I work extensively with social service agencies, non-profit organizations, first responder communities, and addiction treatment programs. I help professionals understand the complexities of the mental health landscape and I offer practical suggestions for how we might grapple (and help our employees or clients grapple) with mental illness, addictions, and trauma — which, for many people, are all aspects of one thing and not three different things. I am a core member of a new First Responder mental health training program, co-developer of a new psychotherapeutic model for working with trauma and loss, and the clinical consultant for BC’s largest licensed program for residential addictions treatment.
I’ve been doing this type of work for a long time (more than 30 years), and my contributions have been recognized in various ways. I am the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Georgian Award, from St. George’s School, for my long-term contribution to, and advocacy for, mental health and wellness for youth in British Columbia. I am a recipient of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors Communications Award, for my work in mental health education for the general public. And I am a recipient of the Union Institute’s Sussman Award, for the impact of my scholarship on the wider community.
I describe the most common contexts for this work in the sections that follow.
Addictions Treatment Programs
The field of addiction recovery is evolving in a multitude of ways, as new research points toward improvements in care (particularly, trauma-informed care) and new possibilities for integrative and innovative practices. In my clinical consulting and training for addictions programs, I focus on matching service delivery to the implications of contemporary research. Themes such as developmental vulnerability, trauma recovery, and the deep links between addiction and mental illness are foundational (or should be) to modern treatment programs. I help programs move in that direction.
I have worked with hundreds of organizations in the field of addiction. Here is a (much-abridged, alphabetized) sample: BC Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, Boys and Girls Club Services, Community Options Society, Corrections Canada Libby House, Courtenay Drug Strategy, Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Last Door Recovery Centre, North American Opiate Medication Initiative, Orchard Recovery Centre, Phoenix Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Foundation, Richmond Addictions Services, Salvation Army Homestead, Sea to Sky Community Services, Touchstone Family Services, Turning Point Recovery Society, Union of Psychiatric Nurses of BC, Vancouver Coastal Health, Westminster House.
Trauma Recovery Programs
I specialize in trauma, which is not one thing but the interaction of many things: mental illness, addiction, childhood development, cultural themes, the body, and so on. Many people now recognize that trauma is a common feature of the human experience, exists throughout our communities, and requires focused attention. In particular, organizations and communities where trauma can be pervasive — first responders, First Nations, refugees, survivors of abuse and war, under-housed populations, communities facing systemic racism or prejudice — these contexts require specialized support and training. And, because every context is different, communities require an approach that is sensitive to their unique challenges and needs.
I have worked with many organizations and communities to design and develop trauma-aware programs and services. A selected list includes the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Children’s Foundation, First Responder Health, Anishnawbe Health, the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society, the Kitasoo / Xai’Xais First Nation, MOSAIC, the UBC Division of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, Westbank First Nation, Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre.