Meet the team
All counselling staff have Master’s degrees and are committed to on-going professional development. Counselling services received at Connect Counselling meet professional and ethical standards.
Roxie Van Aller, MACP, RCC
Master of Counselling Psychology, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Roxie balances her therapeutic role with her leadership role as the Executive Director of Connect Counselling Society. She brings over 25 years of experience to the team and takes an eclectic approach to therapeutic work. She draws on her many years of experience and trusting in the resiliency of the human spirit.
She works with couples, adults, youth and children and focuses on helping individuals move through personal traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder and attachment issues. She also works with clients to help them with dysregulation in the brain and nervous system, depression, anxiety and high conflict resolution. She believes in the resiliency of the human spirit.
In addition, Roxie is registered to provide services for the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP), First Nations Health Authority (FHNA), Metis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). She completed training in Solution-Focused, Expressive Play, Self-Regulation, Cognitive Behavioural, Gottman Level One Marital and Thought Field therapies. She is also a certificated clinical supervisor.
Her busy life finds her sitting at the planning table for the local Learning Circle and she regularly attends the Ending Violence Conferences. Roxie believes in lifelong learning and is currently completing certification in Somatic Experiencing.
As you may have guessed, Roxie loves what she does. For her, being a therapist is more than a job. It reflects a core part of her that enjoys getting to know people at a real level. She enjoys the therapy process as it allows for authentic, face-to-face conversations in an uber-wired world. As a therapist, she guides people through personal challenges, helps ease emotional burdens, and empowers people to achieve a healthier, more balanced life. For Roxie, it’s an honour and privilege to walk alongside someone during a dark period to help make their burden a bit lighter.
Roxie lives in Kelowna with her husband and two dogs. She aspires to one day becoming an accomplished horsewoman, like her granddaughter. Her happy place is in Cranbrook on her daughter’s acreage amongst the chickens.
When she’s not working, she relaxes by playing with her dogs, skiing, and boating with her family. Her greatest joy is spending time giggling with her grandchildren.
Suzanne Harrington, M.Ed, RCC
Master of Education, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Suzanne has worked for over two decades with children, families, couples and individuals. She specializes in marriage and family therapy and is also an approved provider for FNHA and ASD Direct Funding.
Her extensive training includes expressive therapies such as play and art. She works with trauma and abuse, anxiety, and parent-child attachment. She continues to work in child and youth mental health, trauma therapy, and couple’s therapy. She also counsels many young adults and their families as they navigate the transitions of “launching” and post-secondary growth.
Suzanne is passionate about creating safe, collaborative space to explore and resolve conflict, communication challenges, parenting and co-parenting struggles, trauma, stress, emptiness, loss and mental health needs. She strives to help others to find their voice, reset boundaries, become authentic, heal wounds, and grow again in relationships.
Her goal is to ensure clients come away with more knowledge, insight and practical tools to help them feel alive, hopeful and connected.
Suzanne moved to Kelowna 20-plus years ago after both big city and small-town life. She wants to bring her best self to all her relationships, especially as a parent and partner. Suzanne is keenly searching for a pup to share life’s adventures with.
When not helping others, Suzanne can be found getting distracted by good podcasts at the gym, learning humility on the soccer pitch, or, most likely, enjoying the trails and back roads of BC – hiking, snowshoeing and searching for treasures and ghost town artifacts.
Michelle DeVies, MACP, RCC
Master of Counselling Psychology, Registered Clinical Counsellor and Supervisor
Michelle has several great skills and tools to use with her clients that she has accumulated over 20 years of training and experience grounded in Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behaviour, and Play therapies. In addition to being able to offer private work, she is also registered to provide services for the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP), First Nations Health Authority (FHNA), Metis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
Michelle’s innate sense of curiosity, compassion and creativity is reflected in her professional practice. She believes that, with the right conditions, everyone has the capacity to heal and grow. Her approached is tailored to help children, young people, adults, couples, and families understand and find ways to overcome challenges and find more meaningful and healthy ways to live.
