Working With the Alberta Community & Beyond
Our highly skilled and qualified staff also experience the wonders that await them at Dreamcatcher™ Ranch making it a healthy and rewarding place to work. Our students, volunteers and interns alike are blessed too. Together; we learn and experience the benefits of being teachable students ourselves making us fit and ready to 'be' and to 'serve' others in partnership with our furry co-counselors.
Eileen Bona M.Ed., Registered Psychologist,
Reesa Lerner MSW, Registered Clinical Social Worker
Reesa is a registered Clinical Social Worker. Inspired by a beagle named Bailey, she has been researching and training in the Nature and Animal Assisted Therapy field since 2006. Reesa has been involved with Dreamcatcher™ since 2010.
Reesa completed her Masters of Social work, with a clinical focus, at Yeshiva University (NY), her Bachelor of Social Work from York University, and Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Alberta. She specializes in working with teens and adults with complex needs including trauma, addictions, psychosis and especially those who have been marginalized. Her therapeutic approaches include cognitive-behavioural, strengths based, trauma-focused, nature and animal assisted. You will often find her in the chicken coop, goat pen or snuggling with a cat.
Reesa is compassionate and committed to meeting people “where they are”. She finds the best in people and supports them to achieve it through providing them with a genuine healthy mirror. With her quick wit and down to earth personality she is a perfect fit for older teens and young adults.
Melonie Labrecque M.A., Provisional Psychologist
Mel holds a Master of Counselling Degree and is currently a Registered Provisional Psychologist in Alberta. She has been involved in the area of psychology for over 10 years in a variety of settings with a variety of ages and mental health issues.
During her 2004 and 2005 summers, she was an internship student for the Pathways Regional Mental Health Day Program and Vocational Services working with adults with a variety of mental illnesses. From 2008-2011 she worked as a casual volunteer child mentor with a boy diagnosed as high functioning on the autism spectrum (Pervasive Development Disorder). In 2008- 2009 she was a practicum student with the YWCA facilitating groups for helping children deal with bereavement and divorce and facilitating weekly groups for girls as a part of a pilot girl power program. In 2009-2010 she was a practicum student with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health (PCWH) Weight Wise Program co-leading group programs for teens and for the parents of the children/youth referred to the program. From 2009-2012 and 2016-present she has been employed by the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital as a Recreation Therapy Program Assistant providing activity-based assessment of motor and speech skills and treatment via recreation and social activities. From 2010-2013 she was a Psychological Assistant to a Private Practice Neuropsychologist administering neuropsychological, psychological, vocational and parental assessments. In August of 2009, Mel started at Dreamcatcher™ by taking their Caring with Critters Exploratory Workshop. Her passion for integrating animals into therapeutic practice ignited and took flight. Her love for animals and aim to heal and touch as many lives as possible found its path. She continued to volunteer at Dreamcatcher™ until beginning her practicum in 2012. In October 2012-2013 she was also a practicum student with the Hope Heels Service Dog Team Building Institute providing individual counselling and therapeutic services to adult individuals with a range of presenting challenges and mental health concerns primarily: trauma, anxiety and difficulties with emotional regulation. As aforementioned, in October 2012-2013 she was a practicum student with Dreamcatcher™ Nature-Assisted Therapy providing individual and family therapy to a variety of individuals with a range of presenting challenges and mental health concerns. Ages ranged from 2.5 years old to adults and a variety of mental health concerns such as: trauma, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, developmental delays, emotional dysregulation, attachment disorders, sensory disorders, FASD and witnesses of family addictions and violence.
After practicum Mel stayed on to continue as a Dreamcatcher™ Mental Health Therapist. She became certified as a Canadian Certified Counsellor through the CCPA and then as a Registered Provisional Psychologist with CAP. She primarily utilizes Animal and Nature Assisted Therapy and Traditional Talk therapy and integrates music, play and art-therapy medium based techniques.
Cara Stone MSW, Registered Social Worker
Cara is deeply passionate about children and youth’s well being and anything that gives her a chance to be outside. She is excited to be at a place where people experience insights about themselves and others by interacting with animals and nature. She came to Dreamcatcher™ after completing her Masters of Social Work and assisting children and youth with their mental health in a variety of residential services and cultural exchange programs.
