Our Counsellors

Rebecca Fromowitz, MSW, RSW

Director of Counselling Services

Rebecca provides counselling to individuals, couples, and adult families dealing with a wide range of emotional and psychological issues. Her areas of specialty and interest include interpersonal relationships, depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, trauma, coping through loss, divorce, and separation, as well as issues related to the dying and grieving processes.

With a warm and empathetic style, one of Rebecca’s greatest strengths is her ability to connect with clients. She views her role in the counselling process as a collaborative facilitator, helping people to determine and meet their personal needs and goals. She has a strong belief in her clients’ inner resources and endeavors to help them connect with their own inner wisdom, strengths, and the significant people in their lives.

Although Rebecca is well-versed in a range of therapeutic models including experiential, psychodynamic, narrative, and emotionally-focused therapies, she works with each client to develop an individualized program that integrates the therapeutic approach most suitable for them. Rebecca is also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and has found this to be one of the most effective approaches when working with clients who have experienced trauma.

Rebecca has a Masters degree in Social Work and is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and the Ontario Association of Social Workers. She participates regularly in continuing education programs to ensure that she continues to provide the most up-to-date and effective services to her clients.

Wendy Cotton, MSW, RSW

Clinical Manager

Wendy has been practicing in the field of counselling and family therapy for nineteen years. Her practicing philosophy is that every one of us deserves an opportunity to heal and find support: “Our personal growth has a profound impact upon how we understand ourselves and function in the world. When we create change within ourselves, we develop healthier relationships with others, and with the world around us. We are all worthy of this process”.

Wendy helps people manage emotionally challenging situations and difficult life transitions. She is experienced in working with anxiety and depression, family of origin dynamics, sexual abuse, grief and loss, and trauma-related issues. Wendy works with the modalities of cognitive-behavioral therapy, attachment theory (EFT) and experiential-systemic theory.

Wendy’s approach to therapy is collaborative and inclusive. She offers a calm and supportive environment, where clients feel understood and encouraged. The professional relationship created is based on mutual respect and trust.

Wendy works with clients from diverse backgrounds, including couples, individuals, children, First Nations, Inuit and Aboriginal clients, and LGBTTIQQ2S clients. She is an approved NIHB Service Provider and offers services to clients referred from Victim Services, and Health Insurance and Auto Insurance.
Wendy’s counselling experience includes employee assistance counselling, intensive in-home therapy, group facilitation, play therapy and private practice. Wendy also has many years of experience working with adult survivors of sexual abuse and early childhood trauma.

Wendy holds a Master Degree in Social Work and is a registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and with the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Kathryn Owens, MSW, RSW

Clinical Manager of the Centre for Children, Youth, and Families

Kathryn has cultivated an expertise in working with children, youth and families. She brings curiosity, creative energy and her abilities to listen deeply and think clearly to her work.

Kathryn believes that individuals and families have deep resources of inner wisdom and when drawn upon and cultivated; these resources inherently expand and lead to the creation of a healthier mind and more playful life. When assisting families, Kathryn engages the interconnectedness between family members, their community and nature to create more harmony and compassion.

Kathryn believes it is the responsibility of the therapist to provide clients with specialized knowledge and skills in a climate of compassion, creating an opportunity for families to move towards a healthier and more satisfying life.
Kathryn has worked extensively and specifically with children, youth and families around the impacts of mental health, abuse and trauma, bereavement, parenting practices and separation and divorce.

She likes to engage clients with a variety of therapeutic approaches including: narrative practices, play, expressive arts, psycho-dynamic thinking, CBT, family therapy, attachment and emotionally focused therapies and mindfulness. She has been incorporating the emerging research on neuroscience and eco-psychology into her work with success.

She received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Toronto in 1992; is a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Gabrielle Wilson, MSW, RSW


Gabrielle Wilson specializes in working with children, adolescents and families. She is passionate about fostering enhanced wellbeing through expressive art and play based approaches. In her work with adult clients, she incorporates this same playfulness and creativity.

Gabrielle has worked in a variety of settings including women’s shelters, schools, community-based children’s mental health agencies and residential treatment homes. These experiences have led to a strong foundation in working with clients who have experienced trauma. She specializes in working with children and youth facing anxiety, depression, behavioural challenges, aggression and social difficulties. She also provides support for parents and works towards enhancing parent-child attachment.

Gabrielle’s work is informed by a variety of therapeutic modalities including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Play Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness and Structural Family Therapy. Outside of her work as a counsellor, Gabrielle is a musician and songwriter and she incorporates this into her work by developing narratives with clients to explore personal history, thoughts and emotions.

