expertise and approach
I completed a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from OISE/University of Toronto in 1998. My therapeutic approach is based on Relational, Interpersonal and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy which believes that the shared therapeutic relationship is vital to change. My practice integrating attachment theory, developmental psychology, and neurobiological approaches, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and harm-reduction strategies provide me with many different ways to understand and work with the particular needs of each client. I have completed level I training in the use of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for addressing the aftereffects of trauma, and training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques. As well, I have completed Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) in the treatment of trauma, and am an EMDR trained clinician.
EMDR (Eye Movement Redirection and Desensitization) is an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, panic and phobias. EMDR is different than most talk-therapies in that it focuses on specific memories or experiences rather than recounting the narrative or details of a traumatic experience. EMDR is a very structured and protocol-based approach, integrating bilateral stimulation which provides grounding while simultaneously supporting a stream of consciousness approach to unblock normally adaptive emotional and somatic processing.
I am also an Internal Family Systems informed therapist. Internal Family Systems is a therapeutic approach that sees each person as made up of valuable and effective parts that play specific roles. IFS brings curiosity, and self-compassion to foster understanding about how our system of multiple parts organizes, functions, gets provoked into action, and may be able to re-negotiate, re-organize and resolve in new and more effective ways.
Continuing to learn and being challenged personally, professionally and creatively feels essential to an alive and engaged practice of psychotherapy. Towards this intention I attend a biweekly supervision group that has informed and enriched my practice for over two decades. I maintain ongoing studies, attend regularly attend trainings to update my skills. I present workshops in Canada and across the US on the treatment of trauma, and contribute to the field through presentations, writing and publishing. I am involved in professional networks and associations such as the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists (OSP) and am registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).
For the past 20+ years I’ve been an individual, couple and group therapist in hospitals, community mental health agencies, and addiction treatment programs in both urban and rural Ontario while also slowly growing my private psychotherapy practice in downtown Toronto, and East of the city in the Port Hope and Cobourg area. Most recently (2003-2013) I was an individual, couple and group therapist and clinical supervisor in the Trauma Therapy Program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Providing trauma-focused therapy and clinical consultation and supervision was my primary focus and remains a large part of my current practice. I have also held clinical positions at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) in Toronto, and worked as a counselor/therapist in various community-based mental health and addiction programs in South Eastern Ontario.
recent presentations & pursuits
Self-Care & Safer Spaces. Community 101 Workshop. Green Wood Coalition. Port Hope, ON.
Effects of Trauma Roundtable – panel participant. Sponsored by Northumberland Domestic Abuse Monitoring Committee and Green Wood Coalition. Port Hope, ON.
The Treatment of Trauma – guest lecturer. Sushma Persaud & Felisa Shizgal, PhD Practicum Class, OISE/University of Toronto. Toronto ON.
Compassion Fatigue, Transference, Counter-Transference & Self-Care. Felisa Shizgal. Trauma Therapy Program, Student Seminars, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto ON.
A Stage II Trauma Group Working with Perpetrator Reenactments.
Catherine Classen & Felisa Shizgal.
• American Group Psychotherapy Association, Boston MA.
• American Group Psychotherapy Association, New Orleans LA.
• American Group Psychotherapy Association, New York NY.
• International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation, Montreal QC.
• International Conference on Violence and Abuse, San Diego CA.
WRAPback: A Thinking Clinician’s Play with Group Psychotherapy & Dissociation. Judy Langmuir, Felisa Shizgal, & Eva-Marie Stern. International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Philadelphia PA.
Women Recovering from Abuse Program: An Innovative Day Treatment Program for Childhood Trauma Recovery. Catherine Classen & Felisa Shizgal. Psychology Grand Rounds, North York General Hospital, North York ON.
WRAPback: The Drama of Trauma Group Therapy. Judy Langmuir, Felisa Shizgal, & Eva-Marie Stern.
• Canadian Group Psychotherapy AGM, Toronto ON.
• Ontario Society of Psychotherapists, Toronto ON.
• Eating Disorders Program, Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga ON.
• Ontario Society of Psychotherapists, Toronto ON.
• Mental Health Rounds, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto ON.
Description of a Multi-Modal Group Therapy Treatment for Chronic Interpersonal Trauma: Women Recovering from Abuse Program. Felisa Shizgal. International Society for the Study of Dissociation, Los Angeles CA.
A Day in the Life of WRAP. Marlene Duarte-Giles, Judy Langmuir & Felisa Shizgal. International Society for the Study of Dissociation, Toronto ON.
Re-Inhabiting The Body: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for Trauma Recovery.
Judy Langmuir & Felisa Shizgal.
• Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre, Dept. of Psychiatry Grand Rounds, Toronto ON.
• Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Women’s Mental Health Research Group, Toronto ON.
There She Goes Again: Dissociation and Association within the WRAP Team. Marlene Duarte-Giles, Anne Fourt, Shari Kirsh, Judy Langmuir, Felisa Shizgal, Eva-Marie Stern & Patricia Woods. Dept. of Psychiatry Grand Rounds, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto ON.
Treatment Approaches for Problem Gambling. Felisa Shizgal. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Problem Gambling Service, Ontario-wide workshop presentations.
“OSP Souper East East East of Toronto,” Felisa Shizgal. PrOSPect, Ontario Society of Psychotherapy Newsletter, vol. 20, no. 3.
“A Multi-Modal Treatment Program for Childhood Trauma Recovery: Women Recovering from Abuse Program (WRAP),” Marlene Duarte Giles, Andrea Nelson, Felisa Shizgal, Eva-Marie Stern, Anne Fourt, Patricia Woods, Judy Langmuir, & Catherine Classen, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, vol. 8, no. 4.
“My Mother’s Dreams,” The Current, CBC Radio 1, first broadcast on April 16, 2006, participated as subject.
professional & regulatory organizations
Ontario Society of Psychotherapists (OSP)
College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)
some of the therapy approaches I use in my practice
Emotionally Focused Therapy, International Centre for Excellence in EFT.
EMDR International Association https://emdria.site-ym.com/?120
Internal Family System https://selfleadership.org/about-internal-family-systems.html
some other no-fee therapy services in the community
Trauma Therapy Program, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto ON.
Women Recovering from Abuse Program (WRAP), Women’s College Hospital, Toronto ON.
Community Health Clinics in Ontario
other really useful resources to try
The Self-Assessment Kiosk
The Self-Assessment Kiosk is a way to learn more about your mental and physical health. By completing the full bundle of surveys you will be provided with a supportive reflection of how you are doing both physically and emotionally. Often this is a helpful way to gain information and perspective at the beginning, and throughout the process of therapy.
How self-compassionate are you?
The self-compassion survey provides you with a check-up on how kind you tend to be towards yourself, things you can try to soften your own hard edges, as well as some self-compassion guided meditations and exercises.
Breathe+ A simple mindful breathing app. https://itunes.apple.com/CA/app/id1106998959?mt=8