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Join us at Laurier

Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Kathy Absolon-King, MSW, PhD

Kathy (Minogiizhigokwe – Shining Day Woman) is Anishinaabe kwe with many family and community roles. Kathy is a member of Flying Post First Nation. Her passion for wellness among her peoples and the restoration of Indigenous knowledge in Creation has been one of the driving forces in her life work as an Indigenous wholistic practitioner in child welfare, Native mental health, youth justice, community work and social work education. Her academic and cultural work has been in restoring, reclaiming, re-righting Indigenous history, knowledge, cultural worldviews and making the invisible visible. Her knowledge pathway has been both cultural and academic with an MSW in 1991 and her PhD in 2008, and her cultural education has included many Indigenous teachers, Elders and mentors. In 2011 she published Kaandossiwin: How We Come to Know (Fernood Publishing) promoting Indigenous knowledge in Indigenous research. She has authored other works in wholistic practice, social inclusion, reconciliation, community healing and wellness and Indigenous knowledge. Her most recent project is in gathering stories of resistance and resilience from her mother, a survivor of the St. John Anglican Residential School in Chapleau, ON.

Currently, Kathy is an associate professor and associate dean of the Indigenous Field of Study in the MSW program at Laurier.

Heidi Ahonen, PhD, RP, MTA, FAMI

Heidi is a professor of music therapy at Laurier and the director of the Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute for Music Therapy Research. She has written over 100 articles and seven books about music therapy. She has been teaching music therapy since 1990 in Europe and Canada.

Amy Beamer, CHRL

Amy is currently the Manager, Human Resources at Waterloo Public Library and holds the CHRL (Canadian Human Resources Leader) designation. She has worked in this non-profit sector position for almost 10 years, preceded by 10 years working in private retail and manufacturing settings as an HR generalist. Amy graduated from McMaster with a degree in psychology and completed the HR management post-diploma course from Sheridan College. She is now pursuing her Masters of Education in Student Affairs from Laurier.

Amy has trained or facilitated in all of her roles, and since 2013 has been a contract instructor and co-op advisor at Conestoga College. She employs an experiential training style in her classroom that encourages students to interact with one another and the material. Amy uses videos, case studies, personal experiences and hands-on learning activities to enhance the learning process.

Patricia Bidgood, MSW, RSW

Patricia is a clinical social worker and accredited family mediator with more than 30 years of experience. She has worked in children’s mental health, education and private practice. Patricia provides adolescent, adult and family counselling addressing a broad range clinical issues. She offers consultation, professional development and training to educators, health care and mental health workers. She also speaks to elementary and high school parent communities on raising resilient children and teens. Patricia is a family mediator and a member of the Waterloo Region Collaborative Law Association. She promotes positive alternative dispute resolution strategies to help divorcing parents and families with a range of divorce related services, including: creating parenting plans, divorce coaching, adjustment counselling with children and teens, parenting coordination and family reunification.

Nancy Bird, BA

Nancy joined United Way Kitchener-Waterloo and Area in January 2001 as receptionist/administrative assistant. Since then Nancy has held several roles at United Way K-W and Area including Grants and Allocations officer, assistant director, Community Development and director, Community Development. In January 2012, Nancy took on a new challenge as vice-president, Resource Mobilization. This portfolio included all community investment and community development work, agency relations, research, measurement and evaluation and resource development/fundraising. In 2017, two United Ways in Waterloo Region amalgamated to form United Way Waterloo Region Communities. Now, Nancy is the senior director, Community Investment in the new United Way.

Nancy believes strongly in continuing education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo, a Master’s degree in Leadership from University of Guelph, an Adult Teacher/Trainer certificate from Conestoga College, a Management and Leadership certificate from Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work, and is an alumnus of Leadership Waterloo Region. Passionate about coaching and mentoring others, Nancy has been a field supervisor for the Bachelor of Social Work program at Renison College, University of Waterloo for over five years and has also supervised MSW students from University of Windsor. She regularly does presentations for classes at both local universities and the local college.

In addition to her daily job, Nancy sits on the Immigration Partnership Council, the Housing Stability System Advisory Committee and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy Community Advisory Board for the Region of Waterloo. Nancy is also involved deeply in Well-being Waterloo Region as part of the Planning Group, Reference Group, Enabling Structure Working Group, and Community Well-being Survey Steering Committee, and spending one day per week supporting the behind the scenes work of the initiative.

In addition, Nancy helps support the work of United Way at a national level by participating on the national Community Investment Leaders Network, which she also chairs, and Resource Development Leaders Network.

Thomas Brown, MSW, RSW

Thomas Brown is a social worker and director of clinical supervision at Qualia Counselling Services, where he offers the gold standard for CBT clinical supervision to Qualia and community clinicians. In addition to providing CBT supervision, Thomas continues to pursue his CBT passion by treating clients and delivering the cognitive behaviour interventions to those dealing with mental health challenges and life stressors.

Thomas can teach the gold standard because he has striven so excellently to achieve it. Thomas has completed a variety of rigorous training programs through the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He has received extensive, ongoing CBT mentoring, training and supervision which has helped him emerge into the director of supervision role he holds.

Additionally, Thomas teaches CBT in a variety of contexts including workshops, conferences, university lectures and medical residency programs.

Scot Cooper, RP

Scot founded the Brief Narrative Practices Project as a means to provide specialized quality training to service providers working in time constrained therapeutic contexts. Alongside more than 18 years of direct practice he has been teaching ‘brief’ narrative and single session walk-in therapy for more than a decade locally and abroad. Scot offers the curriculum through a spirit of adventure and exploration, inviting participants to practice, stretch their skill set and transfer specific learning into everyday practice. Alongside this Scot has worked extensively in the Neighbouring Communities and Pen Pal Project; narrative practice informed relationship building initiatives between First Nations and their neighbours. Scot's most recent publications include Brief narrative practice at the walk-in clinic: The rise of the counterstory, and Quality Assurance at the Walk-in: Process, Outcome, and Learning (2014 and 2013, International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work) and the co-editing of the book Masters of Narrative and Collaborative Therapies: The voices of Andersen, Anderson, and White (2011 Routledge Publishing).

Rick Csiernik, BSc, BSW, MSW, PhD, RSW

Rick is a professor in the School of Social Work at King's University College at Western University. He has written and edited 14 books, including Just Say Know: A Counsellor’s Guide to Psychoactive Drugs, Substance Use and Abuse: Everything Matters, and Wellness and Work: EAP in Canada, authored over 200 peer reviewed articles and book chapters and has been an invited presenter to over 200 national and international conferences, workshops and seminars. He has been part of research teams that have received over $3 million in funding and has been on the King's University College honour role of teaching 16 consecutive times. Rick was the co-developer of the McMaster University Addiction Studies Program where he has taught for over 25 years and was the inaugural recipient of the McMaster University instructor appreciation award.

