Get to know our mission

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling

Gisella La Madrid, MA, RCC

Child & Family Counsellor
Child Specialist & Divorce Coach
Team Leader

I am the Founder of Strong Ties - Child & Family Services, created with the vision of helping you, your child and your family grow and heal. 

With children, we provide a friendly, fun and warm environment where play is key to process experiences.With teens and adults, we provide the emotional support and practical tools to help them feel more at ease, balanced, energized, empowered and confident.


With parents and families, know that we solve doubts, practice new strategies, and help you deepen the bond with your children.

I hold a B.A. in Clinical Psychology and an M.A. in Counselling Psychology. I have specialized training in play therapy, attachment and developmental theory, and divorce coaching. Before opening my private practice I have worked in non-profit agencies specialized in children and families, SFU research labs and the neuropsychiatry department at BC Children's Hospital (BCCH).

Veronika Paukunnen, MA, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor

Counselling Associate 

Making sense of children and what lies behind their behaviour is important. In our counselling sessions I ensure that clients feel comfortable and safe to explore their feelings and motivations as well as tap on inner resources. I have years of experience working with children and youth as a support worker and counsellor and I enjoy their creative and resilient spirits. 

I have a BSc Psychology degree and a MA degree in Counselling. I facilitate counselling from an integrative approach which at times may include play, art therapy, solution focused and cognitive behavioural therapeutic approaches. Before working at Strong Ties I have worked at non-profit agencies and in a private counselling agency, always helping children, teenagers and adults. 

Stephanie Albanese, MA, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor

Counselling Associate

Understanding children and youth from a developmental and attachment based lense helps makes sense of their inner world and behaviour. When we understand them, we find empathy, allowing for greater connection and healing in all directions. Supporting children and families is my passion and promoting growth and wellness is my focus. 


I have worked with children, youth, and families in many therapeutic capacities over the years. I have a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Counselling Psychology, and I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC). 


I use an integrative approach to counselling - based on individual client and family needs ranging from play and art therapy to strengths based, client centered and CBT therapeutic models. Creating a safe and warm environment for all clients opens the door to healing and the opportunity to discover new tools so you can navigate life with more ease. My goal in therapy is to help you achieve a deeper understanding about yourself, your family, and what is needed for you to thrive. 

Our Values

Our practice is based on warmth, optimism, curiosity, courage and connection. 


Our strength as counsellors is the ability to create safe and supporting environments in which clients feel cared and deeply listened to. In our work together you can expect a non-judgemental and encouraging atmosphere in which you can rediscover what already makes you great. We will also strive to discover what lies behind the behaviours of your child or partner as understanding is one of the keys to positive change.

Our wish for clients is to provide practical resources, empower them through their multiple challenges, and to help them build a deep sense of balance and connection.

Counselling Methods

We target our methods to you. However, most of our interventions are based on:

  • Child-centered play and expressive therapy

  • Synergetic Play Therapy

  • Emotionally Focused Family Therapy

  • Attachment and Development Theories

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • Solution-Focused Therapy

  • Family Systems Theories

To request more information or book an appointment