Danny Firestone is an Individual and Family Therapist (RP) with over 30 years of direct service experience. He has an Honors BA in psychology and a M.Ed. in counselling psychology. He has spent his adult life working with adolescents, young adults and families struggling with the problems that result from overwhelming challenges in regulating their emotions, thoughts and behaviors. As a particularly empathetic and skillful therapist, he has built a reputation for working with the hardest to serve clients. Over the years, he has worked extensively with people dealing with problems related to attention deficit disorders (ADHD, ADD), Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Mood disorders (Depression; Dysthymia, Bi-polar), Anxiety disorders (OCD; GAD; PTSD), Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, Addictions (gaming, drug use), Autism Spectrum Disorders (Asperger’s), and Parent/child relational problems.
Danny’s strengths lie in his ability to “go where angels fear to tread”. He believes that no matter how self-destructive or impaired someone is, they deserve a therapist who will do what it takes to help them find a better way to go through life, and he is confident enough to journey with them through their darkest thoughts, feelings and experiences. Danny’s ability to conceptualize the problem from the client’s point of view, allows him to engage more difficult clients and help them work towards a more integrated, less dysfunctional lifestyle.
Danny also understands that many young people and their families are struggling with powerful negative emotions, impulses and behaviours, and they have become trapped in “the blame game”. He believes “the truth shall set you free”, and he is known for his ability to take on “the elephant in the room”. He is prepared to fight the good fight, even when it gets messy. He will ask the difficult questions, challenge you when you are full of unresolved contradictions, and support you throughout the process. He believes that empathy and compassion are essential tools for living a good life, and that all people, no matter how hopeless they feel or how much they struggle, have the capacity for change and the desire to live a life worth living. He also believes that people have to live skillfully to get the most out of life, and he has devoted his professional life to helping people learn and live these skills. The skills to accept the things they cannot change, the skills to change the things they can, and the skills to determine the difference.
Danny’s primary focus over the past 13 years has been developing his skills and practice in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), a modification of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) developed by Marsha Linehan out of the University of Chicago. DBT was designed and adapted specifically to treat the problems related to emotional dysregulation, including behaviours such as self-harming, suicide thoughts, urges and attempts, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, or alcohol and drug problems. Over the past decade in particular, Danny has had intensive training in DBT, has taken a lead role in consulting with and developing a DBT residential treatment program, and has developed and presented several trainings and workshops in DBT for other service providers.
Danny believes that DBT is a therapy uniquely suited to the problems faced by the families of struggling adolescents, and to some extent, to everyone who wants to get more out of life. It avoids the blame game, while teaching skills and providing coaching to facilitate skills development in all areas of life. It brilliantly combines Acceptance and Dialectics to help clients experience their emotions fully while being in control of their behaviors in order to live “a life worth living”.
Melanie Cheskes (she/her) has been working as a clinical social worker since 2012, providing psychotherapy to youth, adults, couples and families. Melanie will work hard with you to develop an understanding of your strengths and challenges, and identify your goals. Melanie is direct and transparent, while being mindful of moving at a pace that works for you. She will not shy away from the things that are hardest for you, but will help you go there by using compassion, empathy, curiosity, humour, and whatever else it takes. With you, Melanie will learn about and tackle habits and ingrained patterns non-judgementally, moving towards knowledge and skills that will improve your life.
Melanie works with clients on a wide range of issues, including:
In individual work, Melanie will ask you the difficult questions to help you observe your own thoughts and urges, and make connections between your internal experiences, belief systems and behaviours. She will teach you skills and help you learn how to apply them, even in the contexts that are most difficult for you.
With couples and family members, Melanie will work hard to help you uncover what is beneath the anger, avoidance, resentment, blame and hopelessness, and better understand your role in ingrained relationship patterns and dynamics. Melanie will offer psychoeducation, modelling and direction for more effective communication, even when it’s hardest. She will hold a grounded posture, staying focused on your goals in order to help you self-reflect, listen for understanding, be accountable, repair damage, and make real positive change.
As a DBT group facilitator, Melanie’s passion for teaching and experiential learning comes through. She is animated and enthusiastic about what she teaches, and sensitive and responsive to what her group members are bringing into the room.
Melanie’s career first began in fine arts and teaching in the early 2000s, from which she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Education. Her love of helping people deal with the vulnerabilities and struggles they face in their lives led her to return to school to complete a master’s in social work. Upon completion, she worked as a clinical social worker at several non-profit mental health agencies in Toronto.
