What I do and how I do it
A thorough understanding of what addiction is (and is not) is an important part of getting release. Substance use is not a moral failure, a personal flaw, a weakness in character or spiritual sin. Addiction is something that is acquired, sometimes over years. The good news is: if it is learnt - it can be unlearnt. I teach my clients as well as the family about the signs of different addiction and its responding withdrawal symptoms (i.e. alcoholism presents differently than say addiction to cocaine). I educate on available resources and options (detox, treatment, day program, 12 programs , SMART groups) as well as how the family has been effected and what the family can do to grow healthier.
I offer qualified support to the person wrestling with addiction. This includes thorough assessment, harm reduction strategies if desired, relapse prevention, recovery protection plan, planning for treatment, after care planning, and on-going coaching and/or counselling. I teach and encourage mindfulness practices and if desired spiritual aspects to the session. Overall I bring a holistic approach to counselling and coaching for the best results. Thus we will explore physical, emotional, spiritual, relational health and will make realistic and real life goals. I will hold you accountable to make changes.
I believe it is paramount for the family to get an equal amount of support as the person with substance use does. Broken promises, cover-ups, shame and lies, savings spent on numerous treatment centers, confusion... all these issues need be addressed so healing can start happening. I can provide a process where discouraged family members can be given the space to explore their own feelings and be given a voice. I can educate on what might or might not be helpful, how to care without care-taking, and how to help without hindering the process of growth. I will strongly encourage self-care and boundaries.
With my long time friend and experienced family addiction specialist, Jodi Takhar, we can arrange for an intervention. (wwwfamiliesdorecover.com)
All interventions would include some pre-intervention meetings with the family and relevant others; preparing detox or treatment access; liason with other agencies
and preparing the family for all possible responses.
When it is finally Intervention day, we hold the space safe with firm boundaries and truth-telling. Afterwards we will either bring the person to treatment and follow up; or support the family in their intention to heal themselves. Either way, change is possible if everybody changes their own part in the dance of addiction.
I am registered with the Canadian Professional Counselling Association and the BC College of Social Workers. My BSW and a counselling certificate have given me solid counselling skills and good understanding of the inter-connectedness of addiction and mental illness. I have an eclectic array of tools to draw from, ie Cognitive Behavioural approaches, family systems theory, Motivational Interviewing, trauma education and the use of spirituality as a vehicle to meaningful change.
Training, education and experience include:
last semester of Masters in Addiction Counselling & Prevention, Uni of South Dakota (online)
Concurrent Disorder Counsellor a Baldy Hughes
Addiction counsellor with PHSA
Addiction Counsellor with Turning Point Recovery
Volunteer work with the Crisis Line Vancouver
A BSW from the University of the Fraser Valley
Work as family counsellor at Community Services
Motivational Interviewing training
Trauma informed training at the Justice Institute
Facilitating of meditation and educational groups
SMART facilitator training
Facilitator training in the area of domestic violence
Facilitator training with the Pacific Postpartum Society
Souls stream course (spiritual direction)
A lived experience with addiction and 20 plus years of supporting men and women struggling with SUD
I am a passionate counsellor in the field of substance use. I have supported people from all walks of life for over 20 years. I have seen families being healed and men and women restored to health and meaningful life.
However, I have also seen the effects of addiction destroying a person and witnessed the devastating effects on families. I am keenly aware that addiction does not distinguish between highly educated, wealthy, and even influential people; and people subject to poverty, stigma and racism.
Working in the field of addiction, no "one shoe fits all" and so I have a variety of approaches available to offer my clients. In my experience it is essential to address underlying trauma or unaddressed grief in order to make lasting changes.
I have a good understanding of the family dynamics in this field and am able to equip the family with education and offer hope so they can better understand the role they can play in their own healing journey.
“Gabriela is very compassionate, wise and thorough. She was instrumental in helping me dig deeper and work toward healing with addiction issues and an abusive relationship."
I have known Gabriela as a supervisor and have seen her work with women struggling with addiction. She has shown ethical and sound judgment, never loses hope for her clients and is a joy to be around on a team.
As a friend and mentor to Gabriela I have seen her heart for those caught in addiction and lies. She is a prayer warrior and dedicated to her own healing journey which enables her to speak powerfully into the lives of those she serves."
Coaching is a more directive and intense way of counselling and yet is often done on the phone. It involves goal setting, planing, assignments and follow-up. Coaching includes feedback and holding the client accountable. It is focused on the present and not so much the past.
The most effective coaching is to commit to the process by purchasing a pre-paid package.
4 hour session package $ 300.- (tax included)
includes free hour of assessment, four counselling session, and four short follow-up sessions on the phone. I will be available for crisis-only phone calls - that is the nature of addition.
In person counselling session $ 100 / hour
Free assessment. Traditional counselling implies creating a safe environment to explore the issues that keep you from reaching your potential. Although goals are established, the process is less strictly defined and more creatively achieved. Often in counselling we explore the past to look for patterns and how they hold us back. Counselling goes deeper but slower. I personally believe counselling is "grief work" that will enable you to move on. I hold a nonjudgmental space so you can get curious about your feelings and thoughts.
Online counselling $ 70.- / hour
Free assessment, goal setting in the initial session. Currently, I offer phone or zoom counselling (*). I have done sessions with clients while walking in a park or forest, which allows for social distance yet embraces the face-to-face contact that makes sessions so valuable.
Regular in person session are $ 100.-/hour in my office.
Many Extended Health cover my services. Please check with your plan by using my registration number.
My good friend and long-standing partner Jodi Thakar an me provide family intervention. Intervention is not what you have seen on TV. Intervention is a place we create to allow the family (and friends, employer etc) to express how the actions of the person with addiction have affected them. An intervention is emotional work. We get together and we speak truth, we explore consequences, we prepare options, we encourage each other to be strong. Jody and me will spend many hours preparing for "I-day", including researching and liason with treatment facilities, and educating the families. It is not an easy task and no guarantee for "success". But speaking truth in love and dignity is often a game changer for both the family and the person caught in addiction. Please contact us for more information.