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Spotlight on Will Groenewegen, Registered Psychotherapist in Toronto

by Soroosh Vafapoor MPS (Candidate), RP (Qualifying)

Will’s approach to psychotherapy is eclectic — inspired by the belief that we live our lives based on the deeply rooted thinking patterns and beliefs that we hold. For Will, thoughts play a central role in helping us navigate our perceptions of self, others, and the world. Left unchecked, these thoughts and beliefs can offer interpretations of the world that are inaccurate, unrealistic, and quite often, detrimental to helping us feel authentic and genuine in our expression of self.

This is what Will calls your “1.0” thoughts and beliefs - a concept that is analogous to a computer program. For example, if you don’t update your Zoom application, you might be stuck wondering why your peers can put on funky digital hats and glasses. You might start to resent them — “Oh, look at them, thinking they’re so cool because they can put on funky hats and glasses!” — But all along, the issue wasn’t with them…it was because you were stuck in a mode of thinking that didn’t allow you to see that all you needed was an update, and then you, too, could don glorious digital hats and glasses!

If this analogy isn’t helpful, consider the times you have been self-critical or self-judgemental… or the times where, just by looking at someone, you were filled to the brim with judgements and thoughts about that person’s life. Left unchecked, these thoughts — called cognitive distortions — can prevent us from establishing healthy relationships with ourselves and others.

To help clients level up from the “1.0” version of themselves to their “2.0,” Will utilizes a blend of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and existential psychotherapy. Will explains that this blend can help clients understand the origins of their belief patterns, and encourages them to reflect on how their beliefs have affected their life. It is one thing to acknowledge the grip of your thoughts and beliefs — but it’s another to ask yourself “What can I do differently?” To provide support in turning this awareness into action, Will employs mindfulness techniques to help his clients move into a place where they can recognize their actions and behaviours, judge if they are helpful and necessary for them in the present moment, and then make a conscious decision on what they can do differently.

Will also understands that our thoughts and beliefs aren’t just held in our mind — they are experienced in the body. How do your thoughts affect the way you move in this world? What does it feel like to have existential questions? What is it like to be anxious? We often express our emotions through our thoughts about them, and Will extends this discussion by helping clients tap into their felt sense of self — with all of its pains and joys.

Soroosh Vafapoor is in his final year in the Master of Pastoral Studies, Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy, Buddhist Studies program at the University of Toronto. Part of our Training Therapists team, Soroosh is completing a clinical practicum placement at Mindful Maelstrom.

Will Groenewegen is a Registered Psychotherapist providing therapy online at Mindful Maelstrom. With over 9 years of clinical experience, Will offers mentoring and supervision to our Training Therapists in clinical placement.

Looking for a psychotherapist in Toronto? Our Intake Coordinator Daisy would be happy to help navigate your options: daisy@mindfulmaelstrom.com

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