Bachelor of Science (BSc.) Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MA), Registered Psychologist
New Clients Please Call 780-467-0700
Nicole's Rate: $200/hour
Nicole specializes in working with children and youth, ages 3-16 years old. Nicole has worked with children and youths within the field of psychology for over 15 years. Please schedule a 15 minute consultation before booking.
Direct Billing to:
Alberta Blue Cross
Medavie Blue Cross
Nicole specializes in working with children and youth, ages 3-16 years old. Nicole has worked with children and youth within the field of psychology for over 15 years. Her diverse background has provided her with an appreciation of many ways children, youth, and their families can benefit from specialized supports to enrich their lives. From being an in home aid for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, a community aid to support the development of skills in public settings, an Early Child Facilitator in preschool programs, an Emotional Behaviour Specialist in schools, and a school counsellor for a wide range of ages and presenting concerns, Nicole has knowledge and skills to support many children and youth.
Trauma and PTSD Treatment
Nicole helps children and teens who suffered abandonment, on-going emotional and/or physical abuse, have been placed into foster care, have witnessed disturbing events , or have experienced other traumatic events.
Nicole can also help with:
Nicole has a willingness and desire to work with children and youth who are struggling to live their lives with confidence and joy. Nicole strongly believes there is a valid reason everyone acts and feels the way that they do, and with the opportunity to understand themselves and express themselves, they can navigate their lives in a way that brings them more confidence and joy. Nicole believes that everyone has a unique story to share and it is a privilege to hear that story and be along side them as they write their next chapter.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child and Family Services Involvement
Grief and loss
Historical and inter-generational trauma
Oppositional Defiance/Acting Out
Counselling for Children
Children come to counselling for a number of different reasons. Often parents bring their child to therapy because their child has experienced something difficult, or is behaving differently from usual, or has said something concerning, or they are concerned about their child's behaviour, or someone has discussed concerns with them about their child and suggested counselling.
Children 12 and under often benefit from play based counselling because they have not yet developed meta-cognititon, which is the ability to think about thinking, that is required for talk therapy. For this reason, Nicole uses specialized play-based approaches to collaboratively work with children to help them connect their emotions, with their body sensations, with their thoughts, and with their behaviour
Nicole uses a fully stocked play room designed with a number of items that allow children to express themselves in a developmentally appropriate way. Nicole’s role is to understand how the child is feeling and support the child with processing their current stressor(s) and develop strategies to help regulate their emotions.
Nicole's Approaches with Children
Nicole has formal training in Non-directive Play Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. Nicole is currently working towards registration as a Registered Play Therapist with the Canadian Association of Play Therapy.
Nicole works collaboratively with each child/adolescent and their guardians/parents to develop an individualized treatment plan that utilizes an approach appropriate for the reason for attending counselling, the goals for therapy, and the child/adolescent’s age.
How Does Play Therapy Work?
Nicole begins play therapy by meeting with the parent/guardian to gather pertinent background information about the child, discuss goals of therapy, and create a treatment plan for the child. Nicole practices with an integrative approach utilizing Non Directive Play Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In the initial meeting Nicole will gather information about the child’s current development, interests, strengths, and reasons for counselling and will discuss the approach to therapy options with the parents/guardians. Each plan is individualized based on an agreed approach between Nicole and the parents/guardians.
Non Directive Play Therapy: How Does this work?
Non-Directive play therapy is the most commonly practiced type of play therapy. Nicole received her formal training through the Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute and the Canadian Association for Play Therapy.
Non-Directive Play Therapy allows the child to choose the activities they would like to engage in the playroom. The theory is that children will carry their distress with them into the playroom and will engage with this distress in some way through their play; similarly to how adults who are preoccupied with something distressing often find themselves thinking about it or talking about it with someone until it is resolved.
When children enter the playroom, they are invited to play with whatever items they would like to. All the items available allow for open-ended and expressive play. Nicole’s role is to provide a non-judgemental environment where the child receives unconditional positive regard and acceptance, so he/she feels safe to express himself/herself openly. Nicole helps children develop awareness of their emotional state by being attuned with the children in their play and providing them awareness of their emotions and the impact of their situations through active reflection and tracking comments. This is similar to therapy with adults where the client brings in a situation that feels difficult or overwhelming and the therapist listens and helps the client process their emotions, thoughts, body sensations, and behaviour to bring about understanding and a sense of calm or control.