Back in 2014, Michelle embarked upon a great adventure and moved from the UK to Canada with her two Spanish Water Dogs, Yogi and Fiz, who delight in getting lost with her as she finds her way around the trails of Kelowna. She also spends time helping Fiz perform her duties as a trained therapy dog with the local St John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.
When she’s not working or volunteering, Michelle can be found engaging in creative pursuits such as crafting and DIY projects. She has also been known to participate in fire-walking, rappelling, paddle boarding, and skiing, although not all at the same time…
John Downes, MC, RCC
Master of Counselling, Registered Clinical Counsellor
John joined our team in 2008. He specializes in child and youth counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for anxiety. He also teaches a parenting course. He believes parents and children need supportive care in order to best serve the building of a functional society based on healthy relationships. In addition, John is a certified music therapist (MTA) with over 30 years experience.
In 2007, John moved from Edmonton to Kelowna to be closer to his family. As a welcome bonus, he also added two months of warmer weather to each year by doing so.
On any given day, you may find John walking his dog, baking gluten-free breads and sweets, playing jazz piano, singing, composing music, and doing outdoor jobs around the house. Occasionally he takes on a major home renovation. He knows this is a somewhat healthy and productive form of madness.
Joyce Eng, MAC, CCC, RCC, SEP
Master of Arts in Counselling, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
Joyce has been working with women who have been traumatized by intimate partner violence, childhood sexual abuse, or sexual assault, for over 13 years now. The last three years have been spent working with both genders. For 10 years, she also facilitated a psycho-educational /discussion group for women over 50 who experienced abuse. In addition to her training in Somatic Experiencing (SE), she is currently working on becoming certified in Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR).
Compassion it what drives Joyce. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to work in a profession that supported emotional health and mental well-being. As a young adult, she taught primary school. After having a family, she returned to school and became a social worker, and later, a counsellor. She believes her life experiences, skills and natural passion for what she does make her a compassionate and competent counsellor.
Joyce has called Kelowna home for 40 years now. She and her husband raised two sons who have since flown the nest. In her spare time she enjoys the art of beautiful writing (a.k.a. calligraphy), making cards, singing in a choir, cycling, and, spending time with her husband, friends, and her cat, Olive.
Bonnie Pontalti, RSW, BSW, MSW, RPA
Registered Social Worker with a Bachelor and Master of Social Work, Bachelor of Recreation and Physical Education.
Bonnie is one of those people who loves what she does. She has over thirty years of experience working with individuals, groups, and families and has worked in many capacities, including residential camping, adventure pursuits, employment services, counselling, and child and youth services. Bonnie’s most recent focus has been on intimate partner violence and with those in palliative care
Today Bonnie’s work is informed by interpersonal neurobiology, attachment and systems theories. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy, and Grief Recovery are a few of her specialities.
Bonnie’s main desire in her work is to support others to find joy and ease in all conditions of life. She believes a strong community begins with compassion and ends with a collective effort to heal emotional wounds resulting in a sense of connection and belonging for everyone. She believes it is a great privilege to share in another person’s journey.
Bonnie relocated to the Okanagan in the early 1990s from the Maritimes where she returns yearly for a fill of the east coast vibe. Her greatest pleasure in life is her family, and she looks forward to new adventures and growing old with her life partner and best friend.
Kim Wardman, MACP, RCC, SEP
Master of Counselling Psychology, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
It was 2009 when Kim began helping individuals in the mental health field. She specializes in working with trauma, anxiety, anger, depression, grief and any other overwhelming emotion.
Kim’s training allows her to bring purpose and meaning back into people’s lives. She uses Somatic Experiencing (SE) to help build resilience and support one’s nervous system to self-regulate. She likes using SE as it helps to get to the core of traumatic incidents by working with a person’s central nervous system.
Her goal as a mental health practitioner is to provide a safe space where her clients feel supported and welcomed. She knows overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotions can hit even when things are going well. She helps her clients make sense of their feelings of fear, anger, anxiety and depression, grief, sadness, sorrow or any other overwhelming emotion.
