We offer psychotherapy and neuro-feedback training to children, adolescents and adults. Our integrative approach is guided by the most recent research in the areas of neurobiology, attachment, and trauma.

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What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy approach developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987. She observed that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts under certain conditions.

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Would EMDR work for me?

Scientific research has established EMDR as an effective treatment for posttraumatic stress. However, clinicians have reported success using EMDR in treatment of many other issues.

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What is Neurofeedback?

Though based in technology, neurofeedback is a 100% non-invasive, drug-free, brain training system that helps the central nervous system (CNS) make the best use of your brain’s natural resources. NeurOptimal® is extremely powerful and effective.

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Our Team

Dr. Tina Shrigley Supervised Practice

Dr. Tina Shrigley, R.S.W., C. Psych.

Cindy Shrigley Certified EMDR Therapist

Cindy Shrigley, MSW, RSW

Richard Shrigley Counselling Psychology

Richard Shrigley, M.ED, CCC, OCT, RSW

Jackie Turner, MSW, RSW

Brittany Courteau, B.A., MSW

Dogtor Sunny McFloof

“Dogtor” Sunny McFloof, Client Greeter

Jenna Strydonck, MA (Candidate), RP-Q, Psychotherapy Practicum Student

Natalie Kaake, MA (Candidate), RP-Q, Psychotherapy Practicum Student

Kate Sowinski, SSW, Intake Administrator and Neurofeedback Practitioner


September 8, 2020

What is Trauma – Part 2

A frequent conversation we have with our clients early on in the therapy process is around a person’s history of exposure to trauma that could be fueling maladaptive thoughts, actions, emotions, and bodily sensations. I am often told by clients, “I don’t think about this experience, so it must not bother me”. The way to truly know if a “small t” trauma is bothering us is to recall the memory and the disturbing moment associated with it and find out your nervous system is still activated today. If you experience activation, meaning upsetting emotions, body sensations, or thoughts, that means the memory is still maladaptively stored in the brain. A processed memory holds no activation, yet it may cause some sadness, or grief to think about. That is way different than an unhealed trauma reaction.  When we get overwhelmed or “triggered”, 10 to 20 percent of how we feel is based on the present moment. The other 80 to 90 percent is fueled by the unhealed trauma reaction. As we discussed in our earlier article, “small t” traumas can include events like feeling embarrassed or ashamed about a certain situation. All of these experiences are important in our work. We believe the goal of our work is to process any maladaptively stored memory networks so we can fully be ourselves and live in the present. Because we are trauma-informed therapists, when clients come to us with symptoms of depression and anxiety, we help them to understand what trauma is and what past situations may have been maladaptively stored in the brain to contribute to their current symptoms. Not everyone who has experienced trauma has PTSD. A person could go through an upsetting situation, or series of upsetting situations and feel depressed, or anxious, or feel like they have difficulty managing their emotions in general.  “Small t” traumas are at the root of many of our issues. For example, fear of failure, fear of success, performance anxiety, creative blocks (e.g. writers’ block) often stem back to “small t” traumas.
August 19, 2020

What Is Trauma – Part 1

All About Trauma Often when we think about trauma, we think about the types of events and situations that might end up on the news: war, violence, abuse and other catastrophic events. Many of our clients have said something to the effect of, “I don’t know why I’m having these trauma symptoms, I’m not a veteran, I haven’t been in combat. There must be something wrong with me that I’m feeling this way”. While PTSD and post-trauma symptoms can occur in the situations mentioned above, trauma can be experienced in so many other ways.   What is trauma anyway? Trauma refers to any experience that has contributed to dysfunction. Some people can experience a traumatic event and not have long-lasting effects from the trauma, but others can be very impacted.  Why is that? In the best of conditions, when a traumatic event happens, we have the necessary internal and external resources to make sense of the event at a psychological, emotional, and physical level. We are able to experience emotions and move through body responses. Finally, any information about the event is properly organized in the brain and we are able to maintain positive feelings and beliefs about ourselves. However, life happens and we’re not always living in the best of conditions. In this case, trauma isn’t able to be properly processed and it stays “unhealed” leading to dysfunction. We develop what we call “maladaptive” beliefs (for example, I’m not good enough) in response to the traumatic experience which impacts our self-esteem. Feelings, thoughts and images of the event feel stuck and are often reexperienced and triggered. All of this may feel so painful, that our brains try to manage the pain through avoidance or numbing. Make no mistake, people who are impacted by a traumatic event are not weak. It takes a lot of strength and mental energy to cope, deal, and treat trauma.  Big T, little t A “Big T” trauma refers to the examples given at the beginning of this article: violence, abuse, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events. But we can also experience “little t” traumas: divorce, bullying, infidelity, and impacts of discrimination and racism, to name a few. Oftentimes with “little t” traumas, it is the accumulation of traumatic events that lead to an increase in distress and dysfunction. For example, a single incidence of bullying vs. chronic bullying. Both are upsetting and can leave an impact. However, multiple “little t” traumas can have as big of an impact as a “Big T” trauma, and for that reason, should not be ignored. We hope you found this information helpful. Next week, we’ll be sharing more about the impacts of “little t” traumas and why unresolved traumatic experiences are behind so many of the issues we experience.
Sleep and TraumaResources
July 17, 2020

