Choosing a Counsellor is an important decision - I value the time, commitment and investment involved. I would like to introduce myself so you can better determine if we might be a fit.
For the last 20 years, I have worked collaboratively with families, people in intimate relationships and individual adults. My areas of training and practice are informed by both a neurobiological and attachment lens. This means I am attuned to how your nervous system has adapted to your experiences, and how these adaptations may impact your current life and relationships. I work most often with concerns stemming from anxiety, trauma, and challenging patterns in relationships. I invite you to learn more about my specific training and experience here.
Still not sure what to expect from our counselling relationship? It sometimes helps to describe how I generally approach therapy. As a client, you are in the driver's seat. It is my job to ensure we stay on route, to assist with navigation, and to offer some possible, alternative views and practices that may be difficult to see from your vantage point.
Clients may understandably feel overwhelmed by triggered reactions connected to a traumatic event or anxiety provoking situation. These are the times I more directly support you in regulating this experience, and to help you develop the framework and capacity to relate to these triggered parts outside of therapy.
I look forward to working with you.
In 1998, Michelle began her work with clients in the anti-violence field at a Transition House, supporting women and children who had experienced physical and emotional violence and associated trauma. She led the development of the Specialized Victims Services Program in Langley before returning to school to obtain her Master of Arts Degree in Counselling Psychology in 2009 (Simon Fraser University).
Her work as a Therapist initially focused on providing assessment and therapy to children and families referred by the Ministry of Child and Family Development. Michelle was later a Family Counsellor at Family Services of Vancouver, where she also provided clinical supervision to graduate students and colleagues. Since transitioning to her own clinical space, her practice has naturally expanded from a focus on children and family systems to working with the other most significant attachment relationship in families – intimate relationships. Currently, Michelle divides her time between counselling and teaching Human Behaviour as part-time Faculty at the British Columbia Institute of British Columbia (BCIT), delivering workshops to parents and community, and providing clinical supervision to graduate students and agencies.
Specialized Training and Certifications
Michelle is trained in a specialized approach developed by Dr. Janina Fisher called Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST). She has additional training in Level I of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute) and has attended workshops in Interpersonal Neurobiology.
Therapy with Children, Families, and Intimate Relationships
Michelle has completed extensive training in working with families, children, and relationships. She has completed Level I in Emotion-focused Family Therapy (EFFT) as well as Emotion-focused Therapy for Couples (EFT for couples). She also draws from her training in both Level I and II in Gottman Couple’s Therapy.
Her work with children is informed by coursework in Expressive Play Therapy (Justice Institute of BC) and additional training in Filial Therapy, which involves parents in the play therapy process.
Other Training and Certifications
Michelle has also completed Level I training in Narrative Therapy and has a certification in Clinical Supervision: Innovative Practices from the Justice Institute of BC. Since beginning her career, she has also attended many conferences and workshops in the field of psychology and counselling. Key topics have included the neurobiology of trauma, attachment and affect in children, sand-tray therapy, anxiety and working effectively with self-harming behaviours.
While I believe deep empathic connection is a necessary ingredient for meaningful clinical work, I am also aware that my practice is informed by my own history and experiences.
Sometimes clients wonder if I "get it".
For this reason, I share that I have the lived experience of being a parent and a spouse.
I am also committed to attending my own counselling to support my ongoing growth.
So, I do know what it is like to be a client.
A wise mentor once told me
you can only go as deep as you have been yourself.
I have found this to be true.
The more mindful and attuned I am in my own life, the more present I am able to be as a Clinician. And I enjoy the work immensely.
In addition to being a mom, partner and Therapist, I have a love of teaching and appreciate the opportunity to use a different muscle in this role. Currently, I teach counselling and psychology skills to students in healthcare programs. In essence, I teach students how to communicate empathy, use assertion, problem solve conflict and respond with care and a trauma-informed approach when interacting with their patients. Clinical supervision and workshops provide the unique opportunity to overlap counselling and teaching, and so I continue to make these a priority in my practice.