As therapy progresses, there are a number of changes in how the child engages in the session to provide Nicole with information about how the child is progressing with the therapy. In addition, parent/guardian feedback about the child’s behaviour between sessions is helpful to gauge if integration is happening between the therapy room and the child’s environments.
Non-directive play therapy works well for children twelve and younger who haven’t developed meta-cognition required for some therapy approaches, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. That being said, children often verbalize thoughts and benefit from practicing new skills in a structured manner that can shift therapy into an integrative approach. Non-directive play therapy can be utilized with any age and some youth and teens prefer this approach as it allows for more expressive type therapies. Based on the belief that children bring what they need to process with them into the playroom, Non-directive play therapy can work effectively with nearly all types of concerns.
EMDR (Eye Move Desensitization and Reprocessing) has been shown to be safe and effective in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attachment issues, dissociation, anxiety and depression in children. It can also help improve their self-esteem, reduce anger and build confidence. Children who have experienced difficult events may benefit from processing the events with EMDR. The theory of EMDR states that traumatic events can create blockages in the brain that don't allow for natural processing and integration of the event. These blockages can result in on-going distress from the events. EMDR facilitates processing of disturbing events with bilateral stimulation to remove the blockage and reduce the emotional intensity of past experiences.
EMDR for Young Children
Counselling for Teenagers
Entering the teenage years can be exhilarating, debilitating, and everything in between. This phase of development often poses a number of new challenges that teens are required to learn to navigate in a very short period of time. From peer pressure, to social media, to cyberbullying, to friendship problems, to increased school demands, to competitive school sports, to online gaming, and so much more - teenagers are faced with many novel situations where they can experience more rejection, failure, and self-doubt than ever before. During this time problems that carry over from childhood may become exacerbated or new challenges may arise that result in anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, self-doubt, low confidence, body image issues and more.
Nicole meets with the teen and the parents/guardians to hear their concerns and develop a treatment plan to meet their goals. Teenagers usually benefit from collaborating with their parents and therapist to support their autonomy and decision making about their therapy and goals. Nicole uses an integrative approach that utilizes Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy to help teens maneuver this chapter of their lives.
Nicole's Approaches with Teenagers
Junior high aged youth are met with two simultaneous changes – beginning their adolescent phase of development and significantly increased school expectations. Children begin to have both hormonal and brain development that is important for their continued growth towards adulthood, but often leaves parents feeling overwhelmed and confused with the changes they see in their child. Parents often ask questions like – “My son is sleeping more than normal. I can’t decide if he’s depressed or if this is normal teenage behaviour?” or “My daughter doesn’t talk to me the way she used to and spends most of the time in her room when she is home – is she withdrawing due to depression or is this normal teenage behaviour?”
In adolescence, it is can be a normal and healthy part of development to begin to exploring different aspects of identity, become more impulsive, lean more towards peer opinions than parents, and change how they want to spend their time. These changes leave parents wondering where the line is between normal adolescence and mental health concerns. Parents often wonder how to transition from their child being fully dependent on them into their child’s strive for full independence, and how to find the balance in the middle with interdependence required in this phase.
For youth, this time can be overwhelming with their increased drive for independence from their parents but continued need for interdependence. The transition into junior high brings significant expectations of independence from teachers where children now need to manage multiple teacher's rules and expectations, manage their homework and test schedules, and navigate new social relationships – all while undergoing physical and hormonal changes. Adolescence is the longest phase of child development, lasting until the child of 25 years. Nicole is passionate about helping youth and their families navigate this important time of life
By the time teenagers finish junior high, they have completed their first few years of adolescence and are bracing for another large change – high school. Similarly, to junior high, they are met with a lot of the same challenges in yet another new environment with continued expectations to be more and more independent. An additional high school stress is pressure to plan for the future. The social and academic expectations can be incredibly overwhelming for any teenager but feel can feel impossible if the teen is suffering from bullying, gaming addiction, depression, anxiety, or peer conflicts.
