YOU ARE THE HERO OF YOUR OWN EPIC STORY Whether you are struggling, or striving, you chose to work with us because deep down you know that you are not living the life you were meant to live. Your decision to seek support for this leg of your journey, is a cause for celebration. Because stepping off the familiar path and getting help to find a new one, takes courage. It takes courage because all of the conditioning you have received from the culture at large has told you that you should be able to do this on your own and that seeking help means that there must be something wrong with you. This could not be further from the truth. Like every hero on a quest, you have made a pivotal decision to leave behind what no longer serves you and to find the tools and resources you need to face your fears and design a life that does. Along the way, we have no doubt that you will not only find new skills and abilities, but will discover and more deeply appreciate the essence of who you are. This is your purpose. Thatâ€™s it. To discover who you are in this lifetime, so you can show up as yourself for yourself and others, and live a life that is deeply fulfilling. This is what it means to Design Your Life and we are incredibly honoured you chose us to help you do it. We put together this little book in order to give you an idea of who we are, and the unique way we do things here. Our hope is that it will get you feeling as excited as we are to get started in our work together. Sincerely, Dr. Stacy & The DYL Team
OUR MISSION The mission of The Design Your Life Centre is to help people fulfill their lifeâ€™s purpose, which we believe, is to be their authentic selves. To do this, we help people understand early life patterns that no longer serve them so that they can consciously create new ones that do. This is what it means to Design
CORE VALUES Changing the World from The Inside Out
Mental Health is a Human Right
We believe that people who are aligned with the essence of who they are, are happier, more fulfilled, compassionate beings who have the courage to grow and discover their potential.
We believe that mental health is a human right and that everyone, regardless of their financial means, should be able to access evidence-based tools and the support needed to implement them.
They fully show up in their lives, and their presence automatically has a positive impact on others. Helping as many people as possible actualize this reality is how we, at The Design Your Life Centre, can contribute to making the world a better place.
As such, we are always striving to find innovative ways to make what we do accessible to as many people as possible.
All practitioners here work as a team. We meet regularly to share new ideas and to discuss challenges in the context of our work in order to brainstorm creative solutions and support each other in our mastery and growth as practitioners.
We are obsessed with great design and endeavor to create facilitative spaces both in person and online, that elevate, inspire trust, engender confidence and allow each person who engages with us to feel seen.
We believe that the client is best served by our collective genius. Hence, it is not unusual for us to refer a client to another practitioner within the practice who has the kind of expertise to best meet the clientâ€™s evolving needs when required.
This appreciation for people-centred design permeates everything, from the first point of contact, to the look of our office, every form of communication, our social media content and how we present ourselves publicly.
Accountability to Results
We are results oriented. We therefore engage each client in crafting concrete goals and regularly measure our client outcomes. We also obtain feedback regarding the strength of the therapeutic relationship we have with each client, both because we care, and because it is the best indicator of client success.
As scientist-practitioners, everything we do is informed by the latest and best research in our field. However, we are first and foremost client centred, and appreciate that not every evidence-based tool or approach is a good fit for everyone.
Diversity is Our Strength
We Practice What We Preach
O u r p e rce pt i o n s a re l i m i te d by o u r experience. This is a truth. This is why we endeavor to hire staf f who ref lect the diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identity, age and abilities of the population we serve.
Everyone who is a part of the Design Your Life Centre is expected to be actively involved in activities and practices to further their own personal growth and development, not only as practitioners, but as people.
This is why we are all schooled in a range of tools and approaches and bring our creativity combined with our knowledge to adapt these techniques to fit each clientâ€™s unique needs.
We regularly set personal development goals, and support each other in the process of achieving them.
