Counselling for Men 

 Brian E. Brumwell, BSc, MTS,

 [email protected]

Blog & comments

Blog & comments

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Counselling isn't for me.

Posted on November 27, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (11538)

 Its been a long time since I wrote so I'll try and catch you up with the highlights. I started another Masters level course on Personality Theories at Tyndale Seminary in September, with a hint of anatomy & function of the brain I was hooked quite early. So that has me busy but it winds down soon.

I've had a couple of appointments that weren't ready or didn't feel I could help them and that's ok. A big part of counselling is finding the right therapist for you. One that you connect with and feel will be a 'good fit'. Another couple joined me for eight sessions and some excellent growth occurred for them.

I'm working with a young man now and it seems this will be a connection that shows some promise. Let me encourage you, if you've never tried counselling or therapy, make an appointment and I'll do my best to reach you where you are and help you move forward. Even if you're just curious about the process, I'm sure anyone will find the journey into self-exploration to be a worthwhile trip.

What is a brain injury?

Posted on July 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (179)

Concussion, Mild Brain Injury, (mTBI) Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)all have one thing in common, the most vital part of a human being has been damaged.


       160,000 Canadians sustain brain injuries each year. Incidence (and reporting rates) are rising.


       Over a million Canadians live with the effects of an acquired brain injury.


       About 50% of all acquired brain injuries in Canada come from falls and motor vehicle accidents.


       Think First reports that thirty per cent of all traumatic brain injuries are sustained by children and youth, many of them while participating in sports and recreational activities. ( ;)

    These are just the individual cases.Assuming that each person has 2 parents, perhaps siblings, friends, classmates or coworkers and before long the number of people affected is multiplied numerous times.

The brain sits in a jelly-like substance and floats inside the skull. When an individual is struck on the head or their body is moved suddenly, they can acquire a brain injury. The suspended brain slams against the hard interior of the skull and often bounces back to damage the other side as well. Imagining a ball inside a container gives a rudimentary idea of what happens.

When this happens the brain very often twists inside the skull and microscropic fibres of the brain are torn and shredded. As one would expect, this can have devastrating consequences to the individual. 

If the survivor goes unconscious, their muscles of course will atrophy more and more the longer they are comatose. But until they awaken from this state it is impossible to determine how the brain has been effected. If they do not lose consciousness, they may still experience dizziness, headaches, absentmindedness, fatigue and soreness.

In severe cases, a loss of smell and vision problems could be coupled with a loss of taste. Balance issues, spasticity of muscles, walking problems with gait, muscle weakness and loss of fine and gross motor skills. They could lose an awareness of one side of their body and clumsily bump into things and these are just some of the physical issues.

Not to mention cognitive issues like organization, concentration, memory retention, impulsivity and unawareness of social standards and expectations. Fatigue is one of the devastating effects of sustaining a brain injury and because a person may appear to be 'normal' again, they are often labelled as 'lazy and non-productive' if they need more rest than others.

Learning to deal with the new realities of a new person who often looks like the old person can be very difficult. Brain Injury patients have often dealt with the ignorance that comes with comments like "You look fine to me". Families and friends need to be patient and understanding and there are many resources and support organizations to help with this life transition. Education of the effects of brain injury is an important part of understanding.

Maybe you'd like some help explaining things to family or close friends, or maybe you'd just like a fuller understanding of your injury. I'm a person who has been where you are, I have knowledgeable about brain injury. I'm kind and willing to listen and I can help.

Help for bad choices

Posted on June 30, 2016 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (553)

Life often comes with many obstacles and pitfalls but it also can be very rewarding, exciting and happy. It's in the low times where many of us struggle. Finding purpose in spite of trials can be a difficult and slow process. One may feel things will never improve, there is no respite and no chance of finding joy again. Making major decisions at low points in our lives can have devastating consequences or lead to poor and unintended results. No one is an island and the decisions we make have an effect on those around us. An example of this might be, lashing out in anger at a spouse after a long day of business meetings, horrible commutes, uncooperative kids or neighbours and we can harm those that mean the most to us. This is often called 'misplaced aggression'. It is inappropriate to yell at one's boss or coworkers because it's unprofessional and could very well lead to unemployment. It's inappropriate to yell at the neighbour because you share driveway or your kids go to the same school. But its almost acceptable to yell at one's spouse or children.

The new "Snickers" candy bar campaign is built around the 'Hungry" point. Certain celebrities, Don Rickles and Mr. Bean among them, with bombastistic and memorable personalities, portray regular people before they've had a "Snickers" bar It's very funny and memorable in and of itself. But the premise is a wise one.