Cara is naturally a fun loving and genuine person. She practices from a strength-based approach in which she works to create a safe place for others to process, believes that people have unique skills and capacities to create change in their lives, and collaborates with them to do so. Through this approach, she incorporates animal-assisted, trauma-informed, cognitive-behaviour, and narrative therapy.
Allison Hay BSW, Registered Social Worker
Allison is a Registered Social Worker in Alberta. She has over 25 years of experience working with adults and adolescents with a variety of behavioural, emotional, legal and mental health challenges.
Allison has worked in a variety of settings including adult and youth correctional facilities, hospital and community mental health services.
Allison has been working at Dreamcatcher™ since August 2017. She has a joy for learning about and interacting with animals and has a deep respect for the healing that can come through these relationships and in being in nature. Combining nature, animals, and in particular, horses, in assisting people toward health is an opportunity that she regards with excitement and is one that she believes can be of benefit to all. Allison is in the process of becoming certified through Equine Facilitated Wellness – Canada as a Mental Health Professional and as an Equine Learning Professional.
Kaytlyn Morris BSW, Registered Social Worker
Since 2015, Kaytlyn has been a Registered Social Worker in Alberta. She started her journey with Dreamcatcher™ as a practicum student and quickly learned that she needed to stay involved with the Animal-Assisted and Nature-Assisted Therapy world. She has helped out at Dreamcatcher™ as a volunteer, animal handler and co-facilitator of groups. Growing up out in the country, she understands the importance of connecting with the outdoors and the unconditional love of animals. Being a part of the Dreamcatcher™ team, Kaytlyn is able to combine her passion of helping others with her love of animals.
Kaytlyn has experience working with an intensive addiction and mental health outreach team, supporting the inner city’s most vulnerable forensic and homeless population with concurrent disorders. She is competent in providing crisis intervention, safety planning and harm reduction strategies. She has also worked collaboratively with Child and Family Services, supporting children and their families through issues of domestic violence, gang affiliation, mental health, addictions, exploitation and parenting. She supports individuals to explore and connect to Indigenous culture and ceremonies. She is an advocate for families and their children, empowering them to overcome systemic barriers in order to nurture their basic needs. She also understands the importance of children and teens developing skills in regards to emotional regulation, relationship building, communication, stress tolerance and mindfulness. Kaytlyn works from a place of non-judgmental, client-centered, strength based and recovery-focused support.
In Kaytlyn’s free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, sharing the mutual love of horses and the outdoors. She can also be found hiking and camping in the mountains. She has two special kitties at home, Frank and Barb, who she hopes to introduce into the Animal-Assisted role in the future.
Dayna Starke B.A, Applied Psychology
Dayna is a Behaviour Specialist, having graduated with an Applied Emphasis Degree in Psychology through Concordia University of Alberta. She always knew that she wanted to work with animals and people, so when she had the ability to be a practicum student at Dreamcatcher™, she jumped at the opportunity. During her practicum, she learned about the animals on site, their language, and how valuable they are as co-counsellors in supporting the helping profession. Some of her practicum hours we completed by presenting the benefits of Animal Assisted Interventions to staff in senior’s homes, and supporting as an animal handler for the Be Brave Ranch. Dayna’s dog, Rhapsody, was screened for the Fuzzy Face Mobile Program, and participated in many excursions from midterm week at the University of Alberta, to Boys and Girls Clubs, to senior's homes, to helping train interns from Japan. Since Rhapsody crossed over the rainbow bridge in 2017, Dayna has been dedicated to finding another four-legged friend, and is also actively pursuing becoming an Animal Assisted Therapist.
Dayna has experience in working with children and teens aged 5 to 15 with varying cognitive abilities and extreme emotional dysregulation in schools and home environments. She is also competent with building flexibility and social skills in children with Autism, relationship building with children with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and connecting families together with solution-focused strategies. Dayna’s primary strategy is to focus on building skill and tolerance at their "baseline" so that all family members are able to access their own strategies and toolboxes when they are needed. Dayna has also worked collaboratively with programs such as CASA to help families and school communities create concise and achievable goals. Her training in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention and Violent Threat Risk Assessment allows Dayna to help identify problems as they arise, while also providing a safe space to explore solutions.
