Sue Temme

Registered Psychologist: Play Therapist, Teens and Adults

My Approach to Counselling

I have found that people are happiest when living in a way that is congruent with who they are authentically. I will strive to create a relationship and atmosphere where you can explore beneath the surface of who you are while feeling safe and respected. Goals in counselling are set by you and we will work in a way that honours your values and beliefs.  A frequent goal in therapy is to first come to a place of self-acceptance and understanding.  Once someone can accept themselves where they are currently at, they are ready to begin a transformation to better become who they want to be.  Together we will explore your emotions, thoughts, beliefs and work to create a shift so that you begin to live life more meaningfully or joyfully.

My particular areas of focus with adults include depression, anxiety, trauma, grief and loss, chronic pain, sexual health, identity, life transitions, and difficulty in relationships. No problem is too big or too small to discuss in our sessions.  I am grounded in a psychodynamic framework which sees the self as shaped by internal dynamics rooted in early attachments attachment, by developmental experiences, and by emotions, instincts, and thoughts that are influenced by our external and internal worlds.  I add to this approach with specific additional training pertaining to my areas of focus. I strive to tailor treatment for each person to meet their individual needs. I’m not afraid to sometimes call you on things, am super caring and sometimes funny. I hope to provide some comfort as we deal with the important things.

While I provide some details about how I may work with specific difficulties or situations, setting up a first session to is important to help us lay out a road map of how we might proceed based on your own unique personality and goals.

Play therapy works for children because play comes naturally to children and because play leads development. For children who’ve endured trauma and grief play therapy also allows a separation between the content and what is being worked through and the child themself.  This allows a child to remain more emotionally regulated while still dealing with difficult subject matter. Every child is different and so play in the therapy room can involve Sandplay, art, toys, games, puppets, stories and more. Through play, assessment of diagnoses for the child can be explored, parent/caregiver-child relationships can be strengthened and many presenting issues can be dealt with (such as anxiety, depression, school problems, shyness, bossy-ness, anger issues, attention deficits, developmental delays, emotional expression and communication, and also grief, bedwetting, fears, obsessive compulsive behaviours, exposure to trauma, or chronic pain.).


In play therapy children are given a platform to express what is going on for them and while parent/caregiver goals usually align with the goals of their children, parents gain insight into their child’s world to understand what it feels like for them and better understand what they are needing/asking for. Children enjoy play therapy as they feel in the driver’s seat, and even difficult subject matter can be dealt with in a fun way.


I use a collaborative approach and parents are highly encouraged to provide feedback on how their child is doing in between sessions and also to book sessions with me where we can discuss how they may help continue what has begun in therapy at home for their child. Some sessions may be booked to include a child with their parent(s)/caregivers or siblings to work on issues related to family dynamics or attachment. I have training in Circle of Security Parenting to help with attachment to caregivers in younger children specifically. Ensuring your child is best equipped to deal with their next phase of life is important to me and we will work together to ensure this happens!


Grief and loss feel like the hardest things we can go through—impossible even to live through at times.  Some loss is more visible, such as loss of loved ones or divorce, while other loss is not seen by others, such as miscarriages, loss of a job, loss of a sense of self, and loss of one’s place in life or sense of meaning.  Too often the psychological toll these terrible events can take on us can be seen by those around us and ourselves as mental illness or pathology.  Really, however, the processes of loss are better understood as painful journeys of mourning, of grief, redefinition and reintegration, rather than as symptoms to be treated.  I believe the best course forward is not alleviation of the ‘symptoms’ but rather honoring the impact of the loss and working through the hole it leaves in us to help shape what will now grow in its place.

In working with grieving clients I rely on my background in psychodynamic and existential approaches to help navigate the overwhelming impact of loss through its widespread effects on the psyche.  This is from conscious sharing of memories, through exploring alternate meanings of the loss of those we had broken relationships with, through dream work and analysis as our minds attempt in their own unique way to process the loss when we sleep.  Hidden emotions we didn’t know we would feel, like anger, are often difficult to acknowledge or express around those sharing our loss, and I offer a place where such nuances can breathe and find a place to be understood and organized as you develop and co-create a new relationship and understanding with who or what was lost.

A strong focus for my work with clients is trauma based. Traumatic responses can occur when events outside of our expectations occur that leave us feeling threatened, scared or anxious. Car accidents, deaths, abuse or other distressing events can be traumatic to us. If you experience flashbacks, nightmares, have difficulty sleeping, feel triggered by certain situations, are easily irritated or angered, notice shakiness, hypervigilance and/or you have begun to avoid certain places or people you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  If you feel your living is limited due to these symptoms, you may consider beginning trauma work.


One highly researched modality to work with trauma is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  This empirically supported technique is helps to lessen the strength of associations and triggers that develop and eave us feeling vulnerable and increase our ability to be triggered by random stimuli (thoughts, smells, locations, etc.).  Using this method in therapy I can help you reprocess traumatic memories and decrease or remove their negative influence in your life.  If you don’t feel you have post-traumatic stress disorder but feel triggered or overtaken when you are in a specific situation or think of a specific event, EMDR may also be helpful for you.

Traumatic memories are distinct from ‘normal’ memories in that they feel more real, like recordings of the event that can be replayed.  EMDR helps integrate the realistic part of the trauma memory so that, like all other memories, the details fade and only a partial narrative with flashes of realism remain—in such a way that they no longer ‘spontaneously’ invade your mind when you don’t want them to.  Once this is achieved, the symptoms of traumatic memories leave or diminish, and the power the memory once had over you is taken away from the traumatic event.