MEET THE FOUNDER
Indeed, Maya Angelou, indeed! I have walked this walk. As someone who has navigated the journey of The Outsider, I know what it is to always be noticed but never truly seen. The early years of this experience were hard. My journal entries from my 12 year old self confirm that, in spite of my privilege and positive upbringing, I had integrated the predominant message of the culture: that my value was dependent on the validation and attention I received from powerful others. As a young teen, this led to an aching desire to be accepted as one of the cool kids. Eventually, the pain of rejection led to the decision to abandon the soul-crushing quest of trying to â€œbe popularâ€?. When I look back on this now, I realize that this decision to stop trying to fit in gave me the keys to my sovereignty and allowed me to step into a new world. My endless curiosity and genuine love of people took me to places far and wide, places I had no business being. And as I travelled without trying to be anyone other than myself, I discovered that not belonging anywhere allowed me to belong everywhere. Becoming a psychologist was a natural extension of my insatiable appetite to learn about the range of human experience. Walking the path of The Outsider allowed me to enter the profession with well developed skills of observation and listening. The formative experience of feeling unseen
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” - Maya angelou
that was part of this same journey that allowed me to develop my skills, inspires how I give back now that I have the power to do so. Every hero who comes into their power after traversing the many trials and tribulations of their journey returns “home” to share their gifts for the betterment of others. The Design Your Life Centre is part of my personal homecoming. Here, our aim is to ensure that you feel incredibly seen at every step of your journey with us and beyond. We want you to fall in love with the process of understanding how you got to where you are now. We want you to appreciate your incredible ability to adapt to what you had to survive, to marvel at the “super powers” you developed as a result of your struggle and learn how you can apply these abilities even more skillfully, to serve you in the way that you choose now. And we can’t wait to empower you with new tools that will help you transition out of mere survival into truly thriving in this life. This is your purpose and we are honoured and incredibly excited to witness the process unfold. Thank you for the opportunity. You are here, which means you are ready. Let’s get started. With Love and Deep Respect. Dr. Stacy
STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION
I made progress and growth that I couldnâ€™t have dreamed of; it has truly been transformational.
When I first came to The Design Your Life Centre, I had been dealing with chronic illness for almost a decade and chronic pain for nearly seven years. I had been bed-/home-bound for years and was being treated weekly in hospital and on a lot of pharmaceutical medications, including opioids. My only hope or goal for therapy was to be able to exist in less pain, mentally and physically. Luckily for me, treatment here helped me gain much more than that. While working with my therapist, I learned a lot about self-care and compassion. For the first time in my life I realized that not being stressed out doesn’t mean that I’m relaxed; this was a huge insight for me. I realized that I couldn’t work at healing the same way I worked towards everything else in my life. My therapist showed me how to meditate in a way that worked for me (other medical professionals had tried to teach me, but had never been successful). Through meditation and mindfulness, I have been able to come off all pharmaceuticals and hospital interventions, for conditions I thought I would have for the rest of my life. I have become more active, returning to the gym, and even slowly easing back into work. I made progress and growth that I couldn’t have dreamed of; it has truly been transformational. I believe so much in meditation and its ability to heal that I have started the process of learning how to teach others. For anyone considering therapy at the Design Your Life Centre, my only advice is start as soon as you can.
Becoming a mother was a huge change in my life. Along the way, I realized I had postpartum depression and needed help. Many daily occurrences threw me into a spiral of anxiety, such as my son refusing to eat, acting difficult, going back to work, etc. Therapy helped me become less anxious about these situations that I couldn’t control and to accept that everything would be ok. We’ve gone over many situations that cause me to be stressed and it’s helped me keep a cool head. As a result, I feel like I can be a better mother to him. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is fairly simple to implement, yet very effective. I was also surprised at how good it feels to have someone impartial to talk to, as a lot of people in my life were dismissive of my feelings. If there is any advice I have to give for anyone new to therapy it’s this: come in with an open mind and do the follow up exercises after the sessions to get the most out of the experience.
Therapy helped me become less anxious about these situations that I couldnâ€™t control and to accept that everything would be ok.
I feel realigned with my core beliefs and values, and am now free to shape my life accordingly.
