Our team is a group of professionals with a diverse range of professional and lived-experiences. We work with you to enhance your wellness. We can't wait to meet you and assist in your path to optimal wellness.
Learn more about our team and their areas of therapeutic interest and expertise.
Amberlie Curtiss (she/her)
Amberlie Curtiss (she/her) is a Registered Social Worker. She is a Support Coordinator on the Counselling Services Team who also supports students in single sessions, intake, crisis appointments, and brief therapy.
Amberlie holds a BA in Social Work from Laurentian University and a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Amberlie has an eclectic and down-to-earth approach to supporting people, taking the lead from the individual and meeting them where they are at.
Apryl St. Cyr (she/her)
Apryl St. Cyr (she/her) is a Registered Social Worker. She holds a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University and a BA Psychology, with a minor in Family and Child Studies from the University of Guelph.
Prior to being a counsellor, Apryl has worked in various environments supporting marginalized youth, university students, as well as the geriatric population in educational and mental health settings, which have provided a diverse depth of experience, insight, and life lessons.
Apryl is mindful and strives to take an intersectional lens with supporting clients, acknowledging the unique individual experiences that are brought into counselling sessions. Apryl brings experience with anxiety, depression, insomnia, neurodiversity, grief/loss, relationship and family concerns, trauma, self-esteem and more. Apryl values providing a safe, confidential, and supportive environment where students feel empowered and supported in the counselling experience. Her approach is transparent, non-judgmental, and compassionate while incorporating the use of helpful metaphors and humor. She is passionate about supporting and learning from students and is thankful for having the privilege of being a part of so many lives both past, present, and future.
Outside the counselling room, Apryl is eager in trying new activities and is currently working on her skills at mountain biking, testing her green thumb abilities, tangling knots in macrame projects, and spending time outdoors with her partner and pets.
Cheri Bilitz (she/her)
Cheri Bilitz (she/her) holds a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Waterloo as well a BA in Psychology from the University of Waterloo.
As the Director of Counselling Services, Cheri strives to create a department that is inclusive, welcoming and meets the diverse needs of University of Waterloo students. Cheri enjoys working with her Campus Wellness partners and collaborating with others on-campus and within the community to best serve students. Prior to coming to University of Waterloo, Cheri worked in the community in the addictions and mental health sector. She is passionate about restorative justice and holds a certificate in conflict management and mediation through Conrad Grebel University College.
Cheri has been in leadership roles for over 15 years. Her curiosity and love for continuous learning has led her to pursue her PhD as a part-time student in social work with an emphasis on leadership. This same curiosity and love of learning leads Cheri to continually search for new music and books to enjoy, be active, get outside, and travel with family.
Dave Logan (he/him)
Dave Logan (he/him) graduated from Mohawk College in Child & Youth Care, completed his undergraduate degree in Social Developmental Studies at the University of Waterloo and completed his Master’s Degree in Clinical Social work from Wilfrid Laurier University. He is from Waterloo Region and lives nearby with his family.
Dave brings a wealth of experience working with students and faculty from various post-secondary institutions in the role of faculty instructor and counsellor. He also worked with a number of non-profit agencies. Dave works with students, staff and faculty on the Waterloo Campus in Counselling Services. He is excited about his role in Co-operative Education.
Having worked in Engineering, the School of Accounting and Finance, Stratford Campus and the Student Success Office, he has learned a lot about the student experience. Success strategies, personal relationships, mental health challenges, specific study skill techniques and international issues are just some examples of the issues that people work with Dave on.
He likes to work from a “Success Coaching” model, towards building insight, goal identification and action plans towards academic & personal achievements. Dave’s greatest reward at work is your success!
Fiona Dhanapala (she/her)
Fiona Dhanapala is a Registered Social Worker. She holds a Hons. BA in Economics and a minor in Sociology from McMaster University (1993) and a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University (2013) .
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do” – Brene Brown.
Fiona is an avid believer in personal growth, and adopts a Mind, Body, Sprit approach to overall wellness. Having lived and traveled in different parts of the world she is keenly attuned to the issues of identity and culture and how it shapes our experiences. She is fluent in Singhalese.
She supports clients in finding more meaning and joy in their lives, and a deeper sense of who they are and what they need (both from themselves and others) . In counselling sessions, she strives to meet you where you are at and supports you in getting to where you want to be. She believes that you intuitively have the answers to your problems and gently guides you to connect with your inner wisdom.