From a practical perspective here is a good way of learning how to not be implusive and to avoid making poor decisions when the body isn't primed to do so. The word HALT can be broken down as an acronym and be very helpful. For instance, if one is in a position where a decision has to be made about something serious, a good checklist is the HALT formula.

H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Just by asking, "Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?" does 2 things. First, it gets the individual to pause and reflect on the situation at hand and secondly, it helps one not to be reactionary. Does practicing this technique mean we'll never make bad choices or bad decisions? No, we are human and we will do negative things impulsively, and often intentionally (but that's another issue), but getting in the habit of using HALT as a tool can strengthen all of us and help us lead lives that are more fulfilling and less harmful to ourselves and those around us. It is very important to realize that we will make mistakes and that is okay because that is how we learn and grow.

My struggle can help you.

Posted on June 26, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (240)

My life was fairly typical growing up. Two loving and supportive parents that gave me every opportunity to succeed at my chosen career path. I went to high school fairly successfully, playing sports and having fun with my friends.

After grade 13 I went to a one year bible school in upstate New York, Word of Life Bible Institute, where I graduated on the Dean's list. I then returned home to pursue a university degree at York University.

At York U. I was intent on pursuing a Physical Education degree and eventually teach high school Phys. Ed., the classes I enjoyed most as a student. I had just finished my 3rd semester there and enjoyed every class and extra curricular activity I could. I was getting grades for playing volleyball and swimming, I worked weekends at a fitness centre and life was great !

I took a summer job with Canada Dry in order to save more money for school and still enjoyed the fun of playing church league slow-pitch & shooting hoops to keep up my athletic interests and everything was going as planned.

Then in May of 1987 everything changed. While working that job and sitting in my car at a red light, I was broadsided by a careless driver in a cube van. I was on CTV news and the picture of me unconscious and bloody being cut from my car by firefighters was in the Toronto Sun, not the way a young man wants to become famous but nevertheless, there I was.

I was rushed to Sunnybrook Hospital and miraculously had no internal injury but I remained under observation in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit in a comatose state for 18 days. As an only child I'm sure my parents spent many sleepless nights worrying about my outcome. My mother came to the hospital every morning before 7 a.m. and faithfully sat with me all day until my father joined her in those evenings until visiting hours ended.

When I became more stable after 5 weeks, I was moved to Riverdale Hospital (now Bridgepoint). Now aware of my circumstances, I appreciated my parents continued visits for long hours 7 days a week as it wasn't safe to even allow me to visit my home yet. As I slowly began my physiotherapy it became very apparent that things were very serious. I couldn't walk or speak and had to be strapped in a wheelchair during the days and to my bed at night to prevent me from causing myself more harm. I couldn't swallow solid food and my muscle spasms prevented me from feeding myself or even writing my own name. At just 22, an active, athletic, happy go lucky man with the world on a string, became trapped and isolated.  

Slowly I grew stronger, I was allowed to go home on weekends and after 5 months in hospital I could sit up in a wheelchair and swallow solid food and finally I got to go home. I began physiotherapy at Toronto Rehab Institute on Bayview Ave. in Toronto twice a week and eventually 5 times a week. I worked with them in physio, occupational & speech therapy for over 2 years then started university again on a part time basis. Then I worked with Interaction Rehab for a while. After doing a couple of courses at York University again and struggling with logistics of transportation and winter weather, I transferred to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I eventually completed my Bachelor's degree in May 1993 in Radio & Television and returned to Toronto where I got an entry level position at The Sports Network (TSN) a dream job for someone that loves sports as I do. I ended up giving up on it even though they were willing to work with me & my limited mobility.

I struggled with unemployment for a few years before deciding to pursuing a Masters degree at Seminary, unsure of what track to follow. In my first Introduction to Counselling course I knew right away that this was what I was meant to do. I recalled the excellent physiotherapists, doctors and nursing staff that helped me repair my physical body but I became aware of the fact that little or nothing was being done to address the emotional side of the man I now was. I wanted to bridge that gap. I know what it's like to experience tragic loss from the inside, to become someone different, to be at ground zero and have to start again. That's my story.

As a survivor I understand in a way that few people can. Now I have the professional credentials to offer a service that can meet the needs of people and families at the lowest points in their life. I want to hear your story and give hope and support to you. I know there is a better life for you and I can help you find it.