In 14 years Rebecca has risen from the position of being a Carleton University Counselling Intern to the role of Director of Counselling and Assistant Executive Director of The Counselling Group (TCG) of Jewish Family Services. Under her leadership, The Counselling Group has expanded its service delivery models using social work best practices in pursuit of providing services to the greatest number of clients as effectively as possible.
Rebecca’s vision for “what could be” is the spark which propels her work forward. She is committed to increasing accessibility, addressing service gaps and imagining creative ways to do “more with less”. The combination of these social work ethics has defined the vision and resulting change to which Rebecca is committed.
Examples of Rebecca’s vision in social work practice include: operationalizing a collaborative, multi-agency Walk-In Counselling Clinic which involves a growing list of sites/services reflective of community cultural and linguistic diversity where service exceeds predicted outcome measures; securing a Bell Let’s Talk grant to create an accessible online counselling program (sliding fee scale); creating specialized counselling programs within TCG (Centre for Couples and Relationships, Centre for Children, Youth and Families) and the creation of a Refugee and Vulnerable Newcomer mental health program. In response to international global trauma, Rebecca recognized the need for a merge of settlement work and social work to serve the complex needs of refugees, finding a way to bring mental health into the arena of geographical trauma.
Rebecca understands that increased awareness is key to social work visibility and societal change. As a result, she makes a significant local contribution to the OASW-Eastern Branch by her active media participation, and advocates with provincial and municipal governments connecting with Members of Parliament to further needs related to social work best practice. She took an active role in lobbying for social workers to become a part of the Psychotherapy Act.
Rebecca has the professional courage to do what is needed before it becomes common practice and demonstrates dedication to the field of social work in its many layers and formations. Rebecca uses the person that she is as a political and professional force, intersecting what her role is and who she is in an effective, humble and human way. She is a brilliant visionary and a role model for how social work practice can continue to be sustainable and accessible for Ontarians. JFS colleagues are honoured to work alongside Rebecca and to congratulate her on being the deserving recipient of the Bessie Touzel Award.
Kathryn Owens, MSW, RSW
Wendy Cotton, MSW, RSW
This article originally appeared in the OASW Eastern Branch E-Bulletin Summer 2018