She works with a range of presenting issues such as, and not limited to, stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief, addictions, family and relationships, gender and sexual identity confusion, spirituality, and life transitions. In her role at UW counselling services, she provides individual counselling, group facilitation and supervision to Master of Social Work (MSW) students.
In her work she uses an eclectic mix of evidence-based approaches such as, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused, Narrative, Emotion Focussed Therapy (EFT) and Relational Cultural. She has specialized training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) , Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) , Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Acceptance and Commitment therapy ( ACT ) . While her counselling style is open and direct, in her experience, these various techniques when used in personalized combinations can lead to profound change in the mind, body and spirit of an individual.
In her spare time, she finds rejuvenation in a daily qi gong practice, playing board games with her husband and children, cooking to rhythmic music, reading and spending time in nature.
Gursharan Kaur Kahlon (she/her)
Gursharan Kaur Kahlon (she/her) is a Registered Social Worker. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from York University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has been working at University of Waterloo - Counselling Services for over seven years and is a co-chair of the Health and Mental Health, Sub-group with the President’s Anti-racism Task Force (PART).
Gursharan is from the South Asian cultural background and is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi. She is passionate about cultural diversity, racial and social justice issues, mental health, trauma, stress, family and healthy relationship issues, loss and grief, and building self-resiliency and confidence.
Gursharan has over twenty-five years of clinical and community work, group counselling, teaching, and training. From a holistic and strengths-based framework, she grounds her work in empathy, compassion, and care, and utilizes several clinical approaches to understand clients’ perspectives and experiences. Her primary goals with clients are to develop greater awareness of their strengths, build capacity and resiliency, and cultivate self-compassion as they progress on the healing journey.
In her spare time, Gursharan engages in volunteer work, enjoys working out, walking/hiking, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Jennifer Yuen (she/her)
Hi, my name’s Jennifer!
Since childhood, I have had a passion for the evolution of relationships. How they form, grow and sometimes rupture has always been an interest that I have carried through my personal life and professional career. For me, relationships are fundamental to our journey as human beings, whether that be relationships with our friendships, intimate partners, family members or work colleagues. This strong pull towards the understanding of relationships has helped me to guide my practice and help others learn to cherish the ups and downs of our ever-changing interpersonal connections.
In my professional practice, I work with my clients to help them find the connection and belonging we often feel is missing in our day-to-day lives. I work with clients who may be searching to feel loved, valued and securely attached to the important relationships in their lives. As a licensed psychotherapist with over 15 years of clinical experience, I work hard to create a safer space for sharing, healing, learning and understanding. My core approach is rooted in mindfulness practice, which includes somatic work with the body to anchor the mind and the heart in the present moment with warmth and compassion.
I care deeply about my clients and their growth and personal development as individuals. I work collaboratively with my clients to address the root causes of their struggles and challenges and work to integrate strategies, tools and techniques so they can reach their full potential.
My clinical areas of practice include a wide area of concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, grief/loss, relationships, LGBTQ+, life transitions and personal growth. Through my advanced professional learning, I am trained specifically to help support sexual violence trauma and job-related trauma for first responders. I work with individuals and couples to help open the doors of communications through intimacy and sex therapy. As a lifelong learner, I continue to advance my clinical practice in several specialized counselling fields, including suicide prevention and postvention, on-call crisis response consultant, online sexual harassment and bullying trauma and pandemic wellness.
As my client, I value you, your experiences and your story. You can trust that you will be treated with respect, dignity and compassion in all of our sessions, with the utmost emphasis on integrity and ethics. Let’s work together to move past what is holding you back and help build beautiful connections in your life
Kristin Shantz (She/her)
Hi, I’m Kristin Shantz (She/her) and I’m so glad that you’re checking counselling out! I try to approach counselling with folks as a place where I’m learning more about their story, the story that has been with them before meeting, and the story that will continue to be with people as they explore and journey on. I count it a privilege and honour to join in and learn more about this story as it unfolds.
I hold a Social Services Worker Diploma from Conestoga College, an Arts Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Bachelors Degree of Social Work (BSW) from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Social Work Degree (MSW) from the University of Waterloo. I have been practicing social work for close to 20 years. Prior to coming to the University, I spent much of my career working in children and adolescent mental health, and family counselling. I have been engaging and supporting individuals with a wide range of concerns such as anxiety, depression, academic concerns, family of origin and family conflict, relationships, grief and loss, life transitions, parenting, and self-esteem.