Kim loves working together with her clients to create resilience as well as better relationships with themselves and others.
Kim continues to keep up to date with Somatic Experiencing and the latest modalities. She has completed courses in Eye of the Needle training for near-death experience level 1, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, Occupational Awareness for First Responder, and Attachment training.
When she’s not working, you’ll find Kim in and around Kelowna volunteering, camping, cycling, boxing/kickboxing, hiking, cross country skiing and hanging out with her family and her dog, Sheba.
Angela Price-Stephens, LLB, MACP, RCC
Lawyer, Mediator, Master of Counselling Psychology, Registered Clinical Counsellor
As a lawyer for over 28 years, Angela has helped individuals who were adversely impacted by medical injuries, be they a former patient or a victim of secondary trauma. She has specific knowledge and experience of helping individuals and their families with catastrophic injuries, chronic pain, prolonged disability, grief and loss.
For almost three decades Angela has considered herself as much a social worker as a lawyer. She’s a director at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna and past president of Brain Trust Canada. She has volunteered hundreds of hours as a crisis line responder and supports victims of sexual assault. Angela is also a facilitator with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Kelowna diverting youth away from the criminal justice system, where appropriate.
Angela completed her graduate degree while practicing law full-time in private practice. She received her Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology in 2022.
As a seasoned mediator Angela is adept at keeping multiple participants engaged and committed to the process. She has found a natural niche working with couples who seek improved connection and intimacy. All interventions are evidence-based and include the principles of Gottman, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Family Systems Theory. In order to better serve her clients, she’s taken additional training in issues of sexuality and sex addiction.
Many years ago Angela found herself in the client seat, facing her therapist. She experienced first-hand the benefits of a strong therapeutic alliance. She appreciates how counselling offers a wonderful opportunity to better understand oneself. She understands that through self-awareness and self-insight, one can create a more fulfilling and meaningful life experience. She understands both the therapist and the client can experience growth when immersed in a collaborative relationship. She believes there is no better gratification than witnessing the improvements in her client’s lives.
Angela emigrated from the UK in 2006. She lived in Vancouver for many years and still misses the West Coast Swing scene, but not the rain. Today, Angela lives in Kelowna with her family, including three dogs, a frog and a fish called Wanda. Angela is a true Brit of a certain age who still appreciates the Monty Python gang.
When she’s not helping others, Angela goes in for some self-care by reading biographies and gardening. She has recently returned to horse riding, a risky adventure given her rusty skills. Angela is quite happy to just stay in the saddle and looks forward to the day when her horse will respond to her commands.
Michael Patzer, MSW, RSW
Master of Social Work, Registered Social Worker
Michael has completed extensive training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Solution Focused Brief Therapy. His focus is working with youth and adults in the areas of anxiety, anger management, depression, life transitions, grief and loss, and self-esteem. Michael uses the latest evidence-based practices in the field to best support his clients.
In 2019, Michael co-created the first men’s trauma group in Kelowna, BC, at Connect Counselling. Michael also developed a youth anxiety group (Building Calm) as well as an adult pre-counselling readiness group (Gateway to Growth). He did this during the COVID-19 lockdowns to address growing mental health needs in the community.
Michael is highly motivated to support and guide clients through difficult life circumstances and mental health challenges. He believes that everyone has the capacity to live a rich and meaningful life.
Michael left Ottawa in 2018 and made his way to Kelowna to attend UBC Okanagan. He fell in love with the area and didn’t leave.
When he’s not helping clients, you’ll find him hiking or playing golf, football or hockey. He also does Latin dancing, and when he’s not perfecting his Salsa, you’ll find him relaxing with friends and family.
Angela Kazmierczak, MSMFT, RCC
Masters of Science in Marital and Family Therapy (MSMFT), Registered Clinical Counselling (RCC)
Angela loves what she does and has worked as a counsellor since 2004. Her focus is working with couples, families, blended families, split families, and domestic violence.
