are the biggest obstacles Steph and I seek to help you remove. It does not mean “do whatever you want,” but rather it is about helping you realize what you value (if money weren’t an object), you love or are passionate about, and you’re good at.
Richard is a behaviour consultant and therapist who is an expert at working with particularly “stuck” people in Canada and the U.K. Clients have included executives at some of the biggest firms in Vancouver, teaching them the skills to master business and dating situations, as well as couples and families from every walk of life.
Richard takes a strong coaching approach to therapy, not unlike a personal trainer, or a “Coach Carter” personality, pinpointing the client’s biggest barrier to moving forward, breaking down the exact steps and tools to do this, and relentlessly tracking and encouraging progress. Because of his methodical, scientific approach to goal-setting and behavior tracking, clients state they have a clear view of the progress they have made, including numerical improvement in their score on well-being–a meticulous approach to measuring success that is extremely rare in the life coaching and even therapy business. Richard never promotes any method or step he won’t take himself and can be seen with clients practicing in the real-world. He is extremely validating and understanding of his client’s needs, believing even the most challenging client is capable of change.
A brief snapshot of Richard’s credentials:
- Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) #4610 (Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association)
- M.A. Counselling Psychology, Trinity Western University, B.A. Psychology, University of the Fraser Valley
- Certified Gottman “7-Principles for Making Marriage Work” Program Educator (The Gottman Institute)
- Certified ConnectParent Attachment Parenting group facilitator (Simon Fraser University)
- 1-year (approx.) in North Carolina, U.S.A. and Exeter, England training and working for Wellspring Camps with teens and young adults with serious weight & mental health issues. This highly selective paid internship was sponsored by CRC Health Group, one of the world’s largest private behavioural health organizations.
- 5 Years working and researching executives, college and high-school students with Social and/or Performance Phobia, particularly dating, relationship & commitment anxiety.
- 6 Years working with couples, families, and teens with “complex needs” (addiction, abuse and mental health issues) in major government contracted agencies including agencies contracted by Fraser Health & Ministry of Children & Family Development.
In his free time, Richard gives his time to volunteering with the homeless, snowboarding and motorcycling, and swing, salsa, and blues dancing with his partner (in every sense of the word :), Rachel.