I work using a lens that says you are the expert in your life, your experiences are invaluable and want to join in and partner with you as you direct the counselling journey. I use several modalities such as Narrative, Mindfulness, Attachment, Family Systems Theory, Solution-focused, Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Within Counselling Services, I supply brief therapy, single session counselling and support coordination.
In my spare time I keep busy with my family, hiking, biking, crafting, travelling and swimming. I enjoy running, working out, listening to podcasts, and gardening.
Lihua Yang (she/her)
Lihua is a registered social worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW), member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers and the Ontario Association of Social Workers. Lihua holds a Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. She also holds a Ph. D. and M.A in political science from Shandong University (China). Besides working as a counsellor, Lihua is also teaching at the Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University.
Lihua has been teaching and working in higher education since 2003. By walking through both the teaching and the therapeutic process together, she hopes to support her students in navigating opportunities and challenges of life transitions, understanding and working towards their unique goals.
Lihua has post-graduate training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) For Anxiety and Depression Disorders and Trauma Counselling. She also brings cultural awareness and genuine curiosity to the sessions and takes time to get to know each student’s strengths, culture, values and unique attributes, understanding that these are sources that allow us to develop resilience and flexibility in the face of life’s challenges. She also believes vulnerability fosters connection and promotes emotional and mental health, and is passionate about creating a welcoming, collaborative space where people feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
Lihua has experience working with concerns and life experiences including anxiety, stress, depression, identity and self-esteem, family and relationship concerns, trauma, life transitions.
Lihua lives in Waterloo with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she can often be found hiking with her family at the local trails, listening to the music from Joe Hisaishi, and busy doing gardening in her yard.
Melody Mann (she/her)
Melody Mann (she/her) is a Registered Social Worker and member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from McMaster University as well as a Master of (Clinical) Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. With over 15 years’ experience in the counselling field, Melody has worked with a wide range of concerns including addiction, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief/loss, chronic health, relationships, identity, life transitions and personal growth.
Melody uses a compassionate and integrated approach, incorporating elements of mindfulness, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), narrative, solution-focused, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) into her practice.
Melody strongly believes in the human capacity for change, growth and healing and is energized by the connections she makes with people during counselling conversations.
In her spare time, Melody enjoys spending time in nature, with family (including her dog) and in creative pursuits.
Mia Ostovar (she/her)
Hi there, I’m Mia Ostovar (She/Her), welcome to the counselling services. I’m thrilled to introduce myself and to get to know you and hear your unique experiences. My journey in this field began with a fascination for unravelling the intricacies of the human mind. This curiosity has evolved into a passion for creating meaningful connections and providing unwavering support to those who seek it.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts (BA. Hon.) from the University of Waterloo (specializing in Social Work, Social Policy and Individual well-being and development), a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW. Hon) from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MA), from Yorkville University.
As a counsellor, I have spent years supporting clients on their path to personal growth and healing through an integrative approach to mental health. Drawing from modalities such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Trauma-informed lens, Solution-Focused and Strengths-Based approach. I strive to create a safe, empathic, and non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
Continuously enriching my understanding of human behaviour and therapeutic techniques, I actively engage in reading mental health literature and attending workshops. This ongoing education empowers me to offer a holistic and comprehensive approach to supporting my clients on their unique journey.
Beyond my professional life, I find joy in various hobbies and interests. I am an avid photographer, capturing the beauty of the world through my lens. Nature hikes, writing poetry and painting help me maintain balance, self-care, and mindfulness.
Patricia Cummings (she/her)
Patricia Cummings (she/her) is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, and a member of the Canadian Counselling Association. She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy from Wilfrid Laurier University, an M.Div. from the Atlantic School of Theology, and a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of King’s College at Dalhousie University.
Before coming to Counselling Services, Patricia taught and practiced counselling at Wilfrid Laurier University. She formerly provided spiritual care in a hospital setting, and as a University Chaplain at Dalhousie University and at the Atlantic School of Theology. She was also involved in teaching, training, and administration in a spiritual care program in a diocesan setting.
Patricia values the opportunity to work with clients who bring a diversity of background and ability. She has worked with a wide range of concerns, including anxiety, depression, relationships, family, grief, trauma, gender identity, self-esteem, substance use, and spiritual concerns.
