Services are provided through a virtual office via secure video.

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WELCOME

 

WE ARE

Dr. Jessica Berntson

Dr. Berntson is a Registered Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia (#2726) and the College of Alberta Psychologists (#5342). She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Over the course of her career she has published in scientific journals, taught university courses, and given various presentations on her research and clinical work. 


Dr. Berntson has provided evidence-based psychological services to adults in various hospitals and private clinics in Canada and the United States, including the Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, St Boniface Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Indiana University Medical Center, Indiana Polyclinic, and Southport Psychology. With this background in both clinical and health psychology, her current practice is focused on treating those with anxiety conditions, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), health anxiety/fears, and somatic distress.


Dr. Berntson takes a collaborative approach with each client to select scientifically supported treatments best suited to them and their presenting difficulties. She then provides these therapies in a warm and friendly manner so that her clients feel comfortable and respected throughout the treatment process.

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WE TREAT

We offer psychological assessment and treatment for adults (ages 19+) with various concerns.

 

We specialize in health and anxiety related difficulties. These general areas of expertise include anxiety conditions & OCD, health fears & somatic distress, and other difficulties that often co-occur alongside these areas of concern. Some of the specific conditions we treat are described in the boxes below.

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Anxiety Conditions & OCD

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OCD: Unwanted and intrusive thoughts, urges, and images (obsessions) and attempts to ignore, get rid of, or neutralize these experiences through a thought or action (compulsions). Obsessions can include topics of contamination, harm, sensorimotor, self-control, "just-right", sin/morality, sexuality. Compulsions can include cleaning, checking, counting, arranging, repeating.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive anxiety or worry about everyday topics.


Specific Phobias (e.g., spiders, heights, public spaces): excessive fear of certain objects or situations that are either avoided or experienced with high distress.


Social Anxiety (Social Phobia): a persistent fear of exposure to possible scrutiny or judgement by others.  


Panic Disorder: Unpredictable panic attacks that involve intense fear, discomfort, and somatic symptoms which are often accompanied by feelings of impending death or doom.

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Health Fears & Somatic Distress

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Illness Anxiety Disorder (hypochondriasis or health anxiety): Worries that you (or a loved one) may have or could acquire a serious disease or illness (e.g., heart disease, neurological condition, cancer).


Somatic Symptom Disorder: Distress and preoccupation with one or more physical symptoms (e.g., heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and abdominal discomfort, difficulty swallowing/dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, numbness/tingling, fatigue, trembling/shaking, poor concentration, blurred vision).


Sensorimotor OCD: A subtype of OCD that involves both obsession and compulsive responding to bodily sensations or processes — such as breathing, blinking, or focusing on your heartbeat.


Somatic specific phobias: e.g., fears of body dysfunctioning [i.e., choking, vomiting, incontinence], fear of physical sensations.


Medical or health specific phobias: e.g., fear of death, fear of needles.

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Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs): BFRBs are a cluster of compulsive and habitual behaviours that include hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (excoriation), nail biting, nose picking, and lip or cheek biting.


PTSD and other stress/trauma-related conditions: Prolonged distress reactions that are precipitated by stress/trauma.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.

Medical Diagnoses related to anxiety or stress: including insomnia and other sleep issues, IBS, and tension headaches.


Personality tendencies: including perfectionism or tendency to be self-critical, feeling overly responsible or overly organized, persistent self-doubts or never feeling good enough, and difficulties tolerating uncertainty, lack of control, and/or being disliked/disapproved of.

Common Co-Occuring Concerns

 

WE USE 

We use online therapy technology to provide services across British Columbia and Alberta. Online therapy services are provided through secure and encrypted video designed for health care professions. To attend an online session, clients simply click on a website link provided to them.

 

We provide modern psychological medicine. Our approach uses biopsychosocial assessment methods, evidence based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and specialized CBT tools for health and anxiety. These components are detailed in the boxes below.

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Biopsychosocial Assessment Methods

Our assessment considers biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors relevant to each client.

 

Initial information is collected through intake forms. Then, clients attend an initial assessment mainly comprised of clinical interview. Following this first session, clients may also be asked to complete questionnaires relevant to their specific concerns and/or approve for us to communicate with their other medical providers.

 

This comprehensive approach enables more accurate and reliable diagnosis and treatment planning.

Evidence Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy. This large body of research suggests that CBT is an effective approach for treating a wide range of concerns and is especially supported for the health and anxiety conditions we treat.

CBT helps clients to better understand how their thoughts, feelings, physical sensation, and behaviours all interact.

After gaining a better understanding of their condition, we take a collaborative approach with clients to select scientifically supported CBT tools that are best suited to them and their specific difficulties.

Specialized CBT Tools for Health and Anxiety Issues

  • Cognitive Therapy

  • Behavioural Therapy

  • Exposure Therapy (imaginal, in-vivo, and interoceptive)

  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

  • Habit Reversal Training (HRT)

  • Mindfulness Therapy

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

  • Paradoxical Intention (PI)

  • Relaxation Skills (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing)

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)

CONTACT

 

Click on the link below to book an online session. After booking you will receive an email containing a link to complete intake forms on our secure patient portal.

For all other inquiries or questions please email info@healthandanxiety.com or fill out the contact form below.

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