Biography


About Jim Kragtwyk M. Ed
Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC)
Certified Addiction Counsellor (ICADC)

Jim Kragtwyk is the only 5Rhythms® Movement Psychotherapist/Counsellor in private practice in Canada

Hi There,
Hmmm, what is it exactly that I would like you to know about me . . . ?
I have been a professional counsellor for over 25 years in a variety of settings. If you scroll below you will be able to see my professional history, education and development over the years.

On a more personal level, I have been journeying and seeking for most of my “waking” life. Ever since I can remember, as a young boy I was intensely curious about the mysteries of life and the confusion of trying to be a sensitive, caring and feeling male in my family and culture. That passion of caring for others has always been part of me. I cannot remember ever wanting to do anything else with my life but to be in service to others. (ok except maybe being a rock star)
I always had a sense that something wasn’t quite right – not so much with myself but with what I was being asked/forced to believe, say and behave by my family, school, culture, religion and political institutions. There were too many inconsistencies and outright contradictions with that and with my deeper knowing and wisdom that I was born with. But, as with most children, in the face of relentless pressure, oppression, control and “brainwashing from media” I allowed that truth to slowly and quietly fade away. Even so, there was always some part of me that was still alive, still resisting and still holding on to the truth that the way I was being taught to live my life as a good little “cog in the machine” was false. Not just false, but deeply unhealthy to my whole self and to all life on this beautiful, magical and precious planet.

