Picture of therapist in Orillia

My journey began in St. Catharines, Ontario, where I was born and raised. From there, life has taken me to unexpected places: travelling abroad, volunteering with non-profits and anti-human-trafficking organizations, living with chronic pain, starting my career in Recreation Therapy, working with parents and young children at the EarlyOn Child and Family Centre, joining the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (CPMHC)to now raising two kids and beginning my career as a therapist. 

Almost immediately after high school, I volunteered for a year, mainly in Australia, but also in Africa, Asia, and Europe. It was an eye-opening way to begin my adult life. I learned about different cultures, global issues, and volunteered with people who are part of marginalized communities. That experience of witnessing the breadth and scale of human suffering compelled me to find a way to make some kind of positive difference in the world. Looking back, I see how much of my life since then has been spent trying to find the right fit for me to try to make the world a slightly better place.

After my year abroad, I was searching for answers about where to go next when I stumbled upon a Recreation Therapy program; it seemed like a perfect blend of my passions, interests, and personality. While in school, I spent much of my free time volunteering with anti-human-trafficking initiatives. At school, I was learning how to utilize recreation as a form of therapy, but I was learning even more from my real-world volunteer work in downtown St. Catharines. I spent many evenings listening, talking to, and supporting women who were going through the most difficult moments in their lives.

I completed my program in Recreation Therapy, but ironically, recreational activity had become increasingly difficult throughout my life, due to an untreatable vascular malformation in my leg that causes chronic pain. I’ve had to adapt my recreational life and outlook to my physical limitations, while also learning how to live with chronic pain management. It’s a constant struggle, but I’ve learned valuable life lessons about adapting to difficult realities in life. It’s not easy. Each day, the battle begins anew. However, I've come to appreciate the empathy and understanding I now have for people who are struggling with their own form of chronic pain.

After University, I briefly moved to London, Ontario, to complete my placement with the Child and Parent Resource Institute, and worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Adolescent Mental Health ward. Both of these were invaluable experiences, working in first-class mental health treatment centres that provided the highest-intensity treatment available for children and youth struggling with mental health issues. During this time, I also worked closely with the parents, developing holistic treatment plans together and helping them navigate the mental health care system.

Working with parents who are struggling and going through difficult stages in their lives helped me find my passion and focus in life: helping young families, especially mothers, who are struggling with the changes, realities, and difficulties of parenthood. When my husband (Ricky) and I moved to Simcoe County, I volunteered with some community programs, before working at the EarlyOn Child and Family Centre. While working at the EarlyOn Centre, I was having children of my own and facing many of the same realities and difficulties as the families we were supporting. I was having daily conversations with parents who were at their wit's end, feeling burnt out, experiencing massive life changes, intense emotions, grieving, feeling overwhelmed, and struggling to feel like themselves. People cannot go through this stage of life alone, and I knew I had to do more to help. I joined the Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (CPMHC) and went back to school, this time as a mom, with a mission: to prepare myself to be the best possible support I can be for people going through the most difficult times in their lives.

Fulfilling that mission is what brings me to this work, and it's why you're reading this now. My goal is simply to be as helpful as I can be to people who are experiencing unique sets of challenges during the hardest stages of their lives. For those who are struggling and who feel like the demands of life are impossible: I hear you, I see you, I was you, and some days I still am. More than anything, I have also come to realize that we can't do this alone. We weren't meant to; we weren't designed to. I can't promise that therapy will resolve all of the difficulties you're facing, but I can promise that you won't be going through it alone.



Jennelle Giesbrecht

Jennelle Giesbrecht


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