About Us

Our Clinical Focus

At Strength Counselling Services we provide a variety of options for holistic healing through therapeutic practice through E-counselling with a clinical focus given to mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

With a diverse team of trained and registered clinicians we have worked with a number of client concerns including: 

  • addictions (drug and/or alcohol)
  • abuse
  • anxiety
  • body image issues
  • maladaptive eating
  • sexual behaviours
  • personality disorders
  • dual diagnosis
  • codependency
  • family conflict
  • adoption
  • anger management
  • autism/asperger
  • mood disorders
  • breath control services
  • meditation
  • parenting issues
  • peer relationships
  • school issues
  • self-harming
  • weight loss 
  • meal planning
  • exercise plan
  • depression
  • marital discord
  • family development
  • parenting and child rearing
  • family of origin issues
  • rehabilitation from trauma
  • bipolar personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • career guidance
  • youth mental health
  • chronic illness management
  • chronic impulsivity
  • chronic pain management
  • impulse control disorders
  • life coaching
  • psychosis
  • narcissistic personality disorder
  • obesity
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • self-esteem issues
  • sex therapy
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual addiction

 

  • life management issues
  • emotional turmoil
  • suicidal ideation
  • gender identity
  • LGBTQ challenges
  • coping skills
  • developmental disorders
  • divorce
  • domestic abuse
  • emotional disturbances
  • gambling
  • grief
  • infidelity
  • dissociative disorders
  • non-ordinary experience integration
  • internet addiction
  • life transitions
  • sleep issues or insomnia
  • non-emergency spiritual issues
  • stress
  • transgender transition issues 
  • trauma and ptsd
  • video game addiction

Please contact us if you wish to work with any of the practitioners listed below.

Leadership Team

leader dewar

Amanda Dewar, M.Ed, RCC

Director

Since 2005 Amanda has owned and operated three private enterprises.  Since its origin in 2010, Strength Counselling Services has become a leading corporation in the field of private mental health services.  Additionally, Amanda holds a  Counselling Psychology Masters of Education degree and is a registered member of the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors; designating her as a Registered Clinical Counsellor.  Here at Strength Counselling Services, Amanda is responsible for managing all team members, and ensuring quality delivery of care to clients.

leader dewar

Dr. Bekayla Dewar, M.A., PsyD., RCC

Supervisor & Ethics Officer

Bekayla graduated from Midwestern University in 2013 with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology after which she completed a two year post-doctorate.  Over the past eight years Bekayla has worked as the Director of an inpatient psychiatric unit and has held counselling positions at two of Canada’s premiere addiction/residential treatment centres.  Over the course of her training and work experience, Bekayla has worked with children, adults and geriatrics providing individual, family and group therapy, crisis stabilization and rehabilitative services. Bekayla seeks to recognize the unique needs of each of the clients with whom she works and believes in treating the whole person; mind, body and soul in order to create a sense of wholeness for her clients.  To do this, Bekayla practices from an integrative approach utilizing person-centred, humanistic, existential and trauma-informed therapy.  Bekayla believes in facilitating lasting change in people’s lives and is passionate about helping others see and reach their full potential.  At Strength Counselling Services, Bekayla is responsible for front-line clinical supervision and monitoring team decisions from a strong ethics-informed lens.

Clinical Team

Ewan Kirkaldy

Ewan Kirkaldy, BSW, RSW, CCAC

Counsellor

Ewan holds a social work degree from the University of Victoria and he is a registered social worker with the BC College of Social Workers.  Ewan is also a certified addiction counsellor with the Canadian Addiction Counsellor Certification Federation.  He is trained in trauma counselling using CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy), and is currently in training to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.  Ewan has experience working in a number of Canada’s premier inpatient and outpatient facilities treating anxiety, depression, trauma, and substance use issues. Ewan works from a client centred strengths based approach, using a trauma informed lens.  

He believes in working holistically to improve vitality and quality of life in all areas. He is able to draw on not only his professional expertise, but his own personal experience recovering from severe substance use disorder, depression and trauma.  He has experience working with individuals and families to help identify goals, create, and execute an individualized plan for healing and wellness. 

clinical leader sombrutzki

Jake Sombrutzki, BHSc, MC (cand.)

