Lorena Colarusso Voice Dialogue Facilitator

Inner Selves Consciousness is a self-compassion process that provides an opportunity to experientially explore psychological makeup. Its ultimate goal is to expand awareness of inner resources, create more self-awareness and conscious choice in life’s decision- making, relationship and behavioural challenges.

Voice Dialogue, Inner Selves was created by psychologists Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone in the 1970s.  Inner Selves facilitation is a consciousness awakening process that brings real-time awareness to the many parts or Selves that make up what we identify as our personality.


We often refer to parts or Inner Selves in our everyday language when we say “A part of me feels/wants —-“

Each Inner Self is a unique, dynamic aspect of our psyche that has his/her own personality, interests, thoughts, feelings, opinions and energies. An Inner Self is born in response to life experiences, family dynamics and the developmental environment.

These Selves exist whether we are conscious of them or not.

The Inner Selves that we know about collectively make up our personality and are the face we present to the world. The ones we have little or no awareness of can be the source of reactive behaviours that need containment or they can be hiding talents and gifts that may offer new perspectives of possibility. These unknown parts of us have an equal and opposite presence in our makeup.

Inner Selves can include the following and their opposites.

  • The Pusher and the Carefree Self
  • The Caretaker and the Self – Nurturer
  • The Perfectionist and the Imperfect Self
  • The Rule Maker and the Rebel
  • The Dependent and the Independent Self
  • The Addict and the Disciplined Self
  • The Inner Patriarch and the Inner Matriarch
  • The Critic and the Inner Teacher
  • The Inner Parent and the Inner Child


One of the main focuses of Inner Selves facilitation is to develop a psychotherapeutic tool called the “aware ego”. This can provide the capability to separate from inner parts of the personality that may unconsciously be driving troubling behaviour and obstructing the ability to make good choices. The separation provides a detached vantage point from which to assess life situations and choose what resources are needed to address the issue.

By having access to all of these Selves, the client can learn to:

  • become the director of their inner resources
  • be the observer of their actions and reactions
  • shift their consciousness to a more aware state
  • make decisions with conscious choice
  • develop the ability to nurture and enjoy greater intimacy and authenticity in personal relationships.


The most powerful aspect of the Inner Selves process is its ability to access and give voice to all parts of us.

The Inner Selves process uses a specific protocol of objective inquiry that affords clients the opportunity to hear and understand the many parts of their psychological structure that have influence over beliefs, behaviours, communication, actions and reactions to experiences and challenges in life.

This inquiry is sensitive, non-judgmental and allows dialogue with the parts (Selves) that have developed to help cope with life challenges and experiences.


A typical Inner Selves session is fully guided by the facilitator and involves the following steps:

  • Identify the life issue that requires attention
  • Identify the Inner Self that is the primary player in the problem
  • Initiate a conversation and inquiry first with the main Inner Self that is the main player and then with its opposite Self.

The facilitator begins an exploration of that Inner Self through curious inquiry, into his/her concerns, origins, job, memories, beliefs about right and wrong

In order to create a sense of both physical and energetic separation for the Inner Self, you will be asked to physically move to another location in the room. This gives the Inner Self a clear, unencumbered ‘voice’ that is heard in a very unique way by you.

 In this process, you can begin to recognize the presence of the facilitated Self – its energy, its mental, emotional and spiritual presence.

  • When the main Inner Self has finished speaking, you will be asked to move to a different location in the room that represents the energetic presence of the opposite Inner Self.
  • The facilitator begins a second inquiry process with that opposite Inner Self.
  • When that exploration is complete, you will be asked to move back to your original position to discuss, make observations and reflect on your ‘meeting’ of these Inner Selves.  You will be encouraged to notice the feelings, awareness, surprises, and often a new relationship to the inner parts explored.

Knowing, developing and utilizing a conscious awareness of this Inner Self-system can give rise to greater self-knowledge, understanding of inner resources and the capability to use more of our gifts, talents and strengths.

Inner Selves IN YOUR LIFE

Working with the Inner Selves process can open the potential for increased resilience and emotional intelligence. It can support clients to:

  • develop practical tools that can encourage effective inner and interpersonal communication
  • discover the capability of choosing actions rather than reacting to old patterns of behaviour
  • reveal the hidden parts of you that can support you now.
  • find the language that can express and explore the experiences, feelings and beliefs of Selves without judgment or threat.

As Inner Selves are brought to consciousness, they can become the source of greater self-knowledge, compassion and understanding. This can, with commitment and time, develop capability and inner resources to operate in their lives with more balance, empowerment and awareness.

