I was born and raised in the Hamilton-Toronto area and received my Bachelor of Arts (Economics, Philosophy) from the University of Toronto and worked in a psychiatric day treatment program for young adults with chronic psychiatric illnesses. The program was developed by Drs. Heather Munroe-Blum, Loys Ligate & Gian Bartolucci with Medical Supervision provided by Dr. Ligate. I returned to the University of Toronto for a Master’s of Social Work at the East Region Mental Health Service for adults with psychiatatrists Drs. Nick Kates, Jeff Ennis, Stephen Webb and psychologist Dr. Bruce Linder, where I learned about CBT for a host of difficulties and did behavioral consultation to a 500 bed nursing home for residents with difficult behaviours.
Then, in Squamish in 1991, I worked as the Coordinator for Child and Youth Mental Health, for the Health Authority. In 1996 the Child and Youth Mental Health Program was shifted to the newly- formed Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) where I worked as the Senior Clinician, Team Leader and Clinical Supervisor with a staff of four Masters level clinicians, a consulting Psychologist (Dr. Adams) and consulting Psychiatrists (Drs. Quan, Chakraborty). During that time I saw children ranging in age from very young to age 19 years and treated a range of problems ranging from high-risk parent-child relationship, anxiety, depression, Conduct Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Insomnia and substance use and high - risk suicidal, self - injuring behaviours. I also ran a number of parenting groups including Russ Barkley's parent program for parents of children struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Oppositional children. My primary treatments were Trauma-Focused CBT (for childhood grief and trauma), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (for young children and their parents) and as noted, DBT adapted for adolescents and their families.
Throughout my work in Child and Youth Mental Health I continued growing and learning and was able to pursue a life-time dream of being able to participate in training for DBT - an evidence-based treatment for getting the most chronically suicidal and self-injuring teens as well as profoundly depressed and traumatized individuals to get out of the hell of their unremitting pain. This work and training led to becoming a regional co-leader in the development and implementation (with fidelity) of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a treatment for chronically suicidal and self-harming youths who had also experienced trauma, and a complex array of difficulties. I also ran the DBT Multi-Family Skills Group to help families understand and learn to be more effective in helping their teens use the skills they were learning. Having the teen and the parent(s) in the same group with other families provided a great opportunity for families to try out new range of skills and find the particular ones which worked best for their individual and unique circumstances.
While working with individual children, teens and families had always been gratifying, I knew that many of these folks needing mental health services would not get them. During my work as the MCFD Team Leader for Child and Youth Mental Health, I developed a particular interest in "up-stream" or Primary Prevention initiatives and introduced a community mobilization program to Squamish called "Communities That Care" . From that initial work several evidence-based programs were selected for implementation by the community and included the Strengthening Families and High Scope Preschool Programs and Municipal Alcohol Policies. It was during this time that I was awarded the “Community Visionary” award by the District of Squamish.
During the mid-90’s I started a private counselling service to continue working with adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, chronic pain, and insomnia and then was invited by PT Health (Squamish) to provide mental health consultation and brief treatment. The clients were individuals who had experienced a work-related injury and had difficulties such as head injury, pain problems, Post-Traumatic Stress, and insomnia - problems which were going to interfere with and delay a successful return to work. A thoroughly enjoyable role with a great multi-disciplinary team and one I am very pleased to say continues to this day.
I left Provincial Child and Youth Mental Health Services in early 2018 and look forward to continuing work with colleagues locally and provincially, to continuing with PT Health and, to joining Squamish Integrated Health!
I am a Registered Clinical Social Worker in the province of British Columbia.