Why did I become a psychotherapist?

Growing up in a large family with strong opinions created interesting dynamics and conversations during our family gatherings. As the youngest and only girl, it was hard to get a word in edgewise - so I settled into the role of the listener and deep thinker. The words of great philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Hume resonated so strongly with me. My love for understanding the way people think and behave led me to pursue courses in philosophy and psychology in high school and later university.

My travels to various parts of the world has further fuelled my love for understanding human dynamics from different perspectives. I have been fortunate to meet with people from all walks of life. It began clear that there are many individuals who feel alone, left out, lonely, unheard, fearful and insignificant. My urgency to help when hearing these stories went beyond just listening - I always felt the need to guide them through this darkness.

My life has been filled with its own challenges some more difficult than others. What has helped for me it to arm myself with hope and determination. Psychotherapy has allowed me to use my experiences to support my clients to understand and accept their narratives with authenticity and pride. I am blessed to be invited into a journey of self-understanding and growth and shine light on their potential.

Krystle Pierre MSc CCC

What is my education & training?

I completed an Honours Bachelor of Science at McMaster University in Biology/Psychology. During my time at McMaster, I was fortunate to land a research opportunity exploring the use of music to support individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. This was my first experience in the field of mental health, and I fell in love with helping patients in a creative and meaningful way. After graduating from McMaster, I pursued a research-based graduate degree in Psychiatry from McGill University. Here, I continued my work in schizophrenia, exploring the underlying factors that may contribute to the disorder such as childhood trauma, prenatal stress, adult trauma, substance use and stress. During my time at McGill I was focused on research and I realized a missing piece of my mental health journey - face-to-face work with clients in a therapeutic setting. It was then I decided to pursue an additional Master of Education in Counselling Psychology from the University of Toronto. My second graduate degree opened my eyes to the multi-layered factors associated with mental health including the impact of oppression, colonization, society, intergenerational trauma and culture. To understand these aspects of mental health in depth I sought training in solution-focused and narrative therapy.

As a life-long learner, I continue to pursue training opportunities and have completed seminars and coursework on mindfulness-based approaches, compassion-focused approaches, trauma-informed therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and family systems models.

I am a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

What are my areas of clinical focus?

When life gets overwhelming due to problems, we highlight these challenges and they take center stage. Getting stuck in this mindset holds us back from developing solutions, opening our minds to different perspectives and being kind to ourselves. I always find myself cringing at the negative self-talk many of us have and how it holds us back from living a whole life. My work is driven by compassion, empathy and support to help clients change unhealthy thoughts patterns, understand the factors contributing to these challenges and develop strategies to rise above. I work with 

children, adolescents, adults, couples and families to overcome a variety of challenges such as:

  • Mood disorders: Depression, bipolar, post-partum mood disorder (PPMD)

  • Anxiety and anxiety related disorders: worry, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, panic attacks

  • Stress

  • Family/Couples Conflict

  • Anger management

  • Trauma and abuse

  • Grief and loss

  • Addictions and Recovery

  • Questions and concerns about gender, sexuality and identity (LGBTQ+)

  • Time management

  • Assertiveness and communication

  • Life transitions (career, relationships, divorce, separation)

  • Cultural and societal challenges (immigration and acculturation)

  • Building emotional intelligence, regulation and resiliency

  • Personal growth (self-esteem, body image, expectations and perfectionism)

What do I love about being a psychotherapist?

What is there not to love? Well yes, it is difficult work but as a psychotherapist I am honoured to be trusted with my clients’ narratives and deepest secrets. Life is tough! Having a safe place to go to when we are faced with mountains of questions about life is ESSENTIAL. I am blessed to be able to watch individuals just be themselves, be heard and be accepted unconditionally. The most rewarding part about the process are the “ah-ha” moments that I get to experience with the individuals I work with. This moment can be because of a changed perspective of a challenge, new knowledge about the underlying factors contributing to their issues or the introduction of important coping mechanisms. Clients have described this as a “lightness” or “weight lifted.” After working with clients, hearing their stories, unpacking their challenges there comes a moment where there is a mental, physical and spiritual shift in the way they experience the world, their relationships and most importantly themselves.

What are the techniques I use most?

When you first come to see me, I am aware that you have mulled over your problems for a long time. Well no more! You are seeking psychotherapy because you are tired of being stuck and having trouble to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My approach is client centered and strengths-based infused with compassion, acceptance and collaboration. Through psychotherapy, we can engage in a dialogue that reveals solutions, develops goals and skills to move you forward in your life and change unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviours. In addition, I believe that tapping into our creativity can help understand ourselves and unpack our potential when talking is difficult. I believe that

using creative approaches such as imagery, art, drawing, role-playing, movement and music assists in the process.

Specific evidence-based techniques I utilize include:

  • Solution-focused therapy

  • Narrative therapy

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • Compassion-focused therapy

  • Trauma-Informed and Anti-Oppressive approaches

  • Family and Couples Therapy

What attracted me to a team-based model?

Finding happiness is not about how much or how little we have – rather- it is about balance, harmony and wholeness. To live a truly balanced life, there must be a collaboration of mind, body and soul. This mentality fuels my love for a team-based model. With the support of other professionals, I can explore the multiple dimensions of heath and explore different perspectives to better support my clients. The age old saying “it takes a village” is glaringly true when I think of the work done within a team-based model. We can tap into each other’s strengths and support one another through challenges. Most importantly, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive and like-minded team than the one here at One Elephant. Not only do I call them my colleagues, I also called them my family.

If I’m not at work, where can you find me?

When I am not at work, you can find me roaming the halls of George Brown College where I teach various courses including Introduction to Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Advanced Counselling Skills and Speaking with Confidence. My students have described me as light-hearted, always positive and constantly telling jokes (you can decide if my humour is lame or not).

Outside of the classroom, I am a busy mom to two amazing girls. We love to dance, sing and act goofy every chance we get! In addition to my immense love for my children, I am passionate about music. My love for music runs through my blood and helps to soothe me even during the most trying times. When I am in my “happy place,” there is usually a beat blazing in the background, or I am vibing to a live show.