Hi there! My name is Kayla (she/her). I am a psychotherapist who helps folks transform trauma in order to deepen experiences of presence and connection. My practice uses an experiential approach drawn from somatic, expressive arts, and relational psychotherapies.
I am passionate about this work because I believe fully in our embodied potential for healing through creative connection. Within my own life, and throughout my career I have witnessed how attending to our bodies through the arts can ease symptoms of trauma and open up space for co-creating safe-enough and vibrant relationships.
While our world is full of incredible beauty, it is also full of big and small forms of trauma. Trauma emerges from our body’s protective responses during overwhelming events, and also from internalizing patterns of survival within the inequities (and many embedded “isms”) of a colonial-capitalist society. In various ways, trauma disconnects us from our bodies, other beings, and the present moment. This disconnection often leads to feelings of isolation, burnout, symptoms of anxiety and depression, various types of illness, and challenges in relationships. The ways we navigate trauma are further complicated by our intersectional identities and ongoing lived experiences.
I offer somatic expressive arts therapy as an imaginative and experiential way of “being-with” in a therapeutic relationship. Through a relational “low-skill, high-sensitivity” engagement with the arts process (experimenting together with visual art, sound, voice, movement, writing, storytelling, and other art forms) we can access our rich creative resources, support our somatic aliveness, and reshape patterns of connecting with ourselves and others. No previous body- or arts-based experience is required, only a spark of curiosity to try a new way of doing therapy together.
Somatic expressive arts therapy (with enough inner work on the part of the therapist) can be much different than eurocentric traditions of talk therapy, which tend to prioritize the individual cognitive self over the whole embodied, relational self.
Alongside my therapy experience, for over 12 years I have worked in various community helping roles, supporting hundreds of individuals through moments of transition and traumatic hardship. I began a therapeutic expressive arts program while working within the dynamic community of a low-barrier, emergency homeless shelter. I have also facilitated groups for survivors of gender-based violence, frontline workers recovering from burnout, and children, youth, and adults with diverse abilities and neurodiversities.
All of the therapeutic approaches I believe in owe much to indigenous, black, and global majority wisdoms and traditional healing practices. As a white, cis, queer, polyam, and able-bodied-for-now settler I take seriously my obligations to heal and unlearn my internalized colonialism (and white supremacy) and support decolonization, abolition, land back, and cultural revitalization efforts within our communities. Below you’ll find a statement of my values if you are curious to know more.
Please feel free to get in contact with any questions or curiosities. I am happy to offer a free 20 minute consultation, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with my private practice, I provide consultation and facilitate therapeutic groups and programs with community organizations in the Tkaronto area. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to collaborate.
I am proud to have served as a Past President with the Board of Directors of the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association.
Statement of Values: As a somatic expressive arts therapist, I value:
presence: I bring curiosity to each moment we share while dialoguing or creating art together. Just as our breath, a painting, or a movement emerges, I believe we are always in processes of growth and transformation. I value slowness, taking time to connect, and accessing wisdom through orienting to nature and our felt experience.
relationship: I value the importance of taking time to cultivate supportive and trusting relationships. I hold space for embodied empathy, listening, and accountability. I believe a relational approach is at the heart of healing.
healing-centred care: I have walked with survivors of trauma and complex trauma throughout my career. As we work together, I will take the time you need to co-create a safe-enough space through listening, sensitivity, and offering abundant choice at all times (including the choice to say no). I believe my role is to be a collaborative and empowering ally who supports you to enact your boundaries and needs.
embodiment: I believe fully in our embodied potential for healing trauma and accessing vitality and ease, especially when we compassionately give our body the space and time it needs to settle. As we explore arts-based practices together, I will support you to listen more to the wisdom of your sensory experience, believing this is abundantly important for easing trauma responses and accessing openings for safety, pleasure, and connection.
cultural-competence: I have learned from individuals with a wide range of intersecting life experiences including newcomers, refugees, folx who use substances as a coping strategy, homeless and under-housed individuals, sex workers/professionals, survivors of incarceration, disabled folx, neurodivergent folx, and consumers/survivors of the mental health system. I have taken many formal trainings and have spent personal time learning about how our identities influence our experiences in the world. I am well-practiced in approaching those I meet with non-judgemental curiosity while setting aside my assumptions for later reflection. I believe you are the expert of your experiences and I welcome the (re)learnings we will both have in our time together.
anti-oppression: I believe we live in a society which is traumatic, where we have embodied ways-of-surviving within the power imbalances, disconnection, and individualism perpetuated by colonialism and capitalism. I take seriously critical and ongoing self-reflective practices of decolonization, anti-racism, 2SLGBTQA+ positivity, harm reduction, body and sex positivity, disability justice, and fluency in the dynamics of diverse relationship and family structures (such as polyamory and relationship anarchy). As a descendant of white settlers, I am grateful to global majority/BIPOC artists, activists, healers, and land protectors for their leadership and generous teachings in this intersectional work.