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owner & trauma specialist
Vanessa Nixon


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)


Andrea Walker

Meet Andrea


   Andrea holds a master’s degree in Social Work with a Specialisation 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 hers. She has 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. She feels honoured to provide therapeutic services to teens and adults in the Niagara region.


   Andrea enjoys working with diverse populations and believes in providing a safe, non-judgmental healing place where voices are heard and strengthened. Her practice is an individualized eclectic approach; some of the modalities she draws principles from include Narrative therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, Solution Focused therapy, and CBT. She likes assisting people to build from existing strengths to live their best possible lives. She also has a passion for running and has completed over 30 marathons/ultra-marathons. 


   Andrea is a registered Social Worker with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and the Ontario Association of Social Workers.


Christy Schaefer


Meet Christy

   Christy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master's degree in Counselling Psychology, and has been trained in EMDR through the Niagara Stress and Trauma Clinic.  Throughout the past ten years, she has had the pleasure of working with people of all ages and diversities, and enjoys spending time and listening to the stories of people who can share their unique experiences and understanding of the world. Most notably, Christy has gained experience working at the Niagara Distress Center and the Attachment and Trauma Center for Healing, both environments where she honed her skills working with individuals who have experienced trauma or crisis.

Christy is here to provide the space and support necessary to help you process your experiences, manage your stress and to help you get to where you want to be. She uses a client-centered, strengths-based, and compassion-focused approach that is specifically I am always working with a trauma-informed lens.


Using a variety of modalities including but not limited to Cognitive-Behavioural therapy, Attachment theory, Narrative therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy and mindfulness-based approaches, Christy will work alongside you and empower you to discover what you need to do to reach your goals of healing and wellness.



Steffany Murray


Graduate Intern

RP (Qualifying)

Meet Steffany

   Steffany is currently completing a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University and is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Steffany is currently working toward a trauma-focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) certificate through Wilfrid Laurier University. She recently worked alongside the Distress Centre of Niagara as a crisis responder. Steffany also has experience working with individuals living with disabilities by providing home-to-home care as a personal support worker.


   Steffany has an interest in utilizing a collaborative and compassionate approach with clients. She has a passion for supporting individuals experiencing grief and loss, relationship issues, life transitions, anxiety and stress, depression, and eating disorders. Steffany’s goal is to ensure all clients feel heard, supported and empowered as they go through their own process of healing. 


   Steffany enjoys using a holistic approach with clients. She emphasizes looking at the impact of experiences on the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. Steffany's approach will take into account the uniqueness of each client. If you are interested in therapy with Steffany, contact us for a free 15-minute consultation call. 


Sara Haines


Meet Sara

   Sara is a Registered Psychotherapist having earned her Master’s in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. Over the years, Sara has provided mental health supports to individuals in crisis through her work at the Certified Listener’s Society, as well as those with more complex or specialized issues during her time at the Homewood Health Centre. Most recently, Sara has been supporting differentially abled adults in the developmental sector. Sara’s passion is working with persons living with an eating disorder as well as helping those with other common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress and trauma.


   Sara’s approach to counselling is unique to each client, often following a strengths-based and trauma-informed approach. Sara draws from a number of counselling modalities including parts of Narrative therapy, CBT and Mindfulness. Sara is also trained in EMDR. By creating a safe, non-judgmental and supportive healing environment, Sara strives to work alongside her clients as they develop a sense of safety and comfort within themselves, while establishing meaningful goals for clients to achieve at an individual pace.


Trish Ellerson

MA, RP (Qualifying)

Meet Trish


   Trish earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph and a Master’s of Counselling and Psychology (MACP) at Yorkville University and is working toward gaining her full certification as a Registered Psychotherapist.

Trish's goal with every client is to provide a safe non-judgemental space for them to feel comfortable to express themselves authentically about any issues they may be experiencing and leave feeling heard. She aims to build a meaningful therapeutic relationship by utilizing a client-centered strengths-based approach. Trish has always been passionate about empowering others and working with individuals to help them recognize strengths within themselves and build upon these strengths to help them navigate through life’s challenges.


   Trish has been trained in EMDR and also draws from treatments that include Solution-Focused therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and mindfulness exercises. 

Trish and her clients work toward achieving meaningful mutually agreed upon goals and increasing resilience in times of struggle in a safe, healing environment.

Adi Talkar  
Graduate Intern

RP (Qualifying) 

Meet Adi

   Adi holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ryerson University and is currently completing her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) at Yorkville University. Adi has also completed supplementary training in Foundation of Narrative Therapy at the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy. She is continually exploring and incorporating somatic and mindfulness practices to promote mind and body connection and reconnection, which allows Adi to emphasize a wholistic approach to her practice.

Adi’s approach to healing embodies an eclectic view, leaning towards an integration of movement, mindfulness, self-awareness, and compassion. She prioritizes each individual’s uniqueness, allowing her to draw from several modalities which are best suited for her clients’ individualized needs and goals.

   Adi places great value on co-creating a strong therapeutic relationship and providing a safe, non-judgmental space for all her clients. Adi’s goal is to walk alongside her clients on their path of self-discovery, authenticity and integrity. This means supporting them in creating meaningful change and becoming the empowered authors of their lives.

Ava Grant  
Graduate Intern

RP (Qualifying) 

Meet Ava


   Ava completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph with a major in Psychology Thesis Stream and is now currently completing a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. She is a registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Ava has been an Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) since 2021 within the Niagara Region. She also volunteers as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Niagara. Ava takes on a humanistic approach when working with clients, with the goal of assisting clients in discovering their own potential, self-awareness, and utilizing the skills they already obtain to work through their presenting issues.

   She believes that the clients are the experts of their own lives, and it is the goal of the therapist to guide clients in the therapeutic process through empathy, collaboration, nonjudgement, and unconditional positive regard. She has a unique interest in working with adolescents and adults suffering from a range of mental illnesses to day-to-day struggles while examining clients' attachment and relationship styles, typically formed in their upbringing. Ava strongly values building a strong therapeutic rapport with each client, and aims to adapt her skillset and approach to best suit each individual’s unique needs and goals. 

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