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Kathleen (Kat) Merwin,  Ph.D.
Psychologist

 

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I am a Registered Clinical Psychologist who works with adult individuals struggling with issues such as sexual difficulties, trauma, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As a sex therapist, I provide treatment for sexual concerns and dysfunctions, including low desire/arousal, erectile or orgasmic difficulties, pain during sex, sexual difficulties following breast cancer treatment, and persistent genital arousal disorder/genitopelvic dysesthesia (here’s a great post explaining what that last one is!). I also work with couples seeking help for sexual and/or general relationship difficulties. 

 

I view the therapeutic relationship as the foundation that all other therapeutic work is built upon. As such, I take a radically genuine, warm, and empathic approach, and seek to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all clients. I want to make sure you feel truly seen, heard, understood, and that you know you are not alone in your journey. I use humour and curiosity in a compassionate way to help us explore the barriers to your life worth living. I aim to help clients actively erode the shame and judgmental thoughts that often arise when discussing difficult topics, including those related to sex and sexuality.

 

I recognize that everyone comes into therapy with unique past experiences and future goals. I actively tailor evidence-based treatment to the unique needs and values of each client, while using a foundation of evidence-based treatment. I strive to balance acceptance and change-based strategies to help clients reduce their suffering, better understand themselves and their emotions, cope effectively, and build and maintain healthy relationships/connections with self and others.  

My therapeutic approach is primarily rooted in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), with a focus on both traditional (e.g., Exposure and Response Prevention, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Cognitive Processing Therapy) and third wave approaches such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). For sexual concerns I take a wholistic and integrative approach using mindfulness and sensate focus therapy, in addition to cognitive-behavioural therapies. For non-sex therapy couples therapy, I primarily use an Emotionally Focused Therapy approach.

 

I hold a B.Sc. (Honours) in Psychology from Queen’s University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Dalhousie University. I briefly left Nova Scotia to complete my Pre-Doctoral Residency at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, before happily returning to the East Coast. I’ve been fortunate to obtain specialized training in evidence-based therapy for sexual concerns and dysfunctions for individuals, couples, and groups. I have experience working with diverse populations in various settings (e.g., inpatient and intensive outpatient hospital settings, community clinics, university counselling centres, and private practice). I have also been heavily involved in research related to sexuality and couples (e.g., sexual communication, treatments for women experiencing pain during sex, and persistent genital arousal disorder/genitopelvic dysesthesia), which has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and book chapters. As a scientist-practitioner, I am committed to staying up to date on the most recent research evidence and engaging in continued education and training.

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