Since 2018, she’s focused on trauma resolutions for those who’ve experienced developmental, attachment, and unprocessed trauma for those from dysfunctional family dynamics. She helps her clients restore their relationships with themselves and others while improving self-concepts and other difficulties.
Angela uses a wholistic approach towards trauma with her clients. She helps her clients move through the traumatic events in their lives by emphasizing therapeutic alliance. She provides a safe space and a sense of safety through co-regulation, mindfulness and humour. She shapes her time with her clients by slowly and gradually moving through the therapeutic process and they co-create healing and wellness.
In addition to her degrees and life experience, Angela completed specialised training in Concussion Awareness and Brain Injury, regularly attends the Stopping the Violence Annual Training Forums, participates in monthly round table discussions and learning circles, and participates in the many available on-line Somatic Experiencing classes, webinars, and consults. Over the years, she’s facilitated several graduate-level conference presentations on mindfulness, team building and more.
Balance is important for Angela. While she moved to the Okanagan in 2014 for the beaches, she stayed for the forests. You might spot her out hiking the hills and mountains with her dogs or on her mountain bike, tackling the local trails. When not out in the hills and forests, you may find her working out in local gyms/studios. In the winter she loves to go snowboarding at Big White, and in summer finds her relaxing on the many Okanagan beaches.
Lynda Fillion, Finance Manager
Certified bookkeeper and financial preparation
When you do what you love and you’re good at it, you tend to be very good at what you do. That describes Connect Counselling Society’s Lynda Fillion. She has over 55 years of experience with financial and professional office services.
Lynda spent 26 years as a volunteer for the Canadian Ski Patrol Society and received many awards for all the services she provides. She’s lived in Kelowna since 1992 where she raised her son.
You may find Lynda on a local ski hill in the winter, and in warmer months you’ll find her in her garden, hiking, biking and enjoying the outside activities the Okanagan has to offer. When she’s not enjoying the great outdoors, you may find her reading her new favourite book or spending time with family and friends.
Joanna Shaw, Office Manager
With over 30 years’ experience in administration and customer service, she’s one of the best around. Joanna brings her experience in retail and medical, as well as being a business owner, executive assistant and manager, to the Connect Counselling Society team. Some of her more memorable careers have been in Air Traffic Control in the WRAF (Women’s Royal Air Force), owning/operating a mobility store, and managing her husband’s engineering company. She recently completed an Indigenous Cultural Safety Training course.
Joanna works on various in-house projects and oversees the running of reception. She loves working in a team environment and finds it very rewarding. She loves being part of assisting clients improve their quality of life, their relationships, and to overcome anxiety or depression. Joanna enjoys her work because she says no two days are ever the same, which makes coming to work interesting and stimulating.
She emigrated to Canada from England with her husband, a toddler and a baby over 45 years ago.
Joanna lives in West Kelowna with her husband, dog and cat. She loves the Okanagan and enjoys walking, gardening, crafts, attending church and spending time with church friends. She also loves spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Bonnie Williams, Administrative Assistant
Bonnie originally studied journalism. She spent the past thirty years running a home-based sales business that focused on customer service, while she raised her three girls, two with special needs.
She will most likely be your first contact via phone or in person. Her three decades of customer service show as she assists clients with inquiries about services and with booking appointments.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the word that describes Bonnie best is integrity. She has a passion to assist people in finding their best possible path. She is honoured to be part of a team that allows her to support both the therapists and their clients in all the ways that matter.
Bonnie is BC born, moved to Calgary for college and returned to BC in 1993 and has been here ever since. Bonnie is still married to her first and only husband and has been for 45 years now. She loves to spend time with her children and grandchildren as well as her large circle of friends from all walks of life.
In her spare time, you may also find her as a passionate audience member at live theatre, comedy shows and poetry reading. She admits she spends an inordinate amount of time reading just about anything, including biographies, historical novels, and any other well-written stories.