If you have any questions, feel free to Contact us for more information or to experience the Voices of Consciousness by booking a session with Lorena Colarusso

“There is no place like home”

“There is no place like home” –Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

When it comes to our Root Chakra, there is often no place that has such a foundational impact on psycho-spiritual development as our original home and family.  Our growing up experience leaves its mark on our psyche in such a profound way, etching the imprints of our life scripts and roles.  Our Root Chakra is located at the base of our spine is part of the Chakra Energetic System.  This Energy Medicine System is also known as the Body’s Energy Field or Aura.   The Root Chakra, an energetic vortex that connects us to the earth is described as being charged with a magnetic pull and need for “home”.  In terms of Chakra Therapy, it is precisely the Root Chakra that holds our imprints and emotions both conscious and unconscious related to our tribe, our family, our need to belong.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy: Chakra Therapy

Chakra Therapy involves energy balancing and releasing of the seven major energetic vortices that combined make up our psycho-spiritual being.    They are located at various points outside of the body, in our human aura and luminous energy field and serve as transmitters of energy or life force.  The seven major chakras traditionally worked within Energy Medicine are Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown.  Each of these centres of consciousness has unique psychological, spiritual, physical and social aspects of being associated with them. When the chakras are out of balance, energy is not as available for our physical, mental and spiritual processes.

Journeying through the Chakra energy system is a way of expanding our psycho-spiritual awareness and evolving ourselves into a place of conscious choice in our lives.  It is a pathway to harmonize our inner and outer worlds. The Chakras are described as influencing the physical body, cells, organs and all of our biological systems.

Of course, the journey is not linear, but it all begins with balancing the Root.  From a psycho-spiritual perspective, each of the chakras is connected to a particular stage of psycho-spiritual and psycho-social human development.  We spiral and revisit these stages many times during our lives often motivated by our Inner Healer, our innate subconscious and superconscious desire to heal, balance, grow and protect ourselves at all levels.

Root Chakra

The Root Chakra is known to hold imprints and aspects of early development, mother and child bonding, trust, safety, security.  It is rooted in the earth, our physical vitality, and health, ability to thrive and survive. The beliefs that we develop with respect to how safe the world is, how deserving we feel about our right to be, to live, to have abundance and love all originate in our personal consciousness and tribal, family collective unconscious.  That is our personal experiences and the energetic intergenerational impact of our family and ancestral constellations.

Often in our journey resolving Root Chakra issues can be most challenging.  It is tempting given our innate defences such as denial to bypass the journey into the Root, Sacral and Solar Plexus levels of consciousness and escape into the higher vibrations of the Upper Chakras.  This escape can become another form of denial, a defence which can block the Root Chakra.

To journey into the Root Chakra means becoming conscious of our polarized aspects, roles, sub-personalities and illuminating our shadow, the opposite aspects that may be hidden from us.  As we balance these forces, we create a solid foundation in our psycho-spiritual and interpersonal growth.

The issues that are imprinted psycho-spiritually in the Root Chakra have to do with grounding, nourishment and nurturing, trust and a sense of belonging to our family and tribe.   The Root is connected to the physical and is focused on self-preservation and survival, the will to live and thrive.  Inherent in the root chakra is a sense of security, safety and experience of home.  It contains our beliefs around prosperity our right to have, to be, to exist and our imprints for boundaries or lack of. The developmental stage of the Root Chakra is said to be 2nd trimester to 12 months of age. However, the Root Chakra is a key developmental focus for ages 1 to 7.

Balanced Root Chakra

When the Root Chakra is balanced, we experience good health and vitality.  Other qualities include being well grounded, comfortable in our skin, our body.  We trust the world as a safe place and live from trust instead of fear.  Generally, we are stable, secure with the ability to experience being energy, stillness, and relaxation.   We are aligned with our authentic self and so our career choice is connected to our personal and higher purpose.

Out of Balance Root Chakra

An out of balance Root Chakra, either over functioning or under-functioning, manifests as a disconnection from our physical selves, our bodies.  Our physical body can be either overweight or underweight. Also, our relationship to the material world may have polarizations including hoarding from fear of never having enough or the opposite.  Our boundaries can be rigid or too flexible.  Our focus can be scattered, disorganized with underdeveloped self-discipline.  We can be anxious or lazy and sluggish.  We can be fearful of change or fixated on security.

