About Us

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Our Name

As for our name, Boreal Wellness Centres, “boreal” means “of the north”, which reflects our Canadian heritage. The “wellness” component highlights our aim to assist clients with achieving and maintaining psychological and physical health.

About Boreal

Boreal Wellness Centres' guiding values are compassion, dedication to clinical excellence, a spirit of innovation and providing high-quality client experiences.

Our organization is dedicated to providing evidence- based, specialized treatment programs for individuals and families suffering from psychological health conditions, including co-occurring personality and substance use issues. We place strong value on assisting individuals by enhancing and expanding their “toolkit” for coping with the challenges that come with each day, including improved self-awareness, strengthened resiliency, and improved relationships.

Our hope is that Boreal’s intensive outpatient programs will be a catalyst for aiding clients who are grappling with mood and anxiety disorders to “find their better self” so that they can heal and transform their lives.


Our Core Values

At Boreal Wellness, we strive to live by a common set of values that represent how we interact with our community, our clients, our partners and with each other.

Compassion

We strive for a nuanced understanding our clients and their situations so that our assistance is individualized, effective, and efficient.

Dedication

We embrace the challenge of helping our clients find their “better”.

Integrity

We do the right thing. We conduct our business in accordance with the highest standards of professional behavior and ethics. We are transparent, honest and ethical in all our interactions with employees, clients, vendors and partners.

Respect

We treat others as we expect to be treated. We embrace each individual’s unique talents and honor diverse lifestyles. We operate in a spirit of cooperation and value human dignity.

Excellence

We seek to exceed the expectations of our clients and our partners.

Evidence-Based Treatment

We use therapies that have been demonstrated by multiple clinical studies to be effective, safe, and consistent with best practices

Innovation

We are a learning organization that works with enthusiasm and intellect, and are driven to surpass what has already been achieved in mental healthcare services.


Our Promises

Promise To Our Clients
We promise to offer you a nurturing environment where you feel safe to pursue the insights that will arm you with increased self-awareness and resiliency. We will treat you with compassion, integrity and kindness. We believe a full and rewarding life is possible for everyone, and we are dedicated to helping you achieve it. ​
Promise To Our People
We promise to create a stimulating work environment where you have the opportunity to perform meaningful work, and to achieve professional and personal growth. Ours is a partnership that we want to be mutually beneficial. As a commitment to supporting a psychologically healthy workplace, Boreal signed the Mindful Employer Charter and it will strive to adhere to the principles of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace. ​
Promise To Our Community
We promise to bring innovative approaches to improve the access to, and treatment of, psychological health conditions and disorders. We are committed to creating a healthier, happier community, one client at at time. ​

Executive Leadership

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Sean Gjos (CEO & Founder)

Sean established Boreal Wellness after hearing too many stories from family friends about their struggle to access quality mental healthcare on a timely basis. As he learned more about the options available and the apparent gaps in the continuum of care, he set out to create clinics that would deliver exceptional service.

Prior to founding Boreal, Sean was a Partner with Triton Pacific Capital Partners, where he assisted healthcare service companies with navigating the challenges of growth. During his tenure at Triton Pacific he served on the board of and collaborated with the management teams of physician practices, pharmacies, behavioral health providers, specialty medical equipment manufacturers. For one of these organizations, which today is among the fastest growing addiction treatment providers, Sean also served as the Chief Development Officer.

Sean grew up on Manitoulin Island (Ontario), received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his graduate degree in business from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).


Our Clinical Team

Boreal Wellness Centres programming is designed and delivered by a team of people with decades of experience in psychological health and wellness, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, clinical counselors and fitness professionals, and one extra special canine.

Mary Ross
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Ross, is a registered Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Ross treats clients dealing with trauma recovery, stress, relationship problems, depression and anxiety. Dr. Ross has been involved in research projects at the New York Psychiatric Institute and Copeman Healthcare Centre - including suicide epidemiology and the interrelationship between physical and mental health. She is a member of the College of Psychologists of BC and received her M.A. at the University of Southern California, and Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Ross has over twenty years of experience providing individual and group therapy and assessments to the Attorney General’s office, the Correctional Service of Canada, multiple hospitals in the Lower Mainland, Forensic Psychiatric Services, and First Responders (including Veterans, Police, Fire and Paramedics). Dr. Ross is recognized for her expertise and experience working with complex trauma and PTSD, as well as delivering wellness workshops and teaching.

Lindsey Thomas
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Thomas is a registered psychologist in British Columbia. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UBC in 2009, and has been in private practice since that time. She is both clinically and forensically trained, receiving an M.A. in Forensic Psychology prior to receiving her doctorate. Dr. Thomas divides her time between forensic and non-forensic settings, conducting assessments and providing treatment. In her forensic work, she has particular specialization in assessing and treating men who have been convicted of sexual offenses.

