An RCC’s Experience Leading & Learning At The Haven: Meet Laurel Aasen

Laurel Aasen has been an engaged member of The Haven community since 2013. For the past 7 years, Laurel has supported popular programs like Teens Alive and Transforming Anxiety & Stress, as well as our new Young Adult Symposium for 19-35 year olds. Laurel has also taken part in experiential learning as a participant in Come Alive and Haven-style Body, Breath & Energy Training. She’s a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) based in Vancouver, creatively offering options like “walk and talks” and remote online sessions, in addition to more traditional counselling in private settings. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Laurel and to share this community spotlight with you! 

Hi Laurel! Can you say a little about you personally and your work?

I am a born and raised Vancouverite, proud dog mom, and fan of anything that involves: coffee, field hockey, board games, and pasta. I work as a Registered Clinical Counsellor, seeing teens and adults who are living with anxiety, chronic pain/illness, grief, or who are going through major life transitions. I love that I get to witness people re-engage with life in more meaningful ways.   

I don’t usually set New Year resolutions, but I ended up finding a word for 2020: “Integrity”. For me, it means being conscientious about following through on important tasks (I floss every day now!) but also being careful to say NO to responsibilities that are beyond my capacity (I have a history of being a “YES-lady”).   

What is exciting/new in your life right now?   

I’m currently in the midst of excitement-overload. In fact, many days I get a buzzy-almost-uncomfortable gut feeling, and I have to remind myself that this is not negative, just a lot of energy in the face of:   

– planning my wedding in May (two weeks before the Transforming Anxiety & Stress program)  

– planning a honeymoon to New Zealand in August  

– drudging through all the necessary, head-achey steps of purchasing a vehicle  

– balancing private practice, agency work, and presentations/passion projects with numerous teams. 

What does the Haven mean to you in 3 words?   

Connection, Discomfort (in a growth-way), Enlivening   

When and why did you first come to The Haven? What programs?  

I first came to The Haven in 2013 when I was finishing my Masters degree in Counselling. A good friend who attended/assisted programs at The Haven for many years suggested I come “observe” the Teens Alive program. I intended to stay for the first 3 days, but quickly realized how much I loved being with/working with teens. I ended up begging my boss to give me extra time off to stay for the rest of the program! I have been supporting the Teens Alive every year since. I’ve also completed a Come Alive program, Transforming Anxiety & Stress, and Haven-style Body, Breath & Energy Training. Currently, I play a supporting role with Transforming Anxiety & Stress both at The Haven, and with bringing The Anxiety Café experience to our communities. Last year, I had the privilege of being on the Young Adult Symposium planning committee.  Next on my list is Living Alive 1: Self Awareness!     

What’s your favourite or most fond memory or deepest learning from time you spent at The Haven?  

Learning the difference between “caring” and “care-taking” in The Haven’s Power-Strength model (which was covered in my Come Alive) has helped me to take better care of myself, be more present and genuine in my relationships, and allows me to hear difficult stories at work, and be compassionate with my clients while holding them capable of developing their own solutions. I grew up with a parent who lives with chronic pain and disability, and often attempted to control my anxiety with care-taking. Learning about caring vs. care taking, as well as the plethora of practical anxiety tools offered in the Transforming Anxiety & Stress program has allowed me to generate more gentle solutions to being in a supporting role each day.   

A recent fond memory at The Haven was getting the opportunity to integrate “play” into the end of the Haven-style Body, Breath & Energy Training program. Our practice group, ended up leading a session about creating energy by inviting 30+ adults to take on pretending to be Jedi’s to the Star Wars theme song.  It was so much fun!    

Any tidbits from your knowledge/wisdom/life experience that speak to your passion about being part of what Haven offers? 

Hands down, my experience with the Young Adult Symposium in 2019 taught me how important it is for young people to connect and generate meaningful dialogue together. I think a lot of us can feel isolated or disheartened with today’s world. I remember looking around at one point with a lot of pride that we had put that incredible weekend together.    

I’ve adopted the Transforming Anxiety & Stress (TAS) program philosophy that anxiety is this incredible energy that we can learn to harness, rather than “control” or “get rid of”. Sure, some days I feel incredibly uncomfortable in my anxiety. But it’s become this “quirky side-kick” rather than an ominous cloud that lingers over me.  

Shortly after taking TAS, I went through the end of a long-term relationship, started a new job, and moved. It felt like my entire life was flipped upside down. Even though I knew the changes were good, I felt overwhelmed. The fact that everything was so new left me feeling like I didn’t have anything consistent to “grasp onto”. I fully credit TAS for helping me to see this time as a growth period, and to fully embrace the change. The end result was growing in my career, expanding my friendships, learning to take very good care of myself, and eventually meeting the love of my life (“loves” of my life… my soon-to-be husband and our dog, Ollie). I “walk the walk” with this program, and use the tools I’ve learned every single day.   

Thank you for sharing a bit about you with us and our community, Laurel! 

You can learn more about and follow Laurel here:     

@laurelaasen (Instagram) 

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