Therapy

Including individual and couples counseling, and treatment for adults for a variety of problems.

Dr. Dayna Lee-Baggley, Ph.D., Registered Psychologist (#R0598) obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She provides individual and couples therapy at Wavelength Psychotherapy.

Dr. Lee-Baggley is committed to evidence-based therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioural (CBT), motivational, and mindfulness orientations. In particular, Dr. Lee-Baggley provides therapy, training, workshops, and supervision in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and is the president of the Atlantic Canada chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

She provides treatment for adults for a variety of problems including anxiety, depression, pain, and interpersonal problems. She has expertise in obesity, behaviour change, and managing chronic conditions. She is the vice-chair of Halifax chapter of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Dr. Dayna Lee-Baggley also provides couples counseling. Currently she is the only certified psychologist in Nova Scotia in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples, an empirically supported treatment designed to reduce conflict and increase intimacy between couples.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically based form of cognitive-behavioural therapy that incorporates acceptance and mindfulness strategies along with commitment and behavior change strategies to help individuals live full and vibrant lives. Below is a description of some of the skills clients can expect to learn in ACT therapy with Dr. Lee-Baggley.

Value based actions

Clients learn about values (i.e., what really matters and the qualities one wants to express) and the difference between values and goals (example). Clients engage in several activities designed to clarify their values and to identify a wide range of behaviours that would allow them to express their values (i.e., value based actions).

Mindfulness

Clients learn about mindfulness (i.e., paying attention, on purpose, in a curious and kind way) and recognizing how to switch off “automatic pilot”. Clients practice different types of mindfulness including becoming an observer of their thoughts, present moment awareness (e.g., paying attention to one’s five senses to be more present in the moment), guided mindfulness (e.g., Calm.com), and mindfulness of everyday activities (e.g., being more present taking a shower).

Acceptance

Clients learn about the function of emotions (e.g., guilt) with recognition that having these emotions and sensations is part of the human condition. Clients review the ways they have tried to remove or avoid their feelings (e.g., emotional eating) and the short term and long term costs. Clients learn about acceptance (i.e., allowing feelings to be as they are) with recognition that acceptance doesn’t mean that they want the feelings to be there or that they are giving up; acceptance just means acknowledging what currently is. They practice skills to accept feelings and sensations rather than fight with them, avoid them, or let them take over. Watch.

Self-compassion

Clients learn what self-compassion is (i.e., being kind to ourselves in the face of personal failings or setbacks and recognizing faults and mistakes are part of being human) and isn’t (i.e., self pity, self-esteem, self-indulgence). Self-compassion activities include kindness meditation, generating self-compassion alternatives, practicing self-compassion breaks, and learning to respond to setbacks (i.e., falling off the wagon) with compassion.

work with couples

Over 20 years of empirical research suggest that EFT is an effective treatment for distressed couples. Research on EFT has found 70% of couples show improvements in marital distress. The effects of EFT also tend to be long lasting. EFT is effective for couples experiencing infidelity, depression, anxiety, or chronic illness. EFT is not recommended for couples experiencing ongoing violence. EFT is based on the empirically supported theory of attachment. This theory maintains that humans are designed to be connected to one another and the desire for human connection is natural, normal, and vital to well-being.

Couples often seek professional help when they feel alienated and disconnection from one another. This may be due to a gradual drift or a specific event, such as an affair. Frequently they may find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of conflict or avoidance that is difficult to escape. Making the decision to come to couples therapy is often a difficult one. Many people struggle to ask for help about their most important relationships. However, a trained couples therapist can have a positive, meaningful effect on intimate relationships.

My initial session with a couple involves learning from both members of the couple as to what brought them to therapy. Couples will often report “communication problems”, “conflict”, and sometimes “everything.” They may also raise a specific event like a recent job loss or children leaving home that has escalated tension or alienation and prompted therapy. Early on two sessions involve seeing each member of the couple individually. This provides an opportunity for each member of the couple to freely discuss their concerns and goals (if known) for the relationship. Family histories and relationship histories are also reviewed. After these individual sessions, the couple is then seen together for the rest of therapy.

In my work with couples, the problems faced by the couple are seen as problems of the couple. The problem cannot exist without each member of the couple. Neither member of the couple is to blame. Both members contribute to the solutions. It is not uncommon for distressed couples to feel so locked in their pattern of conflict or avoidance that they cannot see a way out. My work with couples provides the opportunity to find new ways of relating and reconnecting with one another.

 

I work to ensure couples therapy provides a safe, neutral environment to work on rebuilding a relationship. If couples are in conflict they are often concerned about the conflict erupting during sessions. It is critical for effective couples therapy that sessions are respectful and safe for both members of the couple. Thus, I work on understanding the conflict that is occurring while ensuring it does not escalate in the session. Although couples often want to deal immediately with the problems that brought them into therapy, often more work has to be done on less “hot” topics for the couple. Setting a stage where members of the couple feel validated and safe is needed before tackling the most difficult problem the couple is experiencing.

The course of counseling is different for each couple as we work through the issues and problems that are unique to that couple. That said, there are many similarities in my work with couples. The first goal is to de-escalate the cycles of conflict and/or avoidance that are occurring. This is done by better understanding the perspective and concerns from each member of the couple and by understanding how the feelings, thoughts, and behaviours of each member of the couple interact with each other. When the habitual pattern of conflict and/or avoidance that has developed between the couple is better understood, there is an opportunity to change the pattern.

The next step in therapy is to learn new ways of re-engaging as a couple. This step involves learning to communicate in more effective ways and to connect at a deeper, more meaningful level. The final step is to review existing problems and find ways to solve them. Often at this stage couples can find new, creative ways of solving longstanding problems. This creative problem solving is key as all couples have conflict and disagreements. Being able to handle them in a productive and sensitive way is the important part of a healthy and long-lasting relationship.

EFT is a time-limited therapy. This means that it is not expected to continue forever. The skills that are learned in sessions become transferable out of sessions. Therapy will typically last between 8-20 joint sessions depending on the couple. Couples typically start to notice the effects of treatment within 4-6 joint sessions.

Link to APNS.