I provide the following clinical counselling and therapeutic services:

Therapy for children and families:

Intake and Initial Assessment

For therapy with children 12 and under, my practice is to meet with the parent or parents first, without the child present.  If parents are separated, I customarily try to  obtain informed consent from both, prior to commencing therapy with the child.

The intake session allows us to discuss the child’s or family’s current issue in detail.  It also allows me to gather information about the child’s earlier development and any previous adverse experiences.  This gives me a broader understanding of the context in which the child’s current difficulties are occurring.  The intake session also gives you the opportunity to learn more about me and my approach.

Together, we will choose the form of child and family therapy that will best fit your family’s needs.  I will then discuss how you can broach the subject of coming to see me with your child.

Please note that I do not provide formal assessments or mental health diagnoses for children.  I am experienced, however, at following recommendations provided in psychological assessments.

Play Therapy for Children

Play therapy roomPlay therapy provides a safe and supportive environment in which children are given the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about their difficult experiences through play, which is their natural means of communication. Thoughts, feelings and behaviour are closely interconnected in children.  Although I concentrate on the child’s thoughts and feelings, as revealed symbolically through their play, the results include changes in behaviour.

My play therapy rooms are equipped with a variety of toys and materials, appropriate for facilitating expressive play in children aged 3-12.   If the child needs assistance getting started, I may make suggestions for initial activities.  For the most part, the play is chosen and led by them.  I respond empathically, attuning to the nuances of their play.   This helps extend their concentration and focus as they work towards a symbolic resolution of their difficulties.

Play therapy roomRegular consultation with parents is an important part of play therapy.  Frequent phone calls, and periodic parental sessions allow me to integrate feedback and updates into my work with the child.

I am comfortable providing play therapy with the parent remaining in the room, and certainly expect that some children will need their parent present until they feel secure with me.  Other children may want and need to spend most of the session time with the therapist alone.  I do, as a practice, request parental involvement  at start or end of most  sessions.  In this way, the parent is an active and informed participant in their child’s healing process.

I would highly recommend Sheila as your child’s play therapist. I felt that I was lucky to be able to find Sheila when I felt I could no longer provide the support that I knew my child needed. Sheila was able to give my child coping tools that she could take out into the world with her. My child found ways to express her concerns to Sheila through playful activities (painting, role playing, and a favourite-the sand tray). I also appreciated the frequent phone conversations that I had with Sheila as we progressed through the therapy sessions, as well as the conversations with me and my child after each session. Sheila is extremely kind and gentle and creates a lovely environment for a child to feel comfortable to open up to.

– Mother

The video Play Therapy Works provides an excellent, 7 minute overview of the process of play therapy. Click the link below to view the video:

Family Therapy

The family therapist builds on the family’s strengths to promote positive change in the area of difficulty.  As a family therapist, I work with all family members in a flexible series of combinations, in order to resolve differences between individual family members and  strengthen connections.   Research studies have shown that strong relationships between different family members, combined with healthy communication, regular opportunities to be together, and robust connections to the larger community, result in resilient families that can withstand the impact of negative events.

In family therapy I use a combination of talk and hands-on activities in order to include all family members.  I may start family therapy by seeing the parents alone, especially if the family has young children.  However, if the family has adolescents, I will include them at intake. The second session involves seeing all family members together to talk and take part in age-appropriate activities.  This helps me to understand how the family operates, and also provides all family members with the opportunity to get to know me.  I may then ask family members to attend sessions in smaller groups – father and son together, for example, or mother with her daughters – in order to address specific areas of difficulty.

Changes in how the family functions will be apparent in the intervening periods between sessions.  News of these shifts will be discussed at the start of each session so that momentum and motivation for change can build.

“Our children began to see Sheila during a very difficult family breakdown.  During this dark time, Sheila’s high degree of skill, perception and compassion brought much needed clarity and articulation to our children’s lives.  This enabled them to find workable solutions to many problems they were faced with.  Our family has greatly benefitted from Sheila’s strongly professional and skilled services.”


Parent Counselling

I provide counselling and consultation to parents seeking  support  in parenting their child.  There may have been a significant loss or change in the family; the child may have entered a new developmental stage that presents challenges for the parent.  Although I customarily work directly with children and families, there are situations where the parent prefers or needs to attend counselling on their own.  Parent and I work collaboratively to develop more effective strategies for addressing the current needs of the child or children.  If the paren’ts own issues interact with their children’s difficulties, these will also be pinpointed and addressed.  The parent will then be supported to implement the chosen strategies on a daily basis in the home.

Filial Play Therapy

In filial therapy, the parent is taught the basic strategies of play therapy in order to strengthen the bonds of attachment between parent and child.  Parent coaching sessions (with parent and therapist) alternate with videotaped sessions in which parent and child play together in a play therapy setting.  Review of videotape without the child present follows.  This process is repeated until the parent feels comfortable with, and demonstrates mastery of the basic skills.  At this point, play sessions are moved to the family home.

Although filial therapy maintains a humourous and light-hearted touch, the research shows significant outcomes in many areas.  When a child experiences their parent as listening to them, entering the child’s world, and allowing the child to lead the play, the child is more able to accept the limits parents need to set at other times.   When a full complement of filial therapy sessions have been successfully completed (typically 15-20 sessions), studies have established that the child shows significant improvements in behaviour.  There are often no differences in outcomes between filial therapy, where the parent works with the child, and play therapy, where the child works directly with a professional.

