My Approach to Helping
My passion is assisting individuals, couples, families and groups to identify and overcome hurdles, face fears, and achieve personal, professional and relationship goals. I am a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, and an Accredited Music Therapist with the Canadian Association of Music Therapists. As such, I adhere to the Code of Ethics of both organizations. I specialize in anxiety, stress, compassion fatigue, secondary trauma and relationship issues.
Education and Career Path
My early career goals included being a princess, a marine biologist, a big-rig truck driver and a shepherd.
However, having been informed from a very young age that I would be a musician, that was the inevitable course. I switched instruments from piano to clarinet, and finished an Honours Bachelor of Music degree. It seemed the next logical step was to pursue a Masters in performance. What followed was a year of practicing 8 – 10 hours each day, 3 nerve-wracking auditions, and a slew of cash paid for twice-weekly lessons.
After a nail-biting and teeth-gnashing wait, I learned I had been accepted into a Masters of Chamber Music program. The outcome I had wanted! So why am I not thrilled? Upon reflection, the thought of 3 additional years of practice rooms, tendonitis and competition, didn’t qualify as a shining beacon of career development or personal satisfaction.
Addressing the identity crisis, I went to the Alumni Career Counsellor and spent the following 2 days completing skill and preference tests, personality inventories and other career assessments. The Counsellor asked me to return in two weeks’ time for the results.
Later that day, a music colleague informed me of a Music Therapy course at Wilfrid Laurier University. Having enjoyed a life-long interest in psychology, I was intrigued. Looking up the phone number in the university library (the Ye Olden Times version of Google, for you young 'uns), I immediately called Laurier, and found they were currently holding auditions for the limited spots in the program. Within a week, I completed the application, found an accompanist, passed the audition, attended an entrance interview, and accepted the offer to enter the program.
I returned to the Career Counsellor the following week, eager to inform him of the latest developments, and learn how they fit in with the results of the assessment. We were both stunned when my top two career paths were identified as:
2. MUSIC THERAPIST
Psychiatric music therapy was my focus throughout my degree program, and I was fortunate enough to work at several psychiatric facilities, including Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital (now part of St. Joseph’s), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. I had the honour of being a founding member and Team Lead in the MississaugaHalton LHIN Mental Health and Addictions Detailed Action Planning team and the Systems Integrations Group. Along the way, I attained Music Therapist Accredited status, and a completed a Master’s in Public Health. My Master’s thesis was the development of the first clinical resource of evidence-based music therapy interventions in the treatment of schizophrenia.
I completed all coursework for a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, exploring the prevention and impact of compassion fatigue in social services. This pursuit was slightly derailed with the arrival of two beautiful and time-consuming children, born 19 months apart.
Facilitation and Certifications
Alongside counselling, I have developed and facilitated hundreds of training and educational programs for conferences, community services and educational institutes, including McMaster University, Charles Sturt University, the University of Toronto, the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute, and Halton Geriatric Mental Health Outreach,
I’m Certified with Advanced Gerontological Education Inc. as a Gentle Persuasive Approach Coach; with the Green Cross Institute of Traumatology as a Compassion Fatigue Educator, and with Credit Valley Hospital as a Coach of Our People Care. I am also a Certified Tobacco Cessation Specialist.
Philosophy and Approach
I embrace a strengths-based, solution-focused philosophy, guided by consistent positive regard for clients and families. Within that context, I utilize an array of clinical practices to best serve clients and families within individual and group formats. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Harm Reduction, Psycho-education, Mindfulness, and Recovery.
My approach is collaborative, compassionate and interactive. And as a Accredited Music Therapist, I am always ready to incorporate music into the treatment plan.
• I\'m the only child of parents who separated...twice.
• I have life experience as someone impacted by the mental illness of a close family member.
• I’ve overcome tobacco addiction, an eating disorder, anxiety and many diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma.
• I supported a parent through over 10 years’ living with Alzheimer’s Disease.
• I’ve faced the stigma of being a two-time “mature” mother. I nearly lost my first-born to undiagnosed pathological jaundice and the attending pediatrician blamed it on "advanced maternal age".
• I am divorced, and have since built a near-ideal co-parenting arrangement with my former spouse and our respective partners.
• I’ve been stalked twice: Once by a client, and once by a person of power in my academic career.
Benefits of Stressful Life Experiences
While these experiences have, admittedly, had varying amounts of stress and anxiety, I have definitely benefited from each and every one. They have provided a perspective that has helped to shape my therapeutic approach. First, my therapeutic space is completely non-judgmental. Every person, family and group are accepted exactly where they are, as they are. Every person is unique and valuable, no matter his or her challenge, actions, or perception of self.
Secondly, building on the ability to be non-judgmental, my life experiences have enhanced my sense of compassion for virtually every person who sets foot in my office. This allows for the successful development of the most influential aspect of therapy, which is a secure therapeutic relationship.
Finally, life experiences can balance the power differential in the therapeutic relationship. If the therapist and client share a lived life experience, it can transform the dynamic so the therapist is not seen as an authority figure, but as a trusted partner through the counselling process; someone who genuinely cares for the health and well-being of others.
Being able to combine my passion and career is a wonderful gift, and it drives me to provide the best possible care for everyone who comes into my office. I truly love what I do!