Gabrielle believes that clients possess expert knowledge of themselves and she listens closely to their unique insights to guide the treatment goals and process. She works collaboratively with clients to develop an individualized program best suited to their needs. Gabrielle believes in the importance of a strong therapeutic relationship and approaches all clients with compassion, respect and warmth.

Gabrielle completed her MSW at the University of Toronto. She is a Registered Social Worker and is a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Stephanie Dugdale, M.A., CCC


With a gentle and compassionate approach, Stephanie seeks to help individuals and couples explore their experience to facilitate change in their lives. She works collaboratively with her clients as they build a stronger sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Stephanie works with clients with a wide range of struggles, including anxiety; stress; fearfulness; depression or a feeling of despair and disharmony in life; postpartum difficulties; disordered eating and body image confusion; loss and grief; relationship and interpersonal difficulties; sexuality; LGBTTIQQ issues; separation and divorce; and domestic violence.

A central theme in Stephanie’s work and training has been helping trauma survivors.

Stephanie utilizes a model that begins through the creation of a secure counselling relationship. She works with adults and youth who experienced childhood trauma and sexual abuse as well as people struggling to overcome family of origin issues.

In her work with couples, Stephanie supports partners to explore what happens in their interactions with each other. Through the process of establishing trust and communication, partners can move from protective reactions to connecting responses, from defended positions and insecurity to the freedom, fulfillment and sense of security that comes from feeling able to truly access and show themselves to each other.

A graduate of St. Paul University and a Canadian Certified Counsellor, Stephanie has a Master of Arts in Counselling and has trained in both individual and couples counselling.

Jennifer Goldberg, MEd, CCC


Jennifer has experience working with a wide variety of clinical issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, self-esteem, and relationship challenges. Jennifer has a special interest working with clients struggling with grief and loss. In addition, she currently facilitates “Transformations”, a ten-week anger management workshop for individuals struggling with anger and aggression.

Jennifer practices with an integrative, collaborative approach. Much of her approach is comprised of a unique blend of cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic theory, and emotion-focused techniques. She works with clients to reach their goals by tailoring her approach to their unique therapeutic needs. Jennifer believes in fostering introspection and self-acceptance in order to promote positive relationships with both the self and with others. She offers a safe, non-judgmental therapeutic space for clients to work on personal growth and positive change.

Jennifer is also an intake worker at The Counselling Group and as one of our two intake workers, she acts as the first point of contact for new clients looking for counselling services. Part of Jennifer’s role is to complete new intakes over the phone and to ensure that each client is matched with a counsellor who is best able meet their needs.

Jennifer is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and graduate of the University of Ottawa Masters in Education Counselling Program.

Scott McCleery, M.A., CCC


Scott’s counselling practice is guided by an interest in creating a relationship of change through use of advanced empathy and caring dialogue. Under these supportive conditions, client’s may find it easier to express, develop deeper awareness of, and may feel encouraged to act in new ways, gradually challenging and potentially resolving difficulties in living. This approach often leads to growth in areas of inner resiliency and deeper self awareness. From these conditions, clients may find relief from difficulties stemming from anxiety, depression, grief/loss, trauma, and struggles with relationship/attachment security.

This supportive approach to the practice of counselling is primarily focused on creating a safe environment to help individuals and couples explore and possibly gain insight around difficulties in living. Through this curative environment, clients often find ease in accessing, acknowledging, and processing any unmet personal and relationship needs and fears, which often stem from earlier experiences, and how these can influence present relationships. From this place, clients are often able to hold new ways of experiencing self, other, and world which may contribute to meeting goals of therapy as well as an enhancement in overall well being.

When meeting with individuals, Scott’s approach to therapy is primarily influenced by
psychodynamic (object relations and self psychology) humanistic\existential, narrative therapy, behavioural activation, and cognitive behavioural therapy.

When supporting couples, Scott primarily works from Object Relations/Self Psychology, Emotion Focused Couples Therapy, Imago, and Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) orientations.

Reina McSheffrey, M.Ed, CCC


Reina graduated from Queen’s University and Carleton University with degrees in Psychology. She is also a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Master of Education (Counselling) program. Some of her work experience includes working in the downtown core of Ottawa as a Family & Child Health Promoter ensuring that newly settled immigrant families have the resources they need to ensure optimum growth. She also worked in Kanata as a Community Developer delivering the “Bully Prevention Program” to teachers, educators and parents.

Reina has been working with JFS for 7 years. She manages and facilitates “Transformations” the anger/life management workshops.