In 2017, she began a business partnership with her clinical mentor, Danny Firestone. They cofounded PEACE Psychotherapy with the intention of building a team of psychotherapists committed to doing the hard work of truly helping people to address their problems effectively and build a life worth living.
Erin Powley (she/her) has been working as a clinical social worker for over 10 years. She has experience in various settings including hospital emergency departments, and inpatient mental health units, sexual assault and violence services, correctional facilities, and in child welfare. Erin has also worked with parents and children who have experienced parent child contact problems. Her career has been multifaceted and has included working with individuals and couples, facilitating groups, and providing support and psychoeducation to families. Erin expertly selects therapeutic approaches and treatments to empower her clients by fostering self-awareness and teaching skills that can change problematic thinking patterns and behavioural responses. Erin draws from a variety of treatment modalities including DBT, CBT, brief solution-focused therapy, trauma focused, family systems, and culturally sensitive therapy. She works within an Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression framework.
Erin’s down to earth approach and warm personality enable her to connect quickly with clients of all ages. She provides the right combination of support and challenge so that clients can move towards a more skillful and productive life with improved sense of self, compassion, healing and resilience.
Erin’s experience covers a wide range of symptoms and diagnosis including:
Leah Breslow (she/her) received her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology: Applied Developmental Emphasis from the University of Guelph with a primary interest in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She has pursued focused training in DBT over the past few years and is passionate about providing DBT to clients, especially adolescents, young adults and their families. Why is Leah committed to utilizing this evidence-based treatment with clients? Since DBT is based on a blend of different therapeutic philosophies, Leah sees this as a solid foundation for a balanced and enriching therapeutic process. One of the philosophies DBT draws from is Eastern mindfulness which Leah has utilized in her own meditation practice and enjoys sharing this powerful tool with clients. Leah also sees the value of the therapist consultation team – an integral part of DBT therapy, where therapists are clinically held accountable and supported in the treatment provided to clients.
Leah’s career first began in teaching, where she taught a second language to preschoolers and adults. Supporting both her young and mature students in learning a new language, Leah developed a strong belief that growth is possible at any age. Whatever stage you are in your life, and however challenging your life circumstances are, Leah is a firm believer that you and your life can transform. Leah understands that the process of shedding ingrained habits and introducing new ones is often a non-linear and bumpy one. She will stick by your side through the inevitable growing pains of the therapy process as you transform your inner landscape — including your emotions, perception of self, and thoughts — and the landscape around you — including your interpersonal relationships and your life’s circumstances.
Leah’s approach is rooted in psycho-education; together, you will learn new skills and develop a robust toolkit personalized to you, so you can move through life with more ease, confidence, and inner calm. A key component of Leah’s therapeutic toolkit is appreciating meditation, one of the four core building blocks of DBT, and something that’s often challenging for clients with a lot of overwhelming thoughts and emotions. Meditation is a crucial exercise to maintain a healthy “thought-world”, just like going to the gym or doing other physical exercise is necessary to have a healthy body. Leah will support you in learning and applying that and other DBT tools in your daily life to manage overwhelming emotions skillfully, tolerate stressful events and to improve your relationships.
Leah can help you or your child manage issues related to any of the following:
Leah brings a high degree of patience and compassion to your work together. She will help you tend to your vulnerable spots and critical self-talk when they pop up. And she will also gently guide you to reflect on things that may be difficult to explore, and yet are necessary for positive change to occur. Leah will work with you to deepen your understanding of your inner world. For Leah, non-judgmental awareness is the very first step that paves the way to healing — and she is committed to walking alongside you for the rest of the steps in your therapeutic journey together.
Tracy MacIntyre (she/her) is a graduate of Yorkville University with a Masters in Counselling Psychology. She works with adults and families with a range of challenges. She listens without judgement and honours each client’s
experiences, strengths, and goals.
Tracy’s mission is to help people find their voice. This might be the literal voice of a young person who is misunderstood by the adults around them or an inner voice that has been silenced for so many years that it has become unrecognizable because it is buried underneath any combination of anger, avoidance, and “should”s.
Tracy will aim to understand where you have been and where you want to be, then discuss a course of action that makes sense based on the thoughts and emotions that may be holding you back from a life that you would value. She often uses a cognitive-behavioural approach to understand the way your thoughts can influence your emotions and behaviour but recognizes that relationship patterns in your life are an important aspect of well-being, so she will identify recurring themes to explore with you.
Tracy works with clients on issues such as
Tracy has worked as a counsellor and as a psychometrist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships and is a member of the Family Engagement Committee of Lumenus, a provider of mental health services to adults and youth in Toronto.
