Our Team

You can get better, and our professional team is here for you. Our staff includes a  Physician on site Monday afternoons and available on call 24 hrs,  2 Registered Nurses, Registered Psychologist, Registered Psychotherapist, Register Master Social Worker, Registered Social Worker, and Registered Addiction Counsellors

Meet the Team!

Joe Ann Kortman B.A., B. Ed, Executive Director

Joe Ann Kortman has a keen interest in mental health and helping those around her. She started her career as a Secondary School Teacher and taught in Australia, England, South Africa and finally her home country, Canada. She then expanded her career working for the local government in her home town. After experiencing PTSD, she focused her career goals on giving back to people. Joe Ann shared that her goals are to reach as many people as possible and to provide them with the best quality of care. She is excited to be able to offer  EMDR Treatment as it successfully treated her PTSD, and also having a holistic approach to mental health issues. Joe Ann strongly believes you can get better.

How We Work

At Victoria Wellness, we were intentional about who we brought onto our multi-disciplinary team. Our staff bring a specific skillset and area of educational and personal expertise. We value team work, open communication, and collaboration within our team, and this is in the best interest of our clients. While everyone at Victoria Wellness is professional and trauma informed, each of our team members has a unique and valued way of understanding human behaviour, and suffering. For example, we combine our knowledge of evidence informed cognitive behavioural group work with cutting edge self compassionate Dialectical Behaviour therapy for addiction and relationship challenges. Our expressive arts therapist works closely with our Eco-therapist, both of whom value and understand the impact of trauma on the body. Our clinical team is continually engaged in post graduate learning, and this includes developing expertise in the area of the impact of stress and trauma on the brain. This understanding of the science behind the treatment, and the incorporation of treatment modalities, such as EMDR and EFT, is what contributes to Victoria Wellness being a center of excellence. It truly is our commitment to best practice, lifelong learning, and collaboration as a team that sets us apart.

Staff (Continued)

Jessica Stephens OT(reg Ont.), MA, RP, CHyp

Welcome to Victoria Wellness. I am pleased to be the Clinical Supervisor at VW, where we continually strive to provide a holistic peaceful place with an abundance of natural calming and balanced stimulating sensory elements: On the gorgeous shores of an idyllic lake, in South Central Ontario Canada, a country where thankfully just now, we have many more “optionals” than “mandatories” to inspire us, and with which to work. We offer a holistic range of mind/body/spirit traditions and modalities, both individually and in groups, to tap the resources of courageous participants who not only wish to heal, but are committed to doing the serious, uncomfortable shame-busting work it generally takes. The program goal of combining evidence-based therapy and healing traditions is not a quick fix to “feel better” or “be happy”. In fact, we know that life is far from fair and that there are some circumstances which are not “fixable”, and require a totally different approach to achieve graceful peace and acceptance. Feeling better and subjectively happier are merely transient, occasional side effects that may commonly follow when a client engages in effective therapy, or live a wellness intended life. We all totally love when that happens, and though we measure our outcomes critically, we give all success credit to our clients, the ultimate choosers and weather-makers in their lives right now and going forward!

Jessica Sykes – BSc.H
Group Facilitator/ Client support worker

Jess is a recent honour psychology graduate from Trent University.  While at Trent, Jess was actively involved in mental health research and is working towards furthering her education in Psychotherapy. Although new to the mental health field, her shared experience working with children in mental health and personal life experiences provide knowledge and insight for ways to set and achieve goals, live effectively, avoid stressful situations and personal support.

Jess has a passion for helping others, and her positive and supportive attitude helps to ensure our clients have an optimal experience during their stay at the Victoria Wellness Centre. In Jess’s spare time she loves being actively involved in nature, going on hikes, expressing her love for animals and kayaking!

Tanya Baldwin, BSc.N
Floor Manager/Trauma Informed
Group Facilitator

Tanya’s career has spanned through a variety of clinical areas, including but not limited to: emergency, flight nursing, acute care, youth corrections, occupational health and nephrology. From there she went into management, most recently as the Director of Nursing/Senior Manager at a Hospital and Long Term Care facility in Alberta. Her lived experiences with trauma, personal recovery and further education brought her passion to life. Leaving frontline nursing and management behind, she has focused on trauma and mental health healing,
recovery and management.

