Hi, I am
Welcome and thank you for checking my website and services.
I am a registered Social Worker and obtained my Masters' Degree from University of Toronto in 2010 with a specialization in Children and Families. I also completed an Honors BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from York University in 2003.
For more than 20 years I've worked with various populations and different settings ranging from pediatric healthcare, mental health community agencies and education systems.
I've worked with the Toronto District School Board, and currently I work part-time at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. I also dedicate my time and energy to working privately with children, youth and adults without the constraints of an agency or public system.
Continuously training and refining my therapeutic skills in a variety of evidence based approaches, mind/body therapies and spiritual traditions: EMDR, Internal Family Systems, Relational Psychotherapy, Brain & Neurobiology, Attachment, Compassionate Inquiry, Somatic Therapy, CBT, DBT, ACT, Brief Solution Focused, Narrative Therapy, Yoga & Mindfulness based philosophies.
My approach in therapy sessions
I provide a confidential and safe space for you or a loved one to explore problems and difficulties that bring you to therapy. I strive above all else to be an active listener, caring, empathic and non-judgemental in my conversations with clients.
My job is to help uncover, or shine a light on what exists beyond the “problem” story- what knowledge, skills, values, dreams and hopes do you or a loved one have? Who are you, as a whole? A Narrative approach proposes that we are not our problems – “The problem is the problem”. When we start to see ourselves or loved ones as separate from the problem, we start to take steps to address the situation, see it from a different perspective and acknowledge the other parts of our lives and self that are worthy and important.
From a trauma based perspective, all of us have at some point or another faced big T-Trauma(s) or small t-trauma(s) – science can now prove that traumatic events over the lifespan and chronic stress have profound impact on our brain and how we respond in the world. The good news: therapeutic approaches exist to correct this on a brain level, so it’s a holistic approach.
I also weave Yoga and Mindfulness principles in my conversations with clients. Mindfulness is about maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and surrounding environment. It is about recognizing that a great deal of our pain and suffering comes from wanting things to be a certain way – the “shoulds” and “oughts” that typically permeate our thinking – and not accepting life and situations as they are. This does not mean that we need to like the situation or not take steps to change whatever problem that brings pain and suffering. By practicing acceptance and letting go of the things we cannot change, we actually become more free and open to take steps to act in accordance with our true values and intentions. The simple practice of noticing the breath, for example, can help reduce stress and anxiety in the moment but also train the mind to be less reactive in future moments of stress and discomfort.
What I bring from my personal story
Therapists are also human people - as a little guy I worked with once pointed out! I believe that my lived experiences influence and enrich the conversations and work I do with clients everyday, and certainly vice versa.
I come from a working class Portuguese background, first generation born Canadian. My parents divorced when I was a teen. I currently live with a loving partner and father, to our beautiful 10- year old daughter. Becoming a mother and parent has been an amazing journey marked by incredible highs and lows. I gave birth to beautiful twin daughters, however fate had it that my partner and I would embark on the most painful of losses - at only 10 days old our sweet baby Gaby died unexpectedly. Her twin sister Maya Luna, has also since then undergone a great deal of health difficulties and setbacks, and yet she is resilient, full of wonder and a zest for life that is both inspiring and life affirming!
These experiences have and continue to shape not only my personal life but also my work with clients. I certainly have gained an "insider knowledge" on infant loss, grief and bereavement, the impact of prolonged pediatric hospitalization on the family unit, and being faced with caring for a child with special needs. If you or a loved one have been placed on any of these paths, connecting with counseling services or a support group in your area, at any time during your journey can be helpful.