Lorral Deline, MA, RP

Lorral has an MA in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University and a post-graduate diploma in addictions treatment and prevention from Georgian College. Over her 19 year career, she has worked in the field of addiction and mental health in a variety of capacities including residential, hospital and outpatient settings providing both short- and long-term therapy. Lorral has worked with diverse client populations including those with concurrent disorders, mandated clients, women and children, cross-cultural populations, couples and family members. She has also designed and delivered training workshops for healthcare professionals and has experience in the management of government initiative projects. Presently, Lorral is living and working in the Cayman Islands providing therapy to individuals, couples and families. A career highlight for Lorral occurred in 2018 when she launched her online therapy practice offering video, phone and chat therapy sessions to those aged 18 and over residing in Ontario.

Lorral is a registered psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. 

Eugene Dufour, MDiv

Eugene is a clinically trained individual, marital and family therapist, bereavement specialist, compassion fatigue educator and therapist and a critical incident stress debriefing facilitator. He received his Bachelors and Master's degree from King's College at Western University.

He has been working in the area of bereavement and trauma work, hospice palliative care and the HIV/AIDS movement for the past 30 years. He is a past president of the Ontario Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

Eugene provides critical incident stress debriefing and compassion fatigue education sessions to numerous fire departments, police departments, school boards, HIV/AIDS organizations, government agencies, hospitals and community groups. He is a local, regional, provincial, national and international speaker on the topic of bereavement and trauma, hospice palliative care, and critical incident stress.

In 2002 Eugene was presented with the Commemorative Medal for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee by the Governor General of Canada for his work in hospice palliative care.

Eugene presently works at the STAR Family Health Team in Stratford and with the Huron Perth Palliative Care Outreach Team.

Eugene is also enjoying his role as "Pepe" with his granddaughter Julia.

In March of 2012, Eugene and Michelle O’Rourke published their book Embracing The End of Life: Help for Those Who Accompany the Dying.

Abdelfettah Elkchirid, MSW, PhD

Abdelfettah joined Wilfrid Laurier University in 2015. He holds a PhD in social work from the Université de Montréal. His doctoral research focuses on child rearing practices and the transmission of cultural and religious values to children of Moroccan families in Quebec. Abdelfettah joined Ottawa University in 2010 as a part-time professor and Carleton University in 2011 as a term instructor. His teaching experience and interests include structural approach to social work in direct practice and international social work; social work practice with individuals, groups and families; social work with involuntarily-assisted individuals; social work with groups; and cultural diversity.

As a clinical social worker in private practice for the last six years, Abdelfettah worked with immigrants, refugees and families, providing psychosocial evaluations in access and custody cases. He was also recognized as an expert witness in child access and custody matters by Hudson Vicinage Family Division in New Jersey and by Youth Courts in Montreal and Longueil.

As a clinical social worker with the Cultural Adjustment and Trauma Services (CATS) at the International Institute of New Jersey, Abdelfettah was trained in and applied trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy with trauma victims. He was often solicited as a guest lecturer by numerous universities such as Saint Peter’s College, Princeton Theological Seminary and Monmouth University in New Jersey, as well as New York University where he offered presentations on the topics of social work and trauma work with ethnic minorities

Diane E. Frederick, RN, MA, ICADC, ICCS

Diane is a registered nurse, therapist, certified addictions counsellor, trainer, author and instructor at workshops and seminars integrating a mindful and compassionate perspective with client-centred therapy. Diane holds an MA in adult education, a BA in social development studies and diploma in addiction studies and certificate in management studies. In 1992, Diane became certified as an international certified addiction counsellor and supervisor with the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation where she served as a past president and director for over 10 years.

Diane's professional experience includes nursing management positions, coordinating and teaching at Conestoga College and assessment/aftercare counsellor in a women's treatment centre for substance use disorders. Currently, she is an instructor with Fanshawe College in the addictions certificate program.

In 1999, Diane completed a professional training program with Jon Kabat-Zinn, originator of the mindfulness based stress reduction program. Since that time, mindfulness practices have been integrated into her private practice and teaching. To promote mind-body awareness, she developed a practical guidebook in a workbook format with an accompanying CD titled You're Breathing Anyway, that guides individuals through mindfulness/awareness practices. She creates courses that focus on mindfulness, compassion and self-compassion.

Diane's personal meditation practices and passion to promote and encourage self-care for healthcare professionals and others pointed the way to the work of Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. After completing a workshop with Kristin Neff in 2014, Diane completed the intensive training in mindful self-compassion with Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer the creators of the mindful self-compassion programs in January 2016. To learn more, visit

Sue Gallagher, MSW, RSW

Sue has been practicing in the field of social work for over 30 years and has focused on work in the field of crisis and trauma as well as social work education. Sue worked for over 20 years as a member of the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre where she responded to acute cases of sexual and domestic violence through the emergency departments of two local hospitals. She also provided ongoing counselling to those men, women and children who had experienced sexual and/or domestic violence. Currently, Sue offers general counselling through Cardinal Counselling and Mediation in Waterloo.

Sue teaches and provides field education in the social work programs at York University, University of Calgary, Renison University and Laurier, as well as in the social services program at Conestoga College. Sue teaches a course on trauma and trauma healing at Conrad Grebel University College with the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.

In partnership with Sandy Jardine, Sue develops and delivers workshops to various agencies, professionals and community groups.

Lori Gill, MA, RP, CTS

Lori Gill, founder and clinical director at the Attachment and Trauma Treatment Centre for Healing, is a registered psychotherapist, certified trauma specialist (CTS), trainer, consultant supervisor for the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) and former psychology professor with 18+ years of experience working with children, youth and adults in various professional settings. Her diverse background has provided her a wealth of skills in the areas of trauma, attachment, mental health, compassion fatigue prevention, addictions, eating disorders, wellness and education. Lori combines her professional experience with her love for learning resulting in trainings that are a rich culmination of research, evidence-based and best-practice treatment models, and techniques to bring you leading edge, practical and integrative trainings.

Lori is honoured to have received an award of excellence in 2014 for her contributions to the trauma field and to have been named as an expert witness in the areas of trauma, attachment and reconciliation therapy.

