My career with the Fire Service began in the spring of 1991. After a decade in the field, I took advantage of a promotional opportunity and became a training officer, eventually moving into the role of District Chief of Recruit Induction for Canada's largest fire service organization.
Even in this role, I always envisioned a more important goal than the instruction of practical skills and theory. For me, the priority was that recruits and fellow staff leave the Fire Academy recognizing the importance of seeing the public as individuals, deserving of respect and dignity as well as safety and protection. To that end, I made it a policy to ensure that each new recruit went out into the city with a sense that they mattered as individuals while they were in my charge. I like to think I didn't change anyone. I just reminded them of something they already knew inside. After just shy of a quarter century, I recently retired from the Fire Service.
During my tenure as a Firefighter, I continued to volunteer in counselling roles when possible. I volunteered in the Barrie jail, counselling inmates for a few years while I lived in the area before moving into a role with the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County. Because my role there eventually took me away from a dedicated counselling post, I decided to look elsewhere for opportunities. This led me to the Toronto Firefighters' EAP (Employee Assistance Program), an organization with which I continued in a counselling role until beginning my studies at the Centre for Training in Psychotherapy in 2009. In that capacity, I was part of a team of peer-councillors on call around the clock. We responded to the individual needs of fellow firefighters as well as to highly traumatic incidents involving groups. I was honoured to be selected as a member of the first international support team to respond to New York City after 9/11. This was a humbling experience and one that has certainly had an impact on my life's direction since then.
Since the events of 9/11, emergency services across North America and beyond have had to rewrite the book on counselling and support services for their staff. Being a part of that change is what eventually pushed me towards the decision to further my education in the field of psychotherapy.
I came to my psychotherapy studies at the CTP (Centre for Traing in Psychotherapy) with over 25 years of training and experience in counseling and support services and, during that time, I received recognition as well as several awards acknowledging my dedication to counseling services. In 2003, I held a seat on the board of the IAFF-EAP Committee in Washington, D.C. Up until that time, I was the second person outside of the United States to have done so. Most recently, I was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service.
My training in the field of psychodynamic psychotherapy now allows me to take helping others to a new level. I am bringing new skills and experiences into the therapeutic environment to benefit each and every one of the individuals I work with.
I welcome the challenge of working with you to help you find your own individual path as I continue to explore mine. The only thing that is certain is that your path will be like no other. And even though it will be uniquely yours, you will not be alone in your search for that path.
My journey towards the study and practice of psychotherapy begins farther back than I care to remember. In 1977, I began working as a volunteer probation officer with the Toronto East office of the Ministry of Corrections in Ontario. In that capacity, I received preliminary and ongoing training in order to provide counselling and referral services to clients in the correctional/court system.
I loved the fact that I was able, and encouraged, to create a safe and non-judgemental environment for my clients. As I saw it, the court system had already passed judgement. That was not my role. I was there to help people re-build their lives. It was both stimulating and rewarding. Soon, I was devoting as much time to volunteering as I was to my paid employment. Because a university degree was, and is, a requirement for full-time employment with the ministry, I returned to school to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Life does have a way of changing our direction when we least expect it. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, I had changed careers twice and long since left my volunteer post in Corrections. Unemployed (and on a dare) following a business failure, I applied to Toronto Fire Services and was accepted.