I am aware that finding the right therapist means that you need some context around who you are going to be working with. The first thing that I look for in a therapist is a sense of being relatable and authentic. I value the foundation that is required in order to feel trusting and comfortable in the process of therapy.
So who am I?
I am young mental health professional that sees value and hope in building a better and stronger social understanding of therapy, by engaging everyone around me in the process and fostering community.
I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Surrounded by water, mountain, forest, and a lot of sky, I developed a strong connection with nature and a desire to explore. This desire combined with the hope to build my career brought me to Guelph, Ontario where I completed my education and later to Toronto, Ontario where I began my journey as a therapist. Now, a few years later, I am in the process of travelling back and forth from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto to reach my goal of bringing skills and resources to the North. When I am not in the therapist role, I am often reading, baking, walking my dogs, writing, enjoying time with family and friends, on a nature-like-adventure, or finding some other random task to complete. I recently embarked on the life of a plant owner, just trying my best to understand why house plants are so much pickier and sensitive than in the wild.
I chose to become a therapist because of my own personal experiences as well as the experiences of those close to me. Whether struggling with anxiety, depression, sexuality, life transitions, identity, blending of families, separation, low self-esteem, etc., I have witnessed people opt out of seeking help due to inaccessibility, discomfort, lack of resources, lack of support, or fear of being further oppressed or stigmatized. I have experienced what it can be like to require assistance but not be able to locate any that related to me. I understand how difficult it can be to seek support. It became my personal mission to change the stigma that 'therapy' has and to re-create a better, more inclusive and supportive reputation with the intention of reaching more people. My hope is to normalize seeking help, and to promote positive change in the field and in the lives of my clients.
EDUCATION / QUALIFICATION
I hold a Master of Science (M.Sc) in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Guelph, and an Honours Bachelor of Arts (BAH) in Sociology from Algoma University.
I am a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), and a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). I graduated from a recognized education and training program; one of the few programs accredited by CRPO and the only Master's program in Canada that is accredited by AAMFT - the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
I completed advanced training in sex therapy through the Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program at the University of Guelph. I am actively attending additional training conferences to remain updated on new approaches and to continue enhancing my skills.
Additional Professional Development Training:
3 Day Core Clinician Emotion Focused Family Therapy - Shelia Paluzzi, MSW, RSW (Sault Ste. Marie, 2019)
Using Brief Narrative Practices in Single Sessions, Walk-In Clinics, and Brief Services - Karen Young (Sault Ste. Marie, 2019)
Brief Narrative Therapy Refresher - Karen Young (Sault Ste. Marie, 2019)
Facing Your Fears Training - Judy Reaven (Scarborough, 2018)
Trauma-Informed Practices - Geraldine Crisci (Scarborough, 2018)
Treating the Invisible Wounds of Sociocultural Trauma: Presented by Dr. Kenneth V. Hardy - OAMFT Conference (Toronto 2017)
Solution Building in Couples Therapy - CAMFT Spring Conference (Ottawa 2016)
Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program - University of Guelph (Guelph 2016)
APPROACH AND STYLE
I believe that therapy is a collaborative, team effort. I take this approach while working to create a safe and inclusive environment for my clients. I actively thrive to maintain an inviting and nonjudgmental space regardless of one's identity, gender, race, physical ability, sexual orientation, and depth to the concerns that they are facing. I believe that counselling should be a space of comfort and authenticity, where everyone should be treated respectfully and compassionately. My training allows me to live in a position of awareness of social barriers, power and privilege, diversity, strengths and challenges.
We all have our story, and we all create our own unique meanings from the experiences that we gain in our day-to-day lives. I value the differences of these meanings, and the significance that they hold for you. My approach considers these stories and experiences as influencers and helps you to create a new meanings and deeper understandings for your life.
The therapy models that I mainly draw upon in my approach are those of Narrative Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Dialogic/Collaborative Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy. I work from an Affirmative stance.
Children - Children often don't benefit from therapy in the same ways that adults do. When working with children, I like to incorporate different approaches to allow for a more open and comfortable space. This may include games, crafts, music, drawing, combined with talk therapy. This allows children to access their creative selves and to feel more comfortable in expressing their needs.
Teens / Young Adult - Similar to my work with children I like to take a genuine, real approach to therapy. I understand that talking is not always the best approach to take. I invite an approach that incorporates music, art, mindfulness, etc. My goal is to provide a space that allows teens and young adults to feel comfortable, supported, and productive. We work together towards the goals you wish to achieve, to plan for the future, or simply to vent about your week. This is your process.
Couples / Relational - When working with couples / relational constellations, I take an emotional and solution focused approach that allows all clients to express their concerns and to feel that their voice is being heard. My goal is to build trust, support and confidence in the therapeutic relationship to identify and promote strength and hope. It is my mission to hold space for real conversations and I am experienced in conflict resolution. I understand the societal pressure that relationships stand against and I believe in working towards building stronger, more resilient partnerships. I also understand the hardship of grieving a relationship that has ended, or cannot be repaired.
Families - Often times it can be difficult for everyone in the family to have a voice and to feel that their needs are being met. My approach to family therapy keeps this in mind as we work together to provide a space for everyone. Whether we are working on parenting differences, transitions in the family dynamic, or behavioural concerns, I am comfortable stepping in and directing the conversation where we need it to go.
I have knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ+ experiences: both struggles and strengths, and I work through an affirmative approach. I understand both from personal and professional layers that resources are lacking, support is sometimes inadequate, and it can be difficult to locate facilities with knowledge, celebration, hope, and motivation to create better, more accessible and inclusive environments -- my office is a space of safety. I value creating a safe environment for all clients. My compassion and genuine ability to relate allows my work with clients to flow naturally and promote change. I actively do my own work to maintain awareness of my own position in the world, and to continue providing competent services to those who experience marginalization, oppression, open wounds, etc.
I have direct clinical experience in counselling individuals, families, and couples with various presenting concerns and hopes.
I currently work with Algoma Family Services as a Child and Adolescent Counsellor. My various roles include: counselling and therapy, crisis follow-up services, single-sessions, walk-in clinic, facilitating groups, and generating family therapy services within the agency. I also provide school-based counselling for grades 7 and 8. I provide a range of therapeutic services while advocating for children and families.
I spent a year with Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre as a Child and Family Therapist where I provided a broad range of therapeutic and service coordination services to children and families.
I have experience working for the Couple & Family Therapy Centre at the University of Guelph where I had the privilege of working with many clients around various concerns. What I valued during my time there was the opportunity to join with my clients on their journey towards change, understanding, and fulfillment. Walking alongside clients, we developed strong therapeutic alliances that prepared us for the toughest and the most enlightening conversations.
I have experience working for Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, where I was honoured with the opportunity to work with children ranging in ages from 6 to 17. I also worked with parents and family units to strengthen relational approaches, communications, strategizing and managing / coping with various presenting concerns.