Psychotherapist (RP) in Toronto: about changehappens.ca
education and training
My name is Natalie Gold, and I’m a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Toronto, certified in Gestalt Therapy as a post-graduate of the 4-year Training Program for psychotherapists at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto (GIT), with over 7 years of Gestalt training, including 2 with the GIT’s Jorge Rosner in the 1980s.
In the past, I attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, majoring in Honors English and Theatre Arts, and later Toronto’s Ryerson Institute, majoring in Radio/TV Arts.
Professional memberships include: the CRPO (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario), the OACCPP (Ontario Association of Consultants, Counselors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists) and the AAGT (Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy).
I’ve presented the “No!” series of boundary-setting workshops since 2002, on my own and in conjunction with: Toronto’s Learning Annex (2002-2003), the North York Women’s Centre (2007-2008), and the Gestalt Institute of Toronto (2007-2009).
From 2011-2013, I co-led the “Hungry or not, here I come!” workshop series on emotional eating at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto with Gestalt colleague and co-creator, Luisa de Amaral.
In 2013, I teamed up with another Gestalt colleague, Irina Petrova, to co-create a series of women’s workshops on body image — “Love, Hate & Mirrors” was conducted at Sheena’s Place in Toronto in February 2014 to commemorate Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and “Vanity & Sanity: a workshop for women on body image and self-esteem” has been ongoing since then.
My book, written over a span of 14 years and which details my personal story and struggles with binge eating disorder, Binge Crazy: A Psychotherapist’s Memoir of Food Addiction, Mental Illness, Obesity and Recovery, was published at the end of 2015.
Prior working as a psychotherapist, I was a self-employed qualitative research consultant with over 25 years experience facilitating groups and conducting in-depth interviews (mainly for the federal government—including 8 years at CBC). During that time, for 9 years I wrote a monthly magazine column for the professional market research association (MRIA), as well as a book, and also provided moderator training workshops for research practitioners at all levels, including customized workshops for companies and organizations. All of this lends itself helped me develop and hone skills that apply well to psychotherapy.
Before market research, among a diverse range of activities, I’ve worked as a singer/entertainer in Canada and internationally, on a professional and semi-professional basis (blues, jazz, folk, pop).
how I work
Background: As a curious Sagittarius, I began asking “good questions” when I was a child (a good question was most often one that adults couldn’t answer!).
This tendency served me well in my 25-year professional life as a qualitative researcher and consultant, whose job involved asking questions (in focus groups and in-depth interviews), listening carefully, then observing and writing about how people responded.
This skill of asking good questions serves me and my clients well during individual or group psychotherapy sessions in Toronto or workshops wherever they are scheduled.
As a psychotherapist: Individual Gestalt psychotherapy involves a relationship between the therapist and client, where you, the client, are always in charge. I work intuitively, using Gestalt techniques, and also drawing from a wide range of cognitive, behavioral, humanistic and experiential influences including: CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), emotion-focused therapy; art therapy; psychodrama; dream interpretation; mindfulness and spirituality; SFT (solution-focused therapy); the 12 steps (of Alcoholics Anonymous); harm reduction; and the bio-psychosocial approach.
My job is to support you—to listen, to guide you to some awareness with skilful questions, and with your permission, to suggest things to try (experiments) so you can see whether a particular idea is true for you, or not. With awareness comes the potential for change, and emotionally healthier ways to live your life.
Individual psychotherapy sessions last an hour and are conducted in person, at my office in Toronto, located near a subway line. Group psychotherapy usually lasts 2 or 2.5 hours, depending, and workshops vary.
As a coach: Coaching the Gestalt way means that Gestalt techniques and learning applies. You are always in charge. As a coach, I work intuitively, and pose questions that will help you discover what you need and want, focus on what’s important to you, and choose your best course of action.
Individual sessions can be 30 minutes or longer, depending on the client’s needs, and can be conducted in person or on the phone. The first session is usually one hour and conducted in person.
The difference between psychotherapy and coaching: Gestalt psychotherapy is a natural, holistic, organic process that involves healing and confronting aspects of our personality and behavior that don’t serve our best interests. Sometimes it can be fun, and other times less so. But no matter how difficult your problem or issue, if you persist, change happens.
Psychotherapy helps us get out of our own way, so we can live our best lives. Coaching focuses on setting and reaching goals, and is usually much shorter-term.
