MEET OUR TEAM

CHRISTEL MITCHELL, M.C, R.C.C.

Clinical Counsellor/Owner

I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. I received a RCC designation in the year 2020 when leaving the Canadian public health care system to join the private sector.

I earned a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from Athabasca University. During my studies I focused on acquiring the skills to support persons living with mental health and/or substance use disorders, and their affected family members. My field of focus has always been mental health and substance use, as throughout the entirety of my life persons from both my immediate and extended family units have struggled with such. However, through time I have also added to my primary areas of interest and became competent in such by pursuing continuing education.

I have several years of closely supervised experience in counselling youth, adults, couples, and families both in person and virtually. As well, I continue to seek supervision and consult with colleagues in order to remain current in psychological theory and practice, and to ensure the highest quality of service is provided.

Since 2014 I have been involved in the mental health and substance use field, however in varying capacities. I have worked for Interior Health as a community mental health worker and a mental health and substance use clinician, as well as ARC Programs as a child, youth, and family counsellor. Furthermore, prior to entering the private sector I spent several years working for Pathways Addictions Resource Centre, a small non-profit counselling agency, assisting both youth and adults develop, works towards, and achieve wellness goals and cope effectively with personal struggles.

Allow me the opportunity to support you in navigating your wild mountain of challenges and make the journey to the top where rewards are waiting for you.

With each client I strive to create a person-centered approach, grounded in trust, paralleled with congruency, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. I provide a safe and therapeutic environment for the exploration of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours which encourages clients to build self-awareness and gain insight into personal struggle. Empowering clients to manage their own lives as they discover personal strengths and capabilities, enhances well-being, builds resiliency, and embraces problem solving skills.

I utilize a combination of treatment modalities, including but not limited to cognitive behavioural therapy, solution focused therapy, and motivational interviewing. Additionally, I take a strength-based and trauma-informed approach to therapy, while incorporating positive psychology and mindfulness strategies and techniques into my practice. Furthermore, I am certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Mindful Eating, and currently working towards completing ATMA’s Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy introduction and advanced training courses to hopefully in the future offer this ground-breaking treatment to adult clients experiencing mental health challenges.

Each client receives a tailored approach to best meet their needs and support their movement towards change.

  • Problematic use of substances/substance use disorders
  • Substance affected family members
  • Process, also known as behavioural, addictions
  • Mood disorders: anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder
  • Family members affected by a loved one’s mental health
  • Couple’s counselling: conflict resolution, communication, and intimacy
  • Stress and worry, as well as crisis management
  • Adult ADHD
  • EMDR for the treatment of trauma survivors, post-traumatic stress, phobias, panic attacks, depression, anxiety disorders, stress, sexual and physical abuse, disturbing memories, complicated grief and chronic pain.
  • Eating disorders
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS) to treat a wide range of mental health diagnoses, as well as non-clinical issues
Sorry, Christel is not accepting new clients at this time.

MELANIE KONYNENBERG, M.C, R.C.C.

Clinical Counsellor

I hold a Masters degree in counselling psychology from Athabasca University and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Alberta. I am a partner of 22 years and a mom to three teens. I appreciate the beauty of nature, the power of music, and the companionship of dogs and other furry creatures. In my life, I have experienced both joy and pain, and have arrived at the other side with increased resilience and hope. 

I have worked with youth and adults of all ages as a clinical counsellor in community-based clinics, including One Sky Community Resources and Foundry. I have experience as a behaviour interventionist in the autism intervention program with Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society. I have been teaching voice, piano, and musical theatre both privately and on faculty with Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts for many years. I have discovered and witnessed music, drama, and other art forms’ ability to evoke positive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. 

I work in collaboration with clients to uncover strengths, abilities, resources, and meaning. I believe the experiencing of fulfillment and the discovery of purpose and hope can lead to increased wellness. Courage can allow us to daringly sit in vulnerability while experimenting with values-based actions and behaviours. I prioritize the creation of a safe, warm, and empathic therapeutic relationship in which the client is placed as the expert. 

