Who I Am & What I Do
Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, RSW, has advanced degrees from York University and the University of Toronto and has been working in the mental health field since 2000. Her extensive experience with and knowledge of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness Practice has inspired her to write a number of books, and she regularly conducts training sessions for fellow professionals. Sheri worked at Southlake Regional Health Centre in an outpatient mental health clinic for 14 years, and now works full-time in her private practice.
Sheri has built a reputation for herself as an expert in providing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – informed therapy and works from a trauma-informed perspective. In recent years Sheri has also become certified in providing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and is currently working towards becoming an EMDR Consultant; has been training in Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR); and has become a certified Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) provider.
In her spare time, Sheri enjoys spending time with her family, hiking with her dogs, traveling and scuba diving, and she is an avid reader.
Sheri provides psychotherapy for individuals aged 16 and older, both in-person from her office in Newmarket, Ontario, and virtually.
You do not have to have a diagnosis to engage in therapy with Sheri, but following are some of the common problems she works with:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Grief and Complicated grief
Substance Use Disorders (secondary to other mental health problems)
What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?
This is a skills-focused treatment that was created to help people who really struggle to manage emotions:
Do you tend to walk around in an “emotional fog”, struggling to identify how you feel, or trying to avoid those emotions?
Do you engage in problematic behaviours in attempts to manage intense emotions? This could be through extreme behaviours such as self-harm or engaging in suicidal thoughts or behaviours, but this could also be behaviours such as lashing out at others, using substances, sleeping, disordered eating behaviours, and so on.
Do you struggle to keep your emotions in check, so that they negatively affect your functioning in some way – for example, your ability to work or attend school, to have fulfilling relationships, or just to live a fulfilling life?
What is Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR)?
Similar to EMDR, DBR is a trauma processing therapy. Originally created for the treatment of attachment shock, it can also be used to help us heal from other unresolved traumatic experiences. DBR is a treatment that helps us to heal from these past traumas through a body-based, or “bottom-up” approach, rather than relying on restructuring of thoughts, or exposure to feared memories.
For more information about DBR, visit https://deepbrainreorienting.com/
What is the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)?
SSP is a non-invasive application of Polyvagal Theory. This program has us listen to specially-filtered music in order to calm our autonomic nervous system, improving our ability to manage emotions, reducing sensitivity to sound, and enhancing social engagement, so that overall we’re more regulated and able to face life’s challenges.
What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?
EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Through the use of eye movements or other bilateral stimulation, the brain’s information processing system is activated so that over time the meaning of a painful event is transformed on an emotional level and the memory that was once excruciating and intrusive, for example, becomes just a memory.
EMDR does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. Rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviours resulting from the distressing issue, EMDR allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.
Once specifically used to treat PTSD, we now use EMDR to treat Complex PTSD (PTSD that develops where the trauma was typically prolonged and repetitive – for example, someone who grew up in an abusive home); core beliefs that develop in our early years and influence how we see ourselves and the world; anxiety disorders; depression; substance use and other addictive kinds of behaviours; and many other conditions and problems in living.
Here's a YouTube video explaining how EMDR works.
For more information about EMDR, visit the EMDR International Association https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/.
What is Polyvagal Theory?
Polyvagal Theory provides a way for us to understand trauma-based reactions and symptoms through the lens of our autonomic nervous system. Understanding on-going mental health problems through this lens often allows us to bring more compassion to ourselves, recognizing that symptoms we’re experiencing are often the lasting effects of traumatic events and relational wounds we’ve experienced; and to learn how to calm our nervous system to help reduce these symptoms.
You can watch a helpful video on Polyvagal Theory here.