Lori is an engaging and sought after presenter and consultant. She provides consultations and facilitates a variety of trainings across Canada and the United States, helping agencies and professionals become trauma-informed. Contact us today to discuss your needs and to set up a customized training for you and your organization.

Michelle Graham, RSW, MSW

Michelle Graham has extensive experience in the field of addictions and mental health. Clinical approaches used by Michelle to support her therapeutic approaches are Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR), which is an effective clinical treatment for trauma, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy. Michelle did her clinical practicum at the Niagara Health System (NHS) within mental health. She has worked also in withdrawal management services at the NHS for six years. Michelle is currently pursuing her certification in MBCT at the Toronto School of Mindfulness Practices. At the agency, Michelle leads mindfulness groups for clients with anxiety, depression, substance use and ADHD.

Sarah Gross, MSW, RSW, Psychotherapist

Sarah has over 10 years clinical experience working with clients across the life span, specializing in child and adolescent mental health in both acute care and outpatient settings. Sarah has been a vital part of the Qualia Counselling and teaching team since the clinic first opened.

Cara Grosset Bed (Ad Ed), MSW, PhD (c), RSW, CT

Cara is an engaging and organized facilitator with 20+ years of experience delivering counselling and postsecondary instruction as a registered social worker, possessing specialized certification and experience in thanatology and adult education. She facilitates the growth and learning of teens and adults of varying abilities in postsecondary and social service environments, employing an anti-oppressive perspective and a learner-centred approach. She takes leadership in developing and/or enhancing curriculum from anti-oppressive and universal design perspectives so that the learning needs of students are met from both theoretical and practical standpoints. She has a strong ability to link theory and practice, combining her 20+ years of clinical social work experience and previous teaching experiences. Cara has the ability to establish meaningful connections with individuals and families experiencing abuse, loss, stress, depression and trauma.

Cara is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Social Work at Laurier.

Karma Guindon, MSW, PhD (c)

Karma is PhD candidate at the Faculty of Social Work, Laurier. Her dissertation research is exploring ecological ethics for therapy practice. She is a registered social worker and registered marriage and family therapist. Karma has been a practicing therapist since 1994, beginning her career as a group therapist for child, adolescent and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and supervisor of group therapy interns. Since this time, she has practiced in the areas of adolescent eating disorders and adult mental health. Karma also practiced for 15 years at a child and family therapy program at a York Region teaching hospital. Currently, she is in private practice providing couple and family therapy and individual therapy to children, adolescents and adults. She is a part-time faculty member with the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and Renison University College, University of Waterloo, and has been an instructor with the Master of Social Work degree program at Laurier. She has also presented at numerous national and international conferences. Karma has provided supervision to students and therapy trainees and consultation to mental health professionals.

Karma co-authored a DBT workbook for teens, which was published in 2009. She uses a systems-based and integrative approach to practice and is informed by DBT, narrative therapy, CBT and psychodynamic models.

Jennifer Hackbart, BASc, MSW, RSW

Jennifer is one of Qualia Counselling's leading cognitive behavioural therapists, specializing in CBT for children, adolescents and families and working within Indigenous communities. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, child, youth and family major, from the University of Guelph and a Master of Social Work degree and CBT certificate from Laurier. Additionally, Jennifer has a background in human development and has worked extensively alongside individuals with developmental disabilities, providing both individual and group support. Jennifer is also closely affiliated with Crane Lake Discovery Camp, where a wilderness therapeutic approach is used to reach at-risk youth with various mental health and behavioural challenges. Jennifer's passion for child and adolescent mental and developmental health has been a driving force in her social work career.

Karen Huber, CYC, BA

Karen is the FASD Coordinator at the Developmental Services Resource Centre. She has been supporting children, youth and families in the area of children’s mental health for the past 24 years. For the past nine years she has been working to build supports and understanding for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Besides supporting families living with the disability, her experience includes coordinating the Waterloo Region FASD diagnostic clinic, chairing the Waterloo Region FASD action group and advocating provincially through FASD ONE for increased identification and support of the disability.

Karen James-Abra, MDiv, MEd, RSW, RMFT

Karen is a registered social worker and registered marriage and family therapist. Since 1995, she has counselled individuals, couples, families and groups. Her work is informed by her experience as a wife and mother, and by extensive training in mindfulness-based and body-centred approaches to healing. Karen is currently co-owner of The Space Within, a wellness centre in Stratford, Ontario

As a private practitioner, she is able to help with relationship issues, parenting struggles, anxiety and depression, grief, trauma and abuse, life transitions, faith crises and stress management.

Sandy Jardine, MSW, RSW

Sandy is a graduate of the Faculty of Social Work at Laurier. Prior to her social work career, Sandy taught school in PEI and BC.

In her 18 years as a clinical social worker, Sandy has worked in various settings. She spent 10 years working with the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre, responding to acute cases of sexual and domestic violence. She worked in corrections for many years, has been a clinical investigator with the Office of the Children's Lawyer and has been faculty and coordinator of the applied counselling post-degree program at Conestoga College. She is currently a field educator coordinator and sessional lecturer with Renison School of Social Work, as well as owner of her private counselling practice in Kitchener.

Sandy is a certified Clinical Traumatologist and is trained in critical stress management and compassion fatigue/secondary traumatic stress. She facilitates critical debriefs in various settings, from hospitals to first responders, as well as various agencies. She provides education and training to workplaces across the country and works with individuals and families, both through various EAP programs, as well as a fee for service provider. All of her clinical work is through a trauma-informed lens.

Veena Kaur, MSc, RP, RMFT

Veena is the Director of Training, Multicultural and Trauma Services at K-W Counselling Services. She is an AAMFT approved supervisor and a part-time university instructor.

Veena has a particular interest in trauma recovery and has worked with families recovering from family violence, sexual abuse, addictions, grief and loss. She has worked extensively with new immigrants, refugees and Indigenous peoples. Issues of diversity, marginalization and oppression remain central to her work as a therapist, teacher and supervisor and as a community developer. She has collaborated with leaders from various ethno-cultural groups in developing and delivering cultural competency trainings to service providers in the region.

Veena graduated from the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the University of Guelph in 2000. She has worked in the communities of Peel Region, Kitchener-Waterloo and the remote, isolated communities of the Western Arctic region.

Heather Kerr, MSW, RSW

Heather is a registered social worker, therapist, consultant and trainer providing workshops and teaching as part of her private practice. Heather holds a BA in psychology/law and criminology from Carleton University and a Masters of Social Work from Laurier. She is also a certified equine therapist.