I have experience working with solution-focused interventions, acceptance and commitment therapy, and strengths-based modalities. Furthermore, I have recently completed Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Level 1 and 2) and Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (Level 1 and 2).

I have a deep interest in continued education of existentialism, nature-based therapies, self-compassion, counselling for couples, family therapy, trauma, animal-assisted therapy, music, drama, and other expressive arts interventions.

 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief and Loss
  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Life transitions
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Spirituality
  • Trauma
  • EMDR

KEITH BALISKY (He/Him) M.C., R.C.C, C.C.C

Clinical Counsellor

I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor. I hold a Masters of Counselling from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Alberta. My previous work before counselling includes clinical research in chronic pain. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I aim to grow both inside the counselling chair and as a person. Within the counselling world I grow by consulting, learning from other professionals, and continued training and education.

Outside of the clinical space, cooking and food, in general, are some of my biggest passions. If I am not in the kitchen you may find me outside running, hiking or enjoying the sun. Beyond that, I am a nerdy person with interests in board games, video games, and movies. If it’s nerdy, there is a good chance it’s for me!

I take an integrative approach to individual counselling. I use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Emotion Focused Therapy, Strength Based approaches, and Solution Focused approaches. I pay particular attention to the patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. I find it important to tailor the experience to the unique individual. My first step is to meet a client where they are at and to make a human to human connection. I strive to create a space where a client is safe and agency is held. I also strive to create a safe space for inclusivity of all people and all communities.

I believe that counselling is a journey of growth and understanding. I am lucky to be able to walk that path with people. I aim to create a space where people can let go of the weight they carry and explore it without judgement. I want to empower people to be the best version of themselves.

I also have Gottman level one training for couples counselling. It is a researched and evidenced based approach that focuses on communication, what is currently working, what needs to improve, and what is getting in the way of growth. I connect with this type of couples counselling because it takes an evidence based approach and focuses on ensuring that both members of the couple feel heard, valued, and loved by the other member for the majority of the time but allows space for people to be human as well. It also backed by research that indicates it provides similarly effective results across races, and heterosexual and homosexual couples.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Life Stressors
  • Trauma
  • Intimate Relationships
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communication
  • Emotion Work
  • Assertiveness Training
  • Strength Building
  • Life Transitions
  • LGBTQ2+ inclusivity
  • BIPOC inclusivity

Phone: 250-486-1868

Email: info@wildmountaincounselling.ca

 

Natalie Turpin, R.S.W., R.C.C., McPsych

Clinical Counsellor

I believe relationship is an antidote to suffering that fosters opportunities to recognize our potential and face our challenges with the secure hold of connection. I work to foster a trusting therapeutic relationship for a safe and supportive process to explore how beliefs, feelings, history, and experiences have brought you to where you are at. Individual experiences and needs are diverse and nuanced, and I enjoy learning about people from a place of curiosity, compassion, sometimes humour and colourful language (I’m a sailor’s daughter and my mom says I’m funny) to help identify obstacles and strengths, and to develop tools for connection and improved quality of life.

I have worked in the mental health and helping professions since 2005 when I completed my Bachelor of Social Work at University of Victoria. I have since completed my Master of Counselling Psychology with Athabasca University and I am a Registered Social Worker (RSW) with the BC College of Social Workers and a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) with BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

I have diverse experience in a wide range of therapeutic contexts, and I use an integrated therapeutic approach using evidence-based modalities for individualized and adaptive service planning. I am trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and I glean from different therapeutic modalities and attend to the inextricable nature of the mind-body connection. I function relationally, non-judgmentally, and collaboratively from a trauma-informed, strengths-based, person-centred perspective, using sociology, neuroscience, attachment and systems theories, and anti-oppressive practice values. I love to work with individuals to better understand how the past can show up in their present to influence their worldview and relationship with themselves and others. The best part is discovering the opportunities that exist with deeper awareness and self-compassion.

