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

Stephanie Albanese, MA, RCC

Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

 

Mai Naji, MEd, RCC

Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

 

Gisella is the Clinical Director and Clinical Supervisor of Strong Ties. She is a Certified Synergetic Therapist able to work with children and teens, as well as a Child Specialist, Parent Coach and Divorce Coach working with adults and families.

Stephanie works from an attachment perspective and her warm approach helps their clients heal and grow. She is able to work with children, teens and adults, specializing in play therapy, family counselling and maternal health.

Mai aims to create a safe space where people feel supported, empowered, curious and safe. She uses play therapy, CBT strategies and she specializes in trauma and big life events in children and families.

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Katie Tittler, MA, RCC
Child & Family Student Therapist

Sandra Filippelli, BA, BEd
Child & Family Student Therapist

Mindy Zhong, MA, RCC

Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

Mindy aims to walk along her clients' journeys. She is trained in EMDR, EFFT, CBT, DBT and Synergetic Play Therapy. She helps clients dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma, self-harming behavior, attachment, adjustment difficulties as well as parent coaching.

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Sandra is a warm and empathetic therapist. She uses her background in education and her counselling skills to help children, teens and youth facing anxiety, emotional dysregulation, anger and self-esteem issues. 

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Katie brings a fun, soft and energetic approach to her work. Using her background in education and her counselling skills, she helps children, teens and youth facing anxiety, emotional dysregulation, anger and self-esteem issues. 

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Kira Wilson
Client Care Coordinator

Kira is the voice behind all our phone calls and emails. She can help you set up your sessions and hopefully answer any questions you may have about our practices or our counsellors.

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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

Jamie Whitehead, MA, RCC

Individual, Child & Family Counsellor
Counselling Associate

Helping young people learn to voice their goals and work to achieve them is especially rewarding stuff. I've been supporting young people and their loved ones for 15 years in various roles; working as a Registered Clinical Counsellor for the past 10.

 

I hold a BA in Psychology and an MA in Counselling Psychology. My counselling approach is integrative, using mostly Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I strive to maintain a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, inclusive perspective; while being aware that there is always much to learn. Before Strong Ties, I worked in several community health centres and treatment centres, specializing in health promotion for children, teens, and young adults.

 

Young people know a lot more than we, as concerned adults, sometimes give them credit for. I look to the young person to help guide our work together so that their inner resources can shine and their confidence can grow. Just as important is helping parents and caregivers understand all the things they are already doing well. I look forward to getting to know you and your family better so we can work together to meet your goals.

*Able to provide counselling in English

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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

Katie Tittler

 M.Ed (Candidate)

Child & Family Student Therapist

Sandra Filippelli

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


Child & Family Student Therapist
 

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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

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