Dr. Brian Bigelow

ShiftGrit Therapist

Brian Bigelow - Registered Psychologist/ Therapist in Calgary

Like all Shift Psychologists, Brian is trained in the ShiftGrit protocol- a structured therapy program that uses counter-conditioning and evidence-based techniques to establish new perspectives. This creates better, automatic responses for our clients- things like less reactivity, stronger boundaries, healthy assertiveness, smoother communication, improved mood-optimized performance... and many more...

What is your name?

Dr. Brian Bigelow

What do you do at Shift?

At ShiftGrit we try to help people. Help is a BIG word these days. At Shift, we try to encompass an interdisciplinary approach. Our clients/patients are very diverse so our approach is as well.

What are your academic credentials?

I earned a doctorate from Dundee University in Scotland. This stellar university has the highest undergraduate rating in Scotland. Obviously, I am deeply attached to this fine school. Dr. Nick Emler guided me through my dissertation and my career blossomed in the years that followed studying and publishing about friendship. My Canada Council grant afforded me this splendid opportunity.

I earned my BA and MA degrees at the University of Windsor in Windsor Ontario.
My supervisor Dr. John LaGaipa was an excellent steward of mine and our keen interest was relationships and friendship in particular.

Why did you decide to become a therapist?

I am confident that virtually no one decides to become a therapist by selecting this occupation as a “What do you want to be when you grow up?” in high school. Frankly I had no clue. I simply liked biology and ancient history.

I sort of just fell into it. Friendship is my core interest and I have several stellar publications based on this topic. Like any grad student, I needed money and started seeing clients under supervision while working as a professor as well. I became registered in Ontario and most of my private work involved doing assessments and later on taking on clients on a contract basis. Anyone who says that psychotherapy is easy Is dead wrong. Placing yourself in your client’s shoes takes a high degree of focus. I like (?) helping folks deal with trauma. It’s hard work but the need is often dire.

What do you bring to your therapy sessions, and what are some goals?

Like one of my supervisors once said: “Them’s just people.” Essentially, I like people. Of course, friendship is another word for people. Humans are essentially social. Babies often die if they do not receive sufficient cuddling each day. This Failure to Thrive event may well extend to our entire lives, in our peer development, dating experiences, marriages and even our work satisfaction and career choices. Is there any area of life that does not involve relationship skills? Not many I should think.

Who do you work with?

In therapy, it’s usually adults. Therapy with children and adults usually occurs via families. I usually get involved after the wheels fall off.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

I like people. Folks are at once simple and complex. Essentially people are the Stories They Live By. You know how it goes. "I'm the kinda person that…" or "This is not Me." Or "He or she is just not my type." Essentially we are attracted to similar people in almost all respects. Personality, disposition, occupation, etc. What makes this so intriguing is that there is often an attraction to those who are also a little different. The old phrase "Vive La difference" applies here. In therapy, we simply do not pigeonhole our clients. They have their own stories to tell and we listen. A secure and uncritical therapy session encourages them to do just that.

What do you do in your spare time?

I do two things. I work on my 1973 Volvo and build model airplanes. For sports In judo and kendo. Kata of course at my age. As a very ill child, I had to undergo a huge operation necessitating a long recovery process. My dear mother thought that I would like model plane building to help me spend my time in the hospital. Frankly, I loved it. The huge world of modelling enters one into an eternity of possibilities.

As well I have always been attracted to the P1800 series of Volvo cars. Finally, I was able to find one rust so now it’s mine. I utterly enjoy all aspects of its maintenance and upkeep. Just the lovely sound of the B20F engine is more than enough to make me smile.

What is a skill that you are currently working on?

Goshin judo Kata. It’s essentially Akido. As part of my recovery from major surgery my surgeon suggested taking up some sort of activity. So my dear mother looked up what our YMCA had to offer. I remember her saying “Look, Judo. I bet that’ something you might like.” So off to the “Y” I went. Riding home at night on the bus all sore became quite a ritual. I took it up again as an adult while a professor and earned my Shodan or black belt. I could not afford the time and energy for tournaments so I gave it up and started Kendo, the way if the sword. I eventually earned my Shodan and practice Kata to this day. I have acquired several good friends in Japan via kendo and plan to visit them again soon. I boxed as an army cadet and won second place. Like an idiot I gave my medal my girl friend. There is a lesson in that.

What motivates or inspires you?

Sorting out what is factual from what is not. I am preparing a paper for our CPA meeting in Ottawa on this important topic. It seems that we all have opinions and the huge internet traffic is overflowing with them. Baseless terms such as “right”? “Left”, “Conservative”, “Liberal”, Republican”, “Democrat”, “Traditional”, etc.,trigger huge conflicts which rarely solve anything. The world has been and is very violent. Wars based on religions and ideologies are seemingly everywhere. One can only conclude that humans like killing people. They also like relationships so this is the basic conundrum

What are your additional areas of clinical interest?

The effect of trauma and neglect on peoples’ lives.

What additional specialty trainings, courses, certifications or education do you have?

I am a Board Certified Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychologist with the American Board of Professional Psychology. I am also a Board Certified Medical Psychologist. I have about 1000 continuing education credits.

Do you have any lived or personal experiences that can be utilized in therapy with you?

I had a superb mother!


Contact Information

10445 124 St, Edmonton, AB T5N 1R7, Canada
Zip/Post Code
T5N 1R7

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