Psycho-spiritually the Root Chakra development can be affected by traumas and abuse.   Most often connected with Root Chakra are birth traumas, abandonment and trust issues, bonding issues, neglect around physical needs being met, physical abuse or violence.  The Root Chakra is also the key imprinting centre for ancestral and intergenerational traumas.

Crystals that resonate with balancing and energizing the Root Chakra are generally Red or Earth colour.  Red Jasper, Black Obsidian, Red Calcite, Petrified Wood, Ruby, Garnet and Hematite.

Balancing and Releasing Issues of the Root Chakra

Alchemy Holistic Counselling integrates Somatic-Energetic Therapy to address Root Chakra issues.  Family Constellations facilitations focus on ancestral and intergenerational trauma bringing awareness to systematic dynamics and unresolved issues such as merging with a parent, rejection of a parent, enmeshment, identification with an ancestor, relationship dynamic entanglements and more .  Shamanic Psychotherapy provides illumination of shadow parts and reclaiming aspects to balance and centre our mind, body and spirit.  Voice Dialogue facilitation expands awareness, evolves our personality and shifts inner polarizations of Root Chakra issues.  Somatic Trauma Resolution and Attachment Therapy facilitates healing of frozen inner parts, encapsulated child and provides reimprinting and regulation of the nervous system.   Emotional Clearing releases frozen imprints that are held in the chakras, body, muscles through cellular memory.   Neuro-Linguistic therapy coaches through the shifting of beliefs and patterns that limit our potential

Lorena Colarusso


©Alchemy Holistic Counselling 2018    Please contact Lorena Colarusso, Registered Psychotherapist at to use or adapt articles and information.  Articles may be forwarded and printed, please acknowledge

Transpersonal Psychotherapy

By definition, psychotherapy often deals with deeper emotional, psychological and cognitive issues including anxiety and trauma.  Transpersonal or Spiritual Psychotherapy goes beyond ordinary consciousness, acknowledging the miracle of the soul, mystical experiences and multi-dimensional awareness in therapy.

Transpersonal Therapy is a client-centred process that includes a psycho-spiritual approach to healing. It works with the whole human being in an integrated process that acknowledges the intimate connection between body, mind, spirit and heart. It uses those pathways to assist clients to bring greater perspective and balance into their lives.

There are many psychotherapy approaches and Transpersonal Therapy is not for everyone.  Clients who are seeking a mind, body and spirit approach to their therapy process are most aligned to Transpersonal and Integrative approaches.  Transpersonal Therapy works with multiple levels of consciousness:  personal consciousness, subconscious, transpersonal or higher/divine consciousness.  It also expands into family systems and soul consciousness and finally moving into the collective consciousness and cosmic interconnection.

Critical to any Psychotherapy approach is the foundation of a therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist. It is a professional relationship with prescribed boundaries and conscious intentions in the dynamics for therapeutic purposes. The relationship in itself provides a safe container for psychological development, emotional healing and spiritual growth.

Dealing with the challenges of life and learning how to live fully is an essential art that can be developed through Transpersonal Therapy. The tools that are gathered through this path, when combined with awareness and action, have the potential to support personal capability and deeper understanding of life events.

Psychotherapy process includes an intake and assessment, completed by the client to determine the presenting therapeutic objectives. Transpersonal Therapy assists, clients, to change and transform and invites them to take an honest look at their lives from a multi-level perspective. This broader view has the potential to:

  • uncover the personal and family patterns of behaviour
  • highlight the themes in experiences that can represent a soul message of life purpose
  • develop an ongoing awareness and deeper understanding and acceptance of those experiences
  • promote ultimate transformation leading to self-compassion
  • reconnection to the authentic self and walk a path of capability and well-being

In a safe and compassionate environment, Transpersonal Psychotherapy seeks to bring awareness to emotional and psychological blocks such as fear, anxiety, unresolved trauma,  inner conflict, feeling stuck, unworthiness, failure and the desire for complete control. It can create an attitude of trust and surrender to life’s experiences knowing there is an inner capability to meet any challenges that surface. From that vantage point, experiences offer gifts that can encourage greater perspective and strengthen one’s resilience.

Transpersonal psychotherapy encourages clients to take informed responsibility for the experiences of their lives and develop higher understanding and awareness of those experiences as their life path. As this pattern of consciousness is accepted, the client has the potential to develop an acceptance of their inner guidance system as a resource for decision-making and focused action. This new life view provides a foundation for healing and the development of a healthy sense of well-being and capability in life.

