Psychological Services for children, youth, and families

Our Team

Aviva Laye-Gindhu, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Co-Director

AvivaDr. Aviva Laye-Gindhu earned her Ph.D. (School Psychology) from the University of British Columbia. With over 15 years of experience supporting children, youth, and families to live more fully, happily, and productively, Aviva’s warm, gentle, and practical approach helps to put her clients at ease. Aviva specializes in the assessment and treatment of emotional, behavioural, and learning concerns in children and youth and has a background in both community mental health and school settings. A skilled clinician, she works collaboratively and flexibly with parents and their child/teen to build on existing strengths and to promote new learning for healthy development. Important skills learned in sessions inspire confidence and support families in creating lasting change. A mother herself, Aviva recognizes the challenges involved in parenting and appreciates the resilience of families and youth who seek support. In addition to clinical work, Aviva has also been involved in conducting research, program evaluations, and workshops on non-suicidal self-injury and on the prevention and treatment of anxiety problems in children and youth.

Liliana Cortes, M.A., R.C.C., Co-Founder and Co-Director

Liliana CortesLiliana Cortes is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and has a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She has been in private practice working with anxious children and their families since 2004. Liliana has conducted research looking at the effectiveness of school-based anxiety prevention programs in BC.  She also delivered workshops to teachers and counsellors throughout BC in the anxiety prevention program FRIENDS for Life with MCFD.  Liliana has extensive and specialized experience in evidence-based treatments for anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.  Liliana is a proud mother of 3 young children who have been her greatest teachers.

Stephenie Gold, M.A., R.C.C., Co-Founder and Co-Director

Stephanie GoldStephenie Gold, MA (McGill, UBC) is a Registered Clinical Counsellor in priviate practice supporting children, youth and families since 2003. Stephenie frequently delivers workshops on a variety of parenting and mental health-related topics across BC, and has co-authored several peer-reviewed research papers on the impact of anxiety prevention/early intervention programs for children and youth. She is also a long-time consultant with the Ministry of Children and Family Development on topics related to school-based mental health curriculum development. As a frequent contributor and project coordinator for Anxiety Canada, Stephenie has most recently co-authored the sections for Teens/Youth and the popular self-help app for anxious teens called MindShift. In addition, Stephenie is a graduate of the Advanced Studies program at the Neufeld Institute, a past committee member for the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, and was on the Advisory Board of the non-profit The Reading Bear Society. Stephenie is passionate about helping parents and educators support the healthy emotional development of children and youth, and tailors her approach to meet the unique needs of each client and family. At the root of her treatment philosophy is a belief in the importance of developing a trusting therapeutic relationship and in the power of children, youth, and families to harness their strengths to make real changes in their lives. Stephenie is also a proud mother of two children.

Christine Yu, M.A., R.C.C.

c_yuChristine Yu is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and earned a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She has experience in the counselling field since 2006, working in the private sector (EFAP industry) and for non-profit community agencies. Her specialty is in helping children, youth and families to manage anxiety, and working with children and families heal from trauma and abuse. Christine is also a consultant for AnxietyBC, offering presentations and workshops to schools and parent groups.
In addition to her practical experience, Christine has been involved in research focusing on the early intervention of childhood anxiety, as well as the development of guidelines for psychosocial support in complex disasters. Her own research explored the relation between parenting stress and childhood anxiety.

Gabriela Ionita, Ph.D., R.C.C.

Dr. IonitaDr. Gabriela Ionita completed her PhD (Counselling Psychology) at McGill University and is currently working as a Registered Clinical Counsellor. For over a decade, she has been helping children and youth overcome anxiety, OCD, depression, trauma, self-harm, and a variety of other challenges. In sessions, she provides a supportive and safe environment in which clients and their families can move through challenges. Drawing on principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy, she works with families to establish the goals important to them. She then focuses each session on helping children, youth, and their families learn new strategies and skills to overcome the issue at hand. Gabriela’s background, working in hospital, community, private, and school settings, provides her a thorough understanding of the systems involved in clients’ lives and helps her provide effective advocacy and consultation for her clients. Being a mother of two children, Gabriela recognizes the importance of parent involvement and can help support parents through coaching, providing information, or by inviting them into sessions (when appropriate). In addition to her clinical work, Gabriela has been involved in researching the factors related to successful outcomes in psychotherapy and the implementation of evidence-based personalized care into therapy. She has also been providing supervision to other clinicians and teaching M.A.-level courses at universities in Canada.


Valerie Caldeira, PhD, R.Psych.

IMG_5882Dr. Caldeira is a Registered Psychologist who completed a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Dr. Caldeira specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety, depression, stress-related problems, anger management, self-esteem issues, body image issues, and family conflict. The main focus of her clinical practice is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for children, adolescents, and adults coping with depression and/or various anxiety disorders. She believes strongly in client-centered, collaborative formulations and treatment plans that are founded on evidence-based practice. Dr. Caldeira has attended specialist workshops on CBT, which has been shown to be highly effective in treating problems with mood and anxiety. She has received numerous awards, including a gold medal from the British Columbia Psychological Association for outstanding achievement in the study of psychology and a certificate of academic excellence from the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Dr. Caldeira has gained extensive clinical experience in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community mental health clinics, and university clinics. In addition to her private practices, she is also a consultant for CBT Connections where she trains mental health professionals in evidence-based treatments for a range of mental health concerns.