Heather has over 25 years’ of experience specializing in addictions and trauma. She has worked extensively in provincial and federal corrections. Heather has provided training in Ontario and across Canada and the U.S. She has also been an instructor at Conestoga College.

Heather has been the Executive Director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community in Guelph for 15 years. She completed a secondment with the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network as Lead for Addictions Integration in 2013. Heather is one of the founding members of the Canadian Association of Women’s Criminal Justice Residential Options (CARWO) and of the Ontario Chapter of the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA). She also sits on the Board of Addiction Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) and the Board of the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA).

Stephanie Kersta, MSc, RP

Stephanie holds an Honours Bachelor of Science with a specialist in psychology, and a Master of Science in psychology. Additionally, she holds a number of certifications, namely, a postgraduate certificate in Addictions and Mental Health Counselling and advanced training in solution focused therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia and psychometric assessments.

As a complement to her strong clinical education, Stephanie has incorporated additional evidence-based holistic certificates to further round out her training. She is certified in applied mindfulness meditation, mindfulness based stress reduction, mindfulness based cognitive therapy and mindful eating. Additionally, she holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University.

Stephanie holds teaching positions at multiple postsecondary institutions, and as a registered psychotherapist, has a clinical psychotherapy practice where she primarily treats anxiety, depression, self-esteem and insomnia. Stephanie has a strong clinical interest in the interplay between chronic stress and the development of physical and mental health conditions.

Stephanie has been published in the field of motivation and addiction, and has presented at international and national conferences.

Stephanie is certified trainer with LivingWorks for both safeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainings (ASIST) as well as with the Mental Health Commission of Canada for Mental Health First Aid and certifies hundreds of individuals per year. Stephanie is a member of the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychologists (SIOP) and both the Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Hilton King, BSW, MSW

Hilton is Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nation and his Anishinaabe name is Wahmahtig (Leaning Tree). He is first degree Mediwiwin. Hilton is a product of the 60s scoop, where young Native girls and boys were taken from their homes and placed in non-native homes across the country. Hilton has a background working in Native mental health, addictions, justice and child welfare. He completed his MSW at Laurier. More recently, Hilton is a lecturer at Renison University College, University of Waterloo and teaches Indigenous Peoples and Social Work in the School of Social Work. Additionally, at Laurier, Aboriginal Field of Study, Hilton is the part-time field coordinator and lead helper with the program’s culture camps. Hilton is also a talented drum maker and has facilitated many cultural based workshops on the drum, shakers and teachings of the Anishinaabe peoples. His social work practice is rooted in his cultural identity as an Anishinaabe man.

Annette Kussin, MSW, RSW

Annette is a registered marriage and family therapist and advanced attachment focused therapist. She was the owner/director of the Leaside Therapy Centre, a multi-discipline clinic in Toronto until 2012. She has a private practice where she specializes in attachment focused therapy for adults, couples and adoptive families. She has worked in children’s mental health as a therapist, supervisor, manager and clinical director.

Annette has received advanced training in attachment focused therapy from Daniel Hughes and training in the adult attachment interview. She offers consultation to agencies and individual professionals and regularly provides training to organizations throughout Ontario including Laurier's Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work, SickKids Children’s Mental Health Institute and many children's mental health services and child welfare agencies in the area of attachment, trauma and brain development.

Linda Mackay, MSW, RSW

Linda trained in mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) under Zindel Segal, Steven Hickman and Sarah Bowman, with advanced training with Pat Rockman at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies. She is a certified yoga teacher and also a level two LifeForce Yoga® (LFY) practitioner (yoga for mental health) and is on the faculty and a mentor with the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute. Most recently, Linda co-led training programs with founder Amy Weintraub at Leading Edge in Toronto and at the Cape Cod Institute. Having worked at the University of Waterloo's counselling and psychological services for over 15 years, Linda co-owns a private practice, The Space Within, in Stratford, Ontario. Here she offers individual psychotherapy, LFY workshops and retreats, introduction to mindfulness and mindfulness based cognitive therapy. She has created and leads a primary school based mindfulness program, Minding Your Mind, and offers workshops on compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma to mental health and health care workers incorporating mindfulness and yoga. For more information, visit Linda’s website, LMM Counselling.

Sara Marlowe, MSW, RSW

Sara Marlowe is a clinical social worker, children’s author, university lecturer, musician and mindfulness practitioner and teacher. She is a trained teacher in MSC (mindful self-compassion) and MARS-A (mindful awareness and resilience skills for adolescents). She has developed and facilitated numerous mindfulness programs for children, adolescents, parents and families in mental health, educational, hospital and community settings. She is the author of two children’s books, No Ordinary Apple: A Story about Eating Mindfully and My New Best Friend, which teaches self-compassion to children. She is also the author of the chapter Supporting Young Children Visited by Big Emotions: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation and Neurobiology in Collaborative Therapy and Neurobiology: Evolving Practices in Action (Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin and Jim Duvall, Eds.).

Sara can be found online at

Christine Mayor, MA, RDT

Christine is a registered drama therapist with experience teaching drama therapy methods nationally and internationally. Currently a second year PhD student at Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work, Christine also teaches for Lesley University in their expressive therapies program. She serves as the associate editor of Drama Therapy Review, the official peer-reviewed journal of the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) and has published several articles and book chapters on the use of drama therapy and the arts for social action, clinical practice and in school-based settings. Christine was awarded the 2016 NADTA Research Award.

Prior to beginning her studies at Laurier, Christine worked as the Director of Public Health and Social Policy at the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven, Connecticut, where she led a multi-city trauma-centred drama therapy program in the schools called ALIVE. In addition to specializing in the use of drama therapy with those who have experienced trauma, she has expertise in using the arts with newcomer youth, children with autism spectrum disorder, and in school-based settings.

Colin McVicker, BA, MA, RP

Colin has worked in the addictions field for over 15 years. He has had the opportunity to work in the U.S. and Ontario healthcare systems treating individuals and their families for concerns around problematic substance use and gambling. He is currently working in the addictions field in a clinical capacity.

Colin has experience working with clients at a variety of levels in the healing process of addiction treatment and has worked with individuals ranging from ages 13 to 89. He is an experienced presenter and has had the opportunity to present at international conferences about new treatment approaches used in the clinical field.

Colin has had the privilege of treating clients in both individual and group counselling approaches and he looks forward to supporting students in cultivating a deeper understanding of the importance of group counselling in the treatment process of addictions.

Colin has recently completed his Masters of Health Leadership at Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C. He focused his major research project on developing collaborative treatment practices for concurrently diagnosed patients/clients. Colin has helped facilitate organizational learning sessions on mentorship, team building and conflict resolution and has a keen interest in how teams work together to achieve common goals.