Considering therapy is a bold, empowering, and insightful choice. It is an important act of self-compassion that can make a wonderful difference in your life, so congratulations on this choice.
Dahlia Vionnet (they/them) is an MSW student with several years of experience empowering individuals to become compassionate observers of self-destructive habits and active participants in the moment-to-moment opportunity for self-understanding and improvement. Dahlia brings together their knowledge of Buddhism, Psychology, and Mental Health to contextualize DBT as a skills-based framework that observes suffering and teaches how to alleviate it. Dahlia’s personal experience of the transformative potential of DBT forms the foundation of their commitment to teach and model skills to better balance doing too little and doing too much.
Dahlia’s academic background in Critical Race Theory and social justice informs their anti-oppressive approach to clinical practice. As a white, gender queer practitioner, they are intentional about examining their subject position in relation to the client and acknowledging their power in the helping relationship. They make an effort to understand the bio-social-cultural determinants of mental health, specifically how oppression and power dynamics impact individuals’ mental health and coping behaviours. Clients are provided support to comprehend and accept the generational and/or structural causes of their suffering, and held accountable to practice skills that will help them meet their objectives.
With experience working with youth, young adults, and adults, Dahlia has addressed a range of issues including addiction, disordered eating, procrastination, anxiety, and depression in both private and non-profit organizations. In their work with clients, Dahlia actively addresses and calls attention to problem behaviours that have been learned and reinforced as ways to get needs met. Dahlia’s client-centered approach, combined with their alignment with principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, allows them to destigmatize problem behaviours and help the client understand the function those behaviours serve. They work collaboratively with clients to develop awareness of both the causes (eg. underlying assumptions or judgments) and the effects (eg. negative impacts on relationships and long term goals) of these learned behaviours. Dahlia models replacing shame-inducing judgements with curiosity to instill a growth mindset in clients who may struggle with hopelessness/helplessness. Dahlia also collaborates with clients to build more skillful habits that promote well-being and personal growth. By empowering clients to become mindful agents in their moment to moment experience, Dahlia aims to help individuals move beyond instant gratification and cultivate an appreciation for the peace and calm that comes from trusting one’s capacity to navigate life’s many challenges without making things worse.
As part of their therapeutic approach, Dahlia teaches clients that discomfort is not dangerous and challenges them to embrace vulnerability. Dahlia sits with clients through the discomfort and holds space for tensions to be drawn out. Recognizing that one’s fullest potential can only be realized through the vulnerable process of trial, failure, and the willingness to try again, Dahlia is particularly passionate in supporting clients in challenging perfectionism and procrastination by learning how to replace avoidance behaviours with a willingness to take one step at a time.
Mary Rella (she/her) is a Registered Psychotherapist who, for over 30 years, has specialized in working with infants, children, youth, adults and families at all life stages and in dealing with the multiple and complex challenges they bring.
Mary is widely recognized for her clinical skills, her expertise in mental health overall, and in infant and early years mental health, in particular. You might wonder what early experiences in relationships have to do with the challenges you are facing today? Early relational patterns set up templates to understand ourselves, and ourselves in relationships. In therapy, we explore these templates and the expectations that have
developed as a result.
No matter who walks into the therapeutic space, we come in bringing a history of learned responses and patterns. Understanding these, and the function they serve, can bring new understanding to depression, anxiety, couple conflicts, family challenges, and general overall difficulty coping with stressors. When feelings and behaviours are understood, something difficult turns into something useful and this is when change
happens. Mary is here to guide you on the journey to healing and creating new, healthy patterns and relationships.
When Mary isn’t at PEACE Psychotherapy, she is giving talks locally, nationally and internationally, as well as training professionals, providing supervision to clinicians, and consulting with agencies about infant development, early mental health, and caregiver mental health. Mary holds professional memberships in the College of Registered
Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists (OACCPP).
Yanekah Jacobs (she/her) is the Executive Administrator and Client Intake Coordinator for PEACE Psychotherapy. She has worked in the medical and mental health field for over 10 years as a researcher, administrator and client coordinator. Yanekah graduated with honours from the Women & Gender Studies Bachelor of Arts program at York University and has gone on to pursue a Master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies and intends to become a therapist in the future. Her education and experience allow her to effectively communicate with clients and co-ordinate services based on individual needs while understanding the importance of finding the right therapist for them. Her experience, both personal and professional, also highlighted the importance of appropriate mental health care which fostered a passion for helping people access services that are often difficult to navigate. PEACE’s approach of promoting empathy, acceptance and compassion is what drew her to this role as it allows her to be part of the process toward helping people achieve a better quality of life for themselves and their families