Counselling staff biographies
David Ness (he/him/his), Associate Professor
David is the Director of the SCC and has been on staff since 1991. His training background is clinical psychology and in addition to his administrative duties, he provides counselling and therapy to students using an integrative approach that emphasizes cognitive, developmental, client-centered and insight oriented approaches. David uses these approaches to work with students presenting with anxiety, relationship, trauma recovery, family conflict, and career indecision and other difficulties. He also enjoys facilitating groups and workshops and delivering programming across campus at the University of Manitoba.
Danielle Carter (BSW, RSW) (she/her)
Danielle is a Confidential Intake and Triage Specialist. She is a Registered Social Worker with experience working in mental health, addictions, community and post-secondary settings. Danielle works with students using a person-centred approach and also draws on strengths-based practice and crisis intervention. She engages students in assessment, mutual planning and problem solving during intake, with an awareness of the impact of environmental and social factors on students. Danielle recognizes and appreciates the diversity of students and strives to provide support specific to their needs and goals.
Aliana Dayrit (BSW, RSW) (she/her)
Aliana is one of the Confidential and Intake Triage Specialists. She has worked in various fields such as child protection, social services, hospital and post-secondary setting. Aliana is a registered Social Worker who takes a client-centered and strength-based approach when working with students. She identifies as BIPOC and immigrant who actively integrates cultural competency in the work that she does when appropriate. In addition to ensuring that adequate and accurate information regarding students’ concerns are gathered at intake and students are informed of supports available. Aliana is also dedicated in providing brief counselling or crisis intervention if need be.
Natasha M. Ali (Ph.D., C. Psych., Counselling Psychologist)
Natasha Is trained in counselling psychology. She views individuals as a dynamic system with potential to evolve, revolve, and involve. Like planets or atoms, she believes that multiple gravitational forces can impact the trajectory of an individual, such as past experiences (positive and traumatic), family and other significant influences, cultural identity, biological factors, the systems that people operate within, current relationships, current stage of life, and future goals, such as career aspirations. As such, Natasha adopts an integrative approach in counselling, and this includes emotion-focused, cognitive-behavioural, developmental, psychodynamic, anti-oppressive, community, and existential perspectives to promote healing and strength resiliency. She appreciates the significant energy required for any system to re-organize, and aims to create a safe environment through using a humanistic approach to engage students. Natasha works at the Indigenous Student Centre and University Centre. She is especially interested in assisting students with relationship difficulties, addictions, identity development, and considering the spiritual into mental and emotional healing.
Courtney Andrysiak (M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. Cand.) (she/her)
Courtney is a pre-doctoral resident in the final year of her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Fielding Graduate University. She believes in the uniqueness of each individual, and as such, tailors her therapeutic approach to meet the client’s individual needs. She practices from a humanistic framework and integrates interventions from other modalities of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, mindfulness, and positive psychology therapies, as necessary to suit the client’s present needs and goals. Additionally, she takes an intersectional approach with clients when practicing therapy, which includes considering each individual’s social, political, ethnic, and cultural identities and the intersection of each of these identities.
Courtney works collaboratively with clients to help them meet their goals by focusing on their strengths while helping them to address their challenges. She feels that the therapeutic relationship is the most important ingredient in therapy. She strives to create a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment with every client, so that clients can begin to heal and grow. Her areas of interest include obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, diabetes management, experiences with bullying, low self-esteem, and relationships and communication.
Linda Churchill (RMFT) (she/her)
Linda is a Marriage and Family Therapist (RMFT) by training, Linda believes in the intrinsic worth of all persons as well as their capacity for learning and growth. Linda views each student as unique and tailors her approach accordingly. She takes into account many dimensions that impact students' lives and explores with them new possibilities, building on their existing strengths and resources. Linda believes in the power of an empathic, compassionate and safe counselling relationship to engage students as they move toward a preferred way of being. Linda enjoys individual and couples work. She also enjoys facilitating small groups dealing with such matters as bereavement support and emotional/relational maturity.
Chris Edmondstone (Ph.D., C. Psych. (Candidate) Psychologist Candidate)
Chris is trained in clinical psychology. He strives to form a relationship with each person he works with that is founded on acceptance, understanding, and genuineness. Chris is interested in the unique individual experience of everyone he sees as he closely collaborates with students to develop goals and changes that are the most meaningful for their individual circumstances. Chris works with students to jointly develop a better understanding of themselves through an exploration of salient emotions and an examination of patterns that may contribute to the challenges they experience. Chris has formal training in emotion-focused therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and brief psychodynamic psychotherapy. He attempts to integrate these approaches to meet the individual needs of each student he works with. Chris has clinical experience in community mental health centres, hospitals, private practices, and student counselling centres. He has likewise worked in settings that have specifically served marginalized communities, including trans and non-binary people and recently arrived refugees.
Kimberly Kiley (Ph.D., C. Psych.) (she/her)
Kim has a background in clinical psychology. She believes every person is unique and tailors the counselling process to meet each individual's specific needs. She draws from a variety of therapeutic approaches, including humanistic and cognitive-behavioural. Her interests include anxiety, depression, disordered eating, self-care, and stress management.
Lisa Leong (Counsellor) (She/Her)
Lisa is a trained counsellor who has experience working with a diverse group of people. She respects client-centeredness in therapeutic outcomes, emphasizing on discovering the uniqueness of each person she works with and tailoring counselling approaches that suit their individual uniqueness. Some of her key areas of counselling work include anxiety, demotivation, self-confidence, grief and loss, uncertainty and ambivalence, depression, low self esteem, self defeating behaviors, anger and relationship concerns.