Reina’s areas of interest focus on relationship issues, self-esteem, (boundary issues), enhancing communication skills, working with incest survivors (both genders), and takes a special interest in parenting issues as well as anger management. She counsels individuals and couples and is LGBTTQ positive. Lately, she has been doing a lot of work with women and men who have experienced trauma and domestic violence. Reina takes a holistic approach, looking at the whole individual (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and believes that the answers lie within us. While her approach is direct and challenging she is able to maintain a down to earth, empathic and quite approachable persona. She works as a partner in self-discovery.

If you want to be challenged to find some of the answers inside of you, she may be the counsellor you are looking for. Reina also provides field supervision to university interns training for a counselling career.

Laura Murton, MEd, CCC, RP


Laura Murton is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Ottawa’s M.Ed Counselling Psychology program. She works with male, female and transgender adults. Part of her role within the agency is to work with individuals who have suffered injuries and changes in health. Prior to becoming a therapist, Laura worked directly with clients for over a dozen years in various social services agencies/programs. In all of her roles, Laura demonstrates responsibility, integrity, and compassion.

Laura believes the relationship between therapist and client is the most important element for positive growth for the client and routinely receives feedback that clients feel supported and respected in their work. Her genuine, warm nature enables her to develop therapeutic alliances quickly and effectively. Laura’s approach to therapy is Humanistic and she embodies a Narrative therapeutic stance of genuine curiosity, collaboration and transparency. Laura sees each client as capable of increased self-awareness and positive change. Laura values individuality and therefore tailors her approach specifically to each client using an eclectic variety of techniques from Narrative Therapy, Positive Psychotherapy, body-oriented therapies such as Focussing, and Mindfulness, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and integrates interventions from a number of therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and brief therapies. Laura has been trained in EMDR trauma therapy and frequently uses this therapy with clients who have suffered both developmental and accidental traumas. She is committed to lifelong learning and is always attempting to learn new ways of working with clients depending on their presenting problem and style.

Laura is interested in helping clients become more aware of their strengths, values and skills so that they may employ these to propel themselves in a more positive direction. She is committed to continuity of care and therefore collaborates whenever needed with other professionals within the agency and throughout the community whenever appropriate. Laura’s areas of particular interest are trauma, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and those who are dealing with difficulty working through role changes such as becoming a parent.

Lynn Sherwood, MSW, RSW


Lynn completed her Masters Degree in Social Work at Carleton University in 1984, and was a child protection worker at Ottawa CAS for three years before becoming Executive Director at Centre for Educative Growth, later Gateway Children’s Mental Health Centre. Since 1995, Lynn has worked at The Counselling Group providing counselling to children, adolescents, adults, and families.

Lynn works with children, adolescents, adults and families facing various issues including: Domestic violence and sexual abuse, current and historical Family breakup, including:

Separation and divorce and CAS intervention
Chronic illness including:

  • Physical and mental disorders such as depression or schizophrenia
  • Bereavement and grief
  • Addictions issues
  • Workplace difficulties
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Attachment, behavioural and mental health issues with children
  • Trauma
  • Developmental issues and special needs.

Lynn believes that each person has unique strengths and inner wisdom based on their life experience. Lynn utilizes a systems based, cognitive-behavioural framework to help her clients confront the confusion and/or despair in their lives, to find a way to resolve pain, to accept that which is, and to use their inner strength and wisdom to build a strong and meaningful future.

Lynn has also been active in social justice and anti-poverty advocacy through her work with Campaign 2000, and has considerable experience in the legal aspects of social work and child welfare advocacy. She have contributed several articles to the book “Adoption parenting and provides post-adoption services to clients of all ages.

Angela Spinney, M.A., CCC


Angela graduated from Saint Paul University with a Master of Arts in Counselling and Spirituality and a graduate certificate in Couple Counselling and Spirituality. She has experience working with individuals and couples from a wide range of backgrounds and with varied concerns, including depression, anxiety, identity and self-esteem issues, loneliness, loss, anger, relationship distress, and trauma.
Angela’s work with couples focuses on creating a secure connection and deepening emotional intimacy. She also provides pre-marital counselling, and separation counselling. Angela is an LGBTTQ positive counsellor.

Angela is well-trained in a range of counselling modalities and she works collaboratively with clients to determine the best path for them to find resolution. Angela’s primary approach is experiential and attachment based. That is, she follows the client’s immediate emotional experience to help them explore and process their feelings, while also helping them gain a better understanding of how their past relationships may have influenced their current experience of the world.