In her role at Counselling Services, she mostly practices single session therapy, along with some brief therapy. Working from a client-centred, compassionate, and strengths-based perspective, Patricia draws on several clinical approaches as she accompanies clients towards their goals for change and growth.
In her spare time, Patricia enjoys staying active with running, walking/hiking, tennis, Nordic and Alpine skiing, weight training, and a little yard work. She also enjoys reading, cooking, travelling, and spending time with family and friends.
Saviour Vimbai Mutakwa (she/her)
Saviour Vimbai Mutakwa (She/Her) holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours and a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology (Gender and families) from York University as well as a Social Service Worker Diploma from Centennial College.
Saviour has over 18 years experience working in the Social Work field. Prior to her career in social work, Saviour completed training in Library and Information Science and worked as a Library Consultant and Records Clerk/Librarian. As a Social Worker, Saviour has worked with diverse clientele in various capacities including settlement counselling to newcomers to Canada, case management in the Child Welfare System, provided crisis support to women and children dealing with impact of domestic violence. She also provided service coordination and crisis support to people dealing with mental health and addiction.
Saviour joined Counselling Services in 2018 as an Intake Specialist and she responded to all service inquiries, completed needs and risk assessments, safety planning and wellness checks/support requests. She triaged students to appropriate level of care and connected students with campus and off campus resources based on their needs. Saviour also served as an Intake Team Lead and provided supervision to Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) interns.
In her current role, as a Counsellor, Saviour provides brief therapy and single session therapy. Her areas of interest include family and relationship issues, adult conflict, parenting issues, parent child-conflict, life transitions, grief and loss, anxiety, and depression. Saviour draws from various therapeutic modalities and approaches including, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Solution-Focused Therapy, Strength-Based Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Mindfulness. She also integrates Anti-Oppressive Practice and uses Trauma-Informed lens in her work. Saviour Continues to supervise BSW Intern(s) and provide support to the Intake Team as needed.
Saviour strives to create a warm, safe, non-judgemental and a welcoming environment where clients/students feel safe to share and process their feelings. She believes each client is unique and strives to meet each client’s unique needs.
Shelley Huisken-Coniglio (she/her)
Shelley Huisken-Coniglio has been in the social work field for over 30 years. She graduated with a BA (Honours) in Psychology from Hope College in 1988 and received her Master’s in Social Work (Honours) in 1990 from the University of Michigan.
Shelley has experience in various areas of social work, including community mental health, Emergency Department social work and crisis mental health, addictions, and several aspects of youth justice.
Her role at UW’s Counselling Services includes crisis and urgent appointments, support coordination, and working with students who have complex mental health needs. She is passionate about connecting students to the resources and supports they need to be academically successful and to flourish in all parts of their lives.
On a personal note, she recharges through early morning workouts and all outdoors activities and adventures with her family and her beautiful dog, Benelli.
Shelley-Ann Maxwell (she/her)
Shelley-Ann Maxwell (she/her) is a Master of Social Work, Registered Social Worker and member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Shelley-Ann pursued critical studies in social work and sociology at York University and Laurentian University.
Shelley-Ann practices from a position of authenticity, compassion and non-judgement. Using an eclectic combination of theories and skills (including Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Collaborate Problem Solving), her approach is rooted in mindfulness, activating strengths, and developing skills and strategies that facilitate acting in service of one’s goals.
Shelley-Ann strives to embody an anti-racist/ anti-oppressive perspective and welcomes work with students who have experienced oppression, exclusion and/ or trauma, as well as challenges related to regulating emotion, coping with distress, sense of self/ identity, and interpersonal effectiveness.
This is Shelley-Ann’s second career after working for many years as a competitive gymnastics coach. She is the mother of a young adult and companion to a chihuahua. In addition to spending time with her family, Shelley-Ann also enjoys music, dancing, yoga, meditation, mindfulness practice, walking and watching shows/movies.
Spencer Small (he/him)
I hold a Master of Social Work Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo.
I am a queer counsellor and social worker who has been working in this community for the past 8 years. Each time I meet with a student, I strive to create an environment in which they feel heard, understood, and cared for. I want students to enter our counselling sessions unapologetically, just as they are. You are more than a student, you are a complex, worthy human being. I aim to work collaboratively with you and use our time together how you would like to. I can process hard stuff with you, help you reach your goals, provide strategies (if you like) or just be a listening ear. I have training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Emotion Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT).
I have experience working with many common issues including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, gender and sexuality identities, family and relationship concerns, and more.
