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Nov. 1, 2, 3, 2019 | Richmond, BC
Oct. 31, 2019 - Pre-conference Workshop


Sharon Stanley, Ph.D

Pre-conference Workshop: Six Body-Centered, Relational Practices for Healing Trauma: Transformation Through Embodied Empathy & Opening Keynote Address: Restoring the Natural Healing Cycle: Dissolving the Neural Structures of Trauma

Dr. Sharon Stanley is a psychotherapist, educator and writer.  Sharon received her doctorate at the University of Victoria in 1994 and began exploring the links between contemporary neuroscience with ancient wisdom as she created relational, somatic practices for healing trauma. Over the last twenty-five years, she has integrated a number of somatic practices for healing trauma into a bodily-based, relational and phenomenological model called Somatic Transformation. As long time student of Dr. Allan Schore, Sharon synthesizes research in the field of Interpersonal neurobiology, the polyvagal theory, cellular biology and developmental neuroscience with embodiment, relational witnessing, body-based meditation, reflectivity, ceremony and interventions into the unconscious for healing trauma and stress.  Somatic Transformation is based on embodied empathy, the practice of feeling into another’s inner world with attunement, connectivity and inquiry. Embodied empathy animates the intersubjective field and guides the use of somatic interventions and reflection. In addition to her in-depth courses for practicing psychotherapists, Sharon has worked extensively with First Nations people in Canada, studied Afro-Brazilian practices of healing the residue of the trauma of slavery in Brazil, teaches professionals on Bainbridge Island and Vancouver, offers retreats in Nelson, BC and continues to explore trauma with emerging research and somatic psychotherapy.  Her book: Relational and Body-Centered Practices for Healing Trauma: Lifting the Burdens of the Past. (2016) was published by Routledge and is used as a text in many graduate programs for psychotherapy.


Vikki Reynolds, ph.d., rcc

Closing Keynote Address: Justice-Doing in Community Work & Therapy: ‘Walking Our Talk’

Vikki Reynolds PhD RCC is an activist/therapist from Vancouver, Canada, who works to bridge the worlds of social justice activism and therapy. Vikki is a white settler of Irish, Newfoundland and English folks, and a heterosexual woman with cisgender privilege. Her experience includes supervision and therapy with peers, activists, and other workers responding to the opioid epidemic/poisonings, torture and political violence, sexualized violence, mental health and substance misuse, homelessness and legislated poverty and working alongside gender and sexually diverse communities. Vikki is an Adjunct Professor and has written and presented internationally on the subjects of ‘Witnessing Resistance’ to oppression/trauma, ally work, resisting ‘burnout’ with justice-doing, a supervision of solidarity, ethics, and innovative group work.

Vikki’s articles and keynotes are available on her website: 

Elder Roberta Price

Day One: Indigenous Welcome & Day Two Panel: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma – Moving to Resilience and Wellness

Elder Roberta Price is from the Coast Salish Snuneymuxw (SNA-NEIGH-MUH) and Cowichan Nations. She has worked for many years as an elder for the Richmond, Delta and Burnaby School Districts, as well as in the Elder Visiting Program at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where she has given service to many families. Roberta is also elder-in-residence with VCH Aboriginal Wellness Program. For 33 years, she has facilitated cultural teaching circles in Lower Mainland schools, in communities, St. Paul’s Hospital, the UBC Learning Exchange and wherever she is called upon.

Elder Roberta is the co-principal investigator for Critical Research in Health and Health Care Inequities (CriHHCI) in the CIHR-granted Equip ER Study at the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing. She is now in her second year as adjunct professor in the UBC Post Graduate Program, Department of Family Practice and will serve as the indigenous co-lead-elder for the family medicine residency program. Roberta is respectfully involved in many other initiatives within health care, social services and education. She is the mother of four children and grandmother of eight.

