I grew up on a farm in rural Alberta.
My parents were highschool sweethearts. My brother and I grew up together in a pretty happy place. Then my parents divorced. As adults, my brother and I learned that we had a full biological sister – who my parents had given up for adoption before we were born. I learned that even when you have a “secure base” and “safe haven”, sometimes you need a little help sorting out “your story”. For me, sorting out my own early story helps me be a better writer of the next chapters of my story – the one’s called “wife”, “mother”, “sister”, “friend”, and “psychologist”.
My “story” of becoming a psychologist started at Red Deer College. I transferred to the University of Alberta, where I earned my Bachelor of Arts with distinction in 1998. I completed a year-long internship during that degree with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and became very passionate about police work and the significant toll that trauma can take on people. I was also lucky enough to spend some time working with some amazing families through Ronald McDonald House and I also volunteered with Victim Services. I then continued my studies at the University of Regina with the thought of pursuing a career in Police Psychology. Although I loved that work, my passion began to shift to families, especially those who experienced trauma. I completed my pre-doctoral residency in Nova Scotia in 2006 where I trained primarily in Cognitive-Behavioural and Narrative approaches. I completed rotations both with adults and children and learned that I really enjoyed understanding the “stories” of children—particularly those who had difficult experiences.
I returned home to Alberta and accepted a job at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary on the Inpatient and Day Treatment Units, a position that would forever change the course of my career. I quickly learned my “cognitive-behavioural skills” were not enough for kids and families with long and often traumatic stories with multi-generational influences. I needed to connect in order to have any significant impact. Desperate to learn more about attachment, I set off on a quest for mentors who “got it” and have been very lucky to have been influenced by some of “the greats”.
You will see a lot in my story about attachment. I have learned the power of the relationship. Empathy. Connection. I have learned that these are important for anyone who might want to understand their story and shift it in some way. Or heal in some way. Or repair it in some way. Or change their story once and for all. So that their next chapter as “teenager”, “spouse”, “parent”, or “friend” can be better. I have worked with adults and children, as well as families, and I would be honoured to learn about your story and perhaps influence your next chapters.