All our counsellors are Choose Again trained. This means that they have spent at least 2 years working at our residential centre in Costa Rica, practising this work 365 days a year. Each counsellor has come to this work as part of their own healing journey, so they have experienced first-hand the incredible transformation it brings, and they are here to help you experience the same transformation in your own life.
Diederik Wolsak RPC, MPCP
Diederik is the founder and program director of Choose Again. Diederik’s journey started in 1942 on the island of Java, Indonesia. He spent the first three years of his life in Japanese concentration camps. Many of his core beliefs were developed during that early, potentially traumatic phase. At age 8 he was sent to a foster home in Holland and by the time he rejoined his parents and brothers two years later he was filled with self-hatred and fear of the world around him. This self-hatred, fear and guilt translated into prolonged alcohol and drug abuse till finally at age 50 he reached that point where he realized that there had to be a better way or there would be no point in continuing. While his self-hatred drove him to be a successful businessman and international athlete, it allowed him little joy.
Following the fork in the road where something had to change, Diederik entered upon a spiritual path of deep healing. This path eventually led to a fulfilling career as counsellor in private practice. He is a masterful therapist. Every client recognizes immediately that they are being trained to become independent of their counsellor, that they are worthy of respect and that they have their own answers. Diederik is there to assist in finding and removing all blocks to happiness and peace in a most gentle and loving way. Clients also sense that Diederik has been in many of the dark places they see in themselves; he has personal knowledge of deep depression and substance abuse. He has personal experience of what they are going through and has largely transformed his life. However, he will be the first to tell you: “I am a work in progress.”
Diederik is the founder and program director of the Choose Again Attitudinal Healing Centre. He is the lead facilitator of both the Vancouver and Costa Rica arms of the organization. He is an international workshop leader, public speaker and relationship counsellor with years of experience in group facilitation.
When I was offered the opportunity to become part of Choose again early 2012, I could barely believe my ears. It felt like everything fell into place. No words could describe my feeling: this was my chance of a lifetime, the possibility to live the kind of life I had envisioned for myself: a life dedicated to Truth, Self-discovery, all of that.
Something similar actually happened about 20 years before with that other favorite point of interest of mine: cooking. I then also was presented with this opportunity to turn my hobby into my professional life.
I find it quite amazing to notice how these wonderful opportunities basically presented themselves. All I had to do was to accept and say yes. And so I did, on both occasions: a full fat big YES it was and still is. That does not mean I did not have to go through any walls but it is now more clear than ever that that is what it all was and is for in the first place. To face these seeming walls and realize that they are nothing but the result of my own limitations that I -and nobody else- had laid upon myself.
In my former job as a chef / jobcoach the focus already was on working with people who found themselves in a rough place and time in life. Political refugees, people coming from countries at war, people with drug or alcohol issues, convicts, psychiatric patients or just people being unemployed for an extended period of time.... People just like me maybe?
I found that in providing them with a safe space to rediscover their self-worth, the same thing was actually happening with myself just as well.
And so now, the work I am doing within Choose Again is noting but the next step in that process. It now makes sense that "what I give, I receive" or "Your healing is my healing".
I am so grateful I can continue this healing journey with you within a clear Choose Again framework with the six steps process at our disposal. Very simple, very practical, very efficient.
And let it be a happy journey! Yes, let's be brutally honest and courageous in the process, for sure, but let's not forget to laugh at ourselves because, in the end, laughter is all my insanity deserves.
I first became involved with Choose Again in the beginning of 2012 in the aftermath of the suicide of my long term girlfriend and coinciding with a long pattern of self hatred, antisocial behavior, dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse. My day to day life had become unbearable and filled with feelings of despair and hopelessness. I knew very little of what was involved but was aware that a major change was both imperative and long overdue. In all honesty I was skeptical that any improvement would be possible but decided to investigate what was being offered.
The results were nearly immediate and surpassed any and all expectations. I was amazed by the effectiveness of the tools and teachings and began applying them to completely transform my self made identity. The result continues to be nothing short of remarkable and has completely transformed my life to one filled with joy and peace. When the opportunity to join the team in a leadership role was presented, I gladly accepted and embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm and gratitude. It has provided a daily environment in which to deepen my understanding and grow from each experience presented. It is my pleasure to share what I have learned and what it has meant in my life, the results speak for themselves and are available to anyone ready to make a real positive change.
Paul is also available for online counselling sessions. Find out more and book on our Online Counselling page.