Mind – Body – Spirit  Approach

In a safe and non-judgmental environment, techniques are facilitated which supports clients in identifying their issues, overcome obstacles, transform emotional blocks and recover a balanced, aware and capable perspective in their lives.

In Transpersonal Therapy, the psychotherapist facilitates a ‘mind, body and spirit’ approach to healing and inner transformation and supports the client’s experience using such techniques and processes:

  • Integrate and connect with mind, body, emotions and spirit levels of consciousness
  • Develop Meditation and Guided Imagery Skills
  • Reveal unresolved family traumas, unhealed emotions and limiting dynamics through Systemic Family Constellations
  • Perceptual Expansion and Limiting Belief Change
  • Expand aware ego development through Inner Selves Voice Dialogue
  • Facilitate Inner child work that accesses both the inner child and adult
  • Uncover Relationship Dynamics and Attachment Styles
  • Learn Empathic and Validating Communication Skills
  • Understand impulsivity and gain self-regulating skills, create inner balance
  • Energetic therapeutic techniques such as chakra psychotherapy
  • Shamanic Energetic Therapy
  • Emotional Healing of Core Issues
  • Unresolved Trauma and psycho-spiritual blocks
  • Expanding connection to Wise Self or Divine Self
  • Uncover their unhealthy coping mechanisms and defenses
  • Complete psycho-emotional developmental tasks
  • Balance inner polarizations and develop emotional self-regulation
  • Create the ability to build self-esteem and recognize their self-worth
  • Develop tools and skills to navigate the challenges and dynamics of relationships
  • Embrace their unique aspects of self and sub-personalities
  • Access disowned, denied and split off parts of self and soul loss
  • Understand how unresolved family of origin issues show up in relationships
  • Learn about their disowned selves and how this affects their life and relationships
  • Develop a connection to their Higher Self, Intuition and Cosmic Consciousness
  • Manifest in alignment with Authentic Self and Higher Purpose

Transpersonal Therapy – Process

This process includes both emotional healing and experiential work and employs concepts from transpersonal and transformational psychotherapy.

Identify -> Observe -> Understand -> Accept ->             Gain Awareness -> Transform

While Transpersonal Counsellors and Therapists work on an intuitive and energetic level with clients, there is also a stepped process to its Mind-Body-Spirit approach that is focused on assisting clients to embrace their well-being.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy recognizes that life occurs on multi -dimensional levels.  It offers the possibility for the development of emotional and spiritual maturity in those who seek self-knowledge and self-awareness through its methods. This can ultimately lead the client to realize their greater sense of place in the world and assist them in establishing deeper meaning in their lives.

Feel free to Contact   Lorena for any further questions or inquiry or to book a free discovery session.

Shamanic Ancestral or Systemic Family Constellations Sessions

Individual Systemic Family Constellations or Shamanic Ancestral Constellations sessions are available at a special rate of $75.00/1 hour session for the month of December.  Formats include Skype, In Person or Telephone sessions. The offer applies to both systemic psychotherapy and shamanic coaching approaches. We will determine which approach is best suited for you.  This is an opportunity for those who want to explore how their family system or ancestral soul may be affecting choices, patterns and possible obstacles in their lives.  The focus is opening up our capacity to access the flow of life force energy and manifest from our authentic self. ~Lorena

Family Constellations can be facilitated from a therapeutic systemic approach by a Registered Psychotherapist or as Shamanic Ancestral Soul approach by and Energy Medicine Facilitator or Practitioner.

Family Constellations session formats can include:

  • personal sessions for individuals or dyads between parent and child or siblings.  The entire family can also be facilitated as group focused on a particular obstacle or intention.
  • group sessions which are facilitated for participants that are not related necessarily
  • altar constellations sessions where items are selected to represent an idividual’s family system and soul constellation.

Family Constellations Assessment

The following assessment can provide a guideline to possible family systems issues that can be expanded in awareness and soulful understanding through this highly experiential connection with family energetics, systems and soul.

Family Constellations Theory holds that traumas such as the items listed below affect the family soul just as traumas affect the individual.  Specifically, the belief is that unprocessed trauma is held within the family soul system.   Michael Reddy, Ph.D., author of Health, Happiness and Family Constellations,  presents accumulating evidence from the fields of social neurobiology, epigenetics and brain research that ancestral experiences could pass via genetic inheritance to descendents.

There are many approaches to Family Constellations, however all are rooted in a mind, body and spirit approach to reconnecting with our authentic selves, health and vitality in relationships and life.

