Meet Your Therapist
Shel Scott bio picture
I'm Michelle (aka Shel, pronouns: she/her), and I'm an Occupational Therapist (OT) based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I have experience helping people work through challenging events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. I also have lived experience with mental health challenges, and previously worked as a Peer Support Worker.
I aspire to be a good therapist and I have my history of my own mental health challenges. In combination, these truths inform my practice.
Our Philosophy
Professional Experience
My clients often provide me very positive feedback about our interactions and my approach. I have more than six years of front-line experience. I've worked in hospitals, community agencies, and non-profit organizations. I'm trained in various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), exposure therapy, motivational interviewing, and existential approaches. I've worked with individuals with mood disorders (including bipolar disorder), psychotic disorders (including schizophrenia), personality disorders (including Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD), eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder), substance use issues, and many, many other challenges.
I also have training and experience in Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology. PAR can be used for research, program design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and much more. PAR holds at its core the values of participation (in that those being researched should not be treated as 'research subjects' but rather as active participants in the investigation of issues that are relevant to them) and action (in that issues and suggestions identified by community members point directly to action points that can be acted upon by parties which include community members themselves, as well as other parties, including governing bodies). As such, PAR seeks not to monopolize knowledge or impose research paradigms, but to rather look to the knowledge of community members themselves in order to identify and suggest solutions for issues and problems that are relevant in their community.
Occupational Therapy And Mental Health
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a rehabilitation profession that focuses on activity. The word "occupation" refers to anything that people do to occupy time. Occupational Therapists (OTs) have a deep understanding of the relationship between health and meaningful activity. Engaging in meaningful activity helps promote healing and wellness, and an individual's level of wellness can impact their ability to engage in meaningful activity. In short, OTs help people going through life challenges get back to doing the things they want and need to do.
Mental health issues such as eating disorders, addiction, depression, or anxiety can make it difficult to do things. They can make things like eating a meal, getting out of the house, or even just getting out of bed extremely difficult. They can get in the way of activities like work, social gatherings, and valued hobbies and pastimes. OTs can help people manage their destructive thought patterns, feelings, and behaviours so that they are able to work on getting involved in the things in life that are important to them. Concurrently, OTs promote the engagement in meaningful activity as a means of overcoming mental health challenges.
OT can incorporate psychotherapy and treatment paradigms such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Behavioural Activation (BA), exposure therapy, systematic desensitization therapy, and more, depending on what clients are interested in trying. OTs work with clients to "meet them where they're at" in terms of recovery so that they can set and work on small, manageable goals.
Maintaining Boundaries
How can therapists be sure that they are maintaining professional boundaries if they are open with their history of challenges?
As outlined in the College of OTs of Ontario's Standards for Professional Boundaries, "A boundary is the implicit or explicit demarcation separating the professional relationship with a client from one that is personal."
Sharing one's own history of challenges is inherently personal, and the therapeutic relationship needs to be a professional relationship - not a personal one. However, market research among consumer-survivor groups has shown that most service users or potential service users appreciate knowing that their therapist has gone through challenges of their own.
At Prevailing Minds, we abide by the following code of ethics to reconcile these points and to provide effective and safe client care:
1. Therapists engage in specificity regarding self-disclosure if and only if the self-disclosure is determined by all parties to benefit the client (eg. to build rapport, foster trust, encourage commitment to strategies, etc.)
2. Therapists do not seek to gain anything personally by engaging in self-disclosure
3. Details shared in self-disclosure are details that are only relevant to client care
4. Client feedback is solicited and incorporated on a regular basis
5. Reflective practice is paramount, eg. be aware of potential boundary crossings, consider and address changes in therapeutic relationship, etc.
6. Therapists do not engage in any relationship with clients outside of the therapeutic relationship
If you have questions or concerns regarding the above, feel free to contact us.