Toni Pieroni, M.A.

Registered Clinical Counselor

Vancouver, British Columbia

My Approach to Therapy

"A core sense of self, once recognized in the body, is a consistent source of internal support and stability." - Jack Rosenberg, Ph.D, founder of Integrative Body Psychotherapy

It is not uncommon for people to have moments or periods of life which feel authentic, i.e., the felt sense that "this is who I really am". This experience is usually accompanied by a sense of expansion, aliveness and well-being, a body-felt knowing of one's true self. However, they may not know how to live from this knowing in a more consistent way. Some people may not recall having had this experience, yet feel a vague (or pressing) sense that something is really missing or that they need or want more out of life. They may feel a sense of deadness, a lack of passion or emptiness. For many, life is often about physical and emotional survival and coping. They may predominantly feel fear/anxiety, pain, loss/grief, despair and/or a lack of joy, happiness, peace and love.

As a result, people may experience a variety of symptoms or issues in their lives: relationship difficulties, physical illness, lack of success or satisfaction in work/careers, chronic emotional or physical pain, substance abuse, addictive behaviours, sexual dysfunction, etc. People often seek and enter therapy when their own attempts to solve these problems are unsuccessful.

The Process:

The first step in the therapeutic process is to develop a good working relationship with the therapist. The earliest stages lead to increased awareness. Most of our responses in life are reactions - automatic, habitual and unconscious, learned from our earliest experiences. These become neurologically and biochemically encoded in the body. Many people enter therapy when they become aware that patterns are being repeated in their lives and they don't know why, or how to change them. All reactions begin as a contraction in the body. Under stress, the body is hardwired to react in a survival response of fight, flight, freeze. Patterns become behavioural forms of those responses. They are not who you really are (your authentic/core self).

Therefore, another aspect of the therapeutic process is working through and releasing emotional and cognitive content from the past that perpetuates the continuation of patterned responses. It is said that you can heal what you can feel. The natural response of the organism is to move away from painful stimuli as quickly as possible, like touching a hot stove. However, as children, we were powerless to move away from sources of pain that occur within our home, family, school environments, and so we develop ways to defend and protect ourselves from further pain. These defense mechanisms become our means for survival and become physically, mentally and emotionally a part of our system. Any stimulus that is reminiscent of previous painful events triggers us to respond in the only way we know how, i.e., our learned survival response. That mechanism was essential to our survival when we were children. However, survival is not the same as thriving. As adults, our means of survival often become the barriers to resolving problems and actualizing our potential. They also limit our capacity for intimacy and deeply satisfying relationships.

The body, emotions and spirit are powerful resources within each person that can assist us to respond in life-affirming ways: ways that expand our aliveness and well-being and that move us toward wholeness and integration of who we really are. Therefore, another step in the therapeutic process is to experience the resources available within and to learn tools for accessing those resources on an ongoing basis. This is done in a variety of ways: through the relationship between the therapist and client; through body awareness and breathing techniques; through experiential exercises and processes; through verbal interaction and exploration.

Another aspect of therapy is coaching. As we work through reactive patterning, options and choices open up. Coaching involves goal setting and developing congruent actions that move you toward positive outcomes.

  • An expanded experience of aliveness and well-being
  • A greater capacity for healthy relating and intimacy.
  • A greater sense of confidence in your ability to resolve problems and proactively create from life's challenges and opportunities.
  • Development of compassion and acceptance of oneself.
  • Discover how to move increasingly in a life-affirming direction.
  • Discover your own inner resources and how to draw upon them.
  • A greater capacity to fulfill the potential of who you really are.
  • To experience a sense of wholeness and integration of self, i.e., body, mind and spirit are one.
  • More empowered to meet the challenges of our complex world and to participate in its healing
  • To know that you make a difference

Toni Pieroni

My work is essentially about helping people develop and deepen their relationship with themselves, with the significant people in their lives, with their communities and with the larger world.