Shamanic Family Soul Circles

The Family Soul Circle is not therapy, the focus is ancestral soulwork. While exploring our personal story and provides insight and shifts of perception in psychotherapy, it is not explored or relevant to ancestral soulwork.

Individual or Dyad or Family Sessions include an Assessment

Try this Typical Family Constellations Assessment

  • •Did anyone die young?
  • •Did anyone leave the family?
  • •Was anyone abandoned, excluded, dishonoured from the family?
  • •Were there any adopted children or people who gave their child for adoption?
  • •Have you had a miscarriage or abortion or has one of your children died?
  • •Has anyone had a baby outside of his or her marriage or with a previous partner?
  • • Did anyone have a difficult birth (or caesarean)?
  • • Was anyone in a fatal accident or did anyone have a serious illness that could have taken his or her life?
  • • Did anyone have a traumatic experience in childhood?
  • • Have your parents ever told you whether they had any children that died?
  • Have they ever told you if they lost a child?
  • • Did anyone die giving birth?
  • • Did anyone in your family kill someone or did anyone have someone killed?
  • • Was anyone in your family murdered?
  • • Did anyone commit suicide?
  • • Did anyone give birth to a stillborn child?
  • • Did anyone participate in war?
  • • Did anyone take advantage of other people and caused them to suffer a
  • loss (land, money, life, etc.
  • • Was anyone institutionalized? (Jail, mental hospital…)
  • • Was anyone mistakenly accused of something and had to pay for it
  • • Was anyone physically or mentally challenged?
  • • Did you, your partner or your parents have a previous relationship that did not end well?
  • • Were you separated at an early age (from 0 – 3 years old) from your mother for a week or more (vacation, illness, incubator etc.
  • • Were your parents separated at an early age (from 0 – 3 years old) from
  • your mother for a week or more (vacation, illness, incubator etc.)
  • • Did anyone go missing in your family?
  • • Did anyone become a nun/priest?
  • • Did anyone lose his or her fortune?
  • • Did anyone remain single?
  • • Did anyone live an “alternative” or “different” life, for which they were criticised?
  • • Was there a conflict over an inheritance?

Contact Lorena to find out more about Family Constellations approaches to determine the best suited approach for your needs and objectives.   Explore through a 30 minute free discovery session, how Systemic Family Constellations or Shamanic Soul Constellations can be incorporated your healing journey.

Inner Balance Mastery

Inner Balance Mastery Tools

Balancing the Masculine and Feminine: Anima and Animus

By Lorena Colarusso Registered Psychotherapist

The masculine is sovereignty, the crown upon your soul. Femininity is humility and unconditional love, the heart within the breast of your soul and together they make the whole soul essence.” St. Germain, Twin Souls and Soulmates

We all possess the polarities of masculine and feminine essence within us. Integrating our inner masculine and feminine selves are the foundation of our wholeness. Rooted in Jungian psychology, this concept of the inner masculine and feminine is described as the “anima and animus”. It describes the male as having an inherent inner feminine and the female, an inner masculine.

Another description for these forces of nature is Yang and Yin. Yang energy being masculine is often described as light, the sun, fire, directed, focused, logical, protective and action-oriented. The Yin, which is the feminine, encompasses descriptors such as the moon, intuitive, receptive, vague, diffuse, emotional, dark.

Psychologically, men are generally described as predominate yang with aspects of yin energy while women are mostly considered as possessing more yin energy with aspects of yang. Each person contains the inner seeds of potential for wholeness and integration of both yin and yang.

The individual opportunities for inner self-integration of these opposites can present itself in men as they expand and embrace their emotions, their vulnerability and their capacity for connection. For women, the integration focuses on their capability for decisiveness, being action oriented, having inner strength, being independent and displaying personal power.

Integrating our Inner Masculine or Feminine is a very important pathway to accessing our full potential. Too much or too little of either can block our ability to manifest, achieve in the world and experience emotional balance.

Try this Exercise:

Take some time to review the list below and follow the instructions to uncover your unique Masculine/Feminine balance:

What is the current balance of the masculine and feminine energies in your life and what needs further development?   Which of these aspects of the Masculine or Feminine are polarized in you?

Too strong, too weak? Which are disowned or denied?