Dena Moitoso MSc, Psych CRPO, OACCPP, Registered Psychotherapist

Dena is a registered psychotherapist and holds a master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in traumatic bereavement. For over 20 years, Dena has provided individual and family counselling to those grieving the loss of a loved. She is a founding member of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council (WRSPC) and the local chapter for Bereaved Families of Ontario. In addition to her own private practice, Dena is the professional consultant for WRSPC, and she presents on many workshops related to bereavement throughout the province. It is Dena’s personal experience with loss which compliments her knowledge and understanding of the challenges of grief.

Helen Mullen-Stark, MSW

Helen has been the president of HMS Inc. Human Resource Solutions since 1995. As an independent consultant Helen has engaged in numerous successful consulting ventures within both the private and public sector. Helen has undertaken a number of project management assignments for Children’s Aid Societies, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Society, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and children’s mental health organizations and has also provided facilitation services to a variety of social service providers for organizational restructuring and program development. She has over 30 years experience in the child welfare sector with several Children’s Aid Societies throughout Ontario. Helen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of organizational systems, interagency and intergovernmental linkages.

Michelle Nogueira, RSSW, CAC II, CPGC

For the past 31 years, Michelle has worked through the continuum of care in the addiction field. She has achieved certifications in gambling and addictions. She is also a registered social service worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Michelle is currently working at Homewood Community Addictions Services as a problem gambling and technology overuse counsellor. Michelle has been intrigued with problem gambling since 1989 and for the past 16 years has provided outpatient counselling (individual, group) to problem gamblers and their significant others. She has initiated, developed, implemented and facilitated a wide range of programs and services for problem gamblers and their significant others. She has also developed relapse prevention programs for both problem gamblers and substance abusers. She is currently co-facilitating a mindfulness-based relapse prevention program for substance use and gambling.

Michelle has had the pleasure to work in all areas of the gambling field and has developed partnerships with key stakeholders in all facets of the gambling industry: treatment, prevention, gambling venues and research. Michelle was a co-investigator on a research project titled, A Comprehensive Review of Problem Gambling Self-Assessment Tools for Use on an Internet Platform and was honoured to present the findings at the 15th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking in Las Vegas.

Michelle has been a source for the media and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications (National Post, Financial Post, Globe and Mail, Guelph Mercury, The Record, Orangeville Banner). She has collaborated with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to develop a video that promotes treatment and self-exclusion (

Michelle has also co-authored a book, My Parent’s Aren’t NOOBS! This heartfelt story for children and parents highlights the importance of technology (video games) with today’s generation of youth and promotes healthy video gaming habits. An article on The Story Behind the Story was featured in the online magazine, One Thousand Trees (March 2017).

Michelle is a proud supporter of The Family Dinner Project (TFDP). Her family was featured in TFDP’s September Newsletter and her blog Tech, Talk and Turkey was posted on TFDP website.

She is also a member of The Children’s Screen Time Action Network. This network supports children’s healthy development by fostering collaboration and resource sharing between professionals who help families manage their technology use.

In 2017, Michelle initiated and launched a Balanced Technology Management (BTM) committee in her local community. The BTM committee brings together a variety of stakeholders passionate to ensure that children and youth receive a balance between activities that promote optimal development with technology use.

Michelle was excited to be involved in the Brain Connections Project. She was one of seven problem gambling counsellors in Ontario who were invited to provide feedback on handouts related to gambling and the brain. These handouts are used as a clinical tool to enhance treatment for problem gamblers and their significant others.

Recently, Michelle was honoured to be invited by McMaster Health Forum to be a merit reviewer for a citizen brief titled, Strengthening Collaboration to Optimize Efforts Addressing Gambling-Related Harm in Ontario.

Michelle has also had the opportunity to present on gambling, technology and substance use at a variety of forums throughout her career.

Margaret Notar, MA, MSW, RSW

Margaret is a clinical social worker with over 25 years’ experience working in the mental health field. Since 1999, Marg has been a part-time faculty member with Laurier’s Faculty of Social Work, teaching clinical courses on individual and group therapy, and mindfulness models, as well as providing a variety of workshops through the faculty’s Professional Development office. She is also a social work field advisor for Laurier and for several years, taught at Renison University College’s School of Social Work. She has acted as a field supervisor for many students over the years and provides live and online clinical consultation to social work professionals through her private practice where she also sees adolescent and adult clients.

Marg initiated and facilitates a local consultation/study group for professionals interested in learning more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a topic she has presented on at the international level. As well, she contributed to, and developed, eating disorders treatment, prevention and professional development services in the Waterloo region, previously as co-founder of the Eating Disorders Awareness Coalition, a non-profit charity. Marg’s current research interests are related to the impact of mindfulness practice on new social work practitioners. She has published on topics such as motivational interviewing with teens, self esteem enhancement groups, families whose loved ones have an eating disorder, and mother-daughter relationships, and has conducted workshops on numerous topics across Canada. In another life, she is also an award-winning quilt artist whose work has been selected for exhibition in local museums as well as national and international exhibitions.

David Pell, MSc

David has extensive experience with organization development and management. He operated his own business and worked for government, universities and the voluntary sector. David was a partner in Development Initiatives Inc. an international consulting firm. He was the founder and president of the Community Business Resource Centre, George Brown College Foundation, a highly successful entrepreneurship training centre and consulting organization in economic development. As the CEO of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and the Canadian Youth Foundation, David expanded the organization’s lending, mentor support and career planning programs for young people across Canada. As the CEO, David was appointed as an advisor to the Prince of Wales, Youth Business International (London UK). David was also the CEO of Street Kids International, an organization recognized by the United Nations as a leader in youth programming. David is the author of several publications on economic development and community and corporate partnerships. David is currently working as a consultant and an instructor in professional development programs. He is the chair of Canadian Feed the Children with responsibility for strategic development, the vice-president of the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington and a director of 2nd Chance, Employment Counselling.

Lisa Pont, BSW, MSW, RSW

Lisa started at the Problem Gambling Service at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) as the older adult specialist in 2007. Prior to that, she was hired at CAMH in 2002 to develop and coordinate the telephone support line. Lisa’s experience in counselling, outreach, community work and training led her to her position as a trainer/therapist at the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario at CAMH. Currently, she is involved in responsible gambling industry training and specializes in the area of online gaming, gambling and Internet overuse. Lisa continues to provide group and individual counseling both at CAMH and in private practice where she specializes in Behavioural Addictions. Lisa teaches both in professional development and continuing education programs at two Ontario universities and presents at domestic and international conferences. Her expertise has been sought out for print, radio and television. She has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University and a Master of Social Work from York University.

