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Motivational Speaking

As of fall 2016, Monique has teamed up with 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist and 2016 Assistant Chef-du-Mission, Carol Huynh. Carol currently serves as the Next Generation Coach with Canada Wrestling. She holds a Masters degree in counselling psychology. Together, Monique and Carol have put together a dynamic motivational speaking presentation targeted towards youth. They are also open to speaking to older audiences. Contact Monique at 403-870-0654 or for more information.



Motivational Speaking

Calgary Motivational Speaking

Prusik Youth Counselling and Mentorship Services is excited to offer Motivational Speaking Services in Calgary and across Canada. Starting in January 2013, Prusik therapist, Monique Smith, is teaming up with 2012 Olympian (wrestling), Leah Callahan (, to bring a dynamic presentation targeted towards youth (with the option of catering the presentation to both younger and older audiences).

Tackling Youth Issues

Bullying. Suicide Pacts. Peer Pressure.

Today’s youth are experiencing stresses and pressures unlike any other generation. Biologically their brains aren’t fully developed, and yet the decisions they make can have a lifelong impact on themselves and others. As a youth counsellor (Monique Smith) and an Olympic level athlete (Leah Callahan), we hear a lot of people asking what can be done to help youth through this challenging phase. We want to share a game plan with your youth to help them make life empowering decisions.

Using multi-media (including clips about Leah’s olympic journey from the highly-acclaimed The Sticking Place Film), wrestling demos and crowd interaction, this is a presentation that will keep youth engaged.


Recently the story of Amanda Todd, a grade ten student who committed suicide after posting a youtube video telling her story of experiencing bullying and depression, was highlighted in the media. In the last few days the media highlighted the story of teen suicide pacts in Vancouver. Unfortunately, these stories are becoming all too common. Monique and Leah are aware of these issues and are passionate about being part of the solution. However, instead of specifically targeting the symptomatic behaviours, Monique and Leah want to go straight to the root of the problem and help kids understand WHY they make the decisions that they do by learning HOW the brain functions and what things they can do to help it operate more efficiently.

For more information on how to book Prusik’s Motivational Speaking Services and our presentation, “Building a STRONGer Brain,” contact Monique at 403-870-0654 or via e-mail at


Be A Dreamer! The Dream Map Project

In my counselling practice, I often teach clients the difference between dreams and goals. Goals are SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY (SMART). Dreams, on the other-hand, are those really cool ideals that we have. Sometimes our dreams come true; Sometimes they don’t. I say, never stop dreaming, just make sure that you have some tangible goals along the way to work towards that dream.

I’m writing this blog as both a counsellor and a photographer. I wrote a very similar blog on my photography website (, but felt that it would be a good fit for my counselling blog as well. My goal in sharing this information is that perhaps someone will be inspired to share their dream, and perhaps in the process of doing so, find it to be an uplifting and perhaps therapeutic experience!

Read on!

The Sticking Place Film Dream Map Project

Last fall I became involved in a project called, “The Sticking Place,” an interactive online documentary following freestyle wrestler, Leah Callahan’s, journey towards making the London 2012 Olympic team. As the official still’s photographer, my photos of Leah were used in both the making and marketing of the documentary, appearing in media publications across the country. Today The Sticking Place Film has some exciting news:

“We’ve spent our summer over here at TSP headquarters concocting an exciting follow up project to The Sticking Place. So, we’re as pleased as punch to announce that our brand new Dream Map is up and running and ready for some world-wide participatory storytelling magic!

Just like Leah, Olympic wrestler + star of The Sticking Place documentary, we all have dreams + passions that keep our lives interesting. The Dream Map is a space where YOU can contribute YOUR OWN wisdom to this evolving exploration of what it means to journey towards a sticking place. Take some time to visit the new interactive map, submit a video message (about a journey you’re on or maybe about someone/something that has inspired you to live passionately), and check out the other amazing sticking place stories that others have contributed so far!

As Leah says, “Sharing your journey makes it all the more real!” Share your own journey with us on The Sticking Place Dream Map, and be an active part of this growing movement!”

If you haven’t already done so, check out The Sticking Place Film and submit your Dream Map.

Fort McMurray Child and Youth Counsellor

Do you live in Fort McMurray and are looking for counselling services for your child, youth or child ages 5-24 and find yourself on a long waiting list to see a counsellor that specializes in child or youth counselling?