I work with individual adults and mature minors with issues such as the following:

  • Trauma
  • Thought and Mood challenges
  • ADHD
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Life Transitions
  • Relationship and Attachment Needs
  • Self Esteem
  • Substance Abuse
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Oppression and Advocacy
Sorry, Natalie is not accepting new clients at this time.

Staci Friesen, R.S.W.

Registered Social Worker

I am a Registered Social Worker with the BC College of Social Workers. I completed my bachelor’s degree in social work in 2002 from UBC in Vancouver and my master’s degree in social work in 2012 from UBC Okanagan. I have over 20 years of clinical experience working in a variety of settings within the non-profit, public, and private sector. My area of expertise and passion is mental health.

It takes guts and vulnerability to reach out for support during times of struggle. Expect to be met by me with warmth, compassion, acceptance, genuine curiosity and zero judgment (warning I am also known for some humor and practicality when appropriate and needed). Safety, trust and connection are at the centre of my practice and our relationship is the foundation for everything else to follow.

I take a client-centered, trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approach to counselling, utilizing treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), solution-focused therapy and emotional coaching.  My goal is to work with you to come up with a plan that meets your unique and individual needs. Let’s explore and problem-solve what led you to reach out to Wild Mountain in the first place!

  • Overcoming mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression
  • Coping with substance use and supporting family members affected by mental health and substance use
  • Developing self: compassion, worth, esteem, care
  • Managing compassion fatigue, burnout, career changes, and life transitions
  • Developing stronger boundaries, assertiveness, communication skills, and overall coping and problem-solving skills
  • Exploring and addressing intimate and interpersonal relationships
  • As a social worker, I am particularly passionate about challenging social injustices and systematic barriers
Currently, Staci is only accepting clients that are 20+ years old.

Izabela Zakrzewska M.C., R.C.C.

Clinical Counsellor

I have come to this beautiful part of the world by way of Poland, through Greece, to Vancouver, and most recently, I have discovered the hidden gem of Summerland.  I love our community, the lifestyle, the seasons, and all the wine and good food the Okanagan has to offer!

I hold a Master of Counselling degree from City University of Seattle, complemented by a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University. My first exposure to counselling came through my experiences as a high school teacher. I taught Social Studies, Psychology, Law, English, Career Education and even a cooking class. Beyond my teaching duties, I was involved in the choir, athletics, and the school drama productions – I was a veritable Swiss Army Knife of education! But, most importantly, I talked to and heard from the kids. I heard from their parents, and I heard from my colleagues as they expressed their day to day professional and personal frustrations. I loved teaching, but at some point, my career path shifted from lecturing to listening. I became a counsellor.

After many years of teaching and counselling, this is where I am today. My goal is to provide a space and an opportunity for clients to be listened to, and, hopefully, to be understood

In my counselling practice, I take an empathetic and client-centered approach.  I have had the privilege of working with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds, which has deepened my understanding and appreciation of different perspectives. This allows me to create a safe and inclusive space where individuals can explore their concerns and cultivate resilience.  I strongly believe in establishing a trusting therapeutic alliance, where clients feel heard, validated, and empowered to make positive changes.  I strive to create a collaborative environment that encourages personal growth and self-discovery.

I draw from several theoretical approaches based on the needs and preferences of my clients.  I primarily integrate elements from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), solution-focused brief therapy, emotion focused therapy and psychodynamic therapy.  I believe in tailoring my approach to each client’s unique circumstances, and I am open to integrating other evidence-based modalities as needed.

  • Adolescent challenges
  • Communication
  • Depression
  • Grief and Loss
  • Life Transitions
  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Self-identity exploration
  • Spirituality
  • Strength Building
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Trauma

Steve King, BSc, R.C.C.