Nicole provides a compassionate and open environment to help teenagers understand, accept, and communicate their personal identities and feelings in healthy ways. She has experience in supporting LGBTQ+ kids with self-acceptance, gender dysphoria, coming out, and transitioning, as well as helping them learn to cope with discrimination, rejection, and bullying.
School Related Concerns
Nicole works as a school psychologist with children ages 3-16 years old. Within the school environment, Nicole has worked with children with many kinds of challenges that arise in the school environment. Nicole has worked with children who are struggle with learning, have conflicts with their peers, are disruptive in class, have difficulty making and maintaining friendships, are anxious to try activities, want to avoid school and/or schoolwork, have experienced bullying, and have been involved in bullying.
Nicole understands first hand that children spend a significant amount of their time at school and that challenges occurring at school can have important impacts on their self-esteem, confidence, and future aspirations. Nicole is passionate about helping children and youth navigate these challenges so they can lead fulfilling lives aligned with their personal goals.
Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Anxiety is the most common childhood mental health disorder. Nicole has experience in helping children and youths who are struggling with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorders , test anxiety and performance anxiety. Anxiety can be debilitating often causing children to endure significant distress when engaging in important activities, or even cause them to avoid any activities all together. Fortunately, children with anxiety usually respond well to therapy and they often leave feeling more empowered and confident to face their stressors.
Depression in Children & Teens
In Nicole’s experience, depression in children and youth is often one of the most difficult areas of concern for parents to sift through. This is because it often presents as irritability in young children and in teenagers. Parents are often left wondering if their child is depressed or if they have reached the stage of life where it is common for them to sleep longer, withdraw from their parents, and spend more time either with their friends or alone.
Depression is often related with changes in sleep habits, eating habits, and less enjoyment from activities once enjoyed. With therapy, parents and children report they have tools to help them in many areas of life important for health and well-being.
Trauma in Children & Teens
Nicole has experience working with children who have suffered from abandonment, on-going emotional and/or physical abuse, sudden unexpected traumatic events, have been placed in foster care, have parents suffering from addictions, have parents who are incarcerated, and families who have multi-generational trauma.
Children and teenagers who have experience one or several traumatic events may experience serious consequences to their development and functioning. Some signs that your child is struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic event include difficulty trusting others, insomnia, interpersonal difficulty, difficulty seeking help, problems with emotional regulation, poor impulse control, aggression and anger, excessive compliance, eating disorders, difficulty sleeping, lack of curiosity, poor concentration and low self-esteem.
Divorce & Separation
Major life changes and transitions usually cause a normal level stress for everyone; change can be hard, exciting, or both. Some transitions are more difficult than other. One transition that can be very difficult for children and youth is parent divorce or separation.
Every child or youth experiences divorce and separation differently, but one thing is common, it is a big change that they need to adjust to. What this looks like is different for every child and family, but often incorporates adjusting to shared custody arrangements, coping with not seeing a parent as often as before, adjusting to one or more parents being in new relationships, entering a step-sibling relationship, testifying in court about living arrangement preferences, moving housing into a new school district and changing schools, alternating holidays with parents, and on-going parent conflict. Nicole is passionate about helping children and youth work through these changes.
More About Nicole
For as long as Nicole’s parents can remember, Nicole has enjoyed working with children and teenagers. From babysitting in junior high, to being a summer camp counsellor, to teaching dance, to working as an aide with children with developmental disabilities, and pursuing post secondary work in schools, one thing has been consistent – Nicole is drawn to working with children and youth.
Although Nicole spends a lot of her free time endlessly reading about the most recent counselling articles, she has a lot of other hobbies too! When she isn’t at work she spends her free time with her two children, her Labrador retriever, her husband, and her friends and family. She enjoys doing anything outdoors with them – camping, skiing, hiking, and running being her favorite things to do. It isn’t a surprise she loves taking her children to classes and playdates and watching how they learn and grow while they try new activities.