Prusik Youth Counselling and Mentorship Services will be in Fort McMurray June 3-7th and will be providing counselling services for children, youth and young adults.

If you are looking for some preliminary support on helping your child, youth or young adult work through various issues such as anxiety, anger, grief and loss, confidence building and other general child and teenage related issues, consider contacting Prusik to set up an appointment. Ongoing future support can be offered via Skype online e-counselling and by booking future on-location appointments in Fort McMurray.

Prusik offers practical therapeutic skills in the initial session by teaching various emotional skills to the child or youth. Prusik also provides support by offering family or parent therapy sessions that focuses on issues directly related to the child or youth.

Appointments can be made for Monday June 4th between 4:30 and 9:00, Tuesday June 5th between 4:30 and 8:00, and Wednesday June 6th between 4:30 and 8:30. Appointments with be held at Lifesmart Counselling Solutions at Suite 606 8600 Franklin Avenue, Fort McMurray.

Fort McMurray counselling rates are $150.00 for 1 hour sessions. Check with your private health insurance to ensure your plan covers Masters in Social Work (most plans do).

Please contact Monique at 403-870-0654 or via e-mail at







“MOM I HATE YOU!” The Limbic System: Part I

Is this something that happens in your house?

Has your child ever done something or said something in a fit of anger? What about you?!

The fact is, most of us, young or old, have said something or done something that we regret while in a fit of anger. The reason behind this reaction is that anger comes from the portion of our brain called the LIMBIC SYSTEM (something that I will explain in further detail in Part II). The limbic system is the emotional centre of our brain. This part of our brain is not capable of rational thought. Therefore, if an action/response is made while an individual is in the limbic system, the outcome is often negative.

The great news is that through using specific skills, an individual can move from the LIMBIC brain to the CORTEX, the portion of the brain that is responsible for rational thought!

In my practice I help my clients and their parents (yes, parents can use these skills to!) to move from their limbic system to their cortex by teaching a variety of skills including grounding and breathing. Grounding the brain helps the individual become aware of his or her surrounds while proper breathing is vital as the brain needs oxygen to think!

If the comic strip above is all to familiar, don’t be discouraged:


The brain has the capacity to change the way it processes a specific event through adaptive learning.  If one mental “pathway” is blocked, the brain is very good at finding alternate pathways. However, like any pathway, the more a pathway is used, the more ingrained that pathway becomes. Understanding this, gives greater understanding as to the importance of dealing with specific behaviours at an earlier developmental stage. This is why I always commend parents who decide to get help sooner than later. This is not to say that adults can’t change the wiring of the brain, but it may take more practice!

Having worked with numerous clients over the years, I have seen some pretty incredible changes in my clients. What some would chalk up to being a personality trait (“Oh, my child is just strong-willed!”) might actually be something that is very easily reversible.

Are you interested in learning more? Some parents have found it very helpful to book a “strategy” session in order to learn some skills and techniques for helping their child. Please contact me directly if you would like to know more. I will also be providing more information in PART II of this blog.

I often ask children and youth to hit the rewind button and try to do something different, exploring alternative outcomes. One way of doing this is through comic strips. I built the comic strip above using Pixton Software and have created an account that allows clients to have their own profile and create their own comic strips with different (much better!) endings. If you think that your youth or child will benefit from this kind of therapy (in Calgary, Cochane or via Online Counselling), please contact Prusik Youth Services.

Monique Smith’s Radio Interview with Shine FM

Listen to Monique’s Radio Interview with Calgary’s Shine FM about Prusik’s Therapeutic Summer Camp. Apply online!

This week (April 30th- May 4th), Calgary’s Shine FM is giving away a spot to Prusik’s Therapeutic Summer Camp:

If your youth doesn’t win a free spot, Prusik has worked hard to make camp affordable by off-setting the cost with billable hours to your private health insurance company. Up to $400 can be claimed, leaving a remaining $200.

The camp runs from July 16-19th, 2012. Campers will camp in the Crowsnest Pass and camp at various locations. During this time they will learn various wilderness skills such as building a fire, setting up a tarp shelter, cooking over a fire, and building a bear hang. In addition to learning outdoor skills, campers will also be given time to meet with counsellors, interact with other campers in a group setting, and have solo reflection time. The goal of this trip is for campers to have fun, but to also promote camper growth through Experiential Learning.

