Dr. Judith D. Bertoia, Registered Psychologist, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor

Judith D. Bertoia, Ph.D.

My professional training includes accredited university degrees as well as additional certification programs. I am registered to practice with the British Columbia College of Psychologists (#01496).

I earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, an M.A. in counselling psychology, a Diploma in counselling psychology, and a B. Ed. in education. In addition to the core psychology courses, each degree focused on a different age group and related developmental and family issues: children during the masters program, adolescents in the diploma program, and adults in my doctoral program.

As well, I have trained to become a Registered Play Therapist, completed requirements to be a play therapy supervisor, and more recently became an approved provider of this training. I also have over 500 hours Jungian oriented psychotherapeutic training and am presently concluding the training to become a sandplay therapist at the international level. I also completed requirements and qualified as a Certified Expressive Therapist.

I have been an invited lecturer at UBC, SFU, UVic, and Langara College. As well, I have lectured locally and internationally in North America and Europe presenting lectures and workshops to corporate, professional, parent, and community groups. The topics for these include media violence, death and dying, parenting issues, work-life balance, expressive and play therapies, and the power of image, myth, and story in modern living and in business.

I am very fortunate to be able to combine my private practice as a psychologist and consultant with lecturing and writing. I have consulted in both corporate and educational settings and have been interviewed for local and national radio, television, and print media. My publications include two books, several book chapters and journal articles, and a relaxation CD. Several of my travel photographs have been published in a professional journal.

My work life began as a classroom teacher in the public school system. When taking time off to raise children, I also worked as a substitute teacher in a private preschool and as a volunteer in a learning center. On returning to the public system, I was fortunate to become a Home/Hospital teacher working with students from kindergarten to grade 12. This experience allowed me to work with children — and their families — who were dealing with major issues: critical and terminal illnesses, injuries, amptations, and major surgeries, teen pregnancies, school avoidance problems, and suspensions for inappropriate behavior. Seeing the complexities faced by these families prompted me to begin what has become an ongoing journey to study human experience.

Subsequent work as an elementary school counsellor allowed me to incorporate previous training. It also helped me recognized my interest in taking a traditional doctorate program. The profound effect of working with dying children influenced my choice of a postdoctoral internship on an adult palliative care ward. The richness of all my training, the informal learning from so many who shared their stories in our sessions, and my love of depth work guided me to work exclusively in private practice.

Throughout my training and much of my work experience I have held an interest in the mindbody unity. The internal relationship of our emotions, thoughts, behaviors and embodied experiences intrigues me and has become a significant focus in my education and on-going professional development. My masters thesis focused on the understanding of dying from a child's perspective and my doctoral dissertation researched the relationships of psychology, culture and illness with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a specific example.

It is not possible to find peace in the soul without security and harmony between people.
— Dalai Lama

In order to stay current with emerging research in my field and to enrich specific areas of expertise I am committed to professional development. Recently I completed training in Family Law and Mediation, Collaborative Separation and Divorce, as well as additional training in Dream Analysis.

Personal experience has also enriched my understanding of life's joys and challenges. I am blessed with the opportunity to care for my grandchildren one day a week, seeing elements of emerging child development theory lived out in these wonderful little ones. I have the gift of seeing many retirement years unfold as my parents mature, witnessing the impact of change and research on the human life cycle through their lived experience.

I am fortunate to have traveled extensively and this too has influenced my practice. There is a universality in human experience and life transitions, whether it is a mother nursing her baby, a family celebrating a landmark event, the bereaved mourning their loved one, or the men folk gathering in the local square, piazza, park or pub for their evening game and philosophizing. Events such as these are common everywhere. Recognition of our connection to others and to something greater is part of what informs my understanding of the therapeutic encounter.

Travel has also shown me that spiritual practices vary widely both as currently practiced throughout the world and as historic sites and ruins indicate what once was the local tradition, whether in formal religion or a very private internal belief system. As conscious beings, humans do have inner awareness that is often expressed as seeking purpose or meaning and this search is often especially acute during times of crises, emotional distress, or difficult decisions. Each person brings many unique elements and variations, yet all of us also have similar basic needs, desires and yearnings. My work with clients is to walk with them through difficulties and help them discover what it is they need to do to find relief from distress and greater comfort and joy in their lives.

The answers lie within. The challenge is listening to their wisdom and then creating change.

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