Mental health boutique forward focused

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – Mental health has come to the forefront of well-being in the 21st century, and Carp’s Focus Forward Therapy Group (FFTG) is bringing boutique-style mental health care to the very underserved community of West Carleton in Carp.

Carp’s Christine Harrison is bringing the award-winning FFTG to the community, which offers a new look at helping people, with their mental health issues.

“Our clinic has a boutique feel,” Harrison told West Carleton Online Tuesday, Dec. 19 from her new location in downtown Carp (416 Donald b. Munro). “It doesn’t have a mental health or healthcare clinic feel. It creates a comfortable atmosphere.”

The FFTG practice is described as a collective vision Harrison founded in 2014 and has grown to include a diverse group of registered psychotherapists that work with people across the human lifespan covering all areas of treatment.

Harrison is an award-winning psychotherapist that will lead the Carp location, which will focus on children and youth services.

Harrison is a registered psychotherapist, registered counselling therapist. She was named Faces Magazine’s 2023 Counsellor of the Year and FFTG was also nominated for the Face’s Start up of the Year award.

“My goal to create a boutique-style mental health clinic in Ottawa has come to life in Kanata,” she said. “I supervise the wonderful clinicians we have in our boutique as well as clinicians working outside of FFTG. I am a registered psychotherapist with the College of Psychotherapist and a registered counselling therapist and registered child and youth counsellor with the Association of Counselling Therapy of Alberta. I hold enhanced certification in CBT, Narrative Therapy, Sports Psychotherapy and Trauma Counselling. I am a pro competitive athlete and the founder of a women’s health nonprofit foundation in Ottawa.”

Carp village BIA logo.

Harrison said, as a resident of a rural community, she recognized the need for youth services in rural west Ottawa.

“We’re really lacking services out here,” she said. “It’s no secret. People are looking for family services.”

Before founding FFTG, Harrison managed the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre (WOCRC) mental health services and saw the need in West Carleton firsthand.

“I have deep roots here,” Harrison said. “So, having a location here is really important to me.”

While demand is high in the area, and mental health services are limited, Harrison promises potential clients won’t be stuck in limbo waiting to be served.

“We pride ourselves in not having a waitlist,” Harrison said. “My feeling is, if you have a waitlist, you need to create more services.”

Harrison, whose kids went to Huntley Centennial Elementary School, says she loves life in Carp, but recognizes even idyllic communities like West Carleton are not perfect.

“I live in Carp,” she said. “I love it here. Carp is really unique. It’s like there’s a protective bubble around it. I love that sense of community. But stigma can still exist in small communities. Mental health care is just like going to physiotherapy. It’s looking after your health. Psychotherapy can be a powerful tool to help individuals cope with life’s challenges and improve their overall mental health. It provides a safe, supportive environment to explore difficult emotions and gain insight into how thoughts, feelings and behaviors interact. This can allow individuals to gain a better understanding of themselves, their relationships, and how to make positive changes in their lives. Psychotherapy can also help individuals learn how to better manage stress, cope with, and overcome trauma, and develop coping skills to deal with difficult emotions and situations. Ultimately, psychotherapy can help individuals become healthier and happier in their lives.”

Harrison who is an elite level athlete competing in competitive bodybuilding says it was her life in competition that showed here the benefits of psychotherapy while being a good jumping off spot for those who still haven’t got past the stigma of needing mental health help.

“I see a lot of hockey players, volleyball, gymnastics, you name it,” she said. “It’s a real good entry to therapy. There’s a lot of anxiety in young athletes. There are things the team and coaches can’t offer and that’s where psychotherapy jumps in. It’s really effective.”

The FFTG Carp location opened Nov. 1, and Harrison said she saw the need in the community almost immediately.

“We were brand new,” she said. “It’s going well. It picked up immediately. There are so many waitlists around and there is so much help needed locally, so it’s been really good.”

Harrison, who was working in Almonte and Kanata before opening in Carp says the clinic is a dream fulfilled.

“It was always my dream,” she said. “It just made sense. The place became available, and space is hard to get in Carp. I think a lot of parents feel, because maybe they were trying to get in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), they think there is a waitlist. Insurance can also cover a lot of therapy.”

For more information or to book an appointment, visit Christine Harrison’s website here.

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