Dr. Thomas is committed to using only assessment and therapy approaches that are well-supported by scientific research. She has taught in the areas of clinical and forensic psychology at UBC and has supervised counsellors and clinical psychology students in these areas, as well.

Ekin Blackwell
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Blackwell is a registered psychologist in British Columbia. Originally from Turkey, she worked as an engineer for several years before deciding to embark on a career in the mental health field. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia, where she specialized in the assessment and treatment of mood, anxiety and trauma-related disorders. During her residency, she also gained experience in the areas of behavioural medicine and rehabilitation psychology.

Over the years, she has worked extensively with adults coping with a variety of physical and mental health challenges, including chronic pain and illness, post-concussive symptoms, and workplace injuries and trauma. She is passionate about delivering high quality, evidence-based mental health services to clients using the most effective resources available, while adapting her approach to the particular needs of each individual within a culturally sensitive framework. In addition to her private therapy practice at Changeways Clinic, Dr. Blackwell also provides psychological assessment services to WorkSafeBC.


Dana Thordarson
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)

Dr. Thordarson is a registered psychologist (CPBC #1513) whose practice focuses on assessment and therapy for anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress, and depression in adults. She is certified in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) by the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. Dr. Thordarson uses CBT and other evidence-based approaches, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), in her work with clients. She enjoys helping her clients take practical and active approaches to their problems, learn ways to handle difficult thoughts and feelings more effectively, and have richer and more rewarding lives.

Dr. Thordarson received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UBC in 2000. She has a Clinical Instructor appointment in the Department of Family Practice at UBC, and she is an associate chair of the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board. She collaborates with several UBC faculty conducting research in prenatal and postpartum anxiety, and she serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee for AnxietyBC.

In addition to working with Boreal Wellness, Dana is in private practice at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic at Lonsdale Quay.​

Monica Orendain
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Orendain is a registered psychologist in British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Laval University in Quebec City. In her doctoral dissertation, she studied adults' depressive profiles and symptom configurations in order to provide new information regarding specificity and sensitivity to the broad concept of depression. Dr. Orendain completed her CPA accredited internship in the area of Health Psychology, gaining experience with work-related injuries, chronic pain, and trauma. She has significant experience in the assessment and treatment of workers suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress, acute stress and chronic pain.

Dr. Orendain works as a full-time Clinical Psychologist in the solid organ transplant clinic at Vancouver General Hospital and conducts psychological assessments for Boreal Wellness.

Holly Parkerson
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Holly Parkerson is a registered clinical psychologist providing psychological treatment to adult clients with a diverse range of mental health concerns including PTSD, anxiety and mood disorders, as well as difficulties adjusting to chronic health problems. She also provides treatment for individuals experiencing work- and education-related stress.

Dr. Parkerson’s therapeutic approach is supportive, client centred, and goal oriented. She works primarily from a cognitive-behavioural perspective and integrates elements of emotion-focused, mindfulness, dialectical, and brief dynamic therapies. Dr. Parkerson is also trained to provide prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD and has received training in treating police, military, and first responders.

Dr. Parkerson completed a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Regina and a pre-doctoral residency at Vancouver Coastal Health.


Marilyn Kwong
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)

Dr. Kwong holds a deeply held conviction for the value of healthy emotional functioning and close relationships in our lives. She left a 15-year career in the corporate world to complete her Ph.D. in psychology at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Kwong has been greatly influenced by therapies that are focused and practical, and help people to better manage difficult emotions within a safe and accepting environment.

Dr. Kwong divides her time between assisting people with re-engaging in the workplace, and providing therapy for individuals and couples experiencing difficulties with emotions and relationships. For over 12 years, she has provided psychological assessments focusing on mental health issues, learning disorders, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities for injured workers and people with disabilities. Dr. Kwong also provides individual and couples therapy in private practice. She has developed her skills across a range of therapeutic approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy, intensive psychodynamic therapies, and emotionally focused therapy for couples.

Daryl Ternowski
Ph.D., R.Psych. (Psychologist)

Dr. Daryl Ternowski is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia. He has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Simon Fraser University and is trained in Short Term Dynamic Therapy from the Washington School of Psychiatry, in Washington, DC. He has over 15 years of assessment and treatment experience in various settings, including forensic & correctional facilities, inpatient hospital treatment programs, and outpatient treatment settings.

Dr. Ternowski treats adults with anxiety, depression, disordered eating, trauma, substance abuse, and relationship difficulties. In addition to his work at Boreal, Dr. Ternowski offers individual and couples therapy at his private practice in Vancouver. He is also provides therapy supervision and training to clinical psychology graduate students.

