Mental Health and Addictions Counsellor
Growing up in New Brunswick, Taylor attended Yorkville University where she attained her Masters in Counselling Psychology and a designation as a Canadian Certified Counsellor. After hearing from friends who lived in Nunavut and their incredible experiences in Canada’s north, Taylor knew that she would one day move here. After spotting an opening as a Mental Health and Addictions Counsellor in Fort Simpson, Taylor jumped at the opportunity and has been living and working in Fort Simpson for nearly two years.
“In the back of my mind I knew that if the opportunity presented itself, I would love to move up north. And so the opportunity did present itself and I thought ‘what a great experience to have and what a great thing to try’. I love it here – that was a great decision!”
As a Mental Health and Addictions Counsellor in the north, Taylor says that the scope of practice is much broader than counselling in southern Canada, and while challenges are occasionally presented, it is a fulfilling professional experience and she enjoys the opportunities for continued learning and growth.
“The small community setting really allows you to immerse yourself in the work, whereas down south sometimes you work with people and don’t see them again. But up here, you have the opportunity to do some more in-depth work with your clients.
So far, it has been such an educational experience. Since living here I have widened my scope of practice and I’m working in areas that I wouldn’t necessarily get a chance to work in in New Brunswick or elsewhere down south. It’s really given me a chance to expand my knowledge and personal experiences and growth. Living here has really helped me to grow as a professional and as a person.”
Her day-to-day work includes managing the process of clients accessing and returning from treatment, transitioning into sober-living in the community, developing resource kits and tools for sober-living clients, general treatment of anxiety and depression, and coordinating group workshops and community projects. While a part of a small team of counsellors in Fort Simpson, Taylor is also in constant collaboration with her colleagues across the Dehcho Region, leaning on one another for support and consultation.
“My colleagues are so supportive and knowledgeable and gave me the space to figure out my needs and work style. They encouraged me every step of the way and were a big factor in why I decided to stay here.”
“On the client level, we are eager in letting them know that they’re in charge. We might have certain theories or procedures that we follow, but we always work collaboratively with the client to figure out the best treatment plan.
At the management level, our supervisor and manager are open and supportive and are eager to hear what we’re experiencing with our clients. If we come to them with any concerns or ideas, they are the first people to back us up and advocate for our client’s needs. Whether it’s a new program or if any changes need to be made, they are on board.”
For Taylor, one of the most rewarding aspects of her work is the relationships she is able to build with her clients.
“One of my favourite parts of working here is that my clients teach me as much as I try to teach them. It’s been an incredible experience to sit with a population that I have a lot to learn from and that I’m eager to listen to, and they’re eager to share with me. It gives me a new perspective that I don’t think I would have been able to achieve in other parts of Canada.”
“Our team is always conscious of the needs of the community, and we always wants to make sure we are serving our clients the way they deserve to be served, and not just in the way that we want to serve them.”
Taylor says that while there are everyday accomplishments and satisfaction in her work, one of the accomplishments she is most proud of is the opportunity she has given herself to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Taking in the stories, history and culture of the Northwest Territories has been impactful on all aspects of her life, and she recommends that her colleagues and other mental health professionals come to the north to share in the same experience.
“I always say to them, ‘you have to come to the north and spend some time immersed in the community here’. You know, it doesn’t have to be permanent but it’s such a powerful experience to live here. I’ve never had such a reflective or insightful period in my life until I lived in the north. I find that the north has gifted that to me.”
Outside of work, Taylor has been soaking up the opportunities for adventure in the Dehcho; hiking, fishing, spending time outdoors, attending the recreation centre and community events, and visiting the Nahanni and Nááts'ihch'oh National Parks.
“I have had the best years of my life up here – meeting new people and trying new things. I’ve pushed my comfort levels, and have grown and learned a lot. The beauty of Fort Simpson drew me in but I stayed for the welcoming and friendly community.”