Masculine Feminine
Aggressive Passive
Independent Interdependent
Rational Emotional
Objective Subjective
Dominant Submissive
Competitive Cooperative
Logical Intuitive
Adventurous Cautious
Decisive Ambivalent
Ambitious Security Oriented
Worldly Domestic
Leader Follower
Assertive Tactful
Analytical Integrative
Strong Tender
Sexual Sensual
Philosophical Practical
Thinking Feeling
Good in Math Good in the Arts
Good in Science Good in Literature
Self-reliant Consults others
Individualistic Interpersonal
Goal oriented Process oriented
Exclusive Inclusive
Instrumental Expressive
Disciplinarian Nurturing
Pleases self Pleases others
Takes initiative Receptive
Likes time alone Likes time with others
Sees parts Sees whole
 Rebellious Conformist
Theological Religious
Separative Affliative

Balancing Brain Hemispheres:

To help you more clearly understand the masculine and feminine within you, consider that your brain is designed to accommodate these polarities. The functions of the left and right hemispheres of your brain correlate to the masculine and feminine respectively.

The left brain output is more closely affiliated with the masculine qualities of logic, being detailed oriented, being more concerned with factual data and having the capacity for words and language, math and science. It operates in the present and past. It comprehends, knows, acknowledges, orders and can perceive patterns. It names objects, is reality-based, practical, focuses on safety and has the proclivity to be strategic.

The right brain function is oriented to imagination, creativity, symbols and images. It uses feeling and is oriented to the present and future. It believes, appreciates, knows object functions, understands meaning, is philosophical and spiritual, is fantasy based, impetuous, explores present possibilities and takes risks.

Neuroplasticity is the Gift that allows us to integrate our Feminine and Masculine qualities.

From the field of neuroscience, writers such as Norman Doidge, M.D., explain the revolutionary phenomenon of neuroplasticity. The brain’s capacity for regeneration, transformation, performance and healing. The holistic techniques include a brain, mind, body and energetic approach. The brain is impacted by forms of energy, light, sound, vibration and movement that have been described as capable of awakening the plasticity of the brain’s own transformative capacity.

In the above exercise, how well-balanced between the Anima and Animus did you find yourself to be?

Is there some integration or balancing you would like to explore?

Alchemy Pathways and Lorena Colarusso offer a host of options to help you achieve your desired integration of your feminine/masculine energies. Lorena is available to support you to balance your life in order to honour both the left and right brain activities and to assist you in exploring a full reconnection to Source and to your Soul.

The pathways to integration and wholeness include:

  • Inner Selves Therapy (Voice Dialogue) is a pathway to embrace, integrate and bring choice and balance to the Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine parts of us.
  • Axiatonal Alignment is a holistic therapy described as balancing the left and right brains, integrating the masculine and feminine. It also is described as an energetic re-alignment to soul or source energy.
  • Shamanic Reiki Soul Retrieval spiritual journey based therapy that expands awareness and connects to the inner masculine and feminine. Retrieval and healing of psyche and soul fragments can be facilitated.
  • Emotional Clearing Sun/Moon Balancing Facilitation. Read more…
  • Belvaspata Healing of the Heart, Spiritual Journeys Integration and Balancing of Heart Energies, Enlightened Consciousness and Physical Being.
  • Alchemy Fragrance, Spiritual Journeys Egyptian Oil Balancing the 12 Meridians, Emotions and Inner Selves
  • Couples Coaching can provide an opportunity to explore and balance polarizations of the masculine and feminine within the actual relationship itself.

Contact Lorena for more information on these holistic and therapy services or to book a session.


The Brain’s Way of Healing, Norman Doidge, M.D.

He: Understanding Masculine Psychology, Robert A. Johnson

She: Understanding Feminine Psychology, Robert A. Johnson

We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, Robert A. Johnson

The Quest for Maleness, Theun Mares

Unveil the Mysteries of the Female, Theun Mares

Developing a Secure Attachment Style

Have you ever felt that you do not possess the adequate skills or resources to deal with stressors in your life, such as a job loss, relationship breakdown or family conflict? You may have compared your ability to cope with that of others, felt that you came up short and wondered why. Your ability to deal with stressful situations as an adult could be related to the attachment style you developed in your childhood.

What are attachment styles?

Attachment styles help us understand and predict reactions from other people and from our environment. The way a parent responds to their child’s needs throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence help to shape their attachment style.

The reactions we get from the people in our environment are ingrained in our brains and emotional systems by the time we reach adulthood.

