"I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. ”

―  Vincent Van Gogh

About Me

Early On

Becoming a counsellor was one of my earliest professional aspirations. In large part, I gravitated toward the field to help make sense of my own adolescent and family crises. In my mid-teens, I started reading works by psychotherapy pioneers; authors like Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Jung. Some of my first jobs were at youth social work non-profits in positions such as peer-mentor, mental health technician, and youth shelter attendant. When I was 19, my aunt, a psychotherapist, lent me a book about the biological resolution of trauma—Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger. This inspired me to pursue massage therapy as a stepping stone to becoming a somatic (body-oriented) psychotherapist. At the time, connections between trauma research, neurobiology, and body-based techniques were rising in popularity. These early experiences provided a solid foundation for my later trainings.

Later

As I learned about the field, I became dissatisfied with how many counselling approaches miss out on the big picture of mental health. The multitude of approaches can be a mess, and so can the empirical evidence-bases that support them. Really addressing individual psyches requires change to families, communities, cultures, and societies—not to mention holistic health. It is all connected and only so much can be done in the modern-day ritual of psychotherapy. Yet, counselling can play an important and even vital role in healing and personal development. Talk therapy has a unique, transformative potential. To a great extent, human beings are wounded in relationships and healed through relationships. Dormant capacities for resilience can be activated through relationships. During my professional development as a counsellor, I always had an eye out for the bigger picture, and I also spent a fair amount of my higher education exploring larger questions related to mental health. I’ve been particularly interested in the integration of psychotherapeutic approaches.

 

Prior to starting my private practice, I counselled at sliding-scale community mental health clinics working with a wide variety of folks and addressing a diverse range of issues. I also practiced at a trauma and crisis treatment center specializing in the treatment of acute psychological symptoms. This included addressing issues such as traumatic loss, sexual assault, PTSD, violent crimes, domestic violence, vicarious trauma, human trafficking, and problematic substance use complicated by traumatic events. Additionally, as a massage therapist, I gained clinical experience in end-of-life care, the wellness field, and at an innovative multidisciplinary clinic in which chiropractors, acupuncturists, counsellors, medical doctors, and massage therapists collaborated on individual cases.

Now

While I like to help folks who want to address specific, targeted problems and goals, I also like to take a look at their personality, life trajectory, and how they relate to others as a whole. Early formative experiences can significantly impact our personalities, characters, and senses of self, but so can choices we make throughout our lives, as can the work we put into ourselves here and now. Counselling is not only effective for addressing symptoms and “dark nights of the soul.” It has a lot to say about human potential, meaning, purpose, and general life satisfaction. All of these require working with day-to-day felt experiences, thoughts, and emotions in the present moment. Counselling, in its essence, helps to expertly navigate these, while providing a space to dive into them and track progress from week to week.

Credentials

PhD Student, Integral and Transpersonal Psychology

California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA

Coursework completed. Elective seminars in Anthropology and Philosophy departments.

Areas of specialization: Counsellor education, transformative learning, integrative models of therapy, exceptional adult psychological development (e.g., postformal/postconvential stages), community psychology, liberation psychology, transdisciplinary research, depth-oriented psychological traditions. 

 

MA in Counseling:

Southwestern College, Santa Fe, NM

Majority of extracurricular coursework in transformational ecopsychology and applied interpersonal neurobiology certificate programs completed.

Areas of specialization: Bridging cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, contemplative, and systems approaches; relational psychodynamics; dissociative ego states; developmental trauma; treatment of personality disorders; integrating somatic therapies. 

 

BSc with distinction in Geography:

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Minors: Sociology and Studies in Cinema and Media Culture. Completed core curriculum in geographic information science and select graduate coursework in philosophy. 

Areas of specialization: Affective turns in the social sciences, critical education, world cinema, social movements, refugee diasporas, political economy.

 

AAS in Health Sciences

Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN

Certificate in Massage Therapy, Certificate in Neuromuscular Therapy and Myofascial Release.

Areas of specialization: rehabilitative/medical massage, energy medicine, history and cross-cultural traditions of bodywork.

 

Select Additional Trainings

 

Ayurvedic Life-Style Consultant Certificate,

American Institute of Vedic Studies (David Frawley)

 

Yoga Teacher Certificate,

Prajna Yoga (Tias and Surya Little)

 

Mindfulness-based Emotional Processing: Activating and Supporting Felt-Sense Awareness of the Body’s Affective Experiencing

 

Fostering New Neural Pathways for Creativity, Spontaneity and Play

 

Integrative, Holistic Development of Mental Health

 

Lifespan Integration Level 1 

 

Motivational Interviewing: Engaging People in a Meaningful Change Process

 

Engaging Adolescent Sexual Assault Survivors in Treatment Promoting Sexual Health and Well-Being, The New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Inc.

 

Professional Immersion and Facilitator Trainings with Gender Equity and Reconciliation International

Ben Bjorgaard, MA, RCC

1744 Richmond Ave.

Victoria, BC 

Registered Clinical Counsellor # 17465

benbjorgaard@gmail.com