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Get to know our mission

Our Mission
Strong Ties is committed to improve the lives of children and families through counselling, psychoeducation and advocacy.

Our Vision
Communities that foster healthy growth and optimal development of children and empower families so that they can ensure the well-being of their children. 

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Gisella La Madrid, MA, RCC

Child & Family Counsellor
Child Specialist & Divorce Coach
Clinical Director

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 am a Registered Clinical Counsellor, holding a B.A. in Clinical Psychology and an M.A. in Counselling Psychology. I have specialized training in play therapy (Certified Synergetic Play Therapist), emotionally-focused family therapy, and attachment and developmental theory. I am also a Divorce Coach and a Child Specialist, helping parents write or review parenting agreements. 

I have been supporting adults, children and families since 2012. Before opening my private practice I worked in non-profit agencies specialized in children and families, SFU research labs focused on neurodevelopment, and the neuropsychiatry department at BC Children's Hospital (BCCH).

My approach is warm, flexible and non-judgemental. I believe in collaborative approaches so you can expect me to support you and your family with schools/daycares, doctors, lawyers or anyone in your team. 

*Able to provide counselling in English and Spanish

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. 

*Able to provide counselling in English

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Mai Naji, MEd, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

Every individual is unique, actively creating experiences that are particular to them in their situation. My goal is to work alongside children, youth and their families on their journey. I aim to create a safe space where people feel supported, empowered, curious and safe.


I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. I have over six years of experience working with children, youth and their families. My experience stems from the school district, SFU Surrey counselling clinic, non-profit organization and the Ministry of Children and Family Development. My approach can include a strength-based, person-centred, evidence-based approaches for emotional regulation, play therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.


My career path has not been a linear one. After two years of working with refugee children and youth who have experienced trauma, I wanted to learn how I can better help individuals which motivated me to become a counsellor. My goal is to learn about you through you and understand how I can sail along your side on your journey! 

*Able to provide counselling in English, Arabic and Farsi

Mindy Zhong, MA, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

I am a registered clinical counsellor offering psychotherapy to children, youth, young adults, and families. Based on my education and professional background, I apply a person-centered approach to support others to address challenges, gain new perspectives and make positive changes in their lives. I have also gained training in EMDR, EFFT, CBT, DBT and Play Therapy.

My areas of speciality include anxiety, depression, trauma, self-harming behavior, attachment, adjustment difficulties as well as parent coaching. I practice acceptance and no judgement when working along with my clients. I am here to listen, to help and to journey along with you!

*Able to provide counselling in English and Mandarin


Robert Grant, MEd, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

I have had the privilege of supporting children, youth and families for over 15 years. I began my professional journey as an elementary school teacher, when I had a powerful realization that the curriculum I was teaching was missing something vital – connection. Hopefully, we can all remember that one teacher, coach or trusted adult who encouraged us, who helped us, who saw us. That one person who took the time to make a connection with us. Connection is what I aimed to achieve with my students as a classroom teacher with the motto ‘reach the youth before you teach the youth’; however, I soon had another realization: when people connect with you, they trust you. And when they trust you, they tend to tell you things they don’t share with others. Things that can make preparing for a math lesson of secondary importance, and this little person telling you their ‘big secret’ your only concern. 

It was moments like these that made me question my occupation and ultimately decide that therapeutic counselling was a more appropriate choice. Since completing my Masters, I have supported youth of all ages and families with diverse social-emotional questions and needs. My focus is on using a client-centered approach to supporting and being present with clients while integrating therapeutic practices and philosophies that include play-therapy, logotherapy, family systems theory, attachment theory and much more.

Katie Tittler

 M.Ed (Candidate)

Child & Family Student Therapist

Sandra Filippelli

B.Ed., B.H.K., M.Ed (Candidate)

Child & Family Student Therapist

While childhood is a time filled with wonder, new experiences, and development, it can also come with many challenges and emotions that can be difficult to manage.    I am passionate about working with children, parents, families, and caregivers to help you discover your strengths and stretches and to uncover the process of healing.

I have been an Elementary School Teacher for over 16 years with both the Coquitlam and Surrey School Districts, teaching Grades 1-7 and working with students with high needs. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Human Kinetics, and I am currently in my last year to attain my Master’s in School Counselling. I have been working with children ages 3-19 years of age for over 25 years, as well as with families, caregivers, support staff and outside agencies.   

I offer individual child and adolescent counselling, and family counselling using several approaches in my therapeutic work including: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Person Centered Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Child and Teen Attachment Theory. I value the use of play, sand and art therapy to facilitate therapeutic relationships, communicating, expressing feelings, and learning problem-solving strategies. Together we can implement therapies that work for you in a positive way.

*Able to provide counselling in English

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Katie Tittler

 M.Ed (Candidate)

Child & Family Student Therapist

Children are resilient and unique. I believe they are capable of uncovering the skills, strengths, and courage that it takes to create change and growth even in the most challenging circumstances.


I have a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and I am currently in the last year of my Master’s Degree in School Counselling. I am an Elementary School Teacher with the Langley School District, and I have been teaching grades 4-7 with students who have unique needs for several years. Even in my teaching practice, I believe that collaborating with families through a wraparound approach is powerful in meeting their child’s academic and social-emotional needs.


My approach to counselling is warm, collaborative and person-centred. I strive to create a safe environment where we can build on the strengths you already possess, explore solutions, and empower you to grow. Through an integrative approach that is as unique as each family, I utilize techniques from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, person-centred Therapy, Art and Play Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. Together, we can create positive change that supports your therapeutic goals.

*Able to provide counselling in English

Kira Wilson
Client Care Coordinator

Taking the first step towards bettering or inquiring about our mental health can be hard and even daunting at times, especially if we don’t even know where to start. This is where I would come in! Mine is the voice behind all the initial phone calls and inquiring emails that get sent to us here at Strong Ties.


It is my hope that I can ease you in for the start of your sessions and hopefully answer any questions you may have about our practices or our counsellors. I’m here to help quell that anxiety that you might feel when you need to do something new (or order food over the phone) and hopefully help you through it with a smile.


I have quite a few years of experience working with various health care practitioners in different fields and throughout this time I have learned the power a kind voice and words can have. It is my hope that I can pass along some of my positive energies to you to help with the day to day.


*Able to provide Dad jokes and puppy snarfs via telephone

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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

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