My early days and ways of resisting were not as elegant and painless as I would have liked. I blatantly disregarded rules, acted out, abused substances to escape the emotional pain of living as a false self and experienced the many unpleasant consequences as a result. I was resisting but not consciously aware of what I was resisting against. I just had this deeply felt sense that something wasn’t right – yet my inauthentic beliefs wouldn’t allow me to fully acknowledge and accept this truth. It couldn’t be possible that much of what I was taught to be true or “right” was misleading. While somewhat amusing as I look back and think about this moment, when I was finally told that Santa Claus wasn’t real it finally occurred to me that yes, it was possible, that my family, friends, culture, media, government and religion (and myself) could all participate in a mass deception of a child for the primary purpose to support our culture of materialistic consumption. Let this sink in for a moment if you will . . . From this point onwards m y imposed beliefs in a literal religious god started to unravel – thank God! If one story about a jolly white bearded man could be false, then all of them were suspect.
As a late teenager my seeking started to take on a more healthy and purposeful focus. The fields of psychology, philosophy and sociology started to inform, direct and shape my understanding of the human condition. At the age of 19 I took my first steps as professional helper working as a counsellor in a residential youth treatment program. As my awareness deepened I was seeing how my unhealthy rebellious behavior was not serving me. More and more the truth of my own inconsistencies and contradictions was hard to ignore. By my early twenties I started some specialty training in substance abuse counselling and came to the realization that I needed help with my own substance abuse. This was the first time (of many) I sought the help and guidance of counsellors and had a series of awakenings that set me on my path more consistently.
It was during this time, while creating a healthier lifestyle that I began to truly “get into my body”. I began training Wing Chun kung fu, started cycling, wilderness backpacking and going to the gym. I began the first steps of meditation and mindful breathing. More and more I began the reintegration of all the parts of myself – physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual. It was also during this time when I was doing some Neuro-Linguistic Programming training that I saw a short film of the concept of the Gaia hypothesis – the idea that views the Earth as a single organism and is itself alive. That realization that we are all interconnected beings, part of something much bigger than ourselves, helped synthesize my emerging personal spiritual and philosophical understanding of the cosmos and life itself. Moving from the individual, to the interpersonal to the transpersonal . . .
For the next ten years I continued to embody and reintegrate my life while continuing my education and career. I eventually began the amazing practice of Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms Movement which offered me another deeper medium of holistic expression and integration, especially on the emotional realm. As parts of me were becoming healthier, full and integrated, other parts of me were deteriorating and disintegrating. My “mind” could not understand why I was losing my energy, my mood was changing, I was having major difficulty with my cognitive functions (all classic symptoms of depression) yet by all accounts my life “should have” been full of energy and enthusiasm. Clearly something was out of balance but I had no strong conscious awareness of what and why.
Then another life-changing event occurred. At that time I was the Director and Clinical Supervisor of a residential addictions treatment program. After 2 years of working with that organization’s internal processes for resolving issues, I was let go from my position for being a “whistle-blower” regarding some financial choices/behaviors that my immediate supervisor was involved in that I found unethical. Even though I had evidence from an external forensic audit and reams of saved documentation and correspondence to back up my claims, I was ultimately “let go” with a very large severance package. After having worked for this organization for 15 years with an exemplary work record and ethic, the “shock” of being fired and escorted out of the building, for doing the right thing, was a big wake- up call and another huge life lesson.
I then returned to school to complete my graduate degree in Counselling. This was the first time in 15 years that I had not worked full time as a counseelors. I used my severance package to fund my schooling without having to work full time and did this for 2 and a half years. I used graduate school as a time for deeper clinical learning but mostly it was a place for me to heal. For 15 years previously, I had worked as a front line therapist and counselor treating people who had severe mental illness, were in crisis, were involved in the criminal justice system or were in residential addictions treatment counselling/counsellors. For that length of time I absorbed much of the wounds, hurts, violence, abuse and suffering from those people. I have experienced/witnessed suicides, assaults, threat of violence and even the sexual assault and murder of a co-worker in a half way house I worked in at the age of 19. The stories, reports and expressions of violence, pain and suffering had slowly infused my spirit. This was the missing piece as to why/how my life energy, mood and spirit were deteriorating. I noticed that when I was in graduate school as a counselor in Victoria, my health returned, my energy increased and my mood improved. I realized that self-care was extremely important for people who are professional helpers/counsellors, especially in the environments where I had practiced. The moment I stopped exposing myself to the wounds and dark energy from other people, my healing began.
After graduate counsellors school I was determined to maintain excellent self-care practices while finding work that would not be as stressful or energetically intense as my previous work had been. Over the next 4 years I took a series of positions ranging from a counselor in private practice, to clinical supervisor to college instructor and then back to a front-line mental health counselor in a remote and isolated location on Vancouver Island, away from my home in Victoria. I spent close to 2 years there and I refer to it as my “dark night of the soul”. Here I was again, working with severe cases of suffering that included child sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicide attempts/completion, severe addictions and the generational affects of the near successful cultural genocide of this island’s First Nations people. How was it that I “forgot” about what I had learned while in graduate school? Old patterns resurfaced . . . along with the strongly held belief I have about helping people in need, relieving their suffering and offering them support even to the detriment to my own health. It seems I needed to learn this lesson again, and as is the case in most of my experience, any time I need to learn the lesson a second time (or more) the severity and intensity of it usually increase many times just to make sure I am paying attention. So, not only was I exposing myself to unhealthy levels of wounded energies, I was also cut off from the support of family, friends, and all the wellness practices that supported me previously. My decline was rapid and intense.
After much stress, strain and inner-conflict, I left my counselling position and returned to Victoria. I was burnt out and in my own emotional and spiritual crisis (clinically I would call it compassion fatigue or vicarious/secondary trauma). Once I let go of having to stay in that remote location as a counselor and returned to my home and supports in Victoria without having a job to return to, I came to the realization that I could no longer be a counsellor. So many of my values, beliefs and identity were bound in “being” a counsellor, to let go of that was to let go of the “biggest” part of myself – a very scary ordeal, yet one I felt as the truth at the time.
During the next several months in Victoria I continued to heal by accessing my friends and supports and in seeing a dear colleague/mentor for some psychological treatment for the compassion fatigue/trauma – Dr. Norah Trace. I started teaching kung fu again, playing in my band, dancing with the 5Rhythms tribe when I could and in grieving the end of “me” being a counsellor ever again. Life slowly became fun again, my energy returned and my mood lightened and I started to feel my way through life more intuitively and to make my decisions more from that “in-the-moment” place of feeling instead of letting my thoughts/beliefs dictate how my life is “supposed to be”. That latter way has not served me well and has created much suffering in my life.
It was during this time that I took a 5Rhythms Weekend workshop with Andrea Juhan called Ferocious Heart. As well as being a certified 5Rhythms movement teacher she is also a skilled and gifted psychologist – a healer. She was one of many counsellors who inspired me.  During that workshop she had mentioned she was offering a specialized training program the following year for counsellors, therapists and physicians that included elements of 5Rhythms movement, integrated body-psychotherapy and gestalt awareness practice. I clearly remember the felt sense of how my body “lit up” when she mentioned this. As I had just “let go” of the possibility of me ever practicing as a counsellor again, I didn’t consciously pay much attention to this afterwards.
As months went by and I continued to deepen the practice of moving through life in the moment and feeling my way into and through decisions I felt an opening and softening within me; a deeper relaxation of how I could be and move through this world and this life. Yet, as time went on I was increasingly being faced with the reality of how was I going to make a living if not as a counsellor? I looked into the possibility of opening a dance studio and teaching my kung fu club within it. I approached someone whom I had rented space from in her studio to ask about the business side of running a studio. When I met her she told me she was leaving the country to pursue her dreams/passions and wanted to know if I wanted to take over her studio. Again, my body lit up, it felt good. It felt right. A few months later I was running a dance studio, teaching my kung fu club within it and then I received and e-mail from Andrea Juhan about the upcoming 5 Rhythms Movement Therapy Training. Again I felt very excited and alive at the thought of doing the training. I applied and was accepted into the program. Once I started practicing I realized that this way of supporting and facilitating the healing and growth of others was actually nurturing and energizing me. Finally I had aligned myself with what I was truly meant to be doing. Simply put, it felt wonderful!
I have continued to deepen and integrate that way of being in the world, of feeling my way through it instead of thinking, managing, controlling or coping my way through life. So in my practice with others, this is the most precious gift I have to pass on; to feel our way through life, awake and aware – not perfectly, but mostly.
Be well
Jim
M. Ed, RCC, ICADC
Medicine Moves Counselling, Consultation and Movement Psychotherapy Services
Victoria, BC

