owner & trauma specialist

Vanessa Nixon


Registered Psychotherapist, MA

Meet Vanessa

I grew up in St. Catharines, ON and I was 8 yrs old when I first said I wanted to be a ‘psychologist’.  Even at that age I knew I wanted to help people who were struggling with difficulties in their lives and who wanted to feel better.

I began volunteering in the psychiatric ward of the Niagara Falls hospital when I was 18 years old.  I then went on to do my B.A. in Psychology followed by an M.A. in Counselling Psychology in Toronto. During my years doing my M.A. I worked at the ADD Centre in Toronto doing neurofeedback on clients with ADD, anxiety and depression.  Shortly after I graduated in 2000 I moved back home to Niagara where I joined the team at the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre counselling clients who were dealing with trauma.  This is when I really honed in on my niche to work with people who have lived through traumatic experiences.  My specialty is working with adults who experienced childhood abuse, including physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect.


In 2008 I decided to go into private practice so I could work part time and be with my children as much as possible.  I went into practice with a partner and co-founded Reclaim Counselling and Wellness Centre. After a decade with a partner I decided to open my own practice and delve into the exciting challenge of opening a group practice with Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy.

In 2005 I became trained in the use of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) as a means of helping my clients heal from trauma.  I took the second level of training in 2008 followed by supervision by an EMDR certified trainer. Please see my page on EMDR for more information.

I am a fully registered psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)

graduate intern & clinical coordinator

Emily Barrett


Masters Student, MACP

Meet Emily 

I am completing my practicum at Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy as I work towards my Master's in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. I hold both a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education and have experience working with youth, young adults, and families in a variety of capacities. I have experienced firsthand the powerful, positive changes that effective therapy can bring and want to help my clients experience such transformations in their own lives. Gaining insight into past patterns and core beliefs helps us in our ongoing efforts to create a life that is rich and meaningful.

I enjoy using a client-centered approach that builds on your existing strengths and help you to find a home within yourself. People are the experts of their own experience and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, so I see my role as helping clients find the most effective approach for them. Together, we will explore your evolving self and relationships with others and the world at large using a therapeutic model that best suits your individual needs, desires and present station in life.

Above all, I aim to make therapy sessions a safe and supportive space where clients feel free to be their full selves and know that I hold them in unconditional positive regard. Throughout our time together, we will develop effective tools and strategies to deepen self-awareness, build emotional resiliency, and forge healthier, more meaningful relationships with self and others.

graduate intern & clinical coordinator

Danielle Gaio


Masters Student, MACP

Meet Danielle 

I am from St. Catharines and grew up in Niagara on the lake. I am currently completing my Masters in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. I am a practicum student at Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy and am looking forward to gaining more experience. I have an undergrad in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University as well. I have volunteered with a variety of organizations specifically, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Learning Disabilities of Niagara, and Bethesda. I have spent the last 3 years working in a group home for adults with intellectual disabilities. 

After facing my own battles with mental health I knew I wanted to help others with their mental health. My specialty is working with clients who experience eating disorders, depression, and general anxiety. I like to use a client centered approach where each client is treated for their unique needs.


Angela Arsenio



Meet Angela

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change

-Brene Brown

​ I have completed a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Windsor and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Brock University. I have enjoyed working for over 20 years in the community as a leader in non-profit organizations, such as Victim Services Niagara and Powerhouse Project, serving youth and families across Niagara. These years have provided diverse and rich experiences assisting people find their path to wellness.

My strengths-based approach to counselling is eclectic and client-centered, and some of the treatment models include DBT, narrative therapy, emotionally focused therapy, and solution focused therapy. My goal is to provide a safe, honest, and non-judgemental environment to work together to assist you in finding peace and managing difficult emotions. Using gratitude and humour in my practice, I believe everyone has the capacity to make the kind of changes they want to live a life of happiness and balance.

I am a registered social worker with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and the Canadian Association of Social Workers.


Andrea Walker



Meet Andrea


I hold a master’s degree in Social Work with a Specialization in Clinical Practice from the University of Calgary, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Helping others navigate through life challenges has always been a passion of mine. I have over twenty years of experience in working with people in a variety of settings, including correctional, educational and community mental health environments, as well as working with out-patient clients struggling with mental health and addictions issues. I feel honored to provide therapeutic services to teens and adults in the Niagara region.


I enjoy working with diverse populations and believe in providing a safe, non-judgmental healing place where voices are heard and strengthened. My practice is an individualized eclectic approach; some of the modalities I draw principles from include Narrative therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, Solution Focused therapy, and CBT. I like assisting people to build from existing strengths to live their best possible lives. I also have a passion for running and have completed over 30 marathons/ultra-marathons. 


I am a registered Social Worker with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

© 2018 by Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy.

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