I am a graduate and faculty member of the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy and am a Registered Psychotherapist (#003620) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. I am a member of the Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy.
Many years ago, before my career began, I studied psychology at Champlain Regional College in Quebec City and at Carleton University in Ottawa. And yet, I believe that my most powerful teachers have been my clients who have dared to trust me with their most intimate stories of struggle and pain. I have worked for over 20 years in the health and social services sector reaching people who have struggled with trauma and grief as well as mental health and substance use issues. My learning has deepened only by accepting life’s invitation to heal my own sorrows.
I am a regular speaker and trainer, I educate front-line workers on trauma and addictions, understanding and fostering mental wellness, understanding stigma related to mental health and substance use, as well as vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue (see Speaking page for more details). My passion for teaching led me to accept a faculty internship with the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy which began September 2016. In May of 2018, I was invited to join the faculty and am currently contributing to the training of future psychotherapists.
it was a mild night for november. The snow that fell from the sky was wet. The air was damp and so was the sleeping bag that enveloped his legs and torso. I approached him gently as he sat panhandling in front of the store that had been closed for hours. He looked up at me, “spare some change,” the words dropped from his lips like a leaky faucet. I smiled as he looked up at me with me a mix of hope and distrust in his eyes. “I don’t have any change”, I explained “but could you use a few of these?” I extended a juice box and a few granola bars. He nodded and exhaled. I could tell he hadn’t been on the streets long but I also knew it doesn’t take long to become seasoned. I introduced myself while still respecting his space. Although there was no roof or a door, I approached each street kid I encountered with the same respect that I would approach a stranger’s home. I waited to be welcomed in. He seemed wary at first, but within a few minutes he started to tell me his story. I, now sitting next to him, listened attentively to the chapters of a young life that were filled with violence and neglect that led him to take refuge here. His story, was unfortunately not unique, but each child I met was. And I knew in that moment that we were starting a new chapter, one where a relationship began. I also knew that it would take many encounters for him to learn to trust me and I would need to be patient with every step along the way. You could never rush a youth to leave behind the streets, you had to show up again and again with compassion, understanding, and unconditional positive regard.
i knew then what i know now: to join someone on their journey you must first be welcomed in.
The relationship must then be nurtured, and trust tested again and again. And finally, that compassion, empathy, and acceptance are powerful tools to help one heal towards transformation.
This has followed me throughout my career of 20+ years working in the health and social services sector. I spent many years working with street kids, youth in the child welfare system, and teens at risk of becoming gang involved in Ottawa and Winnipeg. I strongly believe that these youth were some of my most powerful teachers.
After moving to Toronto in 2008 and working with the LGBT Youthline for a year, I turned my attention towards working with adults. They reminded me of the very youth I would have served years earlier. It was then that I began my journey of understanding the powerful connections of trauma and grief to problematic substance use and addictions. They became my mentors on how abuse and neglect experienced in childhood can follow us throughout our lives and wreak havoc when they are left unbelieved, unseen and unhealed. Their phenomenal courage to be vulnerable with me taught me much and opened up in my own life an invitation to heal more deeply. It is my own healing journey that has strengthened my capacity to meet people compassionately where they are at and empathically bear witness to their sorrow and pain. It has also convinced me that healing in a therapeutic relationship can be a powerful, transformative experience. In the last 5 years of working in community health, I filled the role of a Community Mental Health Worker working in the north west area of Toronto. My primary role to serve people who were dealing with mental health and substance use issues as well as those impacted by gun and gang violence.
In October of 2015, I left the health and social services sector to devote my full attention on nurturing and building my private practice.