The following are some of the issues and areas my psychotherapy clients and I have worked through:
- Anxiety, anger, depression, grief
- Emotional healing from past or recent trauma or abuse
- Eating disorders and food addiction (binge eating, compulsive eating, emotional eating, bulimia), including body image, weight and obesity concerns – including support for families of people who are dealing with these eating-related issues
- Addiction recovery, using 12-step or harm reduction (e.g., bio-psycho-social) approach – including support for families of people in recovery
- Family therapy, including support for families of individuals with mental illness
- Self-esteem, perfectionism, self-sabotage, setting boundaries, codependency, dysfunctional family background, adult children of alcoholics
- Blocks to living life fully, including creative and work-related blocks, fear of failure or success, procrastination
- Life transitions
what is gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is holistic, experiential and relational.
Holistic: gestalt involves all of you – your body, mind and spirit; your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes; your senses; your physical attributes, including your health and how you move; your feelings and emotions; your personality; your work and sense of accomplishment; your general social milieu and your goals, hopes and dreams.
Experiential: gestalt focuses on your experiences within the therapy session, that can also relate to those that happen outside of the session. You get to learn how to recognize and interpret what is happening to you based on a different or expanded set of criteria from what you have been used to.
Relational: gestalt uses the relationship between you and the therapist as a way to explore your connections with yourself and with others – friends, lovers, partners, family members, work colleagues – and as a way to develop less restricted and more fulfilling and meaningful ways of being in the world.
Gestalt therapy also…
- Works in present time (the “here and now”), with references to the past only when they become relevant.
- Focuses on becoming aware, which creates the potential for change, along with more options to help you live the life you want.
- Is a collaborative effort between client and therapist. Together, both co-create the therapeutic session. The client is always in charge of saying yes or no to any suggestion by the therapist.
- Can sometimes be fun. It helps us get out of our own way, so we can live our best lives.
- Has evolved over the years from Fritz Perls’ infamous confrontational approach in a group setting (still erroneously referred to in many psychology textbooks as the definitive approach) to the gentler and collaborative processes used today in individual and group therapy.
- Was developed by Fritz and Laura Perls in the 1950s from a wide range of influences, ranging from the early Gestalt psychologists (Wertheimer, Koffka, Kohler) and Wilhelm Reich (body armor), to to Freud (the subconscious and dreams), Martin Buber (I-Thou), Kurt Lewin (field theory), existentialism (acceptance of what is), and Moreno (psychodrama)– to name a few.
Before becoming a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist and opening my psychotherapy practice in Toronto in 2007, I was involved in the pursuit and struggle to find out what I really wanted to do with my life.
Since the age of 20, out of a necessity and a desire to live up to my potential, I have been working on personal issues. My life has taken a long and winding road towards personal growth and healing.
Over the years, I have worked individually, in psychotherapy groups, and in workshops with a variety of different therapists, and have been exposed to a wide range of therapeutic methods and processes. So I have been there, groped in the dark, grasped at straws, tried, fallen down, and picked myself up again. And again.
One major influence, and the basis of my psychotherapy practice in Toronto, is Gestalt, a holistic experiential and relational approach to developing personal potential that includes cognitive, emotional, behavioral and mindful components. In other words, what you think, how you feel, what you do and what you believe are all important, as is the society we live in and the pressures we all face in this changing world.
Because Gestalt takes someone’s entire being into consideration – physical, emotional, intellectual/mental and spiritual – I have found it to be the most effective psycho-therapeutic change process.
Other therapeutic modalities, including CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), dreamwork, art therapy, psychodrama, SFT (solution-focused therapy) and coaching have informed my practice, as has my ongoing participation and recovery in a 12-step program for over 30 years.
The 12-step program I found has influenced my understanding of addiction, mental and emotional health, and the personal importance of developing a spiritual outlook on life. And while I am profoundly grateful for this, I understand that this type of approach is not for everyone.
Gestalt has helped me become aware of and accept who and what I am, what I want and need, and to recognize and own my emotions, understand their impact on my body and in my life, and to use them in a constructive way. And it has helped me accept and understand that we each must find our own path.
Like many other human beings, I am a work in progress, and anticipate learning and growing until it is my time to leave the planet.
Since one size does not fit all, and given that each individual’s path to healing and change is unique, in my practice I use the methods most appropriate and helpful to the client.
change isn’t easy
even when we’re totally committed.
we naturally resist what change invites:
the new, the strange, the unfamiliar.
we can end up
compromising our lives
not pursuing our dreams
and settling for just okay.
but with some skilled support
change can lead to
a different journey and outcome.
it is possible.