During my childhood I developed the core belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. I was convinced that I have to be better than everybody to be lovable and worthy. Therefore, I tried hard to be liked by everybody and to always get the best results in school, at university, and my job. In truth I hated myself immensely and escaped through very self-destroying behaviors like alcohol, cigarettes, and bulimia to compensate. On top of my “successful” life of getting my university degree, having my own flat, a job, and a loving husband I fell into a deep depression and wanted to kill myself. Years of therapy and self-healing followed before I finally got involved with Choose Again in January 2014. Knowing that I have a choice, that it is up to me to be happy, was revolutionary for me. I also felt a high resistance against giving up my ego identity and my addiction to be a victim. Now after a year and half of intensive work on myself, I can only say: I love the Six Steps! I own my experiences 100 % and I am not a victim of the world anymore. What a freedom!
Together with Paul Panteleyev we facilitated the first Choose Again Workshop in Germany this year. I offer counselling in German, English, and Spanish and will continue to facilitate more workshops in Germany and Switzerland. I now realize that what I thought I was—was just a made up identity based on false beliefs. It is so great to know that I am the author of my experiences and that I can choose again in every moment between fear and love.
I am absolutely thrilled to help all who are willing to change. The shift I made is accessible to everybody and it is a gift to me to support others on their way.
Andrea is also available for online counselling sessions. Find out more and book on our Online Counselling page.
Growing up in a suburb of Jerusalem, Israel, a part of me always knew that eternal happiness is mine to have.
It wasn't so clear, to begin with. Indeed, it took more than twenty years of relentless wandering, seeking, falling flat on my face and rising up again. But today I can say with certainty that my childhood intuition was correct; peace and happiness are always available to me if I choose them. This is the great lesson that I keep learning and sharing here at Choose Again.
Before joining Choose Again 2017, my professional and spiritual background included:
The study and practice of Buddhist insight meditation, in Thailand and Israel.
I have a bachelor degree in Philosophy from Tel Aviv Universality.
I was married and divorced (twice).
In 2008 I became introduced to the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. I met the British teacher Rupert Spira whose spiritual instructions and guidance provided the framework for my life, for the next four years.
But despite all the insights under my spiritual belt, my life was in many ways dysfunctional. I was carrying unprocessed childhood trauma that no yoga or meditation could dislodge. And so I decided to dive deeper into my mind.
In 2012 I left the life I had built in the UK to join the Sat Yoga Ashram community in Costa Rica. I lived with this visionary community for five years as a postulant monk.
There I was given the opportunity to study the insights of the great minds of western depth psychology (Jung and Lacan). I was able to undergo a course of psychoanalysis, with weekly sessions for almost five years. I could not wish for a better school in which to learn and explore the hidden labyrinths of the human soul.
I found Choose Again soon after my time at the Ashram came to its natural close. I initially joined as a volunteer, but it quickly became clear that I found a place in which to tie the loose ends that were left in all my years of study. At Choose Again I was finally able to get right to the core of the issues that were keeping me from resting in happiness.
As I write this, I feel very grateful for the humbling opportunity given me here. Here I get to remember again and again that abiding Happiness is mine to have. It's the most beautiful gift I could ever wish for.
Sean Smith B.Com., B.Ed., M.Ed. (Counselling), RTC, MTC
Sean’s association with Choose Again began in 2011 after a post-surgical, near-death experience, a rapid and intense deterioration of the body, and a reluctant reliance on sleep, anti-anxiety, and pain medications to ‘assist’ him through this very tumultuous period of his life. After a two-week stay at the Choose Again Residential Centre, having discovered the root cause of his physical and emotional challenges, he was free of all medications and had an empowering outlook based on the incredible teachings he encountered and embraced. His family, friend, and work relationships all improved as a result of his experience – but most importantly, the relationship with himself.
Sean kept up his practice with several Vancouver workshops and volunteering for one month at the residential centre. Sean then returned to Costa Rica in December 2015 for two weeks to heal an unexpected life crisis. Within days, he had re-established the solid grounding that the Choose Again wisdom process delivers. He felt the call to commit more deeply to his spiritual practice and returned to join the team at the residential centre in July 2016.
Sean’s background includes 10 years with the Bank of Montreal in Treasury and Investment Banking in Vancouver and Toronto, and 20 years working with youth in diverse environments including probation, mental health, physical disability, and the public school system as both teacher and counsellor. He also enjoyed 5 immensely rewarding years at home as primary caregiver to his children Stephanie and Connor during their formative years.
