Our Counsellors

Carmen Urbina, M.Ed., RP, Registered Psychotherapist

Clinical Manager and Counsellor in 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.

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.

Dalia Wood, BA, MA, RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Dalia’s primary therapeutic focus aims at creating a safe and comfortable space for clients to feel heard and supported facilitating the unfolding of stories. She believes that clients are the authors of their own story. Some of Dalia’s strengths are active listening, positive regard to the client’s journey and history, and prioritizing resiliency and client’s strengths.

Dalia specializes in working with individuals who are experiencing concerns related to depression and anxiety, life-changing transitions, intimate partner violence, school difficulties, bullying and self-image issues.

Dalia’s work is informed by modalities such as Narrative Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Solution-focused brief therapy.

She offers counselling in both Arabic and English. Dalia has completed a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy. She is a full member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, CRPO.

Marianela León de Mujica, M.Ed., RP

Registered Psychotherapist

Marianela brings warmth, gentleness and an ability to provide a safe environment conducive to self-directed growth and wellbeing. She believes that people deserve kindness, understanding and support as they navigate new chapters and challenges in their lives.

Marianela works with the Refugee and Vulnerable Newcomers program and offers a wealth of experience supporting Immigrants, Newcomers and Refugees in both Spanish and English. She holds an integrative person-centred, anti-oppressive approach with a cross-cultural perspective and a deep commitment to Social Justice. She is strained and use techniques from, Gestalt therapy, Somatic Experiencing Trauma Therapy, Self-compassion Focused Therapy, CBT, Art and Play Therapy and Narrative therapy.

Marianela works primarily with adult clients experiencing issues such as symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relational challenges and traumatic stress. Marianela also specializes in domestic violence prevention, parenting skills and pre/post immigration & cultural issues.

Marianela holds a Master’s Degree in Education and Counselling, is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and is member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. In her home country, Venezuela, Marianela combined her clinical counselling work with other professional activities at Universidad Pedagógica Experimental Libertador, as a professor and social researcher of family, community and education.

Michael Gershuny, MSW, RSW, Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Director of Counselling and Mental Health Services

Michael Gershuny is an internationally educated social worker who holds both a Master’s degree in Social Work and Educational Counselling. He is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Michael’s main role is the Director of The Counselling Group. In this role, he works closely together with the staff counsellors to ensure and further develop the high quality of services provided by the Group.

In addition, Michael provides counselling to individuals, dealing with a wide range of emotional and psychological issues. His areas of specialty and interest include interpersonal relationships, depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, trauma, grief and loss, ageing, chronic mental health and, LGBTQ+ related issues and identity-related issues. Michael is bilingual and offers counselling in both English and Hebrew.

Michael is trained with a range of therapeutic models including psychodynamic, narrative, CBT and existential therapy. In collaboration with the individuals he works with, Michael tailors a personal care plan to assist individuals in returning to a place of health, ease and comfort. Michael’s work is person-centred and strength-based and respects each individual for who they are and who they want to become. Michael’s working philosophy is that the individual’s inner and external resources are the main drives for their recovery and will help them in achieving meaningful change in their life.

Nicolas Chranowsky, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Nicolas provides a warm and non-judgmental space where clients can express themselves openly and work towards positive personal growth. Through his client-centred approach, he recognizes the importance of tapping into the client’s wisdom and using this powerful resource throughout the therapeutic process. Nicolas believes counselling provides the opportunity to explore meaning, strengths and new possibilities, and his role is to facilitate this process.

In his work, Nicolas uses a Narrative approach, incorporating Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic theory, Mindfulness and expressive art. Nicolas operates through a compassionate lens that is sensitive to intersectionality, recognizing cultural and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and the impact of sexism, ageism, ableism, racism and transphobia/homophobia. Nicolas is an LGBTTIQQ+ positive counsellor.

Nicolas is a visual artist who often uses his passion for expressive art in his counselling work. He believes that for many people the arts can be a form of expression that transcends verbal capacities. Nicolas has worked with isolated seniors, adults with chronic illness, as well as newcomers and refugees. His areas of interest include anxiety, depression, self-esteem, trauma, addictions, as well as internalized racism and homophobia/transphobia.