Dr. Saira Sabzaali, Ph.D., RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Tired of Caring: A Transpersonal Approach to Compassion Fatigue and Burn-Out

Dr. Saira Sabzaali is a psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology. She works with adults from diverse cultural backgrounds who have been disappointed with mainstream counselling before and want to incorporate their cultural values and spiritual beliefs into therapy.

She specializes in managing depression and anxiety symptoms, increasing family harmony, self-esteem and self-care, and repairing relationships between adult children and their parents. She also offers women’s support groups, psycho-educational groups for newlyweds, and training workshops for child care centres. She uses Attachment-Based Therapy and Narrative Therapy, along with other modalities.

Dr. Saira has delivered two TedX talks and teaches in the Counselling Program at Stenberg College in Surrey, B.C. She also has a podcast with her husband called “Sabzi Life” that explores conscious living. Outside of work, Dr. Saira enjoys reading, walks in nature, volunteering in her community, and watching Disney movies with her two children.

Doug West, MA, DVATI, RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Science stream: Using Neurofeedback Training with Counselling to Enhance Client Emotional Regulation

Doug is a clinical counselor, art therapist, & neurofeedback practitioner who has been working with youth and adults since 1991, and using neurofeedback in his practice for the past 10 years. He has vast experience working with trauma, those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other neurodiverse populations, using neurofeedback training in conjunction with other modalities. Doug has integrated neurofeedback training into all aspects of his work which focuses primarily on improving self-regulation. Neurofeedback is non-invasive, direct training for the brain towards improved resilience and flexibility. Doug is an Advanced NeurOptimal® Trainer, and Zengar Institute Certification Instructor.

He is currently the Director of Community Based Counselling and Neurofeedback Services for SOS Children’s Village BC, and has worked with the Vancouver and Surrey School Districts, and several large private organizations in the GVRD. Doug was a presenter at the 2018 NeurOptimal® Focus on Research Conference regarding his work with ASD individuals.

Ross Laird, PhD RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Society stream: Museums, Health, and Wellbeing: An Emerging Field of Mental Health Practice

Ross Laird is a consultant to organizations on themes of addiction, interpersonal conflict, trauma, creativity, and healing. He is a best-selling author of books on personal development, and he has won multiple awards for his writing, teaching, scholarship, and clinical work. He is the clinical supervisor to BC’s largest provincially-funded addictions treatment program and a consultant to many others. He has taught at more than a dozen post-secondary institutions and has been involved with research at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, and the Happy Museum Project in the UK. He has worked with first responders, parent groups, refugees, Indigenous communities, university students, cancer patients — hundreds of organizations both in Canada and internationally.

Dr. Laird is currently completing his third book (on addictions and the path of healing) as well as two further books, with co-authors, focused on the role that creative and cultural activities can play in mental health and wellbeing.

Sylvie Cottell, BFA, MA, DVATI, RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Science stream: Weaving the Right Hemisphere Into Practice: Somatic Art Therapy

Sylvie Cottell is a counsellor, art therapist and artist. She grew up on Musqueam territory and moved to Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ territories in 2000.

Sylvie holds a BFA from Emily Carr University (2000) and an MA in counselling from the University of Victoria (2004). She studied Somatic Transformation with Dr. Sharon Stanley and completed an Advanced Diploma in Art Therapy through the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (2018). Sylvie’s approach to practice is an integration of somatic, art, and talk therapy.

Sylvie has worked as a counsellor for Indigenous post-secondary students at UVic Counselling Services (2010-2016) and the Camosun College Counselling Department (2016-present). She has shared her passion for the helping professions through her work as a sessional instructor with UVic’s School of Child and Youth Care, Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, as well as Department of Indigenous Education. Sylvie maintains a private practice in Victoria, BC.

Avraham Cohen, Ph.D., R.C.C, C.C.C.

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Paradigm Shift: From Egoic to Post-Egoic Psychotherapy

Avraham Cohen is currently in private practice in Vancouver BC and has been for about 30+ years. He is adjunct faculty at Adler University in Vancouver BC. He has published widely in academic journals and books, and presented at national and international conferences.

