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Mercedes Baines (MA, CCC, RCC, CAC)

Counsellor, Group Facilitator & Consultant

I am a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association,  a Registered Clinical Counsellor with BC Association of Clinical Counsellors  and a Certified Adlerian Counsellor.  I have a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology and a Counselling Certificate from Vancouver Community College. Trained as an Adlerian therapist, the focus of my research has been: grief and loss, body image, creativity, communication, trauma, identity, sexuality, and issues related to race and culture. I also have 20 years’ experience as a group facilitator working with folks from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, and identities.

Counselling is my second career. Like many people I changed careers mid-stream in my life. Prior to becoming a counsellor, I spent 25 years in  the performing arts as a director, teacher, writer, performer and producer. I did not, however, grow up in a family of artists. I grew up on the West Coast in a working class family. My mother worked 30 years in a factory and when the factory shut down and moved to the US, she went back to school and became a mental health worker. My grandfather was an outspoken activist for workers’ rights and was part of the movement that brought unions into BC. My father grew up in the Southern United States. He was raised by his grandmother and he survived racial discrimination and poverty. Through these and many other family experiences and stories, I inherited a social awareness and an understanding that our characters are shaped by experience, social circumstances and the unique meaning we make of those circumstances.

As the name of my practice (Mind In Body) indicates, I view human beings holistically.  I understand that the mind and body are connected: the Mind IS the Body and the Mind is IN the Body. My understanding of the mind/body connection began when I attended theatre school in my early twenties and deepened over the years through my personal and professional work. Actors, just like dancers or athletes, need to be IN their bodies, aware of the bodies’ impulses, fully present and in the moment. This is vital not just for performers but for all of us in order fully experience our lives.

Because there is an emphasis in Western culture to cut off from your body and because many people have had experiences that taught them that the domain of the body is not safe, my training focused on integrating or rather re-integrating the mind and body. My training in mind/body awareness included breath and voice work, mindfulness, yoga, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, visualizations, improvisation and writing.

Through my work with groups, I have utilized creative expression as a vehicle for transformation and change,  as we explored issues such as sexual abuse, relationship issues, sexuality, spirituality, gender identity, racism, culture clash, dating violence, substance abuse, teen homelessness, arranged marriage, body image, eating disorders, and family history. The work has been illuminating, empowering, challenging and transforming for all of us.

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