At AATC, we specialize in working with those identified as GTI-m. This is described as Gifted - highly proficient in one or more domains: physical, creative, academics or others -, and 2e, gifted + ADHD presentation or other neural differences. GTI-m may also present as: those with intense emotional responses or high sensitivity, heightened empathy (which may interestingly be demonstrated as lack of empathy), processing many experiences as highly negative, and those with early existential thoughts or rumination. Often, GTI-m also shares a diagnosis or presentation as high anxiety, depression, issues with self-identity and feelings of low self-worth. In some, neural divergence may also be due to childhood trauma experiences or processing events as traumatic due to asynchronous development in several brain areas, and may present as symptoms of complex PTSD or other mental health issues.
For more information, see our resources page for a list of recommended articles/books such as "Trauma of Gifted", "ACE's Too High" and others.
Practice lead and founder of AATC, Michelle L. Guy has over 30 years experience working with children, youth, families, and adults in a variety of settings (see "Our Team" page to access her profile).
To support our clients, we use an integration of widely recognized evidence-based approaches (TF-CBT, IFS, DBT, art & play, and others) and therapeutic model developed by Michelle L. Guy, "The Acorn & Anchor Model or Practice" (AAMP), which incorporates the foundation of a CYC relational practice and enhanced knowledge and understanding that therapeutic alliance is key. Research shows that using a client-therapist alliance with a foundation of trust and acceptance is a key indicator of positive results, regardless of all other factors.
The Acorn & Anchor Approach also integrates trauma-informed/focused approaches, neuropsychological research and knowledge, along with a client-focused ideology. Through the use of authentic self in practice, the integration of various modalities & approaches, and a sound knowledge of theories and methodologies, including Interpersonal neurobiology (D. Siegel), Internal Family Systems (R. Schwartz), and Polyvagal Systems Theory (S. Porges) to name a few, we are able to meet each client’s unique needs for therapy and support.
As a practice that supports clients with complex minds and challenges, we are a group of passionate, complex-minded therapists who think outside of the (often outdated) realm of popular "one size fits all" approaches and maintain a Centre that is innovative, up to date on current research, and unique to us.
Each member of our practice team uses AAMP and also bring their own clinical and experiential knowledge to the team which provides enhanced learning, professional consultation, and peer supervision along with it. Check out the "Our Team" page for a list of therapists and their profile links for more information.
All therapists additionally receive training, consultation and clinical supervision with Michelle L. Guy, and through external training programs, to maintain the "best practice" approaches for the clients they see.
Due to the nature of our integrative approach, and the highly under researched area of Giftedness, it is challenging to access public funding and we rely on income from our professional services (Acorn & Anchor Mental Health Services Inc.) and private donations to help fund access to those with financial barriers to services, such as sliding scale rates for individual therapy services and groups/workshops for children/youth/adults who identify as GTI-m, and for parents/families of GTI-m people.
Our Overarching Acorn & Anchor Approach:
Our group of therapists, and counsellors (interns at times as well) practise using evidence-based modalities with a foundation in relational, trauma informed approaches that are client-focused, integrative, and grounded in best practice for individual client needs. Our fundamental therapeutic concepts, those integrated to meet client needs, at the Centre are based on interpersonal neurobiology, therapeutic alliance, unconditional positive regard, skill building, Internal Family Systems (and external), CBT, DBT, ACT, play and art therapies, mindfulness, and other evidence-informed clinical practice methods.
Each therapist comes with their own unique skills, world experience, and expertise that enhances their own private practice, and each works in our "team based" setting with regular peer consultation, support and clinical supervision with our Director.
Our space is comfortable and inclusive. We, unfortunately do not have access to a main floor washroom but Wheelchairs can access the first floor where we have therapy space in the back of the beautiful "Stamen and Pistil Botanicals" store. Various therapists offer both in-person sessions and online sessions using a safe, secure, PHIPA/PIPEDA compliant platform (online sessions offered by most therapists).
At the Centre, some therapists offer a sliding scale (when available).
We are also a teaching centre, and can offer, as available, sessions with Master of Social Work or Child and Youth Care Practitioner student interns who have professional experience and intensive training at the Centre. Interns are fully supervised by an MSW/RSW Therapist at the Centre and would be covered under the supervising therapists registration. Interns also work on GTIm research and resource development, enhance our programs and services, and provide additional client connection through coaching and support.
As noted, our main office shares space with Stamen and Pistil Botanicals - a beautiful and relaxing space for some "nature therapy" too! - (Offices in the North side, upper unit and lower space of the building).