Another vital element of choosing to do trauma work is that left unchecked, traumatic memories can guide how we live by leading us to avoid certain people, areas, or activities, thus making our world smaller and scarier.  Over time, these limitations we put on our lives to cope with the power the trauma has over us can shape a smaller world, and that means a world that looks scarier and causes more anxiety and sadness than is objectively real.  Interrupting this process by engaging in trauma work as early as you think you can manage is an important decision.  If you feel you have already waited too long, you may be in a place where you are making lifestyle choices you are unhappy with but feel you can’t stop making.

Trauma can feel overwhelming, but the truth is that the impacts of trauma are some of the most changeable psychological aspects most receptive to therapeutic work.  Together in counselling we can work towards helping you become the self you were meant to be. 

One of my favorite areas to work in with clients is in the area of creating meaning or in developing one’s own identity.  Often, we may “wake up” in our lives to find ourselves questioning how we got to our place in life, wondering if we consciously made decisions to arrive here or whether we just went along with what others expected of us.  In a time like this it is valuable to re-assess and to gain an understanding of who we are, what our values and dreams for our lives are and begin to work towards living in a more authentic way.  This work may also be important when dealing with major life changes such as loss of job, a loved one dying, graduating high school or a recent divorce or life change.

This work may include gaining an understanding of how your personality was formed in early childhood.  Often, with greater insight into the “where did this come from?” clients can then feel more choices for future behaviours or ways of interacting in the world.  Often times this work is accompanied by a sense of grief… grief for the person that was or the person that one could have been but wasn’t.  Clients who decide to take the journey of self-discovery often express feeling more alive and more present in their life day to day.

Sexual difficulties can affect a person outside of the bedroom by increasing feelings of inadequacy, grief, loneliness and anger.  As humans are sexual and relational by nature, it is important not to leave sexual difficulties as they are.  I work with individuals to explore their personalities and their relationships to determine how their sexual behaviours are enhancing or decreasing fulfillment in their lives. 

I believe sexual issues such as pain or erectile dysfunction have physiological roots, but that they can also be affected by psychological reasons as well.  My job in dealing with sexual health and dysfunction is to determine what is occurring on a psychological level for a person that may be contributing to their difficulties engaging or enjoying sex with their partner.  I work with clients experiencing vaginismus (pain during intercourse), difficulties with orgasm, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low libido, anxiety surrounding sex, polyamory, open relationships and sexual exploration.

Sometimes sexual issues are best addressed with one’s partner in couple’s counselling, and I often see couples to work through these issues.

Couples usually agree to spend money to renovate their homes, but then live inside them feeling lonely, sad or angry when it comes to their relationship with their partner.  I encourage couples to attend counselling to improve the parts of their marriages that need tune-ups before resentment or detachment begins.  I enjoy working with couples because healthy relationships add meaning and happiness to not only the couple’s lives but to their families as well. Couples who communicate well, share a deep friendship, and care about one another’s goals and dreams are happier and even physically healthier. 

I have specific training in Gottman Method Couples Counselling as well as training in Emotion Focused Therapy to focus on what is going on beneath the surface of your relationship.  Rather than focusing on problem-solving, I prefer to focus on changing how couples view and/or solve their problems.  In session we will look at how each partner feels, and also how their partner reacts to them having emotions (meta-emotions).  I hope to facilitate each person learning more about their partner and gaining a deeper understanding of their personality and the background that has caused them to become the person they are today.  I also invite partners to make changes once the partnership becomes a safe and friendly place in which they can become vulnerable.

My style is one that focuses on emotions and words spoken in the present moment.  I am unafraid to ask the tough questions but I also value humour in session.  Some sessions may feel heavy or difficult and others a little lighter.  What is important for me is to tailor therapy to fit your needs as a couple considering how ready each partner is to change and also each person’s personality and comfortability with the counselling process.

Changes and experiments are invited throughout the week to encourage the cementing of what has begun in the therapy session.  Couples can expect to work on increasing their knowledge of one another, increasing positive communication, building trust, growing friendship, having deeper conversations about goals and dreams and discussing perpetual problems in a new way. I will ask you to experiment with small changes in your interactions throughout the week and we will debrief these on our next sessions.  I’m happy to see you, even if you haven’t completed your “homework” 😉

Every couple is treated as unique and therapy is tailored towards their concerns.  For instance, if you and your partner are arguing about the same things over and over again or your conversations always tend to end up in the same place, we will work on what is deeper beneath the surface of these interactions so that they happen less and less often.  If you are feeling you have lost the spark in your relationship and you have become like friends or roommates without the romance, we will work on changing interactions to revive that which was once there. 

I view consensual and healthy sex between couples as very important and work with couples to ensure that their sex lives become satisfying to both partners.  At times a couple’s difficulties in their sexual interactions is an extension of what is going on a deeper, more subconscious level within the relationship.  Counselling can help bring these to the surface so that shifts can occur within the relationship that then relate to a more satisfying sex life.  I work with couples who struggle with specific sexual issues such as pain during intercourse (dysperunia), chronic illnesses that effect sexual intimacy, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, differences in sexual preferences, frequency preferences as well as overcoming affairs or previous sexual trauma.  In session together, we will work to build affection and respect for one another and deepen your connection.  We will work on learning to approach conflict in a different manner where you can gain a deeper understanding of one another’s personalities and needs.

Degrees and additional training