Nicolas received his Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Social Work from Carleton University. He also possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from McGill University. Nicolas is a Registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and is also a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Sabine Jean, M.Ed.

Counsellor

Sabine works in the Refugees and Vulnerable Newcomers program, providing social and insightful emotional support and counselling to address both the immediate and long-term psychological needs of refugees and newcomers. She has experience working with immigrants and has a sensitive awareness about their life experience which fosters a better understanding of their needs and focuses on building a trusting therapeutic relationship. By understanding the complexity of a migration journey, Sabine makes sure she creates a comfortable and safe environment for clients to feel supported and heard. Sabine’s strengths are practicing active listening, her unconditional positive regard and her capacity to always prioritize the client’s well-being.

Sabine uses various therapy models in her practice such as Narrative Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, elements of Play Therapy and Client Centered Therapy from a culturally sensitive perspective. Sabine has experience working with individuals and families; providing counselling in areas including depression, anxiety, grief and loss, anger management, relationship distress, migration, those who have gone through traumatic events and other life transitions. She also works with youth and children who experience difficulties in managing their emotions.

Sabine is a graduate from the University of Ottawa who has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and previously a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and offers counselling services in multiple languages such as French, Spanish, English, and Creole.

Sara Youbi, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Sara works from a strength-based approach and invites each client to explore and discover their inner strengths, resilience and problem-solving skills. She is knowledgeable of the structural and societal factors that could pose as barriers that may impact a person’s ability to thrive. Sara meets clients where they are in their journey and collaborates with them as they navigate their healing process. She is passionate about social justice and social inequalities in health.

Sara’s clinical practice incorporates Narrative Therapy, Anti-Oppressive Practices, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques and aspects of Mindfulness from a culturally sensitive and Trauma-Informed approach. She provides counselling to individuals adults facing a wide variety of emotional and psychological challenges in their lives. Sara has worked in a variety of community settings and has extensive experience assisting clients to navigate the different social services, housing, and welfare systems. Throughout her profession in social services, she has worked with seniors, adults with chronic illness, as well as newcomers and immigrants’ parents.

Sara completed her Master of Social Work at The University of Ottawa and is a Registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and is a member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers. Sara provides counselling in multiple languages including French, English and Arabic.

Sarah Alderwick, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Sarah provides counselling to individuals facing a wide variety of emotional and psychological challenges in their lives. With compassion, caring and acceptance, Sarah’s strength lies in building strong therapeutic relationships with her clients.  She strives to support clients to draw from their inner strength and wisdom to help foster positive change in their lives. Sarah creates a safe and open environment to assist with a variety of challenges including anxiety, depression, interpersonal issues, domestic violence, grief/loss, and postpartum difficulties. She welcomes opportunities to work with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and is LGBTTIQQ+ positive.

Sarah collaborates with each client, tailoring her approach to meet their therapeutic needs. Her practice draws from Narrative, Attachment, Feminist, and Cognitive-Behavioural Theories, and is Trauma-Informed. She is passionate about social justice and poverty reduction. She has worked in a variety of community settings and has extensive experience assisting clients to navigate the different social services, housing, and welfare systems.

She completed her Master of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, is a Registered Social Worker in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Worker and Social Service Workers and is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

Shannon LaValley, M.Ed., RP, CCC

Registered Psychotherapist

Shannon’s work with clients is guided by the understanding that all individuals and families strive to do well. Shannon collaborates with clients to assess what is currently challenging in their life at home, school, or work and to build or access valuable skills to meet these challenges. As a family therapist, Shannon supports families in rebuilding connectedness and understanding for one another.

Shannon provides compassionate and playful therapy to children, youth, adults and families. Shannon works with therapeutic approaches such as Collaborative Problem Solving, Narrative Therapy, Play Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Strength Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She integrates neuroscience in her work with clients who have been impacted by trauma.

Shannon is experienced in working at community-based children’s mental health agencies and schools. She specializes in addressing severe emotional, social, and behavioural difficulties for children and youth and supporting parents in problem-solving with their children. Shannon is a therapist with the Centre for Children, Youth, and Families and JFS Ottawa’s mental health program supporting Syrian refugees and vulnerable newcomers.

Shannon completed her Master in Education at the University of Ottawa. She is a Canadian Certified Counsellor and a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.