Monthly Archives: March 2024

Allison Tedesco, MSW, RSW

Allison Tedesco, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto. Her Master’s degree included a specialization in Gerontology. Additionally, Allison holds a Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Gerontology and Sociology. Since 2001, Allison has worked in both hospital and community settings in the areas of Gerontology, Grief Counseling, Caregiver Support, Stroke, Aphasia, and Dementia. She completed a post-graduate certificate in Bereavement Education and Grief Counseling and has pursued continuing education in the areas of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy, Anxiety and Depression, Trauma Counseling and Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

Prior to joining the Social Work Consulting Group, Allison worked as a Manager at the Aphasia Institute, where she supported a multi-disciplinary team to provide programs and services for people impacted by aphasia, post-rehabilitation. In this role, Allison provided psycho-social assessments, working collaboratively with Speech Language Pathologists, facilitated caregiver support and education groups, and provided individual counseling to people with aphasia, using ‘Supported Conversation’ techniques, and to family members of those living with aphasia. During her time at the Aphasia Institute, Allison designed a provincial support and education workshop for family members of individuals with aphasia called, ‘Path to Resilience’, provided professional education to Health Care Professionals in counselling for individuals with aphasia, and played a pivotal role in the organization’s successful accreditation process. Before becoming a social worker, Allison worked as a Research Assistant at Baycrest Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Allison is co-author and presenter of various academic papers and presentations on topics including ‘having therapeutic conversations with people with aphasia’, ‘supporting emotion for people with aphasia’, and ‘use of self’.

Allison works from a strength-based, client-centered, eclectic approach, incorporating grief and trauma counselling, Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

Ellice Strikwerda MSW, RSW

Ellice Strikwerda MSW, RSW (she/her) is a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of the Fraser Valley (4th Year Dean’s List). Ellice has worked in the social work field since 2013, providing services to individuals and families, primarily in the mental health sector. She also has several years’ experience supporting individuals with various disabilities. Ellice has completed comprehensive training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and has experience providing DBT programming, in both public and private clinic settings.

She has also completed training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Emotionally Focused Family Therapy and Emotion Focused Family Therapy (both known as EFFT), Family Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Interventions such as DBT for Complex PTSD, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Advanced Clinical Training: Working with Children/Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma. Ellice has experience providing counselling to diverse client groups, in areas such as relationship difficulties, various disabilities, adjustment to stressful events, trauma responses, and challenges in academic settings. Ellice cares deeply for her clients and is committed to continuous learning and supporting her clients in ways that work for them.

Jesse Schulman MSW, RSW

Jesse Schulman MSW, RSW is a registered therapist with a Master of Social Work degree from Yeshiva University. She also holds Bachelor of Social work Degree from Ryerson University. Jesse completed a post-graduate certificate in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy & Cognitive-Behavioural, Trauma-Informed Therapy through the Association of Psychological Therapies. Jesse has worked in a variety of settings including the Emergency Department at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, community social services, and private practice. She has relevant experience working with clients in crisis and people impacted by trauma and injury.

Jesse draws from a variety of therapeutic modalities, including Cognitive- Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy and Strengths-Based Narratives to inform her practice.

Jessica Collins, BSW, MSW, RSW

Jessica Collins, BSW, MSW, RSW is a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist. She holds a Masters of Social Work degree from University of Waterloo, a Bachelors of Social Work degree from Western University, and a Mental Health and Addictions Worker diploma from Canadore College. She is a registered member in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW).

Jessica has extensive experience working with clients experiencing mental health, brain injury, and substance use related concerns. She has worked in hospital, inpatient rehabilitation, and community settings, providing support to clients in crisis and those impacted by trauma and adversity. She has background in numerous evidence-based therapeutic modalities including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about how the brain, body, and environment all intersect to form our individual experiences and strongly believes knowledge helps lead to empowerment and recovery.

Luca Ballarini, BA, MA, MSW, RSW

Luca Ballarini, BA, MA, MSW, RSW is a Registered Social Worker with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master of Arts Degree in Psycholinguistics and a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the Social Work Consulting Group in 2023, his professional experience included working as a Psychotherapist and as Crisis and Trauma Intervention Clinician with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto Children’s Aid Society, Griffin Adolescent Centre, University Health Network and Mackenzie Health Hospital. He was also Manager of Operations at Ceridian LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program. In the late ‘90s, Luca pioneered the Mental Health Court Diversion Program, aimed at diverting clients diagnosed with a mental illness from the Criminal Justice System to the Mental Health System, with the goal of Rehabilitation and Treatment, rather than Criminalization and Incarceration. This program now exists at almost every courthouse in Ontario and across Canada.

He has attended extensive trainings and workshops in the areas of Crisis Intervention, Trauma, Emergency Psychiatry, Psychopharmacology, Addictions, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Meditation, and Clinical Hypnotherapy.

He is also the father of a young man who has been diagnosed with a major mental illness and hospitalized several times. In an unexpected turn of events, he found himself on the other side of the Social Work profession, becoming the one in need of reassurance and hope. He experienced firsthand what it is like to be in the middle of several ongoing mental health crises, and to be the one in need of help. This has made him a much more understanding, compassionate and empathic clinician. He has made it his mission to advocate for his clients, and to work towards destigmatizing mental illness, reducing shame, and educating people about the reality that no one is immune from illness, whether it is physical or mental. “The brain is an organ, just like the lungs, the heart or the liver, and it can just as likely get diseased.”

In his spare time, Luca enjoys spending time with friends, family and dogs, travelling, studying new languages, hiking, playing tennis and pickle ball, watching foreign movies, reading, playing cards and chess, riding motorcycles, and engaging in ongoing personal and spiritual development.

“Social Work, like no other profession, motivates me and affords me the opportunity and privilege to serve my fellow human beings and to make a difference in their lives, to teach and learn from each other, and to feel integral part of the human family, with all its greatness and all its challenges.