Renowned attachment theorist, John Bowlby, defines attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings”. Bowlby identified four characteristics of attachment:

  • Proximity maintenance – we want to be near the people we are attached to
  • Safe haven – our attachment figure is who we return to when we are afraid or threatened
  • Secure base – we may explore our environment comfortably knowing our attachment figure is a secure base to return to
  • Separation distress – we experience anxiety if separated from our attachment figure


Attachment Styles

In the 1970s, psychologist Mary Ainsworth defined three major attachment styles: Secure, Ambivalent and Avoidant. Later, researchers Main and Solomon categorized a fourth attachment style: Disorganized. Ambivalent, Avoidant and Disorganized attachments are considered insecure attachments. 


Secure attachment

According to Dr Hal Shorey, Ph.D, “about 55% of people emerge from childhood with secure attachment styles”.

Secure attachments develop when parents are consistently available and responsive to a child’s needs. Responsive parents are often very in tune with their child’s emotional needs and cues. By responding appropriately to these cues, the child learns their emotions are worthy of recognition.

Parents that help their children to develop secure attachments also provide non-verbal cues to help their children process and regulate their emotions, while providing compassion and instilling resilience. Responsive parents play a key role in teaching their children to tolerate and manage negative emotions like pain, loneliness, aggression and frustration.

Responsive parents help their children to become empathetic adults by correctly identifying and reacting to their children’s emotions.

The culmination of this parenting style generally results in children who develop the confidence to act independently, as they can identify and regulate their emotions, can tolerate negative emotions and are equipped with strategies to move past obstacles.

Common personality traits of people with secure attachments:

  • High self-esteem
  • Independent
  • Resilient
  • Good emotional regulation and management
  • Long-term relationships with friends
  • Good relationships with parents and other authority figures
  • Trusting
  • Empathetic, compassionate


Ambivalent attachment

Parents who respond inconsistently to their child’s needs tend to create an anxious attachment style, where the child is less inclined to explore their environment and may cry more often. Ambivalently attached children tend to experience considerable distress when separated from their parents, but don’t find comfort in their return either. Parents of ambivalently attached children can confuse their children with their responses: being sometimes receptive and nurturing, and other times overbearing and insensitive.

Common personality traits of people with ambivalent attachments:

  • Suspicious of strangers, not trusting
  • Clingy, needy
  • Overdependent
  • Unwilling to form close relationships
  • Cold, distant
  • Frequently end relationships
  • Underdeveloped pain coping skills


Avoidant attachment

Children may develop an avoidant attachment style when their parent consistently ignores or rejects their needs. In these cases, the parent is not attuned to the child’s emotional responses. Children with avoidant attachments will try to evade attempts to make physical contact and may avoid parents or caregivers overall.

Common personality traits of people with avoidant attachments:

  • Self-contained – have learned to rely on themselves from a young age
  • Have difficulty with intimacy
  • Superficial relationships – do not emotionally invest
  • May engage in casual sex regularly
  • Lack empathy
  • Unable to identify what others are feeling
  • Unable to summon a correct emotional response to others


Disorganized attachment

When a child displays a lack of clear attachment behaviour, they may be categorized as having a disorganized attachment. Often these children will display a mix of avoidant and resistant behaviours and may be apprehensive in the presence of their parent or another authority figure.

Inconsistent parental responses may contribute to this attachment style: commonly this may be a mix of parental responses that include fear and reassurance. This attachment style may also be observed in children who have been abused, as the person who is meant to be their “safe haven” is also the perpetrator of terrifying behaviour.

Attachment styles: implications for adult personality and relationships

Although our development throughout our childhood plays a key role in determining our personality traits and reactions to our environment as adults, we are not doomed to go through life with a lack of coping skills or stuck in personality patterns that do not serve us. It is possible to build our interpersonal skills and resilience.

What attachment style do you most identify with? What skills would you like to work on building so they serve you better as an adult?

In a future article, we will discuss how attachment styles affect our relationships and personality in adulthood. We’ll also outline some methods that can help us make changes to our attachment style.


The Keys to Rewarding Relationships:

What is Your Attachment Style?:

Traits of Secure Attachment:

Attachment Theory – Styles and Characteristics:

Anxiety can both Protect and Overwhelm


Your heart is racing, chest is tightening and you have feelings of fear, apprehension or panic. Many of us will recognize these symptoms and immediately think of times when we’ve felt them. These symptoms are part of our bodies’ normal reaction to situations we perceive as dangerous, unsafe or stressful (known as the fight or flight response), but today we can label the combination of these symptoms in daily life as anxiety.

All of us experience anxiety at some point in our lives, usually in response to stressful or overwhelming situations. But how do we categorize a “normal” anxious response? How do we know if our anxiety has gone on for too long without treatment? What are the warning signs that anxiety is interfering with our day-to-day lives?