Angela is proficient in working with clients who have experienced traumatic events, both recently and in their past. Her ability to quickly create a warm and empathic environment allows clients to safely explore and process the underlying emotions related to their trauma.

Shannon Sweeting-Woods, MSW, RSW


Shannon’s collaborative, intuitive, and compassionate approach makes connecting with clients one of her greatest strengths. She offers a supportive environment where clients feel heard. She believes that a central part of her role as a therapist is to evoke, within each individual, their own inner wisdom, strengths, resources, and values, while also supporting them in making connections between their family of origin experiences, their lived experiences, their social location, and the issues they face, in order to facilitate healing, growth, and change.

Shannon’s clinical practice is differentiated based on client diversity and needs, but is heavily informed by attachment, psychodynamic, feminist, and narrative theories, while also incorporating mindfulness strategies. Her use of these approaches is grounded in an understanding of trauma and the multiple possible paths to healing.

Shannon has a Masters degree in Social Work and is a Registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. She also has a Bachelors degree in Education and is an Ontario Certified Teacher. Her experiences working with children, youth, and adults with exceptionalities, in a teaching role, has provided her with sound knowledge and understanding of the challenges and issues facing these individuals within the school system and work environments.

Shannon works with individuals, couples, and families and has trained in Emotionally Focused Couples/Family Therapy. She has also completed Beginning I in the Somatic Experiencing® Method of Trauma Resolution. Her main areas of specialty in counselling include: anxiety/panic; depression; interpersonal relationship issues; self-esteem; special needs; historical/current abuse; and grief/loss.

Stacey Young, M.ED (Counselling Psychology) CCC

Counsellor/ Psycho-Educational Assessments

A graduate of the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies of Education, Stacey has her Masters in Psychology and is a Canadian Certified Counsellor. She has practiced in the field of psychology for more than ten years and has gained extensive experience counselling children, adolescents and adults, including work with families.

Stacey’s experience in the field of counselling has involved working with clients struggling with depression, trauma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, separation/divorce, custody and access issues and anger management. She also assists students and their families with school-related concerns. Her overall approach to counselling is multi-faceted since it involves assessing each client’s needs and then providing the support and guidance required to help clients reach their potential and improve their quality of life. This type of client-centered approach involves focusing on solutions and finding attainable goals. Cognitive behavioral techniques are also frequently used with clients and found to be helpful in making positive changes.

Stacey has also provided student support, both within a school setting and as a consultant to students, teachers and parents. She has assisted students and their families with a variety of difficulties, such as: school-related concerns, behavioral difficulties, emotional issues, family dysfunction, loss and separation/divorce.
Stacey has the capacity to administer psycho-educational assessments and to provide evaluation of children aged six to sixteen. Psycho-educational testing can provide useful information about your child’s cognitive ability and grade level equivalency across a broad range of academic areas. These comprehensive assessments involve combining information from parents and teachers, along with the testing results, to diagnose difficulties with such issues as attention, learning and emotion. Testing can help facilitate the academic success of your child since it provides information on your child’s cognitive level and potential, how your child’s mind best learns, and your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Valerie Repta, M.A, MSW, RSW


Valerie provides warm, nonjudgmental counselling, informed by the belief that people do well when they can and that participating in counselling takes courage. She believes counselling is an opportunity for support, reflection and growth, and that we are all deserving of these opportunities. Her role as a counsellor is to facilitate this process, helping people to be heard and (re)discover tools, strategies and meaning.

Valerie believes she has a responsibility to provide the most effective counselling for each client. Consequently, she gathers and applies evidence based on research, knowledge and most importantly, feedback from individuals and families. Her counselling approach is thus individualized for each client. She may draw on cognitive-behavioural therapy, attachment theory and emotionally-focused therapy, and other interpersonal and experiential therapies.

Valerie has taught mindfulness since 2004 which remains a cornerstone of her practice. She uses mindfulness to increase awareness, acceptance and self-compassion and to treat mental health issues where shown to be effective. She also has an interest in neuroscience and physiology, and how they can be applied to understanding coping and well-being.

Her areas of interest include anxiety, depression, acute and chronic stress, trauma, insomnia, distressing thoughts/thinking patterns, anger, interpersonal issues and crises. Valerie works with individuals of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults and families. She values cultural and ethnic diversity, including working with individuals across the gender spectrum.

In addition to her counselling practice, Valerie has a research background and continues to stay up-to-date on best practices by taking part in research projects and staying informed of new findings in her areas of interest. Valerie holds Master’s degrees in Psychology and Social Work. She is a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and the Canadian Association of Social Workers.