Jessica Motherwell McFarlane, Ph.D.

I am passionate about counselling and teaching and have dedicated three decades to focusing on gender, youth, women’s issues, and transitions across the whole lifespan. I also specialize in offering workshops in anti-racism, truth and reconciliation, implicit bias, and social justice. Whether I am in session in my counselling office, teaching in my classroom, or traveling to deliver professional development workshops, I have the same goal: to help you overcome unrealistic and unfair pressures to be who-you-are-not so you can truly be YOU.

I appreciate that great challenges can come along with changes of all kinds; that is just one of the reasons I am so inspired when working with Youth: because they are learning how to “surf” on a wave of social/physical change each day. Life changes can be painful and scary but they can also be empowering and growing. I am here to help you find new ways to open up and untie the complex “knots” in your life so you can see new solutions. I am here to believe in YOU.

My learning philosophy

Learning is an act of provocation — a leaving of what is known and charting a course into what is not-yet-known. Change can be exhilarating but also scary. In order for people in my classroom, counselling office, or workshops to take risks and leave behind old ideas or harmful patterns, however, they must first trust me. To earn that trust, I commit to supreme respect for the people and communities I serve.

Everyone has a story — but not every story is equally heard. Evidence-based learning strategies combined with arts (e.g., comics) grow listening and story-telling skills. These methods help people understand complex texts, see beyond implicit bias, rehearse self-regulation, improve decision-making, increase upstanding (not bystanding) in ambiguous, emotional, urgent, and/or unjust situations.

I help people appreciate their strengths; learn so they can achieve their dreams; understand and celebrate their REAL selves; and, ultimately, generously give their talents and gifts to the individuals, communities, and environments they feel called to serve.

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low self-esteem, loneliness, eating disorder, honouring your sexual orientation, GLBT coming out, safely navigating your dating and sexual expression working to stop bullying, contemplating and healing addictions, coping with school and/or family stress, repairing right relations after teenaged shop lifting or other crime, supporting you around your psychological responses to PMS, infertility, unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, sexual issues, breast cancer, uterine cancer, breast-feeding problems, post-partum depression, or menopause, giving you support during your illness and medical and diagnostic procedures, giving you choices when you have physical disability or limited accessibility, giving you pre- and post-surgery gender transition support, increasing your understanding of and taking action against sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexist barriers to your career goals/sport activities, and/or giving you support and empowerment around parenting, attachment parenting and/or helping you resist sex-role stereotypes and pressures from family or others