Our Mental Health Professionals

Abraar Elmi, M.Ed. , RP (Q)

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

Abraar uses a compassionate, collaborative and strength-based approach to work with clients to identify goals and develop personalized therapy plans. She creates a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours while developing new coping strategies while strengthening existing ones. Abraar adapts her approach for each individual’s needs and draws on elements from various therapeutic approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solution-Focused therapeutic modalities, and person-centered therapies.

Abraar is passionate about providing support to the 2SLGBTQ+ community and marginalized communities. Her areas of interest include relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, grief, ADHD, interpersonal relationships, self-esteem issues, and challenges related to life transitions.

Abraar is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). Abraar completed her M. Ed in Counselling Psychology at the University of Ottawa.

Agnieszka Szymanowicz-Yalcin, M.Ed., RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Agnieszka believes that every person is unique and an expert of their own life experience. Therefore, she adopts an integrative approach in counselling to aid in addressing client’s challenges. She tailors her approaches according to the client’s needs, and this includes humanistic, client centered, cognitive-behavioral, dialectical-behavioral, multicultural, developmental philosophies, narrative, solution focus, brief, positive psychology, mindfulness base stress reduction, motivational interviewing, anti-oppressive, empowerment and trauma informed lens within community perspective to promote healing and strengthen resiliency. Agnieszka aims to approach individuals with compassion, flexibility, and non-judgment to support their growth, healing process and improving quality of life.

She offers counselling in both Polish and English. She has completed a Master’s Degree in Education with specialization in counselling psychology. She is a full member of the Collage of Registered Psychotherapist of Ontario, CRPO.

Amal Ahmed, MA, RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Amal’s foremost focus is to provide a safe, warm, and validating therapeutic space where clients can feel heard and understood. She uses an integrated approach to help raise awareness and facilitate emotional processing, drawing from narrative and attachment family therapies with the hope of expanding on clients’ strengths.

Amal has experience working with a variety of clinical issues, such as depression, anxiety, burnout, life transitions, and relationship challenges. She has also worked with individuals struggling with anger, school difficulties, and challenging family dynamics.

Amal is a Registered Psychotherapist and has completed a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Spirituality.

Amira Nazarali, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Amira is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers. She approaches counselling from humanistic and existential perspectives, which means that she views clients as innately having the inner resources to confront challenges, gain insight into themselves, pursue their self-determined goals, and create greater meaning and purpose in their lives.

Amira sees her role as providing clients with support, some appropriate tools, and an enabling environment for them to engage in their own individual process of growth. She strives to approach her clients with warmth, empathy, acceptance, authenticity and an appreciation of the uniqueness of every individual’s lived experience in the world.  She believes strongly in collaborative, anti-oppressive and trauma-informed practice.

To best suit the individual needs of each of her clients, Amira draws upon a range of approaches and therapeutic models. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Approaches and Positive Psychology. She is open to working with clients of all ages, but has specific experience working with youth and young adults as they grapple with concerns such as depression, anxiety, social and interpersonal challenges, academic and workplace stress, and as they navigate personal identity, life changes and adjustments.

Amira completed her graduate degree in social work at the University of Toronto. She also holds a graduate degree in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK, with a specific interest in equity and social determinants of physical and mental health. Before her counselling role, she spent time working in the global health and humanitarian assistance field.

Carmen Urbina, M.Ed., RP

Clinical Manager, The Refugees and Vulnerable Newcomers Program

Carmen’s educational journey includes a five-year program in Education, majoring in science and minor in counselling from the University of Chile and a master’s degree from the University of Ottawa. In addition, Carmen completed a three-year post-graduate program to become a Gestalt Psychotherapist at the Gestalt Institute of the National Capital. Furthermore, Carmen completed the one-year Advanced Clinical Supervision Certificate at the prestigious School of Social Work, Smith College, Massachusetts, USA. In addition to her qualifications, Carmen also offers clinical consultation and supervision to other clinicians in the community.

Carmen has worked extensively in the field of cross-cultural counselling supporting newcomers to Ottawa for over twenty years, first as a counsellor and later as clinical supervisor and program manager. She has been instrumental in developing and sustaining resources in the community to make Ottawa a more inclusive and welcoming city highlighting the mental health needs of immigrants and refugees settling in Ottawa. She has trained and mentored dozens of students and young clinicians interested in developing cross-cultural counselling skills and has collaborated closely with other service providers such as lawyers and teachers.

Carmen believes in the power of active listening and unconditional positive regard as a first step to silently acknowledge the client presence and willingness to trust and engage in a therapeutic process that builds a positive model of a relationship with oneself and with others regardless of where the person is from or the present circumstances.

Carmen is keenly interested in listening to people’s experiences and how the cultural/social norms and the individual uniqueness shape the person’s evolving identity and the capacity to reach their potential. Carmen uses many of the well-known counselling approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Emotion Focus Therapy and Narrative Therapy supplemented by a socio-cultural perspective that uniquely reflects the client’s preferences. Carmen is bilingual (English/Spanish) and works with individuals and couples.

Dellan Woodger, M.Ed, C.C.C., R.P. (Qualifying)

Registered Psychotherapist

Dellan works using an eclectic therapeutic approach, which draws on multiple therapeutic orientations in order to adapt to a client’s individual needs. His experience is primarily with person-centred and third-wave approaches; most frequently utilizing the following therapeutic methods: narrative therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT). Dellan’s approach to counselling is highly collaborative and utilizes clients’ strengths and values to assist them as they navigate life’s challenges. Dellan has lived experience as a queer, neurodiverse, and transgender man. These identities informed his interest in narrative and client-centred approaches which emphasize the client as the expert in their own life.