Counsellor

Jake brings a wealth of experience with 9 years of counselling in the field of addictions and codependency. He has completed his Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Addictions from the University of Lethbridge and is in the process of completing his master’s in counselling psychology from Yorkville University. Jake’s personal development is rooted in Buddhist and eastern philosophy which meld well with CBT and DBT therapy techniques. He is passionate about working with codependency, anxiety, depression, and clients experiencing self-worth issues. Jake has a natural ability in articulating insights about thinking patterns in a nonjudgmental way. His approach is grounded in being present, accepting, and compassionate. His abilities help clients bring intentional awareness into their everyday lives in an effective and practical way. 

clinical leader toste

Rosa Toste, CCAC

Counsellor

Rosa is a passionate humorous being who has a knack for intuitively supporting those with eating disorder and body images issues throughout their recovery journey. Rosa has both personal and professional experience in the mental health and addictions field for almost 20 years and, specifically, with eating disorders for the past five years. Rosa’s person centered approach can assist clients to increase their knowledge, and alter their attitudes, and behaviors associated with disordered eating, body image issues, and any relatable dependency issues. Rosa is tenacious, kind and driven, and is committed to walking beside her clients through their process in the timeline that is necessary for optimal healing.  “Together, we will collaborate on meeting achievable and realistic goals to a better you”. 

clincal leader nielsen

Janet Nielsen, M.Ed. C.C.C.

Counsellor

Janet has a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology (Addictions and Mental Health) from the University of Lethbridge and is a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2016 with a BA double major in Psychology and Religion, and an M.Ed. in 2019. Janet believes that we are a combination of body, mind, and spirit and that these elements need to be considered when trying to heal the whole person. She practices an integrative approach to counselling, which combines existential, cognitive-behavioural, trauma-informed and transpersonal therapy amongst others. Within this integrative framework, her central aim is to promote wholeness for her clients in all aspects of their lives. She counsels from a client-centered focus and believes in individual services and interventions that meet the unique needs and personalities of each client. She believes in facilitating the integration of body, mind, and soul by promoting growth and compassion for her clients that can lead to long-lasting, transformational change. Janet is passionate about exceptional human experiences (near-death experiences and mystical/transcendent experiences) and has researched these extensively. She has worked with many clients in relation to grief and loss, death and dying, and she completed her death doula certification in October 2019. She considers this work to be sacred and it allows her to support
people and their families as their life comes to a close.

clinical leader devine

Mel Devine, M.C, RSW, RCC

Counsellor

Mel is a Registered Social Worker and Registered Clinical Counsellor. She has over 15 years of experience working with a wide range of people struggling with substance use dependency, significant mental health challenges, historical and/or current trauma processing and healing, relational challenges, as well as sexual and gender exploration. She specializes in sex therapy and trauma processing with EMDR.  

Mel takes a holistic approach to her work and believes that the treatment plan should be as unique as the individual, or individuals in front of her. She believes in each person’s capacity for change and that it takes courage and compassion to embark on a journey towards self-love.  Melanie takes a trauma-informed, heart and person-centred approach and credits her empathy and strong intuition for helping others navigate their own growth and healing. She is a lifelong learner and is currently studying at the Institute for Sexual Education and Empowerment.  She deeply enjoys helping individuals and couples access greater pleasure and intimacy in their lives.  Melanie believes you are the expert in your life and will work alongside you to help you access your own inner wisdom.  She believes deeply that every human has the capacity for change.  She respectfully and gratefully acknowledges that the land on which she works, lives and plays is the unceded traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation.

Tanya

Tanya Helle, MSW, RSW

Counsellor

Tanya Helle completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of British Columbia. She has over 11 years of clinical experience across a variety of settings. Among these are community mental health counselling, outreach based social work, crisis intervention, and working with LGBTQI+ communities and in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry. Her goal as a counsellor is to help you learn to see yourself as you truly are; a person who is deeply worthy of love, belonging and joy. She offers a safe, compassionate and non-judgmental atmosphere where you can explore aspects of your life where you may feel stuck or have unmet needs. She uses a caring, respectful and collaborative relationship using a variety of therapeutic approaches tailored to each client’s needs, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, EMDR, EFT tapping, Non-Violent Communication, Solution Focused Therapy, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. She is particularly interested in the impact of loss and trauma, and in providing interventions that support trauma recovery.

