GET TO KNOW DARCY
Supporting individual growth, identity development, and crisis stabilization, through the use of numerous modalities is the core of my work. Believing in client-centered approaches, self-determination, and strengths-based therapy allows me to bring my 10+ years of experience of working with individuals and families to support you and your family. Through a combination of play therapy, EMDR and talk therapy I strive to support children and families in reaching their goals. With 15 years of professional animal handling experience I am also happy to offer the services of my therapy dog “Lawrence” to those clients who would benefit from animal-assisted interventions.
I have an adaptable style that fits numerous individual goals and needs. Since 2008 I have been working with children and families, I have a Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University and I am a Registered Clinical Social Worker with the BC College of Social Workers. I am available to see infants to young adults 25 years and under who have experienced trauma, depression/anxiety, prenatal substance use, LGBTQ concerns, adoption and more. I enjoy supporting the whole family; parents, foster parents, guardians, and extended family chosen or biological.
While obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development I was inspired to become a social worker. Witnessing the struggles of youth as they aged out of foster care, I developed a passion for supporting people to become their full selves. Through these experiences, I grew passionate about supporting children and youth of all ages while focusing on youth who have experienced trauma, LGBTQ youth, and youth who are young parents.
My experience includes working with transgender and queer youth on the streets, children and families in foster care, and children from high-income families living in affluent areas. I enjoy utilizing engagement skills that allow me to find creative ways to build therapeutic relationships even with those hesitant about therapy. Children and families who are excited about the opportunity to work on self-growth, overcome obstacles, or create a more cohesive family are an exciting part of my practice. I am grateful for the continued work I am able to do with those who have experienced intergenerational trauma, child abuse, domestic violence, and any forms of prejudice.
Prior to becoming a social worker I worked with inner city girls of color who experienced high rates of community violence and lived far below the poverty line. Funded by a grant to decrease teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and increase awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, I developed extensive knowledge in these areas. I returned to University still passionate about supporting children in foster care and earned my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree with a double concentration of child welfare and school social work. To obtain my license post master’s degree as a licensed mental health practitioner, I worked in child protection focusing on young children with disruptive behaviors, adolescents with complex PTSD, and youth with reactive attachment disorder. As a white person and as a social justice social worker I would like to note my privilege that has allowed me to travel on this journey of higher education and acknowledge the institutionalized isms that do not allow for equal access to higher education. I also give thanks for being an unwanted guest on this land that we are currently calling Victoria.
In addition to my work with humans I have long standing professional experience with animals. I studied at the Canine Behavior Academy, in Marin County, California. I have ample knowledge of dog training and the skills dogs share with humans. I have developed this over the 15 years I have been working with private canine clients, working in animal shelters, and volunteering with Guide Dogs for the Blind. In 2017 I received an 18-month-old beautifully trained golden retriever, as I was in search of a dog that could assist me in clinical work with children and families. I now have a wonderfully calm, soft, and empathetic co-worker and partner, Lawrence. He passed his Canine Good Citizen test in 2017, and he has additional training for working with people with different abilities and medical devices. He has supported numerous children ranging in age from 10 month old to 18 years old, some with dissociative behaviours, self-harming episodes, many with reactive attachment and complex PTSD, others who experience depression, anxiety or psychosis. My background in animal welfare and animal behaviour gives me a unique perspective when using Lawrence in animal assisted interventions because I can ensure the safety of both the human client and the emotional safety of the dog by being able to read the dog’s subtle cues.
Heather has a BA in Fine Art from Michigan State University and has been working as an artist for over 20 years. She encourages people to express themselves through artistic mediums, promoting self care, emotional expression and connection.
"I love working at Grow because of all the amazing things I learn. Such as how mental pain gets stored in our bodies as physical chronic pain or how EMDR can start building new healthier neurological pathways in just one session."
When Heather is not scheduling appointments at Grow Counselling, she enjoys creating art, growing plants and playing with her kids, cats, dogs and friendly chickens. Her self care includes connecting with the earth, cooking and swimming. Her latest passion is learning to forge for native food and mushrooms here on Vancouver Island.