The video above is a recording of Monique Smith’s radio interview with Calgary’s Shine FM.

For more information, please go to:

Prusik Summer Camp Video

Check out Prusik’s Summer Camp Youth Video and apply online!

Prusik’s Summer Camp is for 14-18 year olds who will benefit from one-on-one and group therapy set in a wilderness environment.

Each day will involve hiking and learning new wilderness skills such as building shelters, fires, bear lines and cooking over a campfire. These activities as well as other experiences on the trail will provide many opportunities for experiential learning.

As Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them” while Confucius remarked “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” This is the central idea of Experiential Learning, that learning occurs when an individual makes sense of his or her own direct experiences. The wilderness allows one to learn through being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenged through various campcraft activities such as building shelters, cooking, hiking, exploring nature etc. Through these activities, one encounters new challenges, often directing the individual to look inward to his or her inner resources.

Camp is an opportunity for youth to explore the mountains and learn new wilderness skills, but more importantly, its a time to work on their emotional, mental (and if desired) spiritual self through group work, one-on-one meetings with therapist and solo reflection time.

For more information, click on the “CAMP” tab or call Monique at 403-870-0654.

Lessons from Climbing

I went ice-climbing today and lead my hardest ice-climbing route to date. At one point I looked at the ice ledge right in front of me, the last clip below me, and the one screw left with a few more meters to go… I took a deep breath, climbed a few more steps, placed my ice screw and then flew up to the top. The thing about climbing is that once you are safely to the top, that middle section doesn’t seem quite so hard anymore. And the best thing? The view from the top and the sense of accomplishment. YES… it’s a good metaphor for life.


Prusik is excited to announce SUMMER CAMP: A FOUR DAY WILDERNESS THERAPY PROGRAM in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta.

Do you know of a youth who would benefit from this program? Read on to learn more about wilderness therapy and how it works:

Philosophers have long understood the importance of learning through doing. Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Confucius also remarked “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” This is the central idea of experiential learning, that learning occurs when an individual makes sense of his or her own direct experiences.

David Kolb (1975), an American education theorist, developed “The Experiential Learning Model.” The model is composed of four elements: Concrete experience; Observation of and reflection on that experience; Formation of abstract concepts based upon the reflection; And testing the new concepts. This model is a cyclical process, continually repeating. The following model illustrates this idea:

Simply put, the model can be explained as having an experience, reviewing and reflecting on that experience, processing that experience through the use of models and concepts, and applying the new learning from the previous experience to another experience. This is the intended process that clients are expected to experience in the wilderness.

Research supports that outdoor wilderness activity is known to increase feelings of self-esteem and to give clients a feeling of control and competence. Clients become empowered as they gain healthier coping skills and experience a decrease in feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and disconnection (Rohde, 1994 quoted in Warren). Michael Gass further suggests that wilderness experiences make up for the experience-poor environment of modern society. He states:

Youths today are born into a society that is information-rich but experience-poor, where family- unit bonds are attenuated and stressed, where schooling further isolates children from meaningful challenges and direct participation in society, and where the media often model destructive, anti-social values. It is no wonder that we now reap the fruits of maladaptive strategy: youth violence, crime and anomie (Kimball & Bacon in Gass, 1993 p.19).

In the wilderness youth are able to explore aspects of their lives without the distractions of city life. Wilderness trips allow for experience-rich opportunities to take place as clients are challenged mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually through wilderness activities such as building shelters, cooking, hiking, exploring nature etc. Through these activities, clients encounter new challenges, often directing them to look to their inner resources. As Friese, Hendee and Kinzinger (1998) note:

The wilderness promotes healing and personal growth because it is a place where individuals practice physical and emotional survival skills as they seek to exist in an unfamiliar and new environment. The wilderness permits clients to experience feelings of mastery, significance and self-worth as they overcome new challenges.

Ultimately, the goal of wilderness therapy is to incorporate both soft and hard skills. Hard skills are the measurable skills, often associated with new learning such as hiking, shelter and fire building etc. Soft skills are often not as easily recognized because they are qualitative rather than quantitative: Teamwork, perseverance, confidence, empathy and acceptance are all examples of soft skills. Effective wilderness therapy programs intermingle soft and hard skills in order to build participant confidence and make positive emotional, motivational, and behavioural changes.