Avraham has a brown belt in Ki-Aikido. O-Sensei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido said: “True victory is not defeating an enemy. True victory gives love and changes the enemy’s heart.” Avraham applies the spirit of this philosophy to his psychotherapy practice; joining with the other(s) in ways to ‘help’ the other find their true way.

Currently, he offers: in-depth psychotherapy for individuals and couples; one-on-one supervision for therapists, supervision groups for counsellors, personal growth groups for psychologically minded individuals, professional/personal growth groups for therapists, and leadership and organizational consulting. With his wife, Heesoon Bai, Avraham also delivers workshops, public talks, and consulting to organizations.

Heesoon Bai

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Paradigm Shift: From Egoic to Post-Egoic Psychotherapy

Heesoon is Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (SFU). She is an educational philosopher and a psychotherapist with deepening interest in holistic-contemplative education. Through contemplative inquiry and practices, she offers ways of replenishing and animating our being, and making a collective transition to a post-egoic culture. Her current research interests cluster around examining and deconstructing ontological and epistemological assumptions that underlie our culture’s hurtful and harmful ways with the earth and its inhabitants. She has co-edited three volumes on contemplative education (State University of New York Press), and another co-edited volume on ecological virtues is forthcoming (University of Regina Press). Many of her academic publications can be downloaded from her SFU web depository here:

Elana Sures, RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Flailing, not failing - transforming therapist perfectionism and self-doubt

Elana Sures is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a thriving private practice in Vancouver. Elana works with adults who struggle with a range of issues, including anxiety, self-doubt, and relationship issues. Elana utilises emotion-focused and relational models of psychotherapy to help her clients get to the core of their struggles and stuck patterns. She is fundamentally curious, compassionate and pragmatic, working in a collaborative manner and getting to the crux of the behaviours and interpersonal patterns that lead to suffering. As well as practising psychotherapy, Elana provides psycho-educational presentations and consultations to groups and agencies to support them in the work they do. She has a passion for writing, and her work on various aspects of mental health and the human condition have been published online and in various magazines and journals. In addition to Elana’s work with individuals and couples, she offers case consultation and clinical supervision to other therapists. You can learn more about Elana and her practice at

Jenn Matsui De Roo, MA, RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Embodied Trans Affirming Practice: A culturally safe and informed teaching approach

Jenn Matsui De Roo, MA, RCC is a third generation Japanese Canadian, mixed race, queer, trans and nonbinary settler, living and working on the unceded ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. They currently work in private practice offering counselling and clinical supervision with a focus on trauma informed, anti-oppression, gender affirming care. Matsui has developed gender affirming resources, training materials, and workshops for major provincial and federal organizations including Trans Care BC, Federal Corrections, BC Centre for Disease Control, and Options for Sexual Health. They bring over 20 years of combined experience in facilitation, clinical counselling, clinical supervision, resource development, frontline activism and advocacy.

Lu Lam, M. Ed. C.C.C.

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Embodied Trans Affirming Practice: A culturally safe and informed teaching approach

Lu Lam, M. Ed. C.C.C. is a Chinese-Taiwanese trans-identified Clinical Counsellor in private practice, Mindfulness Consultant and Educator with a Master’s of Education in Counselling Psychology (OISE, UT). He is a settler learning to be a guest on the unceded lands of the  Musqueum,  Squamish and Tsleil-waututh First Nations.  Lu has developed trans affirming  curriculum for Trans Care BC, PHSA, Canada Mental Health Association,  community health care centres and post-secondary organizations in both Toronto and Vancouver. His graduate research focused on developing counselling frameworks for intersectional trans, Two-Spirit and gender expansive clients. He teaches mindfulness as embodied social justice practice and clinical resilience for clients,  mental and primary health professionals. Lu has over 22 years of experience in front line counselling, group facilitation, program design and curriculum development. To find a wakeful balance in his work, Lu has a daily mindfulness meditation practice of 10 years.

