Specializing in Child,
Parent and Family
Play Therapy for Children & Teens
When working with children, using conventional talk therapy can be limiting. Children learn, communicate and grow best through play, therefore play therapy makes sense as a way to support children using their language of choice. Play therapy has been identified as one of the most beneficial means of helping children who are experiencing emotional and behavioural challenges. In the safe counselling space, the child is able to explore life events, process repressed thoughts and emotions, address unresolved trauma, and experience personal growth.
Some of the many positive benefits of play therapy include:
learning to fully understand and express emotions
empathy and respect for others
reducing symptoms of anxiety and distress
understanding the felt/body sense of an experience
improved verbal and non-verbal communication
taking responsibility for certain behaviours
stronger social skills
improved family relationships
improved fine and gross motor skills
improved school-based behaviours
develop coping strategies and creative problem-solving
Toys, games, sand tray, art, puppets and body movement activities are all part of the connecting, expressing, and growth process.
Parent Support & Consultation
As a therapist who works from an attachment-based perspective, I believe it is crucial to involve parents and/or caregivers in the therapeutic treatment plan, particularly for younger children. Often times the challenges at home with your children have become so overwhelming you feel like your parenting plan has failed you, or disappeared altogether. This is where parent support and consultation can provide you with the tools and strategies you need to shift the energy in your home and create a new, healthy space for safety, security and love.
I am a Certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, supporting parents both in groups and individually to help them manage challenges at home, as well as sustain a loving connection with your child or teen while still maintaining healthy and appropriate limits and boundaries. Parents learn practical strategies of how to balance kindness and firmness and lead as a confident parent with both heart and mind.
I am also a trained Theraplay Level I clinician. Theraplay® is a child and family modality of play therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. Theraplay is a wonderful intervention used to strengthen family connections, which many families can benefit from, particularly families with adoptive children, foster care families, and families who have experienced separation or divorce.
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)/Filial Therapy is another modality I am trained in and use extensively with families hoping to address their child's social, emotional and behavioural challenges either at home or school. This technique brings the parent and/or caregiver into the session with the child to playfully engage, connect and grow together, and continue these playful engagements in their home environment. By strengthening the child's attachment to their primary caregiver, the child is able to settle into that parent's care and will then feel secure and regulated in all other social and learning environments.
Family Counselling / Group Counselling
Being part of a family with different personalities, dynamics, perspectives and opinions is not easy. Family Counselling can be helpful when a family unit is feeling disconnected, stuck or in crisis. In her work with families, Michelle uses both a Family Systems Approach as well as Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT). Family Systems therapy involves the entire family unit as the change agent, and everyone is called on to work together as a team to discuss issues, explore and resolve problems, and restore relationships. EFFT is an attachment-based model that can be done with the whole family as well as with different configurations of family members depending on the presenting challenges and concerns. Families will have the opportunity to playfully and collaboratively engage in different communication strategies, identify and express emotions, and build on existing family strengths to deepen relationships and develop new ways to connect and co-exist.
In addition to family sessions, group counselling is offered throughout the year. Psycho-educational, support and counselling groups are available for children, parents and couples and are hosted both in our office as well as throughout the community. Topics include:
~Social Skills Building Blocks: LEGO Play
~Learning to Cope with Anxiety Through Art & Play
~Sandtray Expression for Grief and Loss
~Hello World: Art and Eco Therapy (Mother/Daughter Group)
~My Picture Book: Pre-Teen Photo Therapy Group
~Life as a Kite: Finding Balance for our Heart, Mind and Soul
~Awestruck Wonder: Art Therapy Group
~Parenting an Anxious Child
~Building Resilience and Courage in Our Children
~Positive Discipline Parenting Program
~Bringing Baby Home: The Journey into Parenthood
~It's All That And More: Postpartum Support Group
***Check back for dates/times of upcoming groups***
Faith-based child therapy is available upon request for those seeking support rooted in biblical teaching and Christian faith. Developmentally appropriate biblical counselling for children can be highly effective to help children through various life challenges and to help them grow in their walk with Christ Jesus. Parents are an important part of the journey towards healing as well, and so parents are given tools to help guide and support their children. Throughout the process, scripture, Christ-centred teachings and the family's belief system are the focal points to reach total wholness and healing.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Perinatal Mental Health Counselling
The perinatal period begins at the point of planning to have a baby and continues through pregnancy, birth, and into the first three years postpartum. This time can be both richly rewarding and incredibly difficult. If you are experiencing mental health challenges due to pregnancy loss, infertility, prenatal or postpartum trauma, depression and/or anxiety, or are having difficulty adjusting to life as a parent, perinatal counselling can be tremendously helpful. There can often be stigma and shame attached to feelings of anger, frustration, low mood or heightened worries, yet these feelings are very real for new mothers who experience them and it helps to know there is hope and a way "through" these difficulties. Using a trauma-informed perspective my intention is to support you toward building strength, gaining insight, finding peace and moving forward with a greater capacity to live your best life. I am committed to providing a sacred space for mothers to show up as they are and work through whatever has come up for them – as a person, parent, and/or partner. I commit to leading with love, kindness and openness to meet you where you are at and come along side you on your journey.
Postpartum Doula Support
Being a new mom is more than a job, its a life transformation that takes time to process, understand and accept. Those first three months -the fourth trimester - are emotional, challenging, exhilarating and down right hard. Its the right time to have a mothers helper to support your new role and care for you as you care for your baby. As a postpartum doula my hope is that I can support you and your babe in those tiring yet joy-filled early days of motherhood; and as a trained mental health professional I can also offer additional support in prevention of or early intervention for postpartum mood disorders. My care includes the following:
Mother Care – supporting mom in resting and having proper nutrition; emotional support to process the birth experience; transitioning into the role of parent, and managing changes in the mind and body during this fragile time.
Baby Care – supporting with practical tasks like diapering; soothing techniques; baby wearing; sleep support; bathing; and some basic health education; helping with multiples.
Parent-Child Education – supporting with understanding normal body and mind transitions for mothers; normal sleeping and eating patterns for baby; attachment basics, developmental leaps and how to anticipate/manage the changes.
Feeding Education – supporting with child attachment to the breast and/or bottle preparation and paced feeding technique; addressing any challenges with feeding.
Sibling Care – helping engage toddlers and older siblings in the caring for mom and baby process; taking care of other children so mom can take care of herself and/or spend some alone time with baby.
Light Meal Preparation & Housekeeping – help make nutritious snacks and meals; tidying up baby area; wash and fold baby laundry **Bees & Seeds Granola is a staple menu item provided for busy new moms.