The Centre for Response-Based Practice provides a welcoming environment and we celebrate diversity. We invite people from any cultural group or ethnic background, those who identify as LGBTQ2S, people of all ages (from children to elders), individuals with a wide range of abilities, and those with any relationship history.
Robbyn Bennett, M.C., RCC
Robbyn’s experience includes working with a wide range of individuals, couples, and youth facing different life challenges. She works with people affected by adversity, trauma, grief and all forms of suffering. Her approach starts with understanding the context in which people find themselves challenged, [which often might be feeling stuck or lost], and helps them move forward through understanding the process that they are in.
One of Robbyn’s specific areas of concentration includes working with people of all ages who are interested in exploring their relationship with food, their bodies, and the impact of social and personal expectations. These things can result in ‘eating disorders’ or other forms of suffering that impede a person’s happiness and health. There is perhaps additional pressure in the world of professional athletics. Robbyn also works with athletes, coaches, and parents of athletes wanting to explore their emotional well-being.
Robbyn was born and raised in Kamloops BC. Robbyn and her husband moved back to Kamloops 3 years ago, from Vancouver to embrace the beauty, outdoors, and sense of close community that Kamloops offers families. Robbyn believes that all people face challenges and need extra support during difficult times in their lives, and that does not mean we are broken. In fact, she believes that people are master strategists who find incredibly creative ways to survive and navigate adverse situations. When challenging events occur, we not only experience the suffering, but the social responses and consequences that accompany the event. Robbyn believes in people, and works with them to understand their responses within the context of their experiences, which creates space for compassion, improved health, generates peace, and builds greater self-understanding. Robbyn is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) who obtained her Masters Degree in Counselling from City University of Seattle in Vancouver. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Thompson Rivers University, is a student in the Response-Based Practice Certificate program, and has over 10 years’ experience in counselling as well as over 20 years of experience in the world of competitive athletics.
Dr. Shelly Bonnah, Ph.D., RCC
Shelly’s experience and area of concentration includes working for victims of all ages who have experienced violence or other traumatic events, as well as for those who have chosen to use violence to harm others. Shelly also works on behalf of children, to do ‘Views of the Child Reports’ when they are required in Family Law disputes. Shelly is available to work for other professionals as a clinical supervisor, or consulting in the area of Organizational Development or Program Evaluation.
Shelly was raised in Northern BC and then Kamloops, and has been parenting her own children and foster children for more than 25 years.
Shelly’s experience includes over 20 years of direct counselling experience with children, youth, couples and families, consulting with a wide range of organizations, teaching in Universities, clinical supervision and organizational development in the social service sector. Shelly has also worked with the Centre for Response-Based Practice and her colleagues Allan Wade, Linda Coates & Cathy Richardson for approximately 10 years. Opening an interior office is an exciting opportunity to offer direct services in this area to individuals, families, and other professionals.
Shelly has been actively involved in the ongoing development of working with children and youth from a Response-Based perspective, and understanding how young people respond to, and resist experiences of violence and trauma. Shelly is a licensed Family Therapist, an author, and a graduate of the Doctoral Program at the TAOS Institute.
Robb Dolson, M.Ed., RCC, CCC
Robb’s area of concentration includes working with youth (and their caregivers) who are misusing substances in a way that always considers the context of their lives, and he works with young people from whatever place they are most comfortable starting from—without judgement or pressure. His work includes individual and/or family sessions. Alternative location sessions can be prearranged. Robb is also a Couple’s and Family counsellor.
Robb was born and raised in Kamloops, BC, and together with his wife is raising two young daughters. Robb has worked in this community as a teacher and a counsellor, and is highly respected for his energy and his ability to connect with young people. He has extensive experience working with children and youth, and a clear and direct approach to working with families and couples. Robb has been a teacher in the Kamloops/Thompson School District for 11 years and has taught both in Europe and locally. His experience includes working with youth and adults who have experienced multiple barriers and face situations of extreme oppression and risk.
Dignity is the cornerstone of Robb’s counselling practice, and the understanding that we all do everything we can to preserve dignity when faced with oppression, violence or adversity. Robb views the challenges that people face in the context of their lives, rather than looking at an explanation that only includes the individual.
Robb is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), studying for his Masters Degree both at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and internationally at Heidelberg University in Germany. He is a student in the Response-Based Practice Certificate program, has a flexible schedule and is available for sessions evenings, early mornings, weekends and holidays.
Duanna Johnston-Virgo, M.S.W.
Duanna is a proud member of T’kemlups Te Secwepemc, located in the Secwepemc Nation. Born and raised in her community she comes from a large family unit and is happily married with an active family of three teenagers. Learning is a constant part of her journey to bring about positive, and innovative changes for all Aboriginal people in the social and health fields. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous people and her passion lies in the work to improve all areas of wellness and substance use determinants.