Harriet Palma, RCC, M.A., BSW

Day One Parallel Session, Self stream: Embodied Trans Affirming Practice: A culturally safe and informed teaching approach

Harriet Palma, RCC, M.A., BSW, is from the Tsilhqot’in Nation (The River People) and the owner of Healing Journey to Wellness, Counselling Services.  She is a guest who walks with humility, honor and gratefulness on the ʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territories. Harriet has learned and provided front-line support work, advocacy, and counselling services to the Indigenous community in Vancouver for 18 years.  Her specializations include counselling and supporting former Indian Residential School students and their families, including intergenerational impacts, trauma repair and resiliency.  Recently she has begun to explore training and receive teachings from colleagues in the LGBTQ2S communities.  Harriet uses a holistic approach to counselling supporting balance between the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational aspects of the healing journey.  She focuses on a strong connection between individual, family and community.  Harriet has practiced the Cree Medicine Wheel teachings for her personal wellness for 20 years.

Carrie DeJong, MC, RCC

Day One Parallel Session, Science stream: Into Oblivion: The Vortex of Trauma and Addiction

Carrie DeJong is a therapist, consultant, and writer with over 20 years of clinical experience working with trauma and addiction. Her goal is to bring more science and more compassion to the field of addiction recovery. She has worked in residential addiction treatment as well as in trauma treatment programs for children, youth, and adults. Carrie focuses on bringing greater awareness of the impact that trauma, stress, and mental health challenges have on the use of mood-altering substances and behaviours as a way of coping.

Her therapeutic approach, as well as the Vortex Model of Addiction she has developed, is rooted in somatic and neurobiological approaches that provide a foundation for understanding the complex behavioural and emotional patterns of addiction. Carrie utilizes the Vortex Model as a framework in providing training on the connection between trauma, substance misuse, and addiction disorders to professionals in a wide variety of clinical settings.

Natascha Lawrence, M.A., R.C.C.

Day One Parallel Session, Society stream: FASD and Mental Health: What works and what does not work

Natascha Lawrence, M.A., R.C.C., is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, Certified Synergetic Play Therapist, and BC Registered Play Therapist, specializing in the mental health and addiction treatment of children, youth and adults affected by trauma and /or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
She is the founder of FASD Counselling and Consulting which provides FASD informed counselling for individuals and groups, consultation for professionals and organizations, and training and education across BC. FASD Counselling and Consulting has offices in Vancouver and Surrey
Natascha has her master’s degree in counselling psychology and over 15 years experience working with individuals and their families. Natascha has experience working with clients across different modalities including inpatient child/adolescent psychiatry, child and youth mental health, elementary schools, CLBC, and addictions treatment programs. Natascha was on the planning committee for the International FASD Research Conference in Vancouver. More importantly, she is a caregiver to an amazing child diagnosed with FASD.

Sherry H.Ghorbankhani, MC, RCC, CCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Society stream: Counselling Refugees & Culturally Diverse Groups

Sharareh H. Ghorbankhani as her colleagues and friends call her Sherry, is a Registered Psychotherapist and offers her counselling services at her private practice office, Shining Horizon Counselling which is located in Downtown Vancouver BC Canada. She earned her Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from Vancouver BC and currently undertaking her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Counselling Psychology (PsyD).

Over the years, due to her diverse background and living in various countries from Middle east, Europe and North America. Sherry has been working with refugees from various countries and Culturally diverse groups whom often experienced, PTSD, Trauma, Adjustment Disorders, Anxiety and Depression. Her therapeutic services are offered in three languages, English, Arabic and Farsi which she speaks fluently. She offers psychotherapy and Psycho-educational workshops for individuals, couples and groups through various Refugee and immigrant Settlement agencies to support them to better adapt to their new home environments and cultures.

Sherry has translated Dr. Randy Paterson’s (The Core Program Manual for Depression) to Arabic language for the ease of reference and accessibility for Arabic speaker Populations. She has offered the program in the Greater Vancouver area both in Arabic and English languages.