Mandy Chen, PhD

Mandy ChenDr. Mandy Chen received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of British Columbia. She completed her pre-doctoral residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and a post-doctoral research fellowship in the department of Pediatrics at UBC. In the past ten years, Dr. Chen has worked with families of children and adolescents with a wide range of psychological needs (e.g., developmental delay, learning difficulties, anxiety, depression, history of abuse and neglect, behavior problems, weight management) in a variety of settings (i.e., pediatric hospital, university clinic, community mental health centers). She worked for many years as a clinical psychologist at BC Children’s Hospital and is currently the staff psychologist on the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Chen provides:

Therapy services to children and adolescents who are dealing with depressed mood, anxiety disorders, and behavioral problems;
Parent consultation to enhance parent-child relationship as well as parenting effectiveness; and
Psychoeducational and psychodiagnostic assessment for children and adolescents to clarify learning challenges, and/or to better understand how a child’s learning profile may be related to his/her mental health issues.
Dr. Chen is fluent in both English and Mandarin-Chinese, and provides therapy and assessment in both languages. She employs empirically-supported treatment approaches, and is collaborative and client-centered in her practice. Dr. Chen is also a resource contributor for AnxietyBC, and regularly gives talks in schools and the community to increase public awareness and knowledge of childhood anxiety.

Mandana Sharifi, M.A., R.C.C

Mandana SharifiMandana Sharifi, M.A, is a registered clinical counsellor. She received her masters degree in counselling psychology from Trinity Western University in 2008. She has over 10 years experience working with preteens, teens, and their respective families to help them learn new tools in managing anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress. Mandana utilizes a systemic approach to therapy as well as a variety of evidence based techniques. Being a mother of 3 children herself, she believes in not only involving parents in the process of therapy but also providing them with a solid understanding of mental health issues, the symptoms and treatment options. In the last 6 years, Mandana has been working with youths and families through EAP agencies as well. She provides “Parenting After Separation” workshops which are focused on helping parents support their children after the separation/divorce using healthy co-parenting techniques. Her research background explored how trauma and stress affected individuals’ attachment system. Mandana is fluent in both English and Farsi (Persian) and can conduct therapy in both languages.

Lauren Thackeray, PhD

Lauren ThackerayLauren completed her PhD in Educational and Child Psychology at the University of East London. Following several years of working within school settings in London completing psychological assessment and intervention, Lauren went on to specialise in the mental health and emotional well-being of children and teens. Training at the Kings College London in the treatment of anxiety and depression led to a specialism in working with children and teens experiencing anxiety disorders (e.g.,separation anxiety, social anxiety, generalised anxiety, phobias), OCD, school refusal, depression and other related problems. Lauren uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to work with children and their families in a collaborative manner. This involves developing a shared understanding of the current situation and supporting the child and family to set goals for the therapeutic work. Once a clear goal is established, Lauren works with her clients to move forward, supporting them to learn new strategies and explore new possibilities to overcome the challenges they face. Of central importance is that the client feels listened to, valued and safe within the therapeutic relationship. Lauren’s knowledge and experience of mindfulness, narrative therapy and solution focused approaches means that she is able to tailor her support to best meet the needs of individual children, teens and families. Working from an attachment perspective, Lauren offers parent consultation and support. Lauren also has experience of delivering parent workshops, school-based training and therapeutic group interventions.

Michelle Deshaw, M.A. RCC

Lauren ThackerayMichelle is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and has a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria. She has worked since 2003 providing evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents with anxiety, mood, emotional and behavioural concerns. Michelle has extensive experience working in a range of clinical settings providing therapy and consultation such as Child and Youth Mental Health with the Ministry for Children and Family Development, Employee Family Assistance programs, Community Non-Profit Counselling, Schools, Hospitals and Post-Secondary Settings.

Michelle works from a flexible and collaborative framework using CBT, DBT, Attachment Theory, Child Development, and Solution-Focused techniques. She enjoys working with clients to help them develop insight into the problem and give them tools and strategies based on their individual needs and experiences. Michelle strives to create a warm, safe, and non-judgemental space for children, adolescents and families and enjoys helping clients to develop more effective ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving to achieve their goals. Being a mother herself, she understands the challenges faced by parents and works to support them to make connections and change that are meaningful and extend outside of therapy.

Lynn Miller, Ph.D., R. Psych. (Co-founder)

Lynn MillerDr. Lynn Miller is a Registered Psychologist, and has been working with children and families for more than 30 years. She is a consultant for the FRIENDS for Life program, an evidence-based curriculum targeting anxiety available to all grade 4-5 students in BC. She is President of the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, 2010-2014. As the Myrne Nevison Prevention Research Professor at the University of British Columbia, she researches anxiety programs in grades kindergarten and one. She completed her term serving as the President of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (2004-2006). Dr. Miller is not taking any clients at the moment.