When Dayna is at the ranch, you can almost always catch her hanging out with Echo. His story holds a special place in her heart, and she resonates the most with his energy. A fun fact about Dayna is that she loves to learn new sports! Her current favorite is Jujitsu, but she has done everything from volleyball to Mixed Martial Arts. She is so excited to be back working in nature and with the amazing team at Dreamcatcher™!
Kaeley Kereliuk, M.A, Provisional Psychologist
In 2013 Kaeley obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care, and a Masters of Counselling Degree in 2016 through the City University of Seattle. She has recently pursued her Provisional Registration as a Psychologist in Alberta. Her previous experience is in group homes, community, and school settings working with children and youth ages 5-18 with complex needs. Kaeley completed her internship in 2015/2016 at The Be Brave Ranch (Little Warriors) where she was able to see how integrating different therapeutic approaches to therapy was valuable. Her love for nature and animals brought Kaeley to Dreamcatcher™ in early 2020 as one of our student therapists.
She incorporates animal assisted, nature-assisted, music, art and play interventions into her therapy practice. Kaeley works most often from a trauma focused, strength based, and narrative lens. Kaeley admires the bravery it takes to come forward and work through personal challenges and believe it is an honor to be able to walk alongside those in their healing journey.
In her spare time she loves to spend time with her family at the lake, going on hikes, doing yoga, art and music.
Jessica Mayhew B.H.Sc. - Office Administration
Jess graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Addictions Counselling in 2009. She grew up in the Okanagan, with such a passion for children and animals that she knew she had to find some capacity to work with them together. She has a great love and respect for all species of animals from horses to salamanders, fish to hedgehogs. She has a particular fondness for reptiles of all sorts, especially snakes.
Jess loves working with kids of all ages and especially enjoys the opportunity to teach them all sorts of things about animals, like how reptiles are ectothermic or chickens typically take 21 days to hatch. In her downtime, Jess enjoys fire spinning, drawing haida artwork, playing video games, gardening, and caring for her toddler son, husband, and dog, Ezio. She loves to travel and hopes to visit Iceland and Ireland in the upcoming years.
You can usually catch Jess giving a belly rub to Rain the horse, checking up on the chickens, or napping with Emma the sheep!
Janine Kristensen, M.Ed., Provisional Psychologist
Janine holds a Master of Education with a Specialization in School and Clinical Child Psychology
and a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Psychology.
Animals have always had a special place in Janine’s heart. She has fostered dogs with Paws for
Life and volunteered with Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association at the Whitemud Equine
Learning Centre for several years. Volunteering at Little Bits opened her eyes to the beneficial
impact horses can have on people with mental health diagnoses and physical disabilities. These
experiences started her on a journey to discover how she could integrate animals into therapy,
which has excitingly culminated in working as a therapist at Dreamcatcher.
Janine has worked with children, youth and adults for over 11 years in group home care, working in different areas such as Addictions, Intervention, Family Support and High Risk programs. She has worked with people with various mental health disorders with the desire to support each person in their journey. Janine provides psychological assessments and therapeutic interventions with her main theoretical framework rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She also offers Play Therapy
interventions and is learning how to integrate Animal Assisted Therapy into her therapeutic approach as well.
In her spare time, Janine loves climbing and mountaineering in the gloriously beautiful Rocky
Mountains year round.
Emily Chalifoux -Volunteer Coordinator
Emily started volunteering at Dreamcatcher™ in 2017 to help satisfy her love for animals. At the time, she was just graduating high school and had her head set on going to school to become a veterinarian technician. However, as she spent more and more time at Dreamcatcher™, she quickly changed her mind to psychology; specifically Animal Assisted Therapy. The idea of working with both people and animals in such a beautiful environment is the best of both worlds. As the Volunteer Coordinator, Emily is thrilled to be so involved in the volunteer community. Now, at the age of 21, Emily is beginning her studies at Concordia University to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Psychology. Dreamcatcher™ has brought out a love for chickens that she didn’t know she had! If you’re ever looking for Emily, she is probably in the chicken coop cuddling with chickens!