Duanna is a Play Therapist, and her approach maintains a gentle, non-intrusive, child-friendly tone that builds mutual trust. Play is an activity that children experience their greatest moments of familiarity, confidence and control. Traditional ‘talk therapy’ can be intimidating for many children who struggle to feel understood and actively participate Her awareness of cultural safety, sensitivity, empathy and compassion guide her ability to do this work in a way that places children and youth as her primary focus. She looks forward to the innovative work she will be doing with the Centre for Response-based Practice.
Duanna has a Bachelor of Social Work from Thompson Rivers University and a Masters of Social Work from The University of Victoria. She has worked in the areas of Child and Family services, Mental Health/counselling for children, youth and families, as a sessional instructor in Social Work at an Aboriginal post secondary institution, and has facilitated group-training sessions in mental health. Her most recent position was in a leadership role at an Aboriginal Health Agency. Duanna has an extensive background in expressive therapies and alternative healings with First Nations individuals, families and communities.
The team of counsellors at the Centre would like to welcome Duanna Johnston-Virgo to our Practice.
Cole Levitt, M.Ed., CCC
Cole’s prior practices consist of work with individuals, couples, and families dealing with a wide variety of issues including, but not limited to: anxiety, depression, traumatic experiences, infidelity, and anger or violence. The foundation of Cole’s work is based on the assumption that when people are mistreated or experience suffering, it is common to feel overwhelmed, sad, or unsure about what to do. It is at this place that he can be useful, and engage in meaningful conversations.
Cole’s area of concentration includes working with children & youth who experience a wide variety of social struggles (including an Autism diagnosis) and challenging behaviours. His work includes individual sessions, family therapy, and developing or implementing Behavioural Intervention Plans. Cole works with children and their families for a wide variety of challenges in a way that is systemic and honoring of everyone’s dignity. Alternative location sessions can be prearranged.
Cole grew up in Williams Lake, BC. Currently, Cole, his wife, and their two young children live in Kamloops.
Cole’s career has been as an educator and a counsellor. Specifically, he has experience as a behaviour specialist which has provided him with unique insight into young people who use their behaviour as language, sometimes instead of their words. Cole works from the perspective of understanding abilities rather than ‘disabilities’ as well as family systems, rather than individuals. Cole is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), a Response-Based Certificate Student, and he earned his Master’s Degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Shannon Ritchie, M.C., RCC
Shannon’s area of concentration includes Couple’s and Family counselling, and her approach is to help create understanding about the interactions between some of the most significant relationships that people can have. Within couples and/or families, the losses that can be experienced may be causing suffering or concern that is difficult to resolve alone. Shannon also concentrates on working for victims of violence or people who have offended against others, and Views of the Child reports.
Shannon grew up in the small town of Clearwater, BC, and has lived in Kamloops for over 20 years. She and her partner have two children.
Shannon believes that people do all types of things to preserve their dignity and respond to and resist the adversity that they face. She also believes that when individuals begin to understand their responses as signs of mental wellness, not mental deficit, they begin to feel better. Shannon understands that individuals, couples, and families experience a number of systemic challenges that get in the way of optimal family functioning. She believes that her role is to help families identify how each member is supporting each other and what patterns are contributing to the “problem”.
Shannon is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC). She has a Masters Degree in Counselling from City University of Seattle. In addition, she holds a Bachelor Degree with a major in Sociology, a Certificate in Child Abuse Prevention, a Diploma in Systemic Family Therapy, and she is a student in the Response-Based Practice Certificate program. Shannon has over 10 years’ experience directly supporting families. Shannon practices from a number of therapeutic modalities including Response-Based Practice, Narrative Therapy, Systemic Family Therapy, and Solution-Focused Therapy.
Response Based Practice: What is it?
Response-based practice is a comprehensive framework for responding to families and communities facing violence and other forms of adversity and for improving institutional responses.
The model includes clearly stated tenets, which align with and extend current research, and well-defined practices for direct service work with individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, and organizations.
The model integrates practice and research on several levels:
A social justice oriented and contextual model of therapy
Developed and applied in diverse social and cultural settings, and in response to individuals and families facing violence and other forms of adversity and injustice, the model encompasses, but is not limited to, trauma-treatment.
Research and analysis:
Individual and collective responses to adversity and resistance to violence.
The connection between violence and language in professional and public settings.
The quality of social responses to adults and children in diverse communities.
Analysis of institutional responses in cases of violence and adversity.
Local initiatives to improve institutional responses.
Consultation and Supervision:
Support of professionals responding to cases of violence.
On-going consultation to professionals applying response-based practice.
Consultation to researchers and policy analysts.
Analysis of expert reports and provision of expert testimony:
Independent analysis of expert reports in domestic violence and family law.
Reports and expert testimony in cases of domestic and family violence.
National and international presentations/training:
Key-note addresses and multi-day training in response-based practice.
Ongoing work with police, therapists, victim assistance, shelters, and others.
Numerous peer reviewed original publications in academic and professional texts.