Melissa Pyne, MSW, RSW

Melissa is a registered social worker with 10 years experience in the field of mental health counselling. She works in the Outpatient Mental Health and Addictions program at Grand River Hospital delivering individual and group therapy to adults in acute mental health crisis. She also provides field supervision to Laurier's MSW students. 

Melissa holds a BA (Hons) in psychology from York University and an MSW from Laurier. She is dedicated to ongoing learning and strives to stay informed with best practices. Melissa is certified in concurrent disorders and the Daring Way™ (highly experiential methodology in developing shame resiliency based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown).

Maxxine Rattner, MA, MSW, RSW

Maxxine is the current and founding social worker at Kensington Hospice, a residential hospice in downtown Toronto providing end-of-life care to individuals over 18 years old with prognoses of less than three months. In her role, she attends to the complex psychosocial and practical support needs of patients and their families, and coordinates and implements the hospice’s bereavement support program. Prior to working in hospice, she worked in HIV/AIDS community development and public policy for nearly a decade. Maxxine holds an MA in Public Policy and an MSW from the University of Toronto, a post-graduate certificate in end-of-life care from the Smith College School for Social Work, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University with a focus on psychosocial suffering at end of life. Maxxine has presented at conferences nationally and internationally, and is the recipient of the 2017 award for Emerging Leader in Palliative Social Work from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network. 

Julia Read, MSW, PhD (C)

Julia is currently pursuing a PhD in social work at Laurier. Her research interests, inspired from both her lived experience and her work as an addiction therapist, include exploring contemporary social constructions of addiction and mental distress as well as decolonizing approaches towards understanding addiction. Julia believes people who have experienced being diagnosed or criminalized as “addicts” share unique experiences of marginalization. Based on an in-depth understanding of reciprocity, experiential knowledge and meaningful dialogue, her approach to teaching is designed to engage learners in a critical process. Through her research, Julia aims to raise awareness about the impacts of stigma experienced by people with lived addiction experience, particularly those who work in peer support services. Her recent research projects have infused participatory and community-based methodologies, while creating opportunities for community capacity building.

Saria Reynolds, MSW, RSW

Saria is a veteran social worker and CBT certified clinician working in affiliation with Qualia Counselling Services Inc. Her passion and experience as an advocate has evolved to include mentoring and educational roles. Since 1993 she has worked exclusively in the field of mental health, providing psychosocial rehabilitation therapy in community-based programs like ACTT and transition teams as well as within tertiary and primary care facilities across Southwestern Ontario. Saria is adept in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) skills training, motivational interviewing, crisis intervention and facilitating individual, couple, family and group work therapy.

Saria obtained her certificate in gerontology and BSW from the University of Windsor and her MSW from Renison at the University of Waterloo. She is currently registered with the OASWSSW, OASW SWHPN. Her crowning achievement is being married over 20 years – to the same man – and being a proud parent of two great sons.

Ian Robertson

Ian currently works as the Regional Clinical Supervisor for Addictions and Mental Health at the Niagara Health System. Previously, Ian was as a substance abuse counsellor at the Niagara Withdrawal Management Centre, the New Port Centre, as a clinical therapist for Mental Health Services, Regional Facilitator and Trainer for Mental Health, and also consultant for several community organizations. He is a certified Clinical Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist and Substance Abuse Counsellor. He is trained in Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR), Level 1 and 2 of EMDR, Threat Assessment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive Process Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. Ian has been a speaker at international, national, provincial and regional conferences and an organizational trainer on topics such as substance abuse, trauma, concurrent disorders, mental health, youth at risk, youth threat assessment, Motivational Interviewing, Stages of Change, and Organizational Trauma-informed Practices. He is currently working on his Advanced Certification as a Clinical Supervisor from Smith College, School of Social Work in MA, U.S. Ian also owns and operates a private practice in Niagara.

Laurie Robinson, BSW, MSW

Laurie has a passion for working at the policy and service system level of care for all people and is a strong advocate for implementing trauma informed service systems in Canada. She started her career as a youth worker and clinical social worker, completing both her BSW and MSW at the University of Calgary. As a consultant, Laurie enjoys working with a broad variety of organizations and employers in the broader non-profit sector and government. She has been presenting and training others on trauma informed theory and practice for several years. Initially trained on the sanctuary model of trauma informed care, Laurie has since pursued extensive study on a variety of approaches that cover all service sectors, including mental health, addictions, developmental services and the justice system to name a few. Laurie’s early experience as a clinician keeps her interested in trauma specific interventions and cutting edge approaches in social work.

Angela Rolleman MSW, RSW

Angela is a registered social worker, speaker and trainer with additional training and expertise in addiction counselling. Angela has 18 years of experience working in social service settings including child welfare, employment counselling, crisis counselling, health care (Family Health Team), outpatient addiction treatment and residential addiction treatment. She has a master’s degree in social work, an undergraduate degree in psychology and a diploma in addiction counselling.

Currently, Angela has her own business providing onsite training workshops for organizations as well as personal development workshops for individuals; she is an instructor for Laurier's Faculty of Social Work Professional Development Program; and she is the Director of Mission: Empowerment!, a company that provides personal and professional development seminars and events. Angela has been a speaker at several conferences on topics including addiction, motivational interviewing, self-esteem, overcoming limiting beliefs and positive psychology. She has also delivered several personal development workshops for clients on topics including happiness, self-esteem, overcoming limiting beliefs, emotional eating, and achieving your dreams. To learn more, visit

Kate Ross-Rudow, MSW, RSW

Kate is a practicing clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience, concentrating in child and adolescent mental health. In addition, Kate has been a part-time educator for the Faculty of Social Work at Laurier since 2000, teaching a variety of courses for the graduate and undergraduate programs including Advanced Family Therapy, Reflexive Practices, Ethics, Crisis Intervention, Children and Families and Group Therapy. Kate also taught Addictions and Mental Health at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo.

Kate worked as an individual, family and group therapist for 29 years at an outpatient hospital mental health clinic for children, adolescents and their families who experienced complex mental health concerns. She specializes in the areas of trauma, anxiety and depression, externalizing behaviours, attachment and relationship issues, family violence, and acute concerns. In addition, Kate offered extensive consultation and numerous workshops to community partners. Kate currently has an active private practice where she works with youth, adults and their families.

