Our Mental Health Professionals

Aya El Balaa, MA, RP (Qualifying)

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

Aya aims to provide a warm, judgement-free, and supportive space where the client feels safe and understood. She provides an empathetic presence that allows clients to be their authentic self and feel cared for and validated. Aya works with clients to help them identify their goals. She then works closely with her clients in developing strategies and skills that highlight their resilience and strengths. She helps them regulate their emotions and provides them with tools to help them cope with stress, improve their relationships, and bring about the desired change in their lives. 

Aya is an integrative therapist using modalities such as Emotion Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, tailoring the approaches to meet the clients’ therapeutic needs. 

Aya works as part of the Refugee and Newcomer program as well as the Adult Individual program to help people who are experiencing clinical issues in relation to stress, anxiety, depression, adjustment in life transitions, self-esteem, separation, intimate partner violence, and more.  

Aya offers counselling in both Arabic and English. She has completed a Masters Degree in Counselling and Spirituality. She is a Registered Psychotherapist Qualifying with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). 

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

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.

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.

Caroline Duniya, M.Ed., RP (Qualifying)

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

Caroline holds a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) in good standing with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Her main goal is to make her clients feel welcome and supported during the therapeutic process. Caroline’s therapeutic approach is informed primarily by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy as well as Narrative Therapy. She works collaboratively with each client, tailoring her approach to meet her clients’ specific needs.

She is a therapist who guides her clients towards their goals and equips them with the skills that they will use to manage life challenges by themselves in the future. Caroline’s warm and empathetic nature creates a safe space for every client she encounters. She’s experienced working with adult individuals and is also bilingual; she provides therapy in both English and French.

Dalia Wood, 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.

Ghadir Kawar, M.Ed., RP (Qualifying)

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

Ghadir understands that the foundation of any therapeutic work is a strong therapeutic relationship between herself and her clients. She strives to build a warm, compassionate, judgment-free, and empathic space, in which clients can speak freely about their traumas, while feeling heard and validated.

Ghadir is an Arabic, English, and French speaking counsellor with the Refugees and Vulnerable Newcomers program. She works with adult clients experiencing a wide variety of emotional and psychological challenges in their lives.

Ghadir’s work draws from an integrative, person-centered, cross-cultural, and trauma-informed approach. She collaborates with each client, tailoring her approach to meet their therapeutic needs. Her clinical practice is informed by Attachment, Psychodynamic, Systemic, Cognitive-Behavioural, and Narrative theories.

Ghadir is a graduate of Ottawa University and holds an M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology. Prior to that, she graduated from Carleton University with an M.A. in Psychology.

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.

Marwan Abou Diwan, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Marwan A. Diwan is an internationally educated social worker who holds both a Master’s degree in Social Work and Educational Counselling and a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Sciences. He holds a Master’s degree in Living Languages / Translation as well and offers counselling in English, French, Arabic and Spanish.

Marwan is experienced in working with adult individuals and groups 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/PTSD, grief and loss, chronic mental health and Refugee and Vulnerable Newcomers, LGBTQ+, People living with HIV and identity-related issues.

Marwan is trained with a range of therapeutic models including, Humanistic approach, Narrative Therapy, EMDR, Hypnosis, Drama Therapy, etc. In collaboration with the individuals, he works with, Marwan tailors a personal care plan to assist individuals in returning to a place of health, ease, balance and comfort. Marwan work is person-centred and strength-based and respects everyone for who they are and who they want to become. Marwan’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.

In his home country, Lebanon, Marwan has combined his clinical counselling work with other professional activities with the Danish law enforcement agencies in the fields of anti-radicalization, communication, leadership, and other soft skills areas.

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.