Areas of Special Interest and Experience

As a therapist, Bruce M. Small has acquired experience on a wide variety of issues, and has developed a number of special areas of interest and skill. The following are illustrative of the issues, interests and approaches he has been engaged in over the last fifteen years in practice. In general, it is his preference to work at a level deep enough to identify and successfully process underlying distress, rather than just provide a client with better coping skills. It is his goal to return to clients the power and freedom to redesign their own lives to their satisfaction.

Chronic Illness: As a result of decades of work in environmental health, Bruce has considerable experience in assisting people whose psychology has over time become wound around their chronic physical illness, for example, multiple allergy and chemical hypersensitivity, chronic fatigue or chronic pain. With some individuals it is possible that some of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours may reinforce their illness, or retard their movement out of a chronic disability mindset. Bruce has had success moving such individuals beyond the chronic disease state into better physical and mental health. Clients should be forewarned that this kind of work is usually slow and it takes consistent commitment on the part of the client to be successful.

Repetitive Behaviour: More generally, Bruce has developed expertise in helping people recognize and modify chronic, repetitive behaviours that have become dysfunctional and may be threatening their physical and mental health, their personal growth, their primary relationships, or their employment. Most therapists encounter this on a daily basis and they all have some expertise in tackling it. Bruce uses a life script theory approach to deal with individuals whose repetitive behaviour is particularly strong, persistent or disturbing.

Abused Individuals: Many people have experienced behaviour from others that has been abusive, highly critical, or otherwise prejudicial. Many such people internalize the values of their oppressors and may need assistance in re-establishing a more confident view of themselves and getting ridding of the anxiety or depression that evolved from such maltreatment.

Dissociated Personality Parts: Some individuals find that there seem to be strong opposing forces within their personality, or that they may tend to flip from one exclusive psychological state to another. Bruce has successfully used his model of Conscious Self-Integration to provide a language and potent images that help clients redesign their way of being and make better use of the wide variety of talents that are available within them. This can involve building new inner parts that are skilled mediators and negotiators and that do not allow any one other part to take over exclusively.

Intimate Relationships: Sometimes people can use help in improving the complex intertwining that they experience within their families or with significant others. Bruce's script theory approach provides models for helping people understand human drama and achieve better outcomes.

Stress: Many people go through particularly stressful periods, for example, illness or death of a loved one, or work or school challenges, in which they experience feelings that are stronger than normal. Bruce provides a safe place for such individuals to deal with these stressful situations, and to strengthen their personalities so that they are less susceptible under duress.

Drug Withdrawal and Drug Avoidance: Many people who have been prescribed mood-altering drugs by conventional practitioners have difficulty getting off their medications. Bruce has experience working with such individuals to help them through their withdrawals and to deal with underlying issues. He is also particularly suited to working with individuals whose physical response makes it difficult to avail themselves of conventional pharmaceuticals, and with individuals who wish to address their issue or state of panic, anxiety or depression without the use of medicinal drugs.

Grief, Loss and Guilt: Bruce has experience in guiding individuals and families through the complicated feelings that surround the death of loved ones, whether expected or without warning. Some individuals have also sought support during the palliative care phase prior to the passing of a loved friend or relative. Some individuals bear the burden of feelings of recrimination surrounding the death or suicide of a loved one who suffered from depression. In addition, some people have had strained or difficult relationships with loved ones who die suddenly or in a manner that does not allow closure on outstanding issues. They are sometimes haunted by their inability to have changed things prior to losing them. Bruce offers an insightful emotion-focused approach to help individuals and families process these difficult feelings and expand their lives once again.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Although most therapists are equipped to deal with individuals of any gender or sexual orientation, Bruce has specific expertise as a gay and bisexual therapist for dealing with people who have felt marginalized by their particular orientation or gender combination, or who have internalized negative feelings as a result of social pressure.

Internalization: More generally, it is very common for most of us to internalize negative thoughts, feelings and actions that have been exhibited towards us or to other members of groups we identify with. Internalized oppression represents one of Bruce's specific areas of expertise, and he has written about it in Springer's Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology and in his recent e-book Taken In: Why We Internalize the Wrong Things (see home page). Helping people become clear of hurtful internalizations can make a huge difference in a person's self-esteem and sense of well-being and belonging.

Men: Bruce has made it a lifelong quest to understand the complexities of male programming in our society, and he is willing to deal with men who may exhibit strong versions of this in terms of sexism, control, anger, violence, stifling of emotions, addictions, overwork, homophobia, body stiffness, ignoring health, and other chronic signs of hegemonic maleness. A number of women have entrusted him with working with their husbands to help them surmount this social training and become more human again in their relationships. For a more complete discussion of Bruce's work with men, click here.

Bruce can be reached by email at, by phone to (416)-598-4888, by text to (416)-274-1628, and by Skype by appointment. Individual therapy sessions can be arranged at your convenience. Depending on your location, Bruce can also come to you, particularly if travel is difficult or anxieties or sensitivities confine you to your own environment.

Peer Counselling: Bruce also provides a gateway to individuals who have graduated from one-on-one therapy and wish to exchange time with others in a peer counselling network as a means of staying in good shape and addressing day-to-day issues without further cost. He has arranged ongoing peer counselling classes to help such individuals learn the etiquette for listening well to others, and has created a website that allows trained individuals to find each other in order to exchange supportive time.


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