Ceilidh Eaton Russell, PhD(c), CCLS

Ceilidh is a PhD candidate in the Family Relations and Human Development program at the University of Guelph and a Certified Child Life Specialist with the Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre in Toronto. For 15 years Ceilidh’s clinical work and teaching has focused on supporting children and families living with the serious illness, dying or death of a family member. As a researcher with the Children’s Grief Centre and at SickKids Hospital, Ceilidh’s collaborative work focuses on exploring family communication and grief when a child has a life-threatening illness, and children’s experiences when a sibling is dying.

Sarah Schlote, MA, RP, CCC, SEP

Sarah is a Registered Psychotherapist, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner and founder of The Refuge: Centre for Healing and Recovery in Guelph, an integrative facility focusing on top-down and bottom-up trauma and attachment treatment approaches. She holds a trauma-focused masters in counselling psychology and has also completed additional training in EMDR, structural dissociation theory for ego state and parts work, Body Memory Recall, the Touch Skills Training for Trauma Therapists, the Somatic Resilience and Regulation – Early Trauma Training (attachment rupture and repair), and trauma-focused equine-facilitated therapy and ecotherapy. She also weaves mindfulness and DBT-inspired skills as well as psychodynamic therapy, attachment-oriented psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, animal-assisted therapy and Indigenous principles into her work. She has also been involved in the field of animal-assisted interventions since 2003, including the development of standards of practice, and is the creator of EQUUSOMA™, a training model incorporating Somatic Experiencing®, attachment theory, polyvagal theory and equine-assisted practice. Fluent in English and French, she is a sought-after trainer and frequently delivers trainings and workshops throughout the province and Canada on trauma-informed care and treatment.

For more information, visit

Washington P. Silk, BA, MSW, RSW

Washington holds a BA in anthropology from the University of Lethbridge and an MSW from Laurier. They are a registered social worker and work as the program coordinator and a therapeutic counsellor at OK2BME program at KW Counselling Services. Wash is a gender queer person, comfortable with they/them pronouns, open and interested in helping people meet their goals, enjoy life and increase self-knowledge. In therapy, Wash uses a client-centred, anti-oppressive and trauma informed model. Wash has experience supporting youth who are LGBTQ+ who may be questioning or thinking about their gender or sexual identity, coming out or struggling with mental health or substance use/addiction issues, as well as family issues.

OK2BME is a set of free, supportive services for LGBTQ+ identified children, teens and their families in Waterloo region. The OK2BME program consists of three unique areas including confidential counselling services, an OK2BME youth group for individuals 13 to 18 as well as public education, consulting and training around LGBTQ+ issues.

Susan Taylor Simpson

Until recently, Susan ran ProAct Ideas, a small consulting practice with a mission to bring professional action to innovative ideas for better community engagement. Before her consulting gig, Susan spent 30+ years as a public policy analyst and urban planner working with provincial and local governments in Ontario. In 2012, Susan become a certified coach with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovators – and now, finally, her work with people and with communities brings all these experiences together.

Sylvie Smith, BA, ICADC

During her 20 years in the addictions field, Sylvie has worked in several areas in the continuum, including withdrawal management, harm reduction, methadone maintenance and short- as well as long-term residential treatment. In her current role, she provides individual and group counselling to people struggling with substance use/abuse as well as gambling, video gaming and excessive electronic use. She also helps support family members who have loved ones dealing with these issues. Sylvie has also greatly enjoyed working with university students who are struggling with substance use or have family who members who are struggling with substances. She is active in various committees within her community including harm reduction, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

She presents education sessions to various clients, the community and other health professionals. One of her fondest presentation memories was as a co-investigator of research titled, A Review of Problem Gambling Self-Assessment Tools for Use on Internet Gambling Platform, being able to present at the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking, in Las Vegas (2013).

In her various roles, Sylvie has always had a special interest in supporting families living with addiction. She believes that it is vital to help families find support and healthier means to cope. She has facilitated the development of programs and sessions for teens who have parents who abuse substances and for teens who abuse substances themselves. This will be her sixth year of instructing the in-person course and she also instructs the online version of this course.

Sylvie is a Registered Psychotherapist, and a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. She has diplomas in social service work and drug and alcohol counselling, as well as a BA in social development studies. She is an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor with the Canadian Addiction Counsellor Certification Federation since 2005.

Michelle Sutherland, BA (Law), CMed, MSW, RSW

Michelle is an Indigenous-centred social work practitioner/educator with a proven track record for facilitating workshops in a highly creative, humorous and often contagiously passionate manner. Michelle comes from salt-water people: Mi’kmaq on her mother’s side and Welsh on her father’s. Her spirit name is Bagamiaayaabikwe – sits at the centre and comes into being by coming home. Michelle received her MSW from Laurier in the Aboriginal Field of Study where she had the privilege of doing a clinical placement under Elder, scholar, artist and traditional practitioner Banakonda Kennedy Kish (Bell), focusing on Art as Medicine. Michelle’s deep, abiding passion for practicing and lifting up Indigenous wholistic healing led her to White Owl Native Ancestry Association where she is currently the executive director.

Karla Stroud, MA

Karla has been a research and evaluation consultant at Taylor Newberry Consulting (TNC) for four years. She has a doctorate in applied social psychology from the University of Guelph. In her role at TNC, Karla leads evaluation projects focused on anti-poverty work, community hubs and youth mental health. Her academic research focuses on the experiences of older adults in the health care system.

Andrew Taylor, PhD

Andrew is co-owner of Taylor Newberry Consulting (TNC), a company based in Guelph that specializes in helping non-profit groups make better use of research evidence. He is a program evaluation consultant with more than 20 years’ experience and has worked with a wide range of government departments, social service agencies, grassroots groups and foundations on program evaluation projects. He is also an experienced trainer. TNC’s approach to program evaluation employs a participatory, developmental approach and focuses on generating practical, useful information that can inform action. Andrew teaches program evaluation at the University of Guelph and acts as Resident Evaluation Expert at the Ontario Nonprofit Network.

Lysa Toye, MSW

Lysa is an Expressive Arts Therapist and Master’s-trained social worker with a collaborative certificate in palliative and supportive care, and has worked in pediatric and adult health, mental health, and palliative care settings for over a decade. She has also been engaged in contemplative life and practice in various streams of yoga and Buddhism for two decades. Lysa works as a counsellor and psychotherapist with the Dr. Jay Children's Grief Centre and in private practice. She is passionate about supporting children, youth, adults and families living through end of life, grief and trauma to grieve, grow and give voice to their experiences through mindful creativity, art, ritual and the natural world.