Tanya has a broad range of clinical experience working with individuals and groups across the life span in the following areas: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Gender and Sexual Identity, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Complex Trauma, Complex Grief, Death and Dying, Chronic Pain, Family and Relationship Issues, Self-Image and Self-Worth Issues, Suicide Assessment, Self-Harm Behaviour, and Chronic Mental Illness. She is registered with the BCCSW and the BCASW.

Michelle Lafreniere

Michelle Lafreniere, MA, RCC

Counsellor

Michelle is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology. Her background is in working with clients struggling with addiction, interpersonal relationships, and disordered eating. Michelle takes a strengths-based, client-centered approach and believes that clients and counsellors should work together to solve problems and achieve personal goals.

Michelle is passionate about helping her clients set and maintain boundaries, learn to identify, and express their emotions, and make decisions for themselves based on their personal values. At Strength Counselling, Michelle works with individuals and couples.

Ajay

Ajay Booth, BSW

Counsellor

Originally from Mi’kmaq territory on the East Coast of Canada, Ajay has lived on Vancouver Island and called unceded Snuneymuxw First Nations territory their home for the past 7 years. Ajay graduated from Capilano University and Vancouver Island University and has a background in Social Work, activism, advocacy, community development, mental health and addictions and has worked with marginalized and vulnerable populations for over 15 years.

Ajay practices from a strength based, trauma informed, anti-oppressive lens, and seeks to utilize holistic and culturally competent teachings to empower their clients. Ajay utilizes a collaborative and integrative client centered approach, focusing on the unique and diverse needs of each client, while utilizing the Anishinabek Medicine Wheel teachings as a framework for practice; the balance of spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental wellness is essential to healing. Ajay has studied under Dr. Gabor Mate and is a certified Compassionate Inquiry practitioner and is trained in a diverse array of therapeutic approaches including: DBT, CBT, Mindfulness Therapy, Compassion based, Humanistic Approach, Interpersonal Positive, Play therapy and Group Therapy. Ajay specializes in working with issues around Sexuality and Gender Identity and Transition, Body Dysphoria, Complex Trauma, Grief, Addictions, Neurodivergence, Family dynamics, Interpersonal Relationships- including Polyamory and Ethical Non-Monogamy.

As a member of the LBGTQ2S+ community, Ajay identifies as Trans Non-Binary and uses They/Them/Their pronouns. Ajay also runs a community-based business Kaleidosphere Consulting offering consulting, mediation, life coaching and comprehensive LBGTQ2S+ educational workshops to help agencies and businesses offer more inclusive services to their employees and clients. Ajay looks forward to continually expanding their practice, by completing their Master’s in Social Work and incorporating more Indigenous ways of knowing, diverse modalities and plant medicine and spiritual theory into their practice.

Vanessa

Vanessa Rae, MC (cand.)

Counsellor

Vanessa completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, attaining her honours in Psychology while doing neuroscience research for her thesis. She is currently getting her Masters degree and completing her practicum hours.  Her passion is finding ways to heal and guide those who are struggling with mental illness, emotional distress, and trauma. Primarily, Vanessa’s interest is in eating disorders. Recovered from one herself she wishes to dedicate her life to helping others become anchored in pure self love, recovery, and health. At Strength Counselling, Vanessa has worked as our main administrative assistant and, has since, transitioned into the role of a clinician.  Vanessa’s current role is creating and delivering individualized programming for clients on her caseload.

Specialized Services

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Dr. Kenneth Kunz

Clinical Navigator & Research Advisor

Kenneth Kunz is excited to join Strength Counselling Services to further his already rewarding career in scientific research and academic medicine. While in medical practice, Kenneth, who is in recovery himself, noticed that most of the chronic diseases burdening today’s society were actually the end result of untreated addictions, mental health issues, and related process disorders. For example, decades of smoking, the most prevalent addiction, will eventually lead to heart disease, stroke and cancer – the most prolific killers in the Western world. Kenneth is very interested in the biology of addiction, experiences, the shape the structure and function of our brains, and how these pieces ultimately give rise to motivations and actions that may prove harmful or even fatal.  Kenneth’s greatest delight however is in serving as a companion and helper to those wishing, like him, to recover from addiction. He believes in a client-centred, strengths-based, trauma-informed, twelve-step approach to the treatment of addiction. Kenneth sees  addiction as the single most common, most under-recognized, and most treatable of all human conditions.