• Over 25 years experience as a therapist/counsellor.

• Somatic Transformation (ST) trauma training with Dr. Sharon Stanley Ph. D. http://www.somatic-transformation.org/SomaticTransformation.html
• Master’s Degree in Counselling (University of Victoria, BC)
• 5 Rhythms Movement Therapy Training Completed http://www.openfloor.org/page.php?main=about&page=5Rhythms  Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) with the BCACC  http://www.bc-counsellors.org/
• Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellors (Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation  http://www.caccf.ca/
• Certified Neuro-Linguistics Programming Practitioner
• Triple P Parenting Program. Certified Facilitator for Standard, Enhanced and Group http://www.triplep.net/
• Cognitive Skills Reasoning and Rehabilitation: Certified Facilitator
• Restorative Justice – Real Justice Institute: Certified Facilitator.
• Cognitive Behavioral Certification for Child and Youth Anxiety Disorders- UBC and MCFD
• Trans-theoretical Model of Change/Motivational Interviewing/Advanced Motivational Interviewing.http://www.motivationalinterview.org/
• Non-Violent Communication. Marshall Rosenberg Model. http://www.cnvc.org/

Professional Influences:
• Somatic/Body Psychotherapy.
• 5 Rhythms Movement.  http://www.gabrielleroth.com/
• Mindfulness Based Psychology
• Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy
• Existential Psychology
• Eco-Psychology
• Transpersonal Psychology
• Social constructivism

Personal:
• Wing Chun Kung Fu Instructor/Practitioner for over 20 years (www.victoriawingchun.com)
• Afro-Brazilian Percussionist (www.masalaband.com)
• 5 Rhythms Dancer (www.gabrielleroth.com)
• Dance Studio Owner (www.eurostudios.ca)
• Wilderness Backpacking
• Meditation Practices (www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml)