Remembrance Day, November 11, 2015

In Canada, Remembrance Day – at the 11th hour on the 11th month – is a solemn time to commemorate the civilians and military personnel whose lives were lost in conflicts since World War I.

Like many of my generation, members of my family fought in both World War I and World War II. For the surviving family members, that day was filled with great sadness and reflection.

Many families would not speak of the war, perhaps because to tell those stories meant to re-live the horrors of the inhumanity and the incomprehensible loss. It’s possible that in order to continue with living many need to blot out the pain of the past.

But Remembrance Day provided and continues to provide a process and a permission for us to grieve for those no longer with us. It’s sorrowful and full of meaning for the living.

As Canadians, we take those brief moments to remember all the lives that were taken and the ultimate sacrifices that were given so that we may live in peace.

Alan Stamp



Grant Study Reveals What Makes Men Happy

When I was in my twenties and doing coursework in counselling, I was asked to read a landmark book by Dr. George Vaillant. Called “Adaptation to Life,” it detailed the famous Grant Study, which thirty years later, was still underway. Vaillant’s latest findings dig a bit deeper into the men in the Grant Study. It includes what practicing therapists have known for years: men learn how to become intimate as they age into their late 60’s and 70’s. An interesting read, here is a link to more information about this famous study.

In good health,

Alan Stamp

Medication and/or Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

Is Medication the Only Solution for Depression or Anxiety?

Often, when an individual comes into their physician’s office with depression and/or anxiety they are prescribed medication. Present medications used to help patients may include Effexor, Celexa and Ceprolex. In my opinion, after 35 years of clinical practice, such medications can be of great importance and  may even prevent self-harming behaviours. I and my colleagues have also recommended that clients speak with their physician about mediations to support them during therapy.

However, there has been research in the 2010 Journal of the Medical Association that anti-depressant meds are not shown to be more effective than placebos except in those individuals with severe depression symptoms.  Harvard Medical School corroborated similar results in 2014.

There are many studies that indicate that  psychotherapy is as, or is more effective than anti-depressant medications.  As a therapist and a clinical director for more than 30 years, I can state that many clients will benefit from counselling therapy – but why?

  • Effective therapy can support clients become more resilient.
  • Therapy can support a client to raise their level of independence and even their functioning
  • It focuses on building support systems – with family or friends and relationships – and prevents isolation
  • Therapy helps clients move through the complexities of the emotional system and teaches how they can soothe that reactive system that sometimes becomes a liability – especially in stressful situations with others or their environments.
  • Therapy is a hopeful process; optimism is a necessary part of the therapist’s belief that change is possible
  • Therapy is a collaboration between the therapist and the client that can yield change and healing.
  • Therapy can be short or long term; change can occur in either, though it is thought that long-term change comes from a longer commitment to the therapy process.

There is unquestionably the need for medication for some people but not all people experiencing difficulties such as depression and anxiety.  Individuals experiencing symptoms should always seek medical attention promptly and explore options for  medications, if indicated.

Psychotherapy can also play a significant role by promoting mental health and effecting positive long-term changes. 

In good health,

Alan Stamp


Clinical Director, West Coast Wellness Group

Jewish Family Services