She is supporter of FACT BC which is the provincial voice of Counselling members associations who are pursuing regulation and the development of the BC College of Counselling Therapists). She is also a Council Member for Region 4 BCACC.

Joti Samra, RPsych

Day Two Parallel Session, Self stream: Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace

Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych. is a national thought leader on issues relating to psychological health, wellness & resiliency. She is Principal & Founder of, an expanding clinical & counselling practice, and, a full-suite national workplace consulting firm.

Dr. Samra is a highly-regarded expert in psychological health and safety. She has been involved in a number of national projects that have contributed to policy change in Canada, and is a Founding & Ongoing Member of the CSA Technical Committee that developed the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace (CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ9700-803/2013). This Standard is the first of its kind in the world, and is shaping policy development for workplace psychological health & safety (PH&S) at the international level.

Dr. Samra’s down-to-earth, friendly and engaging style – combined with her clinical acumen and research expertise – make her a go-to expert for a wide range of media sources. She is regularly called upon by provincial and national print, radio and TV media to comment on a range of issues relating to psychological health and human behaviour. Some of her media career highlights include: Host on Oprah Winfrey Network’s The Million Dollar Neighbourhood; Interventionist on Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding; Casting Consultant & On-Set Psychologist for CityTV’s The Bachelor Canada; and, Columnist for the Globe and Mail’s “Ask a Psychologist” weekly column.

Dr. Samra has received a number of awards and accolades for her clinical and research work. She is proud to be the recipient of the Canadian Psychological Association’s New Researcher Award & the British Columbia Psychological Association’s Advancement of the Profession of Psychology Award. She is also former President of the BC Psychological Association & past Chair of the BC Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards Committee.

Benjamin Shing Pan Wong, RCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Science stream: Digital Dependency Dynamics: Informed Practice in Psychotherapy

Through Mindful Digitality, Benjamin Wong offers consultation and supervision in the treatment and prevention of Gaming Disorder. Benjamin has been a Registered Clinical Counsellor in British Columbia since 2005, specializing in process addictions. Prior to addictions work, he held clinical and leadership positions in vocational rehabilitation and school counselling. The core of his advocacy is parental involvement from early infancy in a child’s development, and the responsible use of electronic screens to enhance learning, social skills, resilience and mental health fitness. Benjamin holds degrees from the University of British Columbia and Colorado Christian University. He resides in Surrey, BC with his wife Cecilia, a music minister, and preteen sons.

Alyson Jones, MA, RCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Science stream: The Cost of Conflict - The Neurobiological Impact of Parental Separation and Family Conflict

Alyson Jones is the Clinical Director at Alyson Jones & Associates which is one of the largest counselling centers in the province of British Columbia, Canada. She is a leader in the field of separation and divorce, and an innovator in exploring the intersection between family therapy and family law.

Alyson is a Family Therapist, Parent Coordinator, Mediator, Collaborative Law Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. Alyson is also the originator and the Program Director of the Family Forward Reunification Program which provides therapeutic solutions to attachment disruptions that are a result of high conflict and parental alienation and/or estrangement.

Alyson has over 25 years’ experience in the field of individual, couple, family and child therapy. She has presented at numerous professional conferences and consulted with Provincial Health, Social Service and Educational Agencies. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Adler University and teaches Attachment and Parenting Education/Therapy to graduate students.

Alyson regularly appears in the media providing information on mental health, parenting, children and families.


Salley-Ann Ross, MA, RCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Science stream: The Cost of Conflict - The Neurobiological Impact of Parental Separation and Family Conflict

Salley-Ann sees the potential in every person; whether it is working with families through divorce, parenting issues, children, youth, trauma, anger, grief or mental health issues. She understands that when we face a challenge our true journey begins. Salley-Anne is a key member of the Divorce and Separation Team and the Family Forward Reunification Team at Alyson Jones & Associates. She is committed to assisting families resolve issues and supporting the best interests of the children during family transitions. She has lived and practiced under the collaborative model of dispute resolution and is committed to finding solutions that preserve parental dignity and protect the best interests of the children.