Diane McIntosh
M.D., FRCP(C) (Psychiatrist)

Dr. McIntosh graduated from Dalhousie University, where she completed an undergraduate degree in pharmacy before completing medical school, two years of pediatric residency and an adult psychiatry residency. She is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, has a busy private practice and presents continuing medical education programs to colleagues nationally and internationally, with a focus on rational pharmacology. Dr. McIntosh has a particular interest in the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders.

As a researcher, Dr. McIntosh has been a principle or sub-principle in phase II-IV trials, industry sponsored and investigator initiated, and she is the author of numerous clinical and research papers. She sits on the Board of Directors of CANMAT, the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments and the Advisory Board for CADDRA, the Canadian ADHD Research Association. She has recently published blogs in the Huffington Post focusing on mental health issues.


Ron Remick
M.D., FRCP(C) (Psychiatrist, Medical Advisory Board)

Dr. Remick was most recently the Medical Director of the Psychiatric Clinics at the Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia. Ron has had a long standing clinical interest in mood disorders and has been at the vanguard of patient centered or "informed consumer" models of mental health treatment. Previously, Ron was the Assistant Head of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he founded the UBC Mood Disorders Clinic. He has served as a Consultant Psychiatrist at St. Paul's Hospital (Vancouver, BC) and as the Medical Director of the Lake Whatcom Residential and Treatment Center in Bellingham, WA. Ron has published over 200 articles, letters and book chapters in scientific journals. Ron received his undergraduate degree from John Hopkins and medical training at George Washington Medical School.

Erin Burrell
M.D., FRCP(C) (Psychiatrist)

Erin Burrell is the psychiatrist lead on a new program in British Columbia aimed empowering people to self-manage their mental health symptoms through education and skills training. She helped launch the program, a collaboration between psychiatrists and family physicians, in Victoria, BC, and is now supporting its establishment in Vancouver and other communities. She works passionately to challenge stigma around mental health difficulties, and to equip patients to understand and take an active role in their health management.

Dr. Burrell received her undergraduate degree in ecology at the University of Alberta, and trained in medicine at the University of Calgary, before completing her residency in adult psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Since graduating in 2012, she has worked in student mental health, emergency psychiatry, and in outpatient adult psychiatry, with a focus on mood and anxiety disorders and trauma. Dr. Burrell’s psychiatric practice emphasizes psychotherapy, and she is currently completing advanced training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. She also provides therapy using mindfulness-based interventions and other targeted modalities. She is interested in quality improvement and innovative models of mental health delivery.

Mok Escueta
Ph.D., RCSW, LCSW (Social Worker)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Dr. Escueta has a combined total of nearly thirty years of professional social work field practice experience in the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. This includes over 17 years of clinical experience providing individual, couple, family and group trauma psychotherapy and has worked with the University of California San Francisco (USCF) Trauma Recovery Center in San Francisco and the Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic in Vancouver. Dr. Escueta also does private practice and works with many veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, and their partners and families, using current evidence-based and best practices.

Dr. Escueta is a Registered Clinical Social Worker (RCSW) in British Columbia and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California. He received his PhD in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC); his doctoral dissertation was on the contributions of participatory psychoeducation and treatment strategies in collective recovery and reconstruction from collective acute, chonic, and continuing trauma.


Carola de Souza
M.A., R.C.C. (Counsellor)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Carola holds an undergraduate degree in anti-oppressive social work practice, and a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology from the Adler University. For the past twenty years, Carola has worked in a variety of employment settings, including mental health and addiction services, private practice and Aboriginal Family Services. Having lived, studied and worked in Germany, Canada, the UK and Thailand, she enjoys working with people of all ages and backgrounds. Carola is passionate about meeting and supporting the whole person rather than 'treating the symptoms' of human suffering. In her free time, Carola enjoys playing at the edges of her comfort zone by traveling, and by exploring the physical, spiritual and ethical dimensions of yoga.

Mike Mathers
M.A., R.C.C. (Counsellor)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Mike is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with 15 years of experience working with people challenged by depression, anxiety, addiction, grief and loss, stress, trauma, anger management, identity issues, family of origin experiences, existential concerns and problems with sexuality. He uses a blend of multiple approaches including motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness. In his approach to treatment, Mike strives to cultivate a collaborative and trusting relationship with clients and to develop a treatment plan based on their unique needs.

Mike is passionate about living a life of meaning and purpose. Outside of counseling, he enjoys meditation, anything that helps him stay physically active and, most of all, spending time with his three kids. Mike received an M.Sc. in the Philosophy of Mental Disorder from Kings College London (UK), and an M.A. in Counselling Psychology from the Adler University (Vancouver).