Sleep and Trauma

We all know how important sleep is to our overall health and wellbeing. Even Sunny knows that! She is great at sleeping and helped Dr. Tina to write an article to help you understand more about sleep and trauma. Trauma and sleep disorders often go hand in hand. Let’s take a look at your nervous system to help understand this. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is part of your defensive action system. For example, if there’s a bear in the room, this nervous system is going to help you to engage survival defenses. That might be running away or fighting (fight or flight), staying where you are (freeze), or playing dead (collapse and/or submit). In times of danger, these responses are adaptive. They’re necessary. Once the threat is over, your nervous system regulates. Your body and mind can start to feel more calm and secure. However, often with folks who have PTSD or trauma-related disorders, it feels like there’s a bear in the room, even though there isn’t. In other words, it feels like something bad is going to happen and you always have to be prepared for it. The nervous system doesn’t get a chance to “rest”, or regulate. Regulating the nervous system is even more difficult when there are triggers and continued trauma occurring in present day life. The uncertainty of this pandemic, racialized traumas, for example, are real stressors which can dysregulate the nervous system. If someone has pre-existing trauma(s), then symptoms can worsen. So if you’re feeling hypervigilant - like that bear is in the room - and your ANS is always fired up (especially that fight or flight response), then both the duration and the quality of your sleep can be impacted. Once you fall asleep, your nervous system is still watching out for that bear. Even though you’re sleeping, you might not achieve deep, restorative levels of sleep. To a traumatized brain and nervous system, calm equals danger. So as soon as your body relaxes and starts to go into deeper levels of sleep, you might wake up leading to a restless, sleepless night. Or, your ANS may not regulate enough to help you to fall asleep. How brain-based therapies can help Brain-based psychotherapies are informed by neuroscience to help us understand what goes on in the traumatized brain so that we can target treatment to help the brain and nervous system regulate itself and function better. In other words, by understanding what happens in the brain, we know how to help you not feel like there’s a bear in the room all the time so that you can feel better mentally, emotionally, and even physically. At the Sarnia Institute for Trauma and Stress, we implement a personalized approach with all of our clients, meaning that we listen to our clients’ issues and collaborate with them to come up with a treatment plan. The approaches we use are all trauma informed and neuropsychologically informed. Psychotherapy approaches such as EMDR Therapy and Deep Brain Reorientation along with neurofeedback are very neuropsychologically informed and can help to regulate clients’ nervous systems and survival responses so that they can feel more present and embodied. Because so many things can influence sleep, it’s also a good idea to consult with your family doctor about your sleep issues to rule out any other contributing factors. In fact, sleep disorders like sleep apnea can be more prevalent in people with PTSD and trauma-related disorders. While everyone responds differently to psychotherapy, a more regulated nervous system means that you can rest easily and deeply without having to worry about that bear lurking in the room. *Disclaimer: This post is meant to be informative and not diagnostic. It should not be used in replacement of medical advice, or in place of assessment and treatment from a licensed mental health professional.
Covid 19 ProtocolResources
July 13, 2020

Protocol to help process COVID-19 related distress

We are happy to share with you a protocol for processing distressing emotions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the hopes that it can help prevent the development of stress and trauma related disorders. This protocol was developed especially for first responders, medical professionals, mental health professionals, and other frontline workers. The developers of this protocol, Dr. Ignacio (Nacho) Jarero and Lucina Artigas, graciously gave us permission to share this with our community. We hope this will be of benefit to those on the front lines and to those struggling during these uncertain times. Disclaimer: This protocol is meant to be a self-care strategy and is not meant to replace assessment and treatment by a mental health professional. Cindy Shrigley, Richard Shrigley, and Dr. Tina Shrigley