As a keynote speaker, accomplished musician, music therapist, clinical counsellor, and guided imagery therapist, Salley-Ann works with families and individuals of all ages and circumstances. Salley-Ann is no stranger to life’s challenges and as a divorced mother of three almost grown daughters she has navigated her own journey of blending a family. She enjoys contributing to the psychological field through education and continues to build practical solutions for her clients as she assists them on a journey of healing and growth.

John Sherry, Ph.D., CCC, RCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Self stream: Expanding Self-Awareness in Clinical Supervision: A Creative Process

Dr. John Sherry has over 20 years of experience as a clinician and his academic and clinical work has focused on couple, family, and group therapy along with clinical supervision in these areas. John has been instrumental at implementing couple, family and group counselling at UNBC’s training clinic, and currently facilitates process groups for graduate students and professionals in the community. His research interests tend to center around counsellor training and development with a special interest in experiential approaches to teaching and clinical supervision.  More specifically, he is interested in the attachment styles of group co-facilitators and the ways in which counsellors use countertransference in their work.  John is the President of the Prince George Chapter of the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA) as well as co-president of the National CGPA and as an RCC serves on several committees with BCACC including membership services, conference planning, and clinical supervision committee.

Geoff Plint, RCC

Day Two Parallel Session, Society stream: Sex: In A Nervous System

Geoff is honoured to live work, and play as a Sex & Relationship Therapist on the traditional and unceded Lekwungen & W̱SÁNEĆ territories. Centring LGBTQ+ , open, polyamorous, kinky, and alternative relationships, Geoff bows in respect to those that date different, love longingly, and orient openly. Conscious relating is a practice: a personal proclamation to live in question and critique of the expected. Authentic connection is unique and offers the opportunity for its humble participants to choose their own adventure. Through participating in this conference, Geoff aims to bring an embodied, pleasure-focused, and unconventional perspective to the magic of love & intimacy.

Suzanne Vardy, M.Ed., RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Heart Mapping for Well-Being

Suzanne Vardy holds a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. She has been supporting children, youth and families in the lower mainland for over 25 years.

A large part of Suzanne’s practice is working with families to strengthen their family relationship by increasing their understanding of and compassion for each other. She also works in a lower mainland school district helping ensure schools are safe and welcoming places for children, youth and families.

Suzanne believes that to be fully present for clients and to work in any helping profession long-term in a healthy way, we need to prioritize looking after our own well-being. Suzanne fuels her well-being by spending time with her family, being outdoors, connecting with friends, reading and practicing mindfulness.

She is thrilled to be part of the BCACC Conference.

Abby Chow, RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Using the Myers Briggs to Support Adaption with Acculturation

Abby is a practicing Clinical Counsellor with MindRight Counselling & Consulting and Fraserside Community Services Society, as well as Victim Services Coordinator at Chinese Community Policing Centre. Abby has worked with individuals and families impacted by crime, intimate partner violence, mental health, complex trauma, and addictions for private and not-for-profit agencies. Abby is also a Certified Personality Profiler, using various models of personality development to support individuals in self-improvement, self-compassion and self-actualization; as well as businesses in team development. She obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Counselling Psychology from Adler University and her primary work in research involves investigating the relationship between personality typology and healthy cultural adaptation in transnational populations.

Claire Sutton, M.A., RCC, CEAP, FEA

Day Two Lightning Talk: From Better Health to Increased Revenue - 10 Reasons to Incorporate EAP into Your Career

Claire Sutton is a solution focused therapist in Vancouver, BC.

Claire honed her skills in the field of Employee Assistance Programs. EAP focuses on organizational wellness and human behavior in the workplace. Many clients are faced with a complexity of work-life issues.