Dellan’s primary experience lies in working with youth, families, 2SLGBTQIA+, and neurodiverse individuals. He holds an M.Ed in counselling psychology from the University of Ottawa. Dellan is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).

Evelyn Wong, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

In her work with individuals and families, Evelyn provides a person-centred, non-judgmental and compassionate space to explore and navigate a range of life experiences including critical illnesses, addictions, grief and loss, interpersonal relationships, stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations.

Evelyn views her role to be that of a co-navigator in the process of psychotherapy. Her goal is to journey with individuals and families in their quest to reconnect with what is most important to them, with a focus on promoting resilience and growth for each individual and family that she works with.

Practicing from Narrative Therapy and Attachment-Based frameworks, Evelyn also draws on other therapeutic modalities (Emotionally Focused, Feedback-Informed, Trauma-Informed, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy-Informed, and Internal Family Systems) to help individuals and families chart their own roadmap from where they are to where they would rather be.

Evelyn holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Carleton University and a One-Year Training Certificate in Narrative Therapy from Dulwich Centre, Australia. Evelyn is a Registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and is also a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW).

Hannah Irvine, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker

Hannah Irvine is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Hannah primarily works with children, youth, and their families. She brings an empathetic, warm, and non-judgmental approach based on existentialist-humanistic and attachment perspectives. In her practice, Hannah emphasizes the process of building authentic and transformative therapeutic relationships, creating a safe and collaborative space for clients to explore issues and take risks. Through this process, she helps clients identify their unique strengths, resources, and values, which can be used to navigate distress, connect with the world, and build a meaningful life.

Hannah integrates a variety of counseling modalities to best meet the unique needs and goals of each individual. She draws from approaches such as narrative therapy, emotion-focused family therapy, play and art therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Regardless of the approach, Hannah brings a non-pathologizing and strength-based lens that understands each person within their environment and considers the impact of structural barriers and social injustices on our experiences as individuals. Hannah incorporates a trauma-informed perspective into all her work and maintains a continuous practice of self-reflection, learning, and cultural humility.

Hannah has extensive experience working with children and youth in various settings. She possesses experience and interest in working with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, perfectionism, social-emotional difficulties, and LGBTQ+ issues. She is particularly knowledgeable in working with ADHD, Autism, and other neurodivergences and disabilities.

Hannah earned her Master of Social Work from Carleton University. She previously completed her Honors B.A. at York University, majoring in Psychology with a strong focus on child and adolescent development and mental health.

Jesse Henneberry, PhD, RP, MA, CCC

Registered Psychotherapist

Jesse is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC).

He has worked with The Counselling Group since 2011 as a member of the adult individual team. In his practice he supports individual adults who present with a broad range of concerns including trauma (both current and historical), grief, anxiety, depression, life transitions, relationship stress, addictions, and anger management.

The primary therapeutic modalities that he draws upon in his work with clients include narrative therapy, existential therapy, attachment therapy, interpersonal therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. He strives to bring a calm and relaxed energy to all his work with clients, working collaboratively, and at a pace that is respectful to all those with whom he meets.

In addition to being on the adult individual team, since 2014 he has also worked at the agency’s walk-in counselling clinic—as a therapist seeing clients who access the clinic, and as a clinical supervisor providing clinical support to both therapists on the team and to therapists-in-training. Jesse also offers clinical consultation and supervision to other clinicians in the community.

He has a wide breadth of experience in various non-profit public mental health settings, including previously working as a therapist at an Employee Assistant Program (EAP), and as a therapist in a Partner Assault Response (PAR) program—a program funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General for clients who have been charged with a domestic assault and mandated to attend counselling as per probation conditions.

A lifelong learner in the field of psychotherapy, he frequently attends workshops and reads books on the process of psychotherapy to continually refine his practice. In addition, he has published articles in international academic journals on the topic of grief and bereavement and was a teaching assistant and guest lecturer in a Psychopathology and Assessment course in the University of Ottawa’s MA Counselling Psychology program.

He holds a master’s degree in counselling and spirituality from Saint Paul University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Ottawa where he conducted research on how psychotherapists effectively use brief narrative therapy to support the development of client preferred identities in single session settings.

Prior to his work as a psychotherapist, he completed a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal Justice at Carleton University and subsequently worked in various front-line social service settings across Ottawa. These included advocacy groups supporting victims of violent crime, a homeless shelter, and as a volunteer in the Ottawa Civic Hospital’s ICU family lounge where he provided emotional support to families with loved ones in the Intensive Care Unit.

 

Layla Matar, MA, RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Layla’s key importance is creating a safe space for clients to feel comfortable and relaxed to open up and unpack throughout their therapeutic journey. She brings a warm, non-judgmental approach to her sessions and seeks to be a caring witness to her clients and their stories. She wants her clients to feel safe and accepted for their full selves.

Layla uses an integrative and collaborative approach by drawing from different therapy and counselling theories; her work is tailored to best meet her clients’ needs. The approaches Layla uses help guide her clients to discover their hidden strength and resilience. Layla works with her clients’ strengths to support them in unpacking and exploring the issues and distress that bring them to therapy. The key therapeutic approaches which inform her practice are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Narrative Therapy, Art Therapy, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT), and Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT).

Layla is experienced in working with adult individuals and couples. Her experience involves working with depression, anxiety, trauma, self-development, childhood wounds, interpersonal relationships, and relationship conflicts.

Layla is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). She graduated from Saint Paul University with her Master’s in Counselling and Spirituality and has a Graduate Diploma in Couple Counselling and Spirituality.