We get it, being a partner, parent and person is hard work!
How many times have you wondered…
“How can I make my relationship work again?”
When you first got together things were easy. You liked each other, found each other attractive, talked and laughed for hours upon hours, shared activities and had fun together.
Now, there are some days (maybe even more) that you find yourself feeling angry at your partner, resentful, disappointed, and lonely.
Most days you struggle to communicate, and when you do it ends in a fight.
This is not the relationship you signed up for.
Yes, relationships can be difficult to navigate but they don’t have to be. When both people are committed to each other and to the relationship things can get back on track. It is completely possible to have a relationship that feels secure, loving, understanding and happy.
How many times have you thought…
“Parenting wasn’t supposed to be this hard.”
You knew about the sleepless nights, you heard about the terrible two’s, and the teen years, well you figured they would be rough. But the tantrums of a six year old? The power struggles with your ten year old? Your teen’s ability to go days without looking up from their phone to acknowledge that you exist? No one prepared you for that.
The yelling matches and arguments you have with your school age child are exhausting. The stress, guilt and sleepless nights from trying your best at parenting are exhausting.
Perhaps your teen is struggling in ways that you don’t know how to deal with? Anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, self harming, addiction, isolating themselves, these are just a few of the challenges that parents are experiencing and they’re overwhelming.
You may have a child with complex needs (ADHD, ODD) or perhaps other challenging issues that cause you to doubt yourself as a parent?
No matter what your situation is, parenting is the hardest job you will ever have and most of us haven’t been trained or educated in the most effective ways to parent.
It’s hard to acknowledge that we need help, but think about this: What other job will you ever have that is as important as this one, but you don’t need training for it?
Michael Larson, B.A., C.C.F
Teen, Parent and Family Counsellor
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” – Mary Anne Radmacher
This quote resonates with me because I believe that courage is not about being heroic, it is about showing up everyday and trying to the best version of myself, as a man, partner and father.
As a Parent Counsellor, I have witnessed first hand how resilient and adaptable parents can be. I recognize how difficult it is to change our styles and ways of parenting, I’ve been there myself.
As a Teen Counsellor, I have helped 100’s of Teens overcome their struggles.
As a Family Counsellor, I helped parents and children re-connect and re-build their relationship.
Prior to co-founding Life Upgrade, I ran a Level 5 Specialized Treatment foster home for six years where I parented teenaged youth.
These youth were involved in the youth criminal justice system, gang involved, usually not in school, had addiction issues, and had experienced significant trauma in their lives.
All of the youth I worked with had diagnoses including ADHD, ODD, FASD, PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety, and they all displayed significant aggression and violence when first entering my foster home.
It was this, six year long experience, where I was able to put my education and additional training to use, and where I learned the most about parenting.
The first year was a challenge, but once I was able to gain awareness of what the actual issues were for these youth, as well as awareness of how parenting was affecting me, the work became easier (still not easy though).
Prior to fostering, I worked for 2 years as a Juvenile Counsellor in a Youth Correctional facility.
After fostering, I worked for two years in a K – 8 school, where I worked with younger children, who required additional learning and behavioral supports.
Here are the bullet points about my education and training:
*Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Criminal Justice and Conflict Resolution from University of Winnipeg
*Certified Coach Practitioner
*Certified Wraparound Facilitator
*Trained in Culturally Competent Counselling
*Has Certification in Gordon Neufeld’s Attachment-Based Parenting
*Has trained in Circle of Security Parenting
*Trained in suicide assessment and intervention, crisis intervention, and mental status examination
But, I have also learned a lot from my personal experiences as well, being:
*a father who parented a daughter following divorce
*a partner to a wonderful woman who is also a therapist
*a partner and parent navigating the intricacies of a blended and interracial family
*a son who experienced the family impacts after my father died from ALS
I chose to start LIFE UPGRADE because I understand the challenges that parents, teens and families face. I find fulfillment in helping parents, teens and families heal from emotional pain and conflict.
Heather O’Neale, B.A., M.S.W., R.S.W.
Individual and Couple Therapist
“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, ‘Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again ‘ – my gut reaction is, ‘What a badass‘” -Brene Brown
I really like this quote because it is just so true! It is so hard to fully accept yourself (which is not about liking everything about yourself) and own it. It is so hard to fall flat on your face in the puddle of ‘failure’ then get back up, probably a little weaker, and go at it again. To me, that’s what happens in my therapy room everyday. We work on acceptance of self, we work on putting ourselves out there, failing, and going again – and that takes guts!
I have been a private practice psychotherapist since 2014 and I have been fortunate to be able to maintain my therapy practice through word-of-mouth referrals only.
As well, since 2016 I’ve been an instructor at the University of Manitoba teaching Counselling Skills, Counselling Theories, Working with Families, and Understanding Family Violence. For me it’s the best of both worlds – I get to work directly with individuals and couples while teaching up-and-coming new counsellors.
Prior to opening my therapy practice, I worked in the social services field since 2002 (my first year of my Bachelor degree) in a variety of settings including adolescent and adult psychiatry, non-profit counselling with children and their caregivers, and community crisis intervention – it still boggles my mind to know that I’ve been doing anything for 18 years!
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Psychology and Sociology and a Master degree in Clinical Social Work.
Although I have worked a lot with young children, specifically using Theraplay and other play-based therapy techniques, over the last few years I have shifted my focus to individuals (teens and older) and couples. With individuals, I work primarily with trauma (trauma is not just major incidents – check out my videos on my Facebook and Instragram pages for an in-depth description of trauma) and anxiety and depression.
In couples therapy, I work with most issues that impact relationships including strained or distant relationships, and infidelity, to the every day stressors that creep in and cause conflict.
Clients I work with span generations, ethnicities and cultures, and across the LGB2TQIA spectrum.
In my personal life, I am a mom and step-mom to two daughters, I am a partner to a man that invests daily, along with me, into our relationship – he is also a great Parent!
And, I’m a proud nerd – ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how excited I get from talking about the latest research or reading about advancements in the fields of psychology and neuropsychology.
Some things you might not have guessed about me:
*I was born and raised in Canada but also have Bajan (Barbados) citizenship
*I took an extra year to finish my Master degree because I chose to do additional classes and practicum hours so I could specialize in trauma
*As a child I spent some time in the summers on a Hutterite colony because my friend was part of that community
*My family members span four generations of Canadian farmers to immigrants from the Caribbean. I understand the challenges of moving to a new country and culture, and also understand the stresses of combining season for wheat farmers
I am fortunate to be doing the type of work that I have wanted to do since I was a teenager. I love this work because every day I am reminded of not only the struggles of the common human experience but also the resilience and adaptability of humans – it’s pretty cool.