Common anxiety symptoms

Anxiety manifests physically, emotionally, and through behavioural and cognitive patterns. You may recognize that you are having an anxious response to a situation when you experience a combination of these symptoms:

  • Increased/racing heart rate
  • Tightening chest/shallow breathing
  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles
  • Inability to concentrate/loss of focus
  • Worry
  • Apprehension
  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, society (avoidance)
  • Fast-talking
  • Obsessive thoughts; creating “what if” situations
  • Scanning for anxiety/threats

Helpful anxiety

Anxiety can be described as a full emotional and physical response that can occur before or after a stressful situation. Although the physical and emotional experience of anxiety can be distressing, anxiety is helpful to us when it is triggered to alert us of real threats or danger. When we perceive a real threat or stressor, anxiety motivates us to take action to deal with the threat or stressor appropriately. For example, we may feel some anxiety before a job interview or an examination, but the feeling of anxiety should motivate us to prepare adequately in advance (that is, take action).

Disordered anxiety

There are many areas of the brain involved in processing the symptoms of anxiety. Disordered responses to anxiety can occur when the brain processes too many or too little of these symptoms. Sometimes the wrong parts of the brain become involved in processing the symptoms. Some manifestations of disordered anxiety patterns in the brain include:

  • an overly intense perception of anxiety – the brain’s response to a stressor does not match the real threat
  • an overworked brain due to an accumulation of past stressful memories – in response the brain generalizes fear and worry to present and future situations
  • a generalization of threatening and non-threatening situations – the brain cannot judge which is which in real life.

The likelihood of developing disordered anxiety is dependent on both biological and environmental factors. For example, research shows that anxiety is sometimes inherited from our parents (biology). As children, we may see anxious behaviours modelled by our parents, or grow up in a stressful environment which leads us to over-develop anxious responses. Exposure to a traumatic event can also be a precursor to disordered anxiety.

There are many presentations of disordered anxiety, including generalized anxiety (excessive, uncontrollable, non-specific worry), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

Treating anxiety

There are several approaches to treating anxiety and its symptoms. The most common treatment method recommended to sufferers by experts is cognitive behavioural therapy. Transpersonal Psychotherapists aim to identify and treat the source of anxiety, and may recommend some lifestyle modifications to treat symptoms.

First and foremost, experts have noted that healing can most easily take place in a healthy body. Therefore, it is important to take care of your body through good nutrition, regular exercise and good quality sleep. Other lifestyle modifications to manage symptoms can include:

  • becoming aware of and practicing regulatory breathing
  • practicing rhythmic movement such as walking, dancing, swaying, jumping rope or stretching
  • limiting stimuli and practicing relaxation or being still
  • mindfulness training – staying connected to the present moment.

Getting to the root of anxiety

It’s helpful for sufferers to learn techniques to manage the symptoms of anxiety but ultimately sufferers will receive respite when they connect to the reason(s) they experience disordered anxiety. Therapeutic approaches that are Integrative, drawing on a variety of therapies are helpful in getting to the root. Ultimately, sufferers will need to re-train their brain to prevent disordered anxious responses from happening in the first place. Anxiety sufferers are encouraged to regain community connection, expand/build their social skills, and work with their therapist to develop plans for confronting situations that provoke an anxious response.

When to reach out for help

Anxiety management is one of the most common reason people work with therapists. As many as 1 in 4 Canadians will experience anxiety and require assistance to manage it. How can you tell when it’s time to reach out for help to manage your anxiety?

  • Your anxiety is disrupting your normal eating, sleeping, working, educational and relationship patterns
  • You can no longer exercise (due to fear of provoking an anxiety attack)
  • You have symptoms of anxiety and have a diagnosed or undiagnosed mood disorder
  • You start to notice a pattern to your anxiety and/or emotional responses
  • Your anxiety symptoms are repetitive, are escalating, and have persisted regularly for longer than 6 months
  • Your anxious responses are not proportionate to the actual stressfulness of a situation
  • You have experienced a traumatic event
  • You abuse substances
  • You have a family history of disordered anxiety
  • You feel alienated from others and struggle to understand social interaction
  • Dealing with your anxiety has become another stressor in and of itself

To find out more about therapeutic approaches to challenging anxiety with Lorena Colarusso Registered Psychotherapist, send a message through our contact page and request a free 30 minute telephone discovery session.  Lorena incorporates an Integrative approach drawing on Psychodynamic, Transpersonal, Somatic and Energetic, Attachment, Developmental and Relationship therapies.

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