I began my career 35 years ago, working with corporate executives on themes of team development. Those early experiences led me to a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology (with a focus on somatics and creativity), after which I opened a private practice and began to work with a diverse range of clients grappling with mental health and chronic pain issues.
In my practice I began to see that trauma lies at the root of most mental illness, most chronic pain, and almost all addictions. As my interest in this field of research deepened, I focused increasingly on trauma and the important role that creativity can play in the healing process. I completed a doctoral degree that explored the therapeutic creative process and wrote my first book, Grain of Truth, which was a best-seller and finalist for the Governor General’s Award. At about the same time, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was facing increasing challenges with addictions, poverty, and trauma. I reached out to social service agencies to help them deal with the many issues involved in providing care for the most vulnerable residents of the Downtown Eastside: homeless, addicted, traumatized survivors. I have now worked with more than a hundred local social service agencies (as well as dozens more across Canada and internationally). I am the clinical supervisor to BC’s largest provincially-funded addictions treatment program and a consultant to many others.
My interest in trauma, addictions, and personal development has led me to work with many organizations. I have 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. I have consulted for corporate groups (YPO, IKEA, the Business Council of BC, Air Canada, the Wallace McCain Institute, and many others) as well as governments (the Public Health Agency of Canada, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, and many more). I have worked with first responders, parent groups, refugees, Indigenous communities, university students, cancer patients — a wide range of clients both in Canada and internationally. Additionally I have taught at more than a dozen post-secondary institutions and have won multiple awards for my consulting, teaching, writing, and scholarship.
I continue to focus on the themes that I first explored in my own early development: the importance and fragility of mental health; the role of creativity in resilience and wellbeing; the crucial function of mentorship. I have had a diverse career working with people: vulnerable, fragile, fractured, regular people. To be a witness to their evolving stories, to make a small contribution to their healing, to stand with them: for me, these are the rewards of my chosen path.