by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on May 19th, 2022

Did you know that May 6, 2022, marked Sigmund Freud's 166th birthday?

Would we have psychotherapy as we know it today if it weren't for Sigmund Freud?

Imagine if he came back for a day. What would you say to him?

Here are four mental health professionals talking to Freud on his 166th birthday as if he were alive today.

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on March 12th, 2022

If you developed feelings for your doctor or another health practitioner, read this article before you decide to take any action:

Asking For A Friend: I have a crush on my doctor

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on December 10th, 2021

With the holiday season upon us, you might be dreading family gatherings. Old wounds might be open again, and you might feel you are being bruised again. If you feel that way, this article might give you some ideas for how to approach your next family gathering:

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on October 6th, 2021

Taking your phone to the bathroom? Don't be embarrassed. You are not alone. A better question is, what are the consequences of that action? Find out what mental health professionals think about the subject in this post:

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on August 26th, 2021

If you or your family member has a problem biting their nails, the advice in this article might help:

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on March 3rd, 2021

Panic attacks can feel incredibly scary, but they can be managed. Here are a few tips on how to help you deal with your panic attacks:

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on January 25th, 2021

If you are wondering whether your, or somebody' else's, repetitive behaviour is a sign of OCD, this article might help shed some light:

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on August 17th, 2016

Every time you start a conversation with someone, they're asking you to listen to them.

A therapist not only listens carefully to what a person says but also pays close attention to communication that may be surfacing from a person's UNPAST. 

What's UNPAST?

The UNPAST is a blend of unresolved conflicts and emotions that occurred in the past but still influence how a person feels, thinks and behaves in day to day living.

Here are some examples. 

The next time you have a conversation with someone, ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do the emotions this person is expressing seem excessive or over the top?

2) Is the person talking about a sensitive matter but showing little or no emotion?

3) Do they seem overly critical, harsh, aloof or uncaring with you or to themselves?

4) While listening to them, do you feel like if you say the wrong thing they'll lash out at you? 


5) Do they seem open, expressive, approachable and reasonable, given their circumstance?

If the answer is yes to any of the first four questions, chances are the person you're listening to is strongly being influenced by their UNPAST. 

If the answer to question five is yes, then it's likely that the person speaking is present enough and able to separate the past from the present, which is an essential ingredient to working through ANY challenge.  

Learning to spot the UNPAST when it surfaces, or even just keeping the concept in mind, can help you become a better and more compassionate listener. 

When a person's UNPAST does surface, it's often a signal that they're needing you to be kind, patient and gentle with them.    

The better you become at responding to these signals, the more people will feel safe and comfortable with you, and in the world. 

Special Thank you to Dr. Dominique Scarafone for coining the term "UNPAST".   

​Photo credit: gareth1953 Cataract Creating Chaos via Visual Hunt / CC BY

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on August 1st, 2016

​People often come to therapy thinking the therapist will solve their problems for them. Truth is, therapists don't do that. 

Therapists help people to see their problems differently, enabling them to make better choices and experience different outcomes. 

Photo credit: Nanagyei via Visual Hunt / CC BY 

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on September 4th, 2013

Taking yourself to see a counsellor can be an extremely frightening ordeal.  Aside from what you may actually experience in session with your counsellor, just making the initial phone call or sending that first email can make you feel anxious, afraid or inadequate.

A colleague of mine once told me that the average person makes contact with her office seven times before booking his or her first consultation. I took it as a confirmation that taking your time to consider coming to counselling and choosing the right therapist is normal.

This post is about the possible reasons for your trepidation contacting a counsellor.

Why you may want to see a counsellor

You may consider coming to therapy for a number of reasons. Perhaps you feel your life is missing something, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. Or maybe you recognize that your responses to life circumstances are out of balance.

You may have a hard time relating to people, or you may feel depressed or anxious. You may be craving a meaningful connection with another, but you either could never form one or found yourself in an unhappy or troubled relationship.

Whatever your reasons may be, it doesn’t change the fact that contacting a counsellor may feel very unsafe for you.

What may hold you back from contacting a counsellor

Many people have had at least one, if not several, experiences of being mistreated, neglected, abandoned or belittled by others at some point in their lives. You might be one of those people who suffered at the hands of others, either because they have taken actions against you or didn’t protect you from somebody else’s actions.

Because of the mistreatment, you may have become less trusting. Therefore, bringing yourself into therapy can almost seem counter-intuitive.

You’ve been hurt by other people, and yet, for the therapy to work, you have to trust a human being to help you. Seeing a counsellor means showing parts yourself that you are not comfortable sharing with others. It means being open and vulnerable and letting someone else care for you.

Another reason why you might hesitate to contact a counsellor is because counselling requires commitment and an investment of time, money and energy. You might be asking yourself, “Am I ready to show up every week and let myself be seen for who I am?”

The upside of taking the first step

The upside of making contact with a counsellor is that as soon as you break through the first barrier, you will feel like your life has already moved forward. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment.

Once you reach out to another human being and receive a response, you will feel you are no longer alone facing your challenges. You will get a sense of who your counsellor is, which should help you feel more confident about your decision.

Potentially, the very first session can provide you with an immediate relief from the burden you have been carrying for a long time. At the very least, you will have the experience of being heard, understood, validated and supported.

By making the first step of contacting a counsellor, you can set a new course for your life.


Trusting somebody new, especially if you’ve been hurt, is not easy. Depending on the severity of what you’re living with, it can take months, or even longer, to develop a sense of security with your therapist so that what exists beneath the surface can come to the surface and be healed.

Real healing doesn’t occur overnight, but the rewards you get from the experience should last you a lifetime. 


Have you thought about going for counselling but have not been able to make the first step? What were your reasons? What would help you make the first step?