I’m Michelle (aka Shel, pronouns: she/her), and I’m an Occupational Therapist (OT) based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. To learn more about the OT role in mental health, click here.
I have lots of experience helping people work through challenging events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. For more info about my professional experience, click here.
Here’s a twist, though - I have had lived experience with mental health challenges, myself. I even used to work as a Peer Support Worker.
I’ve polled hundreds of people living with challenges and the general consensus is that it is almost always helpful to know that the person who is helping you through your struggles has had some relevant experiences of their own. It makes it easier to feel safe, to share, and to take advice and suggestions into account.
It is, however, important for your therapist to maintain strong professional boundaries and to make sure that they’re never sharing something because it benefits them instead of you. To read more about how we maintain professional boundaries, click here.
I aspire to be a good therapist. And I also have my history of my own mental health challenges.
In my opinion, these two aspects of my experience are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they inform one another.
So, that’s my approach. I’m letting you know right now that the strategies I teach and approaches I take towards therapy and counselling have helped me in the past, countless times. They've also helped many of the clients with whom I’ve worked.
I hope they can help you, too.