Karin Mattu
M.A., C.C.C. (Counsellor)
This clinician has completed the BC Professional Firefighters' occupational awareness training in treating first responder trauma.

Karin Mattu is a registered clinical therapist who has been providing counselling services to a myriad of clients for the past twelve years. She has spent the last nine years working with youth who are moderate to high risk for suicide and their families. In her work, Karin understands the importance of a systemic approach and believes healthy change occurs on multiple levels of engagement. She has also worked as a contract employee for the Ministry of Children & Family Development to provide counselling to youth and their families to address a multitude of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, OCD, ODD, and PTSD.

Karin has also facilitated over 100 workshops and presentations for multiple community partners across BC, including Correctional Service Canada, the RCMP, numerous school districts and nonprofit organizations, among others. She has had a private practice for the last ten years in which she finds it fulfilling to work with clients who come to her in low points in their lives and leave sessions with skills that allow them to cope, thrive, and live more authentic lives. Karin is a registered clinical counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and is a member of the American Association of Suicidology. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia and her graduate degree from Trinity Western University in Counselling Psychology.


Tatiana Santini
M.A., R.C.C., R.Y.T. (Counsellor)

Tatiana has a Master’s degree in Adlerian Counselling and Psychotherapy, and she is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors. Tatiana is enthusiastic and dedicated to providing therapy and services to those who are experiencing difficulties related to stress, anxiety, depression (unipolar or bipolar), PTSD, trauma, substance use, and inability to relax or sleep.

Tatiana is able to help professionals who are faced with compassion and empathy burnout, vicarious trauma or secondary traumatic stress improve their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. She also has extensive experience in counselling individuals with substance mis-use and co-occurring disorders. Tatiana is trained in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC).

Michelle Okwundu
B.Sc. (Clinical Care Coordinator)

Michelle is the Clinical Care Coordinator at Boreal Wellness Centres where she is involved in the daily clinical and administrative operations. Before immigrating to Canada with her family, Michelle was a registered nurse working at an occupational health clinic in Lagos Nigeria. In that role she provided leadership in a number of internal operations and community health awareness initiatives. Here in British Columbia, prior to joining Boreal Wellness, she was a Health Coach for Pain BC and was involved in various quality improvement projects within Healthcare. Michelle volunteers at The Richmond Family Place and loves to write in her spare time.

Michelle holds a Bachelors of Nursing Science from the University of Ibadan, and is pursuing her Masters of Health Leadership and Policy at the University of British Columbia.

Trevor Davis
(Fitness)

Trevor first discovered how powerful fitness is to our overall mental, physical, emotional, and social wellness through his own personal journey and health challenges. As he set his own ‘new and improved’ path towards a healthier and happier self, he wanted to share his new found passion for fitness and well-being with his community. Trevor quickly discovered a gap in fitness programming for those living with mental health challenges, social discrimination, and stigma, and he set out to create fun and engaging community fitness programs for those most in need and who may not have truly realized the power of fitness.

Trevor is a Certified YMCA of Canada Fitness Training Educator, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor and Community Health Program Coordinator/Facilitator. He’s developed and lead a variety of innovative, client-centered community based programs including the YMCA Jumpstep Program - an evidence based “exercise-as-medicine” program for adults living with anxiety and/or depression, founded by Psychiatrist Dr. Ron Remick. Trevor is an encouraging, compassionate, and enthusiastic fitness leader. He continues to learn and grow within the industry and focuses on how physical activity benefits both mental, emotional and physical wellness.


Johanna Ward
(Fitness)

Johanna spends most of her time sweaty and smiling! A canfitpro Top 3 Fitness Instructor Specialist of the Year in 2016, Johanna is Certified Fitness Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and has been teaching group fitness for over 20 years. Based in a life belief that every moment and every movement matters, Johanna’s fitness philosophy is simple and effective; find your IT factor, the thing that motivates you to move, and do IT! As a professional mover and shaper, she combines fun and function, helping people build stronger bodies from the inside out.

A regular fitness contributor to CTV Morning Live Vancouver, Johanna has shared her wellness advice on CBC’s Our Vancouver, Roundhouse Radio, CKNW, and in BC Living Magazine. She presents annually at canfitpro’s annual Vancouver Fitness Expo, and is a previous YWCA Women of Distinction nominee in Health & Fitness.

Eddy
(Therapy Dog)

Eddy is a French Bulldog who started his training as a therapy dog at 10 weeks old. Eddy loves people and his specialties are cuddling and making people smile. He is always ready to say hello and get a pat.

Bacio
(Therapy Dog)

Bacio (which is Italian for "kiss") is in training to be a therapy dog. As a border collie and poodle mix, he is a very curious and active puppy. Bacio loves meeting new people and is particularly fond of playing tug.


Our Facility

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