With knowledge and understanding in CBT, DBT, Somatic Healing, Polyvagal Theory, Compassionate Inquiry, and more, she is always on the quest to gain more knowledge in the field. Through her personal experience in healing, she found that there is not a “one size fits all” model for recovery. She has created an extensive calming technique “Calm Spaces” that has proven useful in treating emotional distress due to depression, anxiety, panic disorder and PTSD (including complex PTSD).

Kelsey Phillips

Born and raised in Southwestern Ontario, Kelsey moved to the Peterborough area and graduated from the Drug and Alcohol Addictions Counsellor program at Sir Sandford Fleming College in 2014. As an addict living in recovery, Kelsey brings both an informative educational and lived experience background to VW. With her passionate ambition surrounding harm reduction and a client centred approach, she’s helped guide clients with their journey through recovery while demonstrating empathy, insight, and compassion.

Developed and facilitated by Kelsey, the 5-week Addiction Recovery Sponsorship Program at VW assists clients living in active addiction work through the recovery process by covering topics such as stages of addiction and harm reduction strategies, while helping individuals gain the necessary tools to transition home after program and establish a relapse prevention plan.

Her charismatic and lively sense of humor helps reassure clients of the comfort and warmth with their stay and progress at VW. When she’s not developing new ways to widen the recovery world, Kelsey’s interests include napping, hockey, and anything that’s loud, fast and with a motor.

Philip M. Leadbeater SB, ST. J, CD, BSc, OT Reg (Ont), BSc Pysch.

Since 1995, he has worked in the Auto Insurance Sector, for WSIB, for Private Insurance and Legal Firms, and for the Provincial and Federal Governments. He has travelled to the isolated James Bay Region of Northern Ontario to deliver occupational therapy services to the Cree First Nation, on Moose Factory Island. He has appeared as an expert witness in a court of law on behalf of both the Plaintiff and the Defence. He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, in Psychology, from Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a Gerontology Graduate Certificate, from Loyalist College, in Belleville, Ontario, and a Geriatric Certificate Accredited by McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. Additionally, he served as a Medic in the Canadian Armed Forces Medical Services for 18 years.

I speak Military! Having served as an Army Medic, by providing occupational therapy services to 24 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre at 8 Wing Trenton, and working with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for over 20 years, I am familiar with the Military environment. I look forward to sharing my 40+ years of medical experience with all our clients to assist you to the best of my ability.
Over the past nine (9) years, I have undergone advanced training in Biostimulation using microcurrent to treat my clients. I have training in Cranial Suture Release, Post-Concussion Therapy, Auricular Treatment, Certified Scar Release Therapy, Microcurrent Point Stimulation and Vagal Nerve Stimulation (Approved by Health Canada for Covid-19 ARDS). I am an Assistant Educator (4 years) with the Centre for Pain and Stress Research, in Toronto, who are the developers of the Dolphin Neurostim device. We offer instruction to varied health professionals (International) including Doctors, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Nurse Practitioners, Dentists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Massage Therapists. We also train private individuals for personal use.

At Victoria Wellness, we understand the importance of mental health. The use of microcurrent has been proven to aid in the successful treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia and substance abuse by encouraging the body to switch from the upregulated Sympathetic mode (Fight or Flight) to the healing parasympathetic mode (Rest and Digest). A low vagal tone indicates that your Vagus Nerve isn’t functioning as it should. This may lead to a heightened Stress Response which becomes chronic, possibly leading to depression, anxiety, gut issues and inflammation within the body. Researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions and good physical health. The more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve (and vice versa). The vagal response reduces STRESS!

Scars can scramble the nervous system causing a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Scars have the potential to interrupt and absorb the energy of nerve impulses, rather than allow them to flow freely. Interestingly, scars may not become “active” until many years post injury or surgery. Scars are stressors to the Autonomic Nervous System. At Victoria Wellness we can help alleviate this excess energy through our Scar Release Therapy Program. Our goal is to bring your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and your Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) back into balance.

I look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the power of microcurrent and its positive affect on your body and mind to place you into a better frame of mind to absorb the teachings you’ll undertake at Victoria Wellness & Residential Mental Health Centre.

