About

Tamar Amit - Therapist

My Story

I grew up in a small suburb outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. I spent my childhood outdoors playing with my siblings, and neighbours – stopping briefly for siesta time in the mid-afternoon heat.

Three weeks before my 14th birthday my life turned upside down as my parents, frustrated with the political climate in Israel, moved our family to Canada. I did not know it at the time, but that would be one of the most difficult, yet enlightening experiences of my life.

When I arrived at my new home everything was different. It was as if someone had yanked me out of one dimension, and dropped me into another. I hadn’t realized before how much of my identity was built on the places, the people, and the stories that had surrounded me. Once those disappeared, I ceased to exist. I retreated from the world and hid behind walls that would later take years to dismantle.

The years of hiding behind my protective walls – analyzing reality from the view point of two cultures, two languages, and two people – only increased an already existing fascination with the mind’s inner-workings. Once I finally grew passed the fear, I gained the courage to put that passion into something productive, and enrolled myself in grad school, where I developed my unique perspective on Psychology, and Health.

Today, my family is my home. My husband, Calm (yes, hippy parents), and my children- Dylan and Johanna, and also my parents, siblings, and wonderful friends.

All of them –  my home.

I am an incredibly lucky woman. I was born in one part of the world that is rich with passion, bravery, and deep culture. And along the way I found myself in a whole other part of the world – that taught me how to be vulnerable, and gentle with myself, and others.

I am surrounded with love, and many comforts. The only things I lack are the ones that I make up in my imperfect human mind.

My work is my passion, and my creativity. I LOVE doing what I do. 

I love helping people look inside themselves so courageously, and find their joy, and gentleness.

I have been fortunate to witness so much pain, and beauty, and in turn – learn the lessons that have become a part of my own path.

What could be better than that?

 

My beliefs

My brand of counselling is a culmination of my training, my personal experience, my own therapy, and over 1,000 hours i have spent learning from my clients. These are nine of my beliefs about human nature that play a central role in my counselling:

We are whole. We are made of mind (thoughts, perceptions), body (feelings, and physical sensations such as heaviness in the chest, or a lump in the throat), and spirit (our connection to something greater than us- community, love, God). Much like the different organs in the human body, our mind body and spirit are connected and effected by each other. Our wellbeing is dependent on the alignment of the three (ever had your heart wanting something and your mind wanting a different thing?), their healthy functioning (calm, flexible, and purposeful), and our relationship with them (do you tend to ignore uncomfortable feelings or try to befriend them?)

We are social beings. We can not survive (and certainly not thrive) in isolation. Relationships are the cornerstone of our existence, from the moment we are born to the moment we die. Every learning occurs within the framework of relationship. We get wounded in relationship, and we must heal in relationship.

Kindness is the best medicine. Social interest (doing good in the world) has incredible beneficial qualities for both the individual giving and the individual receiving (not to mention humanity in general). It shifts the focus away from your own suffering and displeasure, releases oxytocin (feel good chemical), and engages the mesolimbic system in your brain that is in charge of rewards and other good stuff.

Most of our understanding of life and the world around us is constructed in the primary years (age 0-7). This is quite unfortunate as you think about how skewed a child’s understanding of life is (‘I am the centre of the universe’). This understanding of the world stays relatively stable through life and is responsible for many of our difficulties

We can change our brain. When i was in graduate school, i was taught that the brain is the only organ in the human body that can not regrow cells. Fifteen years later, we now know that this is not true. Research about Neuroplasticity (a new term that means the ability of the brain to change itself) has exploded in the last decade. We know that through experience (thought, feeling and behaviour) we can change the wiring in our brain that is responsible for how we think, feel, and experience the world. The different wirings in our brain are like muscles that can be strengthened or atrophied and it is up to us to choose which connections we want to make stronger and which weaker.

We are evolutionarily wired to avoid pain- that is the reason for much of our suffering. A very sensible instinct- if something is going to hurt you or at its worst, kill you, you should probably stay away from it. The problem is that this very clever instinct does not only stop us from walking into traffic it also pushes us to avoid emotional pain (that must be felt in order to be released) and mental anguish (that gets worse the more we deny it). We have filled our lives with devices that help us stay distracted from our experience in the moment (ever pull out your phone when you’re waiting in line at the store?). And we have developed numerous disorders, obsessions, and addictions that possess us and push us to smoke, drink, eat, watch porn, or take drugs. Anything other than feel the boredom, sadness, anger, numbness, and shame.

Mindfulness is the key to wellness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present with your thoughts and feelings without analyzing, judging or reacting to them. The ability to sit mindfully is like a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly or it atrophies. Our emotional suffering takes place in our heads, even when we have physical pain most of our negative experience comes from our thoughts and feelings about that physical pain. With a strong mindfulness muscle, our mind is able to starve off these negative thoughts and feelings until they no longer effect us. You don’t need to be a yogi on a mountain top to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Even just a little bit of regular practice (5 minutes a day) can help change the wiring in your brain to be more resilient, calm, and objective.

We all have lessons that we must learn. We chose these lessons for ourselves because we knew we were strong enough to overcome their difficulty. It has been a true honour of mine to walk alongside many clients as they learn their unique lessons.

