…Hi, I’m Joy. I’ve been talking to people about their hopes and dreams, and what gets in the way of achieving these, for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a rather unorthodox journey into counselling and mental health. Here’s a bit of my history.
Travelling & Early Counselling Training
In my early 20’s, I did a lot of travelling and spent several months in Amsterdam taking counselling courses through a private university. I then traveled to New Orleans and volunteered at a crisis counselling centre for several months. Shortly after this, I spent three years as a pastoral intern at a local church and was involved in developing a counselling program there.
Living & Working in a First Nations Community
My partner and I moved to Kinosao Sipi First Nation (also known as Norway House, Manitoba) shortly after we married. While there, I volunteered with the heath authority on the suicide hotline, helping with addictions awareness week activities, developing curriculum for culturally appropriate kids clubs, working as a musician for a research project which was examining the effects of artistic programming on children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and teaching music at the local high school. We moved back to Winnipeg after two years, when we lost our first child in a still birth.
Winnipeg’s North End & Homelessness Initiative
In 2003, my partner and I moved into a house which was purchased with a grant through the Housing and Homelessness initiative and began to support people at risk of homelessness. We lived with and supported people in this home for seven years. Individuals who stayed with us were often struggling with mental health issues, including addictions. Some were needing support due to physical disabilities or other health issues. We also supported individuals who had recently arrived in Canada as refugees and were awaiting long term housing. During this time, we had another son, and I started the Inner City Social Work Program through the University of Manitoba. Within this program, I spent time at a policy development organization and started a residence association in my neighbourhood.
Community Development & Mental Health
After graduation, in 2011, I worked in community development in the North End, where I have lived for most of the past 20 years, and got a clear sense of the links between individuals, communities and broader social and political issues. Soon afterwards, I started working in crisis services and community mental health in the Interlake and NorthEastman region. Later, I took a casual position as a mental health clinician at the Crisis Response Centre in the Health Sciences Centre complex, where I still work.
MSW program & ‘White’ Social Workers
I started the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Manitoba in 2014 and completed my coursework in 2015. I’ve now completed my thesis which is about racial identity awareness among ‘white’ social workers, and will graduate in Spring 2018.
Private Practice with Individuals and Couples
I started in private practice three years ago and have loved working with individuals from all walks of life. I feel incredibility privileged to have been invited into the lives of the people who come to talk to me and to have the opportunity to witness their strength and courage.
Personal & Political
Personally, I love the arts; I enjoy creative writing, playing music, and fabric art. I am also passionate about issues related to Indigenous rights in Canada, and about racism and the role of non-Indigenous Canadians in reconciliation. Sometimes these various passions intertwine.
On Being a Counsellor
People often ask me about burnout and whether I find myself getting jaded after listening to so many peoples’ problems.
I don’t feel that I am listening to problems, but that I am listening for strengths.
I don’t think I am naturally an optimistic person, but my optimism has grown over the course of my life, as I marvel at the courage and beauty within each person I talk to. I love continually learning from clients and other professionals and plan to do it for as long as I am needed.