Lori Mac (Ph,D., C. Psych., Counselling Psychologist)
Lori has a background in counselling psychology. She views individuals as the experts of their own experiences, and integrates a variety of counselling approaches from within a humanistic perspective to aid in addressing challenges. In working with individuals, Lori places an emphasis on uniqueness, meaning, personal choice, balance, using strengths as resources, and empowerment. She provides individual, group, couples and career counseling as well as workshops and outreach at the SCC. Her primary interests include interpersonal relationships (building healthy relationships, interpersonal difficulties, break-ups), communication and conflict, self-exploration, trauma (sexual violence, interpersonal violence, abuse, accidents, bullying), and cultural transition (identity development). Lori is the coordinator for the Advanced Practicum in Counselling at the SCC. She is also the Assistant Director of the Pre-doctoral Residency in Professional Psychology and is one of the primary supervisors for the Residency.
Lisa Martens (MMFT) (she/they)
Lisa (she/they) understands each person and relationship to be unique, and to have depth and strength! Lisa’s degree is in Marriage and Family Therapy, and through therapy and community work, has experience connecting with many individuals, relationships, and groups, including people who identify themselves within 2SLGBTTQ* communities. Lisa uses Narrative ways of working to support the co-creation of people’s life stories, as well as elements of Solution Focused Therapy and EFT, among other therapy techniques and models. She has experience working with people who are dealing with depression or anxiety, or just feel lonely, stressed or overwhelmed at times, and with people who experience conflict in their relationships, or who have experienced trauma. Lisa also enjoys working with people who care deeply about the world, social justice, and the effects of climate change.
Danna McDonald (RMFT RSW) (she/her)
With a background in Marriage and Family Therapy, Danna (she/her) is a creative, compassionate therapist that values the relationship with each client she meets. Danna’s orientation to counselling work is through a Feminist, trauma informed lens, and she values the connections between our emotions, our thoughts and our bodies. Her areas of interest and expertise include eating disorders and body image, family relationships, anxiety, mindfulness, getting to know difficult emotions, grief, LGBTTQ* and gender journeys, and she is trained in EMDR and EFFT.
Timothy A.G. Osachuk (Ph.D., C.Psych. Clinical Psychology) (he/him/his)
Tim is the director of the department's Pre-Doctoral Residency in Professional Psychology and a clinical psychologist. In addition to supervising residents, his interests include individual and group psychotherapy, career counseling, assessment and consultation. From Ericksonian, client-centred and developmental philosophies, he works alongside students from a strength-based approach to tailor and integrate a variety of approaches to be of assistance in overcoming their difficulties and living their lives more fully. Therapy approaches utilized include Behavioural, Cognitive-Behavioural, Client-Centred, Ericksonian / Hypnotherapeutic, EMDR, Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing, Narrative, Solution-Focussed and Systemic. He has special interests in men's issues and utilizing clinical hypnosis from the philosophy of Milton Erickson.
Michelle Pearson (M.Sc. in Community Clinical Psychology)
Michelle has a background in clinical psychology with over 20 years of counselling experience. She approaches her work from a collaborative and client centred approach. Michelle draws from a variety of therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Short Term Solution Focused Therapy, and Narrative Therapy. Her interests include trauma, change, transition and loss, self care, empowerment, conflict resolution and the development of healthy coping skills and strategies. She also enjoys providing workshops and groups to help facilitate personal growth and support amongst university students.
Karla Penner (MMFT) (she/her)
Karla comes from a Marriage and Family Therapy training and background. She loves stories; witnessing them, reading them, telling them, and most of all, listening to clients share their own stories and then finding meaning in them together. Karla meets her clients with an anti-oppressive, feminist, trauma-informed approach that values diversity and social justice. She sees each client as part of the multiple systems they belong to, looking for patterns and connections that make up their story, and is drawn to Attachment Theory and Narrative Therapy. Karla believes that the relationship between the client and therapist is what anchors the work and breeds hope and healing. She has spent the last many years working with individuals, couples, families and groups of all different ages, orientations, and configurations. Her work has centred on helping clients deal with loss and grief, navigating inter-personal relationships, providing support and tools for living with anxiety and depression, and working through challenges connected to life decisions and identity formation.
Marlene Pomrenke:, (M.S.W.,Ph.D.)
Marlene uses a strength-based, resilience framework in her work with students. She has extensive experience in the area of separation and divorce, communication and conflict resolution. She uses a narrative approach to collaborate with students, empowering them in their counselling process.
Kesha Pradhan (MA, PhD Cand.) (she/her)
Kesha is a pre-doctoral counselling resident completing her PhD in Counselling Psychology through the University of British Columbia. She grounds her work in humanistic traditions-prioritizing the importance of cultivating a safe, genuine, and non-judgmental therapeutic relationship. She welcomes clients from diverse backgrounds, collaborating with them, and integrating cognitive, behavioral, relational, and psychodynamic approaches to help them reach their goals. Kesha has experience working with a wide range of presenting issues, including anxiety and depression, relationship issues, perfectionism, and transition difficulties and is currently acquiring training in the Gottman Approach to couples therapy and trauma-informed interventions.
Donald Stewart (Ph.D., C. Psych.) (he/him/his)
Don is currently the Executive Director, Student Support. He also serves as Psychology Professional Practice Leader for the SCC, where he is involved in supervision and training of psychology residents.