Claire is one of few Canadian Mental Health Professionals who has earned the Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP) designation.

Initially Claire worked for Family Services of Greater Vancouver’s EFAP; she was National Director for Interlock Employee & Family Assistance Services; on behalf of Family Services of Toronto’s EFAP, she was acting director for Canada Post’s EFAP BC division; and she was an EAP Consultant to BC Hydro. Today in addition to her private clients, Claire is a preferred EAP provider to Health Canada.

Claire received a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She hails from Montreal, speaks French too and completed her first degree at Concordia.

Arunima Sharma RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Hakomi - Mindfulness Based Somatic Psychotherapy - Basic Principles & Techniques

Arunima Sharma is an immigrant, woman of colour with a Master’s degree in Integral Counselling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

She has been exploring matters of belonging in her work for over 20 years through psychotherapy and previously through community engagement. She facilitates the healing and redefining of how we inhabit our bodies, create home, define culture, discover language, form community and reconcile relationship to land on unceded territories. With her background in transpersonal psychotherapy and Eastern philosophies, she also supports existential inquiry as it emerges.

Arunima trained in Hakomi from the Hakomi Institute of California. The Hakomi Method is a mindfulness based somatic psychotherapy that works with core wounds, trauma and limiting belief systems. Upon being invited to bring the Hakomi Method to Shanghai, China, Arunima co-facilitated the first Hakomi training for therapists in China.

Prior to becoming a psychotherapist, Arunima was engaged in community development for over 10 years working on international projects engaging thousands of people worldwide. Her community development work centered on social justice and environmental advocacy.

Having lived in India, Saudi Arabia, China, Canada and United States and through her international work, Arunima celebrates diversity. Her clients represent a wide range of diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic status. She believes that while we speak different languages, there is universality in our needs, aspirations and longings.

Kara Ko, MSc, RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Cultural Considerations and Inclusive Language Can Bridge Gaps and Promote Therapeutic Rapport in Counselling

With a background in emotion management, respectful and assertive communication, and mediation, Kara Ko has a Masters of Science in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and training in counselling and mediation from UBC, Yorkville University and the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She has more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, families and organizations and more than 10 years as co-host and co-producer of “It Takes a Village” parenting and family radio program. Her therapeutic approach is informed by client-centred therapy, mindfulness and exploring interactions between emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

Joelle Lazar, MA, RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Fierce Love - Breaking Through A Life Sentence of Passive Suicide

Joelle Lazar, MA, RCC, accompanies her clients toward self care, self respect, supportive communities, and freedom from pain and suffering. Individuals, couples, and families who seek relief from trauma, somatic disorders, anxiety, depression, mood and personality disorders experience Joelle as warm, compassionate, and aligned with their needs and goals. Sensitive to the impact of early attachment on emotional health, Joelle sees unhelpful coping mechanisms as a person’s best efforts to survive overwhelming experiences and relationships. Recognizing that none of us are “neurotypical”, Joelle is committed to welcoming neurodiversity, honouring the uniqueness of each person, and helping people reconnect with their invinsible wholeness. Her practice is influenced by attachment studies, emotion focused therapy, affective neuroscience, trauma studies, psychodynamic, and depth psychology approaches. For more information on Joelle, please visit,

Kira Celeste

Day Two Lightning Talk: A Depth Psychological Approach to Settler-Colonialism: Greco-Roman Mythology as Healing Narratives

I am a white settler and grew up on Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw homelands. Today, I work on Secwepemc Reserve land as a Child and Youth Counsellor. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Depth Psychology and am focusing my studies on the interruption and decolonization of the psychology of settler-colonialism. My deepest hope is that this work can be of service to the restoration of justice, healing and accountability on this land and for all the individuals who walk its woods and shores.

Kevin Kokoska, MEd, RCC

Day Two Lightning Talk: Clinical Counselling & Contemporary Clown

Kevin Kokoska, counsellor, performer, and teacher. He offers clinical counselling and creative consulting services through his private practice, Kokoska & Co., performs one-person plays about mental health, and teaches in the Family & Community Counselling program at Native Education College (NEC). His last namely, loosely translated, means “broody hen”.