Medication should always be combined with therapy. With the increase in anxiety and depressant disorders in recent years doctors are prescribing, patients are taking (and the pharmaceutical companies are rejoicing) numerous types of medications. There are situations when medication is invaluable such as when a person is distraught to the point when they can no longer do the things that make them feel better. In those situations medication can help minimize the symptoms that get in the way of healing. But aside from providing temporary relief by minimizing symptom (which is definitely valuable) the issue that caused the dis-order is still very much alive and well and still needs to be addressed. Therapy can help heal the wound itself and provide long lasting relief. As a general rule of thumb , you don’t want to use medication to avoid a bad feeling. Instead you want to use it to minimize a bad feeling so that you are strong enough to address it.

 

 

My techniques

I use many techniques in my sessions that are evidence based and proven to bring positive results. I have been trained in all of them and have used every single one of them both on my self and on my clients. The list grows all the time as research advances and our understanding of the human organism improves.

Here is a list of some of the techniques:

Adlerian Life Style Assessment. The Life style is essentially a person’s personality structure that develops in the first few years of life and remains relatively stable throughout the lifetime. It is based on a many things including our birth order, our earliest memories, our family values, and our early understanding of the world. Exploring the lifestyle helps us to expose limiting beliefs that get in the way of our health, for example “It is impossible have a happy home AND a fulfilling career”. I often use the lifestyle assessment as part of the first session intake process where i gather information about your early life experiences.

EMDR Trauma Tapping. Eye Movement Desensatization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an incredibly powerful technique for clearing out trauma. It uses a form of bilateral stimulation (alternating stimulation to the left and right side of the body with tapping, eye movement or sound) to release traumatic memories. When an upsetting event occurs in childhood, if its stressful enough it registers in the right hemisphere of the brain as a snapshot (unchanging as the rest of the person matures), left to be experienced and re-experienced in its original form and without the logical understanding of the left hemisphere of the brain. The bilateral stimulation of EMDR helps the two hemispheres communicate so that the experience of the right hemisphere can be verbalized by the left hemisphere and integrated back into the mature self. EMDR can be used to clear out a specific trauma or to create a deeper understanding of current life difficulties by finding their source.

EMDR Tapping In Resources (Resource Installation). Using the same technique as in EMDR (bilateral stimulation) we install positive resources like thoughts, images, sounds, and anything else that can be used to strengthen the person and access their internal set of resources.

Hakomi Therapy. A gentle body centred therapy that uses mindfulness (paying attention to our body sensations) to create a greater understanding of our core beliefs which limit our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In Hakomi we use special techniques to access this unconscious information and help the client release it. Hakomi techniques are especially effective tools that free our bodies from the defenses that imprison it.

Life Coaching. Life Coaching is a process of figuring our what is important to you in life, whether you are living your life in a way that honours that, and if not, what you need to change in order to create a better match between the two. I use Life Coaching throughout our sessions.Dream Analysis

Dream Analysis. Dreams can give us important information about our experience of the world and our lives that we have little access to in our daily life. Recurrent dreams especially let us know that something in our psyche is tangled up. Through dream analysis, we are able to untangle the knots, reach a greater understanding of our experiences and release what is ready to be released. I use several techniques to dean analysis (which i can teach you) throughout our sessions.

EFT Meridian Tapping. EFT is an incredibly useful and simple technique that releases negative experiences and beliefs. It combines modern psychology and a five thousand year-old science that views the the body as containing different pathways carrying electrical impulses through the body (much like veins carry blood). Accupuncture and Accupressure use this same approach but the practitioners use needles and sometimes painful pressure to access these meridian points. With EFT we use gentle tapping and an understanding of our emotional system to clear emotional blockages and find relief. This technique is easy to use and easy to teach, and i am confident that it will become an important tool for your wellness management.

Focusing Therapy. An especially useful body centred technique that uses mindfulness (looking inside the body) to increase our understanding of the feelings, beliefs, and experiences that effect us on a daily basis. Through a process of turning our attention inside our bodies and creating a curious and non-judgemental relationship with whatever is there we can shift our experience from anger and hate to one of gentle relief.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). A structured approach to dealing with thoughts and behaviours that have become problematic. It focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviours rather than our relationship to them. In my experience CBT is useful as an additive to therapy rather than the core approach due to its proven ability to relieve symptoms but not to heal the wound.

Mindfulness. The ability to pay attention without adding commentary (judging, analyzing, liking or not liking). It will be the single most important tool in your health tool belt.

 

 

My Education 

✓ Bachelors of Psychology from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia

✓ Masters of Clinical Psychology from the Adlerian School of Professional Psychology in Vancouver,    BC and Chicago, Illinois

✓ EMDR Practitioner Diploma. Vancouver, BC

✓ Certificate in Clinical Hypnotherapy

✓ Certificate in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

✓ Training in Life Coaching

✓ Training in Hakomi

✓ Training in Focusing

✓ Training in Solution Focused Therapy

✓ Training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

✓ Training in Mindfulness Therapy

✓ Training in Sensori Motor Therapy

✓ Training in Crisis Intervention

✓ Training in Gottman Relationship Therapy

✓ Training in Body Centered Psychotherapy

I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) bound by the regulation of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). RCC#2102