clincal leader waagernaar

Samantha Waagenaar

Nutrition and Fitness Consultant

Samantha is a fun loving woman who carries a genuine enthusiasm with her in whatever she does. She has been in the Health & Wellness industry for the majority of her life gathering certifications for nutrition,  personal training, and yoga. Her take on sustainable health is one that has been influenced very heavily by her own life experiences, from the struggle of exercise addiction, to finding balance with food, exercise, rest and recovery. Samantha believes that creating change can be difficult and that the power to heal ourselves comes from help across many specialties.  In conjunction with the clinical team, Samantha is here to guide, inspire and support you in your journey to well-being through nutrition, exercise, and meditation!

clinical leader huston

Tyler Huston

Founder of Breath Control Therapy

Tyler is a First Responder Paramedic, Addictions Nurse, Certified Occupationally Aware Clinician and Founder of Breath Control Therapy. Tyler has spent years working with clients and patients from all walks of life in community, private and hospital settings as well as at several of Canada’s premier Addiction Rehabilitation Treatment Centers. Tyler has collaborated with Physicians, Coaches, Counsellors, Navy SEALS, Veterans, Police Officers, Firefighters, CEO’s, Professional Athletes, Parents, Grandparents and Children to develop Breath Control Therapy.

Students

Charene

Laura Bates, BA, MC (cand.)

Student

Laura graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in Child and Youth Care in 2012, and is completing her Master’s of Counselling degree at City University in Canada. Laura spent many years as an Educational Assistant with the Victoria School district, as well as working with the Cool Aid Society and the YMCA within the greater Victoria area.

Laura practices from a client-centered, strengths-based approach by utilizing Narrative Therapy and a Solution-Focused lens; in an effort to collaborate effectively, and compassionately with her clients. Laura is ambitious, has a wonderful sense of humour, and believes in the unwavering, resilient human spirit. Laura empathically meets her clients where they are by upholding their dignity, sense of self, and exploring genuine solutions that fit their unique worldviews.

Charene

Kim Wood, BA, MC (cand.)

Student

Kim comes to the work of personal counselling with a diverse background in hospitality and conference management, social work, cross-cultural experience, restorative justice facilitation, emergency response, and vocational counselling.  She is currently completing her Master of Counselling degree with City University Canada.

Kim believes that the answers to the questions that brought you to counselling reside within you, and views her role as supporting you to discover them for yourself as your ally, witness, and guide on the journey of learning and healing.  Her approach is warm, collaborative, integrative, and tailored to meet your unique personality, interests, and goals.  She is passionate about supporting others to cultivate a kind, loving, and compassionate relationship with the Self, seeing this as the foundation and springboard for all transformation. She draws on counselling tools from a variety of therapeutic modalities appropriate to your specific situation.

In addition, Kim wholeheartedly invites clients to bring their spiritual or religious beliefs and practices into the work of counselling as a source of strength and guidance.  She considers this work an honour and privilege, and looks forward to being of service.

Charene

Kristin Munro, BA, CPHR, PMP (cand.)

Student

Kristin graduated from Ambrose University in Calgary with a degree in Behavioural Science in 2009, and is completing her Master’s of Counselling degree at City University in Canada. Kristin is transitioning to the field of personal counselling after an extensive career in human resources management, adult education, project/change management, leadership development, and, more recently, high performance coaching.

Kristin’s own view on change, therapy and healing is informed by her personal healing journey after a struggle with OCD and disordered eating and having been in recovery now for many years. Her goal is to support you on your journey as you become the best version of your Self—as defined by you. As an integrative therapist, she believes each person’s story is unique, and therefore works collaboratively to create a plan that draws from the most appropriate therapeutic modalities as you work together to set and reach goals.

Marketing Team

Micky Capra

Social Media Assistant

Micky joins the team with a Diploma in Marketing and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Event Planning. After working in the automotive industry for many years, Micky had the desire to branch out and explore other industries. She is excited to be a part of a team that is dedicated to assisting individuals in their mental health and recovery journey.

Micky Capra

Social Media Assistant

Micky joins the team with a Diploma in Marketing and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Event Planning. After working in the automotive industry for many years, Micky had the desire to branch out and explore other industries. She is excited to be a part of a team that is dedicated to assisting individuals in their mental health and recovery journey.