Since my experience at the Design Your Life Centre, I have felt much more attuned to myself and have been taking strides towards the life I want to live. Since completing my sessions here, I have developed (and continue to develop) stronger interpersonal relationships, I have become reacquainted with myself and who I want to be, and I have set stronger boundaries that have shaped my environment and life away from the detrimental patterns I previously found myself in. I gained enough confidence in myself to quit a job that was toxic and draining and to begin the journey of opening my own business. I have taken up several hobbies I had always been interested in but previously lacked the strength or energy to pursue. Every day, I feel myself getting closer to the person I had always hoped I would be. I now have the tools that I know will see me through times of stress and doubt. I am now able to trust that those moments are temporary and allow myself to accept instead of fear them. I feel realigned with my core beliefs and values, and am now free to shape my life accordingly. To me, the most surprising part of the process was the emphasis on taking control of my life as it is now, rather than focusing exclusively on how it got that way. I think, like many others, I had assumptions about therapy primarily being an excavation of the past. Instead, learning and practicing healthier ways to process emotions and stress in the present empowered me to take control of my feelings and start making positive changes immediately. I gained the tools to process past trauma on my own terms, with greater clarity and insight that has enabled me to grow and adapt. I see a lot of my friends and loved ones unhappy with their day-to-day, struggling to cope with stress, exhausted and disheartened from living a life so far out of alignment with themselves. The advice I often offer is to allow yourself to accept help with some of the barriers of life. Sometimes we have a tendency to want to do it all for ourselves, and the end result is too much on our plates and little progress. I spent years thinking I could start changing my life entirely on my own, just waiting for the time and resources that never came. One year after getting help, my life was nearly unrecognizable from before, and it continues to change and improve in ways I hadnâ€™t imagined.
My time at The Design Your Life Centre was well spent. When I first came in I was stuck in a rut. I felt anxious most of the time and had been isolating myself by avoiding any kind of social situation. I found that, even in my spare time, I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t focus on my hobbies. Things that were once an emotional outlet, like writing music, were pushed aside because it felt like my head was never clear enough to write. I really felt like I had lost a piece of myself. Therapy has changed that. My sessions with my therapist were cathartic and productive. It was very easy to talk to her about anything and I always felt listened to. Throughout the process I was provided with helpful resources and learned calming techniques that I continue to use. I left every session in a better mood and with a specific plan for moving forward. Once I began to accomplish the incremental goals we were setting between sessions, it really started to click and there was a compounding effect. I could appreciate all the small victories I was accumulating and I felt more confident in my ability to take on the larger challenges in my life. It was actually surprising how quickly my perspective changed once I had gained some momentum. Things that had previously felt too challenging and overwhelming to approach became manageable and even enjoyable. I took on more responsibility at work, joined a gym, reconnected with old friends, broke through writer’s block and started writing and performing music again. Experiencing all these positive changes has reinforced a healthy mindset in me and restored my sense of well being. I feel a calmness that I haven’t felt for a long time and I feel capable and ready for whatever the future brings. To the person considering therapy, I definitely recommend it. For me, it has been the absolute best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. My only advice would be to follow through with the goals that you set; that’s been the key to my success.
Things that had previously felt too challenging and overwhelming to approach became manageable and even enjoyable.
The more authentic and open you can be, the more you will get out of the process.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work with my therapist at The Design Your Life Centre. It has impacted my life in three prominent ways (and many other smaller but also significant ways): I have been able to move from fear to hope. When I arrived, I feared everything. 1. My therapist helped me better identify and understand the root of my fears and how I could moce through them to find hope for the things that I was even too scared to hope for. 2. I have learned how to stay calm amidst chaos. Many of my sessions helped to give me the tools to stay grounded and calm when confronted by challenging or chaotic situations. The technique that helped me the most with this was hypnosis. After recording a hypnosis session, I would then listen to it as I started my day. This particularly helped me stay grounded and present to myself and my needs amid the complex world of fertility treatments that can often felt out of my control and invasive. I was surprised by how well hypnosis worked and how the power of imagining calm actually manifested calm in my life. It also helped me fall asleep when I was feeling anxious at night! 3. This process helped me sort through complex and multifaceted aspects of my journey and prospective future journey. I felt heard was asked good questions to help me sort through where I was headed on this journey. Sometimes my life would be presented with a fork in the road and the process of â€œdesigning my lifeâ€? helped me to make the best decision for my future direction. This process helped me feel confident in the decision I was making for myself and my family. My advice for someone just starting is to just be yourself from the start. The more authentic and open you can be, the more you will get out of the process.
THERAPY CAN BE
THERAPY CAN BE
THERAPY CAN BE
Congratulations again on taking this step to Design Your Life. You are our hero.
321 Carlaw Avenue, suite 209 Toronto, On, M4M 2S1 Tel. 647-478-9297