Elisha Van Harte, MSW, RSW

Elisha is the founder of By Clinical Design, a mental health treatment, training and development company. She also works in private practice in Guelph and in the role of Clinical Implementation Lead at Kinark Child and Family Services. Over the last 15 years Elisha has held many clinical and managerial roles within the mental health inpatient and community-based sectors. Within all of her roles, Elisha has facilitated clinical implementations of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) as well as provided education, training and supervision in the practice of DBT, CBT and other evidenced based interventions. In the last several years Elisha has provided training at all levels of DBT within hospitals, residential treatment homes, community outpatient and school-based programs. Elisha has a Masters of Social Work from Laurier and an Honours BA in psychology and crime and criminal justice and public policy from the University of Guelph.

Marg Van Herk-Paradis

Marg Van Herk-Paradis specializes in working with organizations and congregations to address conflict, transform organizational culture and clarify organizational mission and vision through the use of innovative tools. Having worked extensively across North America, Marg specializes in facilitation, coaching and mediation for groups and individuals. Marg has been a keynote at several conferences and has worked extensively in not-for-profit organizations, universities and a variety of organization and church denominations and settings. Marg's professional experience includes over 25 years in not-for-profit and faith-based organizations, including 17 years in a leadership position. She has a BA in applied social science from Concordia University in Montreal and is currently completing a Masters in Theological Studies at Conrad Grebel University College, affiliated with the University of Waterloo. She has completed a certificate in conflict management and mediation, as well as a certificate in conflict management and congregational leadership with advanced standing from Conrad Grebel. Marg's work with clients is informed by respect, the valuing of difference and the sacredness of every individual. Listening beyond words to the whole person is a cornerstone of Marg's practice. She has been the humble witness to countless transformative moments made possible by listening well and helping people know that they are loved.

Jan Varner, MBA, CTDP

Jan recently retired as the CEO of the local United Way where she held the role since 2005. Prior to this role, Jan was a full- and part-time faculty member at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics since 1995. She was also the director of the Laurier Institute, the management and development arm of the Lazardis School of Business and Economics. She joined the faculty after serving 15 years in the private and public sector. Jan and her husband Dave owned an experiential training and development business that included their own team building challenge course. Jan has been teaching with the Faculty of Social Work Professional Development department since 2006.

Barbara Ward, BA, MSW, RSW, PhD

Barbara is a leader in children’s mental health and well-being with over 25 years’ experience in the field. Her training and knowledge of the impact of child and youth trauma has been a strong focus during her career as well as the interconnections between staff wellness and organizational trauma and stress. Barbara is currently the Mental Health Lead with the Waterloo Region District School Board, influencing the education system as it attends to student mental wellness. Her work in part is focused on equipping staff with resources for implementing everyday practices in schools such as mindfulness, self-regulation strategies and other universal practices to incorporate well-being into student’s lives.

Barbara previously served as the Director of Services, as well as a manager and a clinician in the Child and Family Therapy Program in a large children’s mental health organization in the Waterloo Region. She operationalized effective treatment and organizational interventions that attended to client and staff well-being, resiliency and trauma healing.

Barbara recently completed her PhD in psychology with the Taos Institute and Vrije University Brussels, Belgium and also has a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Laurier. She strongly believes in the collaboration and partnerships that successfully create “a village to raise a child.” She also believes that if universal well-being strategies that are “necessary for some but good for all” were a stock in the stock market, she would invest all her money in that commodity.

Andrea Warnick, RP, RN, MA

Andrea is a registered psychotherapist whose passion lies in helping families and communities support people of all ages who are grieving the illness or death of someone close to them.

With a degree in nursing, a Master's degree in Thanatology (the study of dying and death) and years of nursing and counselling experience both in Canada and abroad, Andrea brings to her work a rare mixture of medical and psychosocial expertise.

Andrea developed and teaches the certificate program in Children’s Grief and Bereavement at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. She is a member of the clinical team at Canadian Virtual Hospice (CVH) where she responds to questions about children and grief asked by professionals and family members from across Canada. At CVH Andrea was also the project lead for the development of, a free online grief resource which was launched in November of 2017.

In addition to her education and consulting work, Andrea provides grief counselling support by phone to families across North America, and has in-person counselling practices in Toronto and Guelph. When Andrea isn’t talking about dying, death and grief with whoever will listen she can be found engrossed in her monarch butterfly raising operation in the warmer months and scouting out maple trees to tap for syrup-making in the colder months.

Barbara Wilkinson, MA, RP

Barbara has been a mindfulness trainer for a few decades, teaching mindfulness based stress reduction, mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindful eating. She has done her own training with Jon Kabat-Zinn, who first introduced mindfulness to North America in the 1970s, Zindel Segal and Jon Teasdale, creators of the MBCT program to prevent relapse of depression, Saki Santorelli, director of the Center for Mindfulness, and Tara Brach, founder of the Insight Meditation Community in Washington. She has taught mindfulness in Europe, Asia and North America. Her articles on mindfulness and well-being have been published widely.

Barbara also works as a registered psychotherapist in private practice in Guelph. She is presently developing courses in compassionate mindful communication. An Adlerian Certified Trauma Therapist, she is part of a crisis management team and holds two masters degrees in International Relations and Counselling as well as teaching certificates in education and special needs. Her workshops reflect experience garnered over a lifetime of parenting, teaching, counselling, travelling and all that goes into being a human being in a stressed-out world that pushes us to be “human doings.”

Jennifer Will, BA, RP

Jennifer has been in the addiction counselling profession for nearly two decades and is currently employed with William Osler Health System in the mental health and addictions program. She graduated with a BA in psychology from Laurentian University and obtained a post-graduate diploma through Georgian College in the addictions treatment and prevention program. In more recent years she obtained a certificate in cognitive behaviour therapy from McMaster University. Jennifer has enjoyed a varied career in the counselling field including group and individual counselling in both residential and intensive day treatment settings as well as delivering intake/screening services in the community treatment setting with substance dependent clients. She has been specializing in the problem gambling field for over 15 years and has worked in both the public and private sectors. Her current position involves providing individual and group counselling in an outpatient setting and also provides consultative and educative services to the early psychosis program at Brampton Civic Hospital. Over her career, she has presented at conferences nationwide on the topics of treating concurrent disorders and older adults and has developed and facilitated a number of workshops for helping professionals. Jennifer is nearing the completion of graduate studies in the field of counselling and is a registered member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.

Contact Us:

Lynne Jordan, Coordinator, Professional Development

T: 519.884.0710 x5265


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