Johanna Simmons, MA, RCC, BCRPT, SPT-S.

Day Two Panel: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma – Moving to Resilience and Wellness

Johanna is a Registered Play Therapist and a certified Synergetic Play Therapy Supervisor with a private practice in West Vancouver where she works with children, adolescents and adults. She is adjunct faculty at Adler University, teaching the child development and counselling course there and where she also supervises practicum and pre-practicum students. Additionally, Johanna is a certified parenting facilitator and has presented to various groups on a number of topics as they relate to parenting or children and/or caregivers. Currently, she sits on the board of the British Columbia Play Therapy Association, formerly as president.

Susan Kast, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW

Day Two Panel: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma – Moving to Resilience and Wellness

Susan Kast has crafted an understanding of self-care and self-compassion that has sustained her in her work and personal life over the past 20 years. Susan graduated from the UBC School of Social Work in 1999. She soon found her passion working in hospice palliative care for 16 years counselling children, adults, and elders through grief, loss, end of life, and bereavement. In 2013 she received her Master of Social Work from Dalhousie University. Recognizing the lack of children’s grief support in the South Okanagan, she developed a child and youth grief program. In this position she has witnessed and responded to the suffering left in the wake of lives lost to suicide, homicide, overdose, illness, and accidents.

Currently Susan balances her time between her private counselling practice, children’s grief groups, and medical social work. Susan is also a beekeeper, dog lover, hiker, runner, swimmer, wife, and parent of three.

Kathi Cameron, MA, RCC

Day Three Parallel Session Self stream: The Art and Science of Exercise Rx for Life and Clinical Practice

Working in the field of exercise for over 25 years, Kathi has served as an educator with the University of Victoria, North Island College, and various provincial and federal government agencies.   She served as a health promotion educator for the Canadian Armed Forces for 12 years developing local and national programs in mental health and injury prevention for military members and employees.

She holds a degree in kinesiology and master’s degrees in exercise and sport psychology and clinical psychology. She is co-author of the book, “Leading to Life Long Exercise”, and has spoken internationally on topics related to health at any size and exercise psychology.

As a Registered Clinical Counsellor, Kathi works with clients challenged with chronic pain, injury, and problematic relationships with food, exercise, and the body.  She is an advocate for daily physical activity for the promotion of mental health and integrates movement into her practice.

Paula Jacobs, RN, Ph.D

Day Three Parallel Session, Science stream: The Impact of Traumatic Childbirth on Parental and Infant Mental Health

Dr. Paula Jacobs is a Registered Nurse and also has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.  One of her areas of interest is Reproductive Mental Health as well as the impact it has on the developing brains of infants and young children.  Paula is a Registered Play Therapist and works with families to heal some of the relational wounds that can occur due to parental mental health difficulties.  Paula’s doctoral research was on the impact of traumatic childbirth on parental and infant mental health, including physicians’ understanding of this issue.  There are many factors that can lead to a parents feeling traumatized by the birth experience and Paula works with families to heal those wounds. Paula is passionate about supporting families as they transition into parenthood.

Debbie Clelland, Ph.D

Day Three Parallel Session, Society stream: Gifted students in BC are unrecognized and distressed: Why we need therapists who understand giftedness as a special need

Professor Debbie Clelland has been teaching in the counselling psychology programs at Adler University for over 10 years.  She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who holds a PhD in educational psychology.  She has over 10 years of combined experience in private practice and working as a school counsellor and facilitator for gifted students. Her PhD research explored the needs of parents of gifted children in three Canadian provinces, and she has also conducted research on Canadian educational acceleration policies and counselling families of gifted children. Debbie has volunteered with the BC Association for Gifted Children supporting gifted families since approximately 2003, and has done presentations nationally and internationally on counselling and understanding families with gifted children.