In addition, I am approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to provide secondary assessment letters for gender affirming surgery for Trans students.
I love spending time hiking, camping, swimming, reading and watching movies. The best times in my life are those spent with my husband, my black lab named Sammy, family and friends.
I’m here and happy to help!
Susan Corkill (she/her)
Susan Corkill (she/her) is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario. She completed a Master of Arts in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Susan has over 20 years of experience in the helping profession working and volunteering in clinical, educational, and community settings. Susan’s blend of clinical approaches seeks to honour the client as a complex and integrated person who brings their own strengths and insights to the collaborative process.
Susan has experience working with many common concerns and life experiences, including anxiety, depression, substance use and addiction, spirituality, family and relationship concerns, life transitions, and trauma.
In addition to her work, Susan loves making people laugh, singing to herself, organizing messes, and going on adventures with her family – and anyone else who’d like to join.
Tyler Riepert (he/him)
Tyler (he/him) is a Registered Social Worker with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). He holds an Honours Degree in Psychology as well as a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University and has a passion for providing evidence-based care using empathy and compassion.
Tyler proudly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community and has professional experience working with marginalized populations. He utilizes an anti-oppressive and client-centered approach using a depth of therapeutic modalities tailored to meet student specific needs. Sessions often incorporate aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Trauma Therapy, Mindfulness, and Solution-Focused Therapy. He also has experience working with concerns related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief and loss, self-esteem, gender identity, sexual orientation, family and relationship concerns and more. Tyler embraces a holistic health model, collaboratively working with other Campus Wellness staff in order to meet student goals and improve psychological, emotional, and physical well-being.
Guia Dela Cruz (she/her)
Guia – pronounced as gee-yah - (she/her) is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers (OCSWSSW). She holds a Bachelor of Applied Sciences (Hons) in Family and Community Social Services from University of Guelph-Humber and a Masters in Social Work from University of Windsor.
Guia’s approach to clinical practice stems from her passion in fostering a collaborative environment with students in their counselling journey. Guia aspires to honour and acknowledge students’ intersecting identities, allowing space for students to be heard, seen, valued, challenged, and validated. Guia hopes to create a collaborative space with students that enrich their sense of self and safety, within the confines of the counselling space and even outside of it.
Guia uses an eclectic approach to care: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, Emotion-Focused Family Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing while implementing trauma-informed, attachment-aware, and anti-oppressive framework in supporting students.
Guia proudly identifies as a cis-gendered Filipina who immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. She speaks Tagalog fluently, enjoys crocheting, boxing, reading, and going for walks with her partner.
Washington Silk (they/them)
Washington Silk (they/them) is a Registered Social Worker. They hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of Lethbridge (2010) and a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University (2013).
Wash is a passionate transgender and queer social worker with over 10 years of clinical and community experience. Wash can help people better understand themselves and those around them, identify common patterns and work towards their goals. Wash’s practice is grounded in curiosity, compassion, and transparency. Wash has experience working with many common issues and life events, including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, gender and sexuality identities, family and relationship concerns, neurodiversity, executive functioning, trauma, substance use and addiction.
Melissa Strachan (she/her)
Melissa (she/her) is the Associate Director, Counselling Services - Campus Wellness. She is a CIS-gendered woman with black & indigenous heritage. She enjoys singing, dancing, listening to audio books, cooking & connecting with others in community.
Melissa has a passion for mental health & developing healthy inclusive teams through the creation of brave spaces built on relationship, collaboration, & authentic conversation. She enjoys collaborating with others to produce effective services that support the people Campus Wellness services. She has spent the majority of her career in the community mental health sector & is overjoyed to now be a part of the UW community supporting the well-being of students and the campus community at large.
Melissa is located on the 2nd floor of Needles Hall (NH) in the Counselling Services office of Campus Wellness. Send her a message or come by to see her any time!
Laura Belben (she/her)
Laura Belben (she/her) is an Indigenous Woman of mixed ancestry with paternal Innu lineage. She is a member of the NunatuKavut Territory of Labrador. Laura has been on an incredible journey of healing that has focused on remembering and reclaiming who she is and her ancestral power.
Laura is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers and with the Ontario Association of Social Workers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology from Cape Breton University, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Acadia University, and a Master of Social Work from Dalhousie University.