Clinical Counsellor

I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health & Human Services and have proudly served as a Registered Clinical Counsellor since 1989. I have been an integral part of the Pathways Addictions Resource Centre in Penticton for 34 years. However, I have also gained valuable experience in diverse fields such as stockbroking, private investigation, hospitality management, child care, and even served as a court services Justice of the Peace.

In addition to my professional pursuits, I have also contributed significantly to the field of counselling and psychology through my authorship of several books and facilitating online resources on the important topics of PTSD, authenticity, and addiction. Furthermore, my passion for continuous growth and knowledge has led me to actively participate in countless work-related seminars and workshops, both as an attendee and presenter.

My approach to counselling is centered around my clients, recognizing their expertise as the foremost authority on themselves. Utilizing the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model, I believe in working collaboratively to establish and achieve a client’s goals. Together, we create a flexible and solution-focused action plan that prioritizes effectiveness as the measure of truth. Throughout our journey, I am committed to ensuring a safe and healthy place for my clients.

With extensive experience in energy-based therapies, such as TFT, EFT, and the Detachment Technique, I possess a deep understanding of dissipating inner child traumas. These therapies have proven to be effective in helping individuals navigate and heal from their past experiences. Furthermore, I am a passionate advocate of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and solution-focused process work, as these approaches empower clients to embrace acceptance, commit to change, and focus on achievable solutions. By incorporating a holistic approach and drawing from a range of therapeutic modalities, I strive to provide comprehensive support to my clients. It is my ultimate goal to facilitate clients’ personal growth, well-being, and fulfillment.

  • Trauma
  • Addictions
  • Fears/Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Existentialism
  • Obsessions
  • Compulsions
  • Relationships
  • Grief/Loss
  • Authenticity

Maria Rivera, M.C., R.C.C.

Clinical Counsellor

I have been living in BC for the last 13 years, and first moved to Canada by myself in my late-teens. I have lived in different parts of the world including Central America and Europe. I grew up in a multi-cultural family that instilled in me a sense of curiosity to experience different cultures and traditions. As a result, I am building a multi-cultural family of my own.

I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). I hold a Master’s degree in Counselling from City University of Seattle, a diploma in Human Resources Management from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts & Science from Quest University Canada.

I have worked with children, youth and adults of all ages in different settings, including community-based organizations like Hollyburn Family Services, the Howe Sound Women’s Centre and OneSky Community Services. I have also had the opportunity to work within different School Districts and Health authorities in British Columbia.

Outside of the clinical space, I love to spend time outdoors whether it is hiking, skiing, paddle boarding or finding new walks with my pup Ollie. I also really enjoy road-tripping across BC and discovering new places in our own backyard.

I join therapeutic conversations by understanding each person’s unique experience and view of their world and respecting individual differences and ways of dealing with life. I believe clients are the experts of their own lives and it is an honour to support them with their individual process of change. I love seeing individuals gain a greater level of awareness in all aspects of being.

I work from a client-centered approach, where I focus on building connection through trust and safety. I believe that a strong therapeutic relationship is key to our work together. I see what is alive for my clients and connect with other parts of their inner worlds, not just the problems they bring and share. I think it is crucial to be able to see the essence of the person and work from their strengths. I focus on my clientspurposes and intentions as the core of our relationship.

I use a variety of approaches to meet my clients’ needs. We work on identifying what they are experiencing and find solutions that best fit their individual learning styles. My work is influenced by a variety of treatment approaches including:

  • Person-Centred therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Solution-Focused therapy (SFT)
  • Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Dialectical Behaviour therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Play and Arts-Based therapy
  • Self-compassion
  • Family Systems
  • Multicultural Counselling
  • Trauma-Informed Practice

I offer services in English and Spanish.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief + Loss
  • Relationships
  • Meaning + Purpose
  • Vocational Counselling
  • Life Stressors
  • Life transitions, including immigration
  • Systemic Discrimination
  • Problematic use of substances/ substance use disorders
  • Child + Youth Counselling
  • LGBTQ2+ inclusivity
  • BIPOC inclusivity