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Gunnel Tesfa, MSW, RSW

Registered Social Worker

I create a safe space for you where our goal

is to find hope, strength, confidence and joy.

When we are in distress, one of the most common feelings that go along with this is feeling disconnected. We feel cut off from our own internal resources, and we often feel disconnected from important relationships in our life, such as our family and friends. As social beings, we also often feel disconnected from the groups we identify with, may they be cultural, social or professional groups.

The way I can help you with the difficult and painful issues in your life is by creating a safe space for you in which we can look at these issues together, and provide you with the skills and tools needed to connect with those resources within you, and outside of you, that will allow you to live with more hope, strength, confidence, and joy.

My Counselling Approach

To achieve a thorough understanding of my clients’ problems, I find systems-based theory very useful. Systems theory helps put our problems into the context of our social environment, and recognizes that we are, to a large extent, shaped by the social forces around us. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has proven to be very effective during the process of exploring changes and solutions.

I also like to use a variant called Mindfulness informed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Mindfulness by itself is a powerful tool for self-transformation, which I have been studying, practicing, and using in therapy for several years. It is very versatile and can be adapted to many different situations.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, read this article.

My Credentials

I studied social work at the University of British Columbia, where I obtained both my Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work Degree. Social Work has always appealed to me because it focuses on strengthening and empowering both the individual, as well as the families and communities we live in. Some highlights during my studies were looking at issues concerning women, issues specific to immigrants, multicultural issues, and the therapeutic role of creativity. I much enjoyed my practicums at the Ministry of Children and Family Development, at Immigrant Services Society, and at Multicultural Family Support Services Society.

After completing my degree in 1995, I went on to work in the area of mental health. For the first several years I worked in hospital settings, and afterwards, in community clinics that served people with mental illness, depression, and anxiety. I have experience in the following areas:

  • Working with clients suffering from major mental illness, bi-polar disorder, depression, anxiety, and trauma
  • Helping clients who deal with adjustment or more chronic difficulties at home, within their family, or at work, such as post-immigration adjustment and culture shock, abusive family relationships, difficulties with children, or having special needs children, addictions, divorce, physical disability or illness, chronic pain, grief, coping at work, job loss
  • I have extensive knowledge of helpful local community resources and agencies in most of the above areas

I am registered with the British Columbia College of Social Workers, and I am a member of the British Columbia Association of Social Workers.

Additional Interests

I have had a lifelong passion for animals, am a dog owner, and am currently studying the science behind the role that pets, and animals in general play in our mental wellbeing and social functioning.

Contact Gunnel

Emailing at gunnel@innovatherapy.com is the best way to reach Gunnel. To protect your privacy, please do not reveal any personal or confidential information in your message.

​You may also call 6 0 4 – 3 5 8 – 8 8 0 1. Gunnel will call you back as soon as she can.