Laura’s professional experience includes over fifteen years working alongside and supporting individuals, families, and communities experiencing mental health crises and ongoing psychiatric concerns, in both community and hospital settings. Through her various roles, she has supported folks in an array of capacities, including crisis intervention, assessment, case management, counselling, and ongoing treatment and support.
Laura values each learner, their experiences, and their story. She strives to provide a safe space for learners to share and unpack their experiences. Her framework for Social Work practice centers on her connection to the Land and the importance of Nature, traditional knowledge, ceremony, and medicine in the healing process. Laura holds a wholistic view of health and wellness, as well as strives to support and promote greater self-awareness, confidence, and connection while building capacity, empowerment, and resilience.
Laura’s practice is influenced by an Indigenous, anti-colonial, anti-oppressive, anti-racist, feminist, and intersectional approach. In her work alongside learners, she incorporates an eclectic mix of Supportive Counselling, Solution Focused Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapies, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT), Acceptance and Commitment-Based Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Laura has found that when used in collaboration, these approaches can support personal growth and development, which can affect a positive change in learners’ lives.
Outside of providing support to learners, Laura spends time in Nature and connecting with the Land. She enjoys spending time with her partner, dog, and friends, as well as visiting her family in Labrador.
Emma Boynton (she/her)
Emma graduated from Laurier’s Masters of Social Work program in 2020, and began her career working as an Addictions Counsellor at House of Friendship in Kitchener. Emma worked specifically with pregnant and parenting women who were concerned with substance use, and then moved into supervising the counselling program for several months. Emma’s experience working with at-risk women has fostered a holistic, anti-oppressive, feminist, strengths-based and trauma-informed approach with all individuals that she works with. Emma believes in the importance of developing a safe and trusting environment in counselling so that individuals can feel empowered to acknowledge their strength within, and develop long lasting spiritual, emotional, physical and mental change. Emma draws on multiple modalities to assist individuals in meeting their goals, including Motivational Interviewing, mindfulness based approaches, emotions focused therapies, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy.
In her down time, Emma enjoys yoga, cat cuddles, listening to The Rolling Stones, and spending as much time outside as possible – hiking, camping, or even just reading in the sun.
Emma is so excited to get to know UW students and walk alongside their personal and academic journeys.
Adria Joel (she/her)
Hi, I’m Adria! (she/her)
I am a mixed-race Black woman with Trinidadian and Italian heritage and identify as bisexual. My lived experiences inform my work and I strive to work from an anti-oppressive, anti-racist, anti-colonial, trauma-informed, intersectional, person-centered approach.
I am a Registered Social Worker and member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers. I hold an Honours BA in Psychology from the University of Guelph (2011) and Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University (2014). For over 10 years I have worked in the social work and equity field in a variety of settings. Most recently, working at the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region providing group and individual counselling.
I want to make counselling an approachable experience for more students and that might mean that it doesn’t always look like the traditional two people sitting in a room talking about feelings (though it can look like that as well!). Connecting with nature or using expressive arts can all be therapeutic and help meet your counselling goals. I am also passionate about collective healing and love facilitating groups and workshops.
Outside of work, I am a parent of two young kids who help me rediscover the awe in life daily and keep me busy. I also enjoy outdoor activities, board games, dancing and cozying up with a good book.
- Cheri Bilitz, MSW, RSW - Director, Counselling Services
- Amberlie Curtiss, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Apryl St. Cyr, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Dave Logan, MSW, RSW, CYW - Counsellor and Success Coach
- Emmanuel Ugwuegbula, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Emma Boynton, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Fiona Dhanapala, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Guia Dela Cruz, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Gursharan Kahlon, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Jennifer Yuen, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Kexin You, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Kristin Shantz, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Kristine Meier, MEd, RP - Counsellor
- Lihua Yang, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Linda Heu, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Melissa Strachan, MSW, RSW - Associate Director, Counselling Services
- Melissa Zettel, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Melody Mann - MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Mia Ostovar - BA, BSW, MA, RSW, RP (Qualifying), Counsellor
- Patricia Cummings, R.P., D.Min. - Counsellor
- Sanam Rezaei Dashti, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Saviour Vimbai Mutakwa, BA, BSW, RSW, MSW - Counsellor
- Shelley Huisken-Coniglio, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Spencer Small, MSW, RSW - Counsellor
- Susan Corkill, MA, RP - Counsellor
- Thara Thakidiyil, BSW, RSW - Intake Specialist
- Washington Silk, MSW, RSW - Counsellor Specializing in 2SLGBTQ+ Student Support