Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselling

You feel lost. Maybe you aren't sure how much you are ready to change or you might be someone who has made some huge life changes but now you are left with more questions than answers. You don't really know how you ended up here. You are scared. You want to understand yourself. You don't want to fall back into old habits. You want to learn how to have healthier relationships. You want to feel better about yourself. 

Addiction Counselling from Etobicoke, ON

Do I have an addiction?

My job is not to judge you or to make the decision for you about whether you have a substance abuse problem. What I am able to do is give you the facts, to discuss the impact that your substance use has on your life. 

This following list is the criteria for substance use disorder:

  • You experience cravings to use a certain substance

  • You have tried to cut down or stop but were unable to

  • Using in ways that are dangerous to yourself and/or others, (example: you have overdosed, driven while under the influence, or blacked out).

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you intended (or than was prescribed)​​​

  • You have neglected other areas of your life because of substance use (school, work, family)

  • Your substance use has caused problems in relationships

  • When you've stopped using the substance, you've experienced withdrawal symptoms.

  • You have built up a tolerance to the substance and have to use more to get the same effect.

  • You spend a lot of your time using the substance.

  • Your substance use has led to physical health problems ( such as liver damage) or psychological issues ( for example depression or anxiety).


Problematic substance use occurs on a spectrum. You may find that you can identify with some of the above statements but not all. I can tell you where you fall in terms of risk but it will ultimately be your decision to make whether you feel that your substance use is a problem in your life. 



How Will Therapy Help Me?

Substance abuse or addiction counselling increases your awareness of the ways that your behaviours are affecting your life. It can also help you to identify triggers (people, places, situations) that increase your risk of engaging in these behaviours. It can also assist you in understanding why you are using substances, the need that is being filled. This is important because if you decide to stop using, your problems do not automatically disappear.  

Why Should I Work WIth You?

Before going back to school to get my Masters Degree, I went to school specifically to be an addiction counsellor. Most often therapists that you see may have taken one course in addition, some haven't taken any, they are just using general counselling techniques. I am not saying this to put down any other practitioners, these are facts. I am also highlighting it because it is something I am passionate about, enough so that 10 years ago, I decided to get my post-graduate certificate in addiction treatment and prevention rather than social work or another general therapy degree. What I found in my addiction work was that many of my clients had trauma, and this wasn't always being addressed in addiction treatment itself. This led me to take many more hours of training and I now specialize in treating trauma. Over the years I have worked with individuals as well as their family members in various stages of addiction and recovery.  

What Do We Do In Therapy?

I am not here to judge and I don’t set the agenda. You will create goals and we will use that as a starting point to work together. I will help you understand your thoughts and feelings and the way that they impact your behaviour.

I will ask questions about your life, both past and present, your family experiences, and the lessons or messages you received. This helps both of us understand how you have come to be who you are. We will talk about your relationships and interactions with others. We will also discuss how your substance use may be impacting those relationships. 

We will talk about healthy lifestyle choices you make for yourself, the areas of your life that you feel satisfied with and those that you would like to improve on. In this sense, addiction counselling is about much more than substance abuse. Because each person is different,  every individual’s treatment plan is unique and is based on their own needs. I use a combination of treatment modalities that include motivational interviewing, CBT, DBT, solution-focused and trauma-based approaches.


The role of a therapist is not to "fix" you. Therapy is a process and it will require a commitment for any real change to occur.

What To Expect

Your first session will involve an initial assessment of your overall well being as well as an intake of your personal history and background. Subsequent therapy sessions are 50 minutes in length and are unique to each individual's treatment plan.


Addiction Counselling in Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga, ON


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For the health and safety of clients and staff, the office has a fragrance- free policy. Please refrain from wearing scented products when attending your appointments. Service dogs are welcome.
Kennedy McLean Counselling & Psychotherapy Services Online Counselling and Telephone Psychological Therapy and Psychotherapy throughout Ontario, Canada including Toronto, North York, Vaughan, Thornhill, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Brampton, Guelph, Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville. Kennedy McLean © 2020