Sean offers a loving, empathetic, and practical approach with a focus on helping clients rediscover the wisdom within.
Elaine Clark BA, RPC, CTC
Elaine has a BA in Counselling Psychotherapy, a Citation in Counselling and a Certificate in Transpersonal Counselling. Elaine Clark is a therapist with 20 years experience. This began with a very successful program called Youth on Purpose and it evolved into Choose Again. Elaine has worked with many families in crisis and has been a foster parent of teenage boys.
Her clients call her a genius at process-oriented, solution-driven ideas that inspire and motivate. She is a gifted teacher with a remarkable talent for aligning passion and practicality. A commitment to bringing peace and harmony to relationships is the focus of most of the rewarding work that she is involved in.
Elaine uses meditation, holotropic breathwork, and reenactment as well as talk therapy. Her professional qualifications and ongoing passion for learning are the basis of a natural calm and balance that allows clients to feel accepted while being challenged to question their beliefs.
Dawn Green RTC, CCAC
I trained as an elementary school teacher at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver BC, and after a brief period with the Vancouver School Board, I branched out to working for a private organisation teaching vocational skills to mentally challenged adults. I led weekly meetings on healing dysfunctional relationships with food and body image as this issue healed in my own life due to the universal principles of healing that I was learning and applying. I enjoyed running my own Reiki practice and have worked extensively with A Course in Miracles, which I first drew into my life about 30 years ago. I also studied and practiced Buddhism for an extensive period of time.
I have been with Choose Again for almost 8 years as a counsellor in our Costa Rican residential centre, and have recently moved to Vancouver Island the continue the same work. It has been a dream of mine for many years to move to Vancouver Island, and I now live in Nanaimo, where I work as a counsellor and circle facilitator. I will also be working in Duncan and Victoria.
My teens were spent in a period of deep depression and disconnection with my surroundings and myself. I tried to find myself in drugs and alcohol, and several hospital visits gave me the impetus I needed to make change happen. Having gone to a number of different therapists, with little improvement, it was not until I came across Choose Again, and visited the center in Costa Rica in 2011, that I would see real transformation in my life. Thanks to the teachings of this program, I now have nothing but gratitude for that time of self-doubt, and see the events as a wake-up call to stop living unconsciously and to take charge/ownership for my circumstances.
My life, priorities, and overall outlook on the world have been completely changed as a result of practicing the work. What originally was considered to be a one-year retreat of Self-discovery and hands-on experience of the work has evolved to a full-time staff position within Choose Again. I realize now that in order to truly be at peace, a one-year retreat is fine, but it is merely a nice head start to a life-time commitment to healing. My goal as a counselor is to go as deep as I can into my own process, and in doing so, to inspire others to do the same. One cannot know who they are until they are willing to bring up and release who they think they are. I look forward to us finding that out together.
Dave is also available for online counselling sessions. Find out more and book on our Online Counselling page.
Amy became involved with Choose Again in 2002 sparked by a desire to be pro-active in seeking deeper happiness in her life. The results were immediate as Amy found that her power to experience happiness was limited ONLY by beliefs she held about herself. As she quickly gathered tools for learning how to identify and correct beliefs within herself, she has become a skilled teacher in helping others find the light and joy within themselves. Amy spent two years working at Choose Again’s residential treatment facility in Costa Rica and has recently moved back to join the Vancouver team.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education both from UBC. In addition to working with Choose Again, Amy is a classroom teacher in West Vancouver.Amy writes, “This work is the perfect combination of psychology, philosophy and spirituality. It appeals to my intellectual curiosity while providing tools for understanding my emotions better. As I learn more about myself, every single one of my past, present and future relationships are simultaneously transformed for the better.”Amy is available for private counselling sessions in Vancouver, and facilitates Holotropic Breathwork sessions on request.
Hello, I am Andy Burt – Chief Information Technology Guy and member of the Choose Again Team here at El Cielo in Costa Rica. When I am not in the office making the work of Choose Again more broadly available online, you can find me in one of our daily programs, out walking the dogs, or in the kitchen making something awesome to eat.I came to Choose Again in early 2012, unhappy and beaten up by life. It took a little while, but living has now become a wonderful adventure!
Andrew is a patient yet tenacious counsellor, who will always see the truth in you, even when you don’t. He will reflect that truth back to you, and teach you the tools you need to see it for yourself. Andrew has been at Choose Again for over three years, and has extensive experience in this work.