Homeschooling Specialty

Having homeschooled my own son for most of his elementary school years, I am familiar with the homeschooling community in the Lower Mainland, and understand the diverse needs of different homelearning families.  I have a clear grasp of the range of homeschooling, from schooling at home to a more “unschooled” approach.  The research outcomes on homelearning have broadened my understanding of the viability of this option.

I am highly respectful of the extraordinary efforts of homelearning parents to provide a rigorous and flexible education to meet their children’s  needs.  At the same time, I understand that they or their children may benefit from counselling assistance with a specific issue.

Sheila Lindfield is a treasure.  Both our children, one pre-teen and one adolescent, have benefitted immeasurably from her gentle, kind, empathetic, wise care. She deeply understands and supports the needs of homelearning families; ours has the fullest confidence in Sheila, and it gives us great pleasure to recommend her highly and without reservation.

-Homelearning Parent

Adoptions Specialty

Families formed through adoption may face significant challenges related to their child’s pre-adoption history.  My ability to provide effective post adoptions services comes from two sources:  work experiences, combined with extensive post-graduate training in childhood trauma and attachment.

In eight years as Senior Clinical Counsellor at Westcoast Family Centres, I have worked extensively with children in the foster and adoptions system in B.C., under the Ministry for Children and Family Development.  Numerous children on my case-load have moved from foster care to permanent, adoptive homes.  I have provided  therapeutic services to these children and their adoptive parents both through the period of  transition, and , in some cases, for several years post adoption.

In private practice, I have worked with adoptive families in the initial period after adoption.  I have also provided support to families when their children reach a new developmental stage.  This requires them to reintegrate their early pre-adoption experiences with the new level of functioning.

Through participating in play therapy with our adopted daughter I was able to better understand what issues she was struggling with. Play therapy helped me to understand the deeper meaning behind some of our daughter’s troublesome behaviours and to respond more effectively to these behaviours at home. Thanks to Sheila’s knowledge and skill and patient, non-judgemental teaching I feel much closer to my daughter and she is much more attached to me.


Counselling and Mentoring Youth (13-20)

I provide a safe and supportive environment where youth can express thoughts and feelings about difficulties they are experiencing.  I work flexibly with both the young person and parent/guardian, as required, to find effective ways to address the youth’s issues and challenges.

If the youth requests it, the parent may be asked to attend part of a therapy session.  It may also be requested by the therapist if discussions with the youth indicate that parental presence to address a specific issue would be useful.   It is expected, however, that for parts of most sessions, it will be more therapeutic to see the young person alone.

In addition to talking, a variety of therapeutic activities, drawn from the expressive arts, are available for the young person to choose from.  These include sandtray, painting, drawing, and claywork.

I also offer youth a form of mentoring that focusses on the larger picture of who they are in the process of becoming.  Sessions provide an invitation for them to assess their experiences and the many conflicting influences on them.  By increasing reflective capacities, youth become better equipped to make meaningful choices.  This leads to a productive future as they launch into adult life.

Clinical counselling for adults

As your clinical counsellor, I will provide collaborative support that will assist you to address the difficulties you are encountering.  These difficulties may have a lengthy history, or they may have begun fairly recently.

We will first identify and  clarify what’s troublesome, looking closely at how it impacts you and affects daily living.   We will also look closely at the things you have already tried to address the issue.  Your unique strengths and abilities will be explored, as they can be harnessed in the service of change.

I adhere firmly to the belief that problems occur within a social context, and that, in counselling adults, we need to include this much wider perspective.  I maintain a curious and open position regarding how change can happen, respecting that each individual will find their own route towards change, with the counsellor as a guide or a catalyst, rather than an expert with a battery of answers.

I expect that different clients will need to work in quite different ways. The counselling  I provide will be tailored to fit for each unique individualIf your needs fall outside my areas of experience and expertise, I will assist with an appropriate referral.

Divorce Coach and Child Specialist with Collaborative Divorce Vancouver

Acting as Divorce Coach, I provide finely attuned support to my client during the challenging transitions that divorce entails. I am committed to maintaining a respectful and non-judgemental approach to both parties as collaborative divorce professionals facilitate a negotiated settlement that is workable for all, including the children.

When engaged as a Child Specialist, my training in play therapy allows me to work effectively with children of all ages, including the very young. I bring sensitivity and compassion to my assessment of how children or youth are managing, encouraging them to voice their concerns. I will then ensure, acting as their voice, that the children’s concerns are articulated to the parents in the presence of the divorce coaches.

After two decades of clinical work with families in transition after separation, I am passionate about assisting families to develop effective solutions that allow all members to recover, adapt and thrive. I view Collaborative Divorce as the cornerstone of viable, long-term
co-parenting plan.


Supervision for clinical counsellors,  child and family therapists, and play therapists

I provide either single or ongoing external supervision to therapists and clinical counsellors working either with children and families or with adults.  I am available for supervision both face to face or via distance.  If the supervisee lives in another location, I use Skype technology, which allows us to see each other as we talk, and to share material.

If you are a child and family therapist with a Master’s degree, working in a play therapy setting, and are interested in pursuing registration as a play therapist, I can provide the approved supervision hours required (for either the APT or the CACPT).

Free initial phone consultation

I am happy to provide a free 20 minute consultation by phone to discuss the current issues in your family.  We will put  our heads together to work out the best fit between what is needed and what I am able to provide.   I have confidence in my ability to assist your child (or youth) and your family with a wide range of emotional and behavioural  issues.  If, however, the issue is outside my areas of expertise, I will assist you with appropriate referrals.