Trevor Fehr
After 18 years serving Trevor was medically released from the military after being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Alcohol Addiction.
After several years of talk therapy and various prescriptions, he was introduced to neurofeedback training. He found the changes so dramatic and beneficial that he decided to train others to help them live full, happy lives free from anxiety, depression and many other mental health constraints. By training others in neurofeedback he hopes to spread joy and combat the issues that plague the human experience.
Caitlin Burkholder  – B.A
Caitlin is a recent psychology graduate from Trent University with a passion for working in the mental health field. Having most recently worked with adolescents in a group home setting, Caitlin is experienced in client support, crisis intervention, and group facilitation.
Caitlin provides support in the evenings and overnight to create a relaxed environment after days of treatment at Victoria Wellness. If clients wake up at night, Caitlin can be counted on to listen and talk to, and enjoys helping clients get the rest they need.
In her spare time Caitlin can be found enjoying the trails in the Kawarthas, curled up on the couch with a good book, playing with her cat, or watching reality television.

Andrea Connell, Eco Therapist

Andrea Connell has been practicing holistic earth-based therapies for over 30 years. Andrea is a certified Permaculturist, and 25-year Reiki Master. She has studied many natural healing therapies including herbalism, aromatherapy, cranial sacral therapy, polarity therapy, shamanism and meditation. Andrea’s healing approach is firmly rooted in a deep love of the natural world. Andrea believes that all healing paths will strongly benefit from building an intimate relationship with the natural world around us.

Andrea is a highly intuitive and compassionate therapist with a unique ability to bring together a wide bevy of information to co-create healing stories relevant to each individual. In partnership with the Clinical Team at Victoria Wellness, Andrea passionately offers a wide variety of options to engage the mind, heart, body and soul toward a well-balanced and stable healing outcome.

Patti White R.N., B.A. CPMHN(C) (specialty certification x 20 years)

Patti brings 35 years of mental health experience which consisted of all specialty areas. In the last 10 years she was employed as a Disability Specialist at the University of Toronto. This entailed working with students and faculty to facilitate accommodations for students with a mental health or physical disability in accordance to the AODA and the Human Rights Code.
Patti is looking forward to working with the staff and clients at Victoria Wellness.

Don Gibson, CCAC, Group Facilitator/Addiction Care

Don has been working in the field of mental health since 1987, and throughout this time, has focused on individuals and groups struggling with addiction and emotion management challenges. His area of expertise is skill development, and he uses a trauma informed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach to his work. Don is a Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor, and is trained in Compassion Fatigue, Conflict Management, Critical Incident Stress Management, ASSIST
(applied suicide intervention skills training), Crisis Negotiation and Addictions Care. Don brings his expertise in group facilitation, communication, and conflict resolution to Victoria Wellness, and his consistent, and thoughtful approach to this work has proven very successful with clients over his three decades of practice.

Executive Chef Brien McGurgin

Brien, our Executive Chef, has an intensive background in the hospitality field, he has accumulated over 45 years of cooking and effectively running kitchens.

Brien has worked for over 22 years with the Holiday Inn’s of Canada, where he learned the trade at the young age of 16. He has worked all over Canada including Winnipeg, Toronto, Peterborough, Kingston, and now, Gores Landing.  While working in Peterborough he was the Head Chef at Viamede Resort for 10 years.

Brien is a Red Seal Chef who studied at George Brown College in Toronto. Some of the highlights of his career have been cooking for celebrities and Royalty. Brien makes amazing food and will create food suitable for any food restrictions or allergies.

Brittney Smith, BSW, RSW

Brittney Smith – BSW, RSW
CBT/DBT Group Facilitator and Social Worker

Brittney has spent the last few years of her career navigating the systems of mental health, addictions, and child welfare. She is a registered social worker through the Ontario Association of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Brittney specializes in CBT, life skills, and changing habits – the building blocks for taking charge of your life. She adopts a client-centered, strengths-based approach from a harm-reduction lens.

Brittney is a supportive staff member and avid advocate for accountability. Especially as her clients begin a new path of self-awareness and self-determination. If you are looking to plan your next steps and develop creative solutions to your struggles, Brittney may be the worker for you.