About Chris Nicol
I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Talk Therapist with over 12 years of lived experience in addiction, and over 20 years of professional experience working with people seeking support around addictions, depression, anxiety, and loss.
In the mid--90s, it was my own recovery from addiction that set the stage for my career as a therapist. After a few years as a key worker in a safe house for vulnerable youth, I decided to go back to school with the goal of becoming a high school science teacher. Life had different plans. After getting a Bachelor's Degree in Biology (UBC) and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology (Yorkville), I found myself working at a community health centre in Vancouver's downtown eastside, first as a clinical counsellor, and then as a supervisor. I worked there for 13 years, and in 2019 I transitioned into a clinical counselling practice lead position with a regional health authority, providing counselling practice support and guidance to managers, supervisors, and therapists across Vancouver.
My work in the downtown eastside taught me a lot about suffering, resilience, and the nature of change. I learned that psychotherapy needs to be highly individualized in order for it to be as helpful as possible, to as many people as possible. I also came to believe that loss is the cause of many people's distress—loss of a loved one, loss of identity, loss of safety, loss of trust. I don’t believe in the idea of ‘closure’ when it comes to grief and loss, but I do believe in psychotherapy’s potential to help us heal and grow through the transformative power of loss.
My practice is guided by the principles of social justice, compassion (towards self and others), autonomy, trauma-informed care, and an enduring belief in the healing powers of love and connection—connection with self, others, and the natural world around us.
My approach is informed by Attachment Theory, Narrative Therapy, Buddhist philosophy, Rogerian therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, as well as the works of Bruce Alexander, Gabor Mate, William Miller, Alice Miller, Irvin Yalom, and Judith Herman, to name a few.
However, it’s therapeutic curiosity and creativity that drive my practice. Relationship is the foundation, and collaboration is key.
I identify as a husband, brother, musician, woodworker, amateur naturalist, and White settler on the traditional and unceded homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples. I have witnessed, and I continue to learn about, the effects that colonization has had on Indigenous Peoples, and I am committed to finding ways to be a decolonizing influence in both my personal and professional life.
As a consultant supporting the friends and family members of loved ones who are struggling with substance use or addiction, I draw on my lived experience, my experience as a therapist, and my 10 years of clinical leadership in public health, first as a clinical supervisor in Vancouver’s inner city, and more recently as a clinical counselling practice lead.
How I Hope to Help
Over the years, I've met with countless people who feel alone, isolated, dislocated, and disconnected. Some feel stuck and at odds with what mainstream society considers normal, acceptable, appropriate. They are struggling to find their place in the world while questioning who they are, and wondering what would bring meaning and purpose to their lives. Often, they feel emotionally, socially, spiritually adrift.
Whether it's sadness, worry, loneliness, depression, anxiety, substance use or addiction that brings you to counselling, it's compassionate curiosity that drives my work as a therapist. I'm interested in the unique experiences of the person I’m working with, and the stories that they bring to therapy—stories about themselves and the relationships they have, and have had, with others and the world around them.
It’s these stories, these narratives, that can sometimes fan the flames of our troubles because of how they've been unconsciously edited; our strengths, beliefs and values can get lost in our own stories, and so aren't as prominent as they could or should be. I see my role as a kind of co--editor, helping people re-write their stories in a way that shifts the plot line by highlighting the lost treasures of their narrative. Together, through the power of therapeutic conversation, we work to re-cast the troubling antagonists to smaller, less significant roles, or perhaps we even write them out of the story altogether.
What would be the outcome of our work together? My hope is that you will feel affirmed, accepted, and at peace with who you are, and more confident about your potentials. I hope to help you realize a sense of self that embraces your uniqueness, creativity, and perspectives. I hope to have the privilege of walking alongside you on the pathway of your choosing, towards discovery, liberation, and peace of mind.