libby ells

msw, rsw


i was fortunate to grow up on the family farm in southwestern ontario, before moving away for many years and finally returning to my rural roots in 2011. 

i completed my master of social work degree (msw) at the university of toronto in may 2000.  my approach to the work is strengths-based, client-centred, trauma-informed and collaborative.  my stance is humanistic and anti-oppressive and i work hard to be respectful and to bring humour to our work together.  i have experience in working with children, youth and families and in practicing social work in a hospital setting and in private practice, as well as extra training in trauma and in working with individuals experiencing concurrent disorders (substance use plus mental health issues).  over the years, i have participated in training in a variety of methods and interventions, including cognitive behaviour therapy (cbt), dialectical behaviour therapy (dbt), motivational interviewing, and others – perhaps too numerous to mention here.  i have worked with individuals, couples, families and groups and have mentored students and provided clinical supervision to fellow practitioners in the mental health field.

i am a member in good standing with the ontario college of social workers and social service workers (ocswssw) and the ontario association of social workers (oasw). 

my ocswssw number is 801533

why the northern cardinal?

the cardinal is a constant native to this area, remaining here year-round.  they are hardy and persistent and do not fly away from winter snows and frost.  they are associated with endurance, passion and strength (1).  just as they endure the cold winter days, cardinals remind us that we need to stay strong and positive throughout difficult periods in our life, to regain our personal strength and relight the flame of our spirit (1).

cardinals symbolize family life and good family relations.  they are committed to family and are devoted, well-organized and loving parents (1).

birds are typically associated with the east – a place of new beginnings, of change or new ideas, of growth and awakening (4). north is the place of wisdom and healing.

cardinals demand our attention, standing out with their brilliant plumage even on overcast and snowy days.  their feathers represent the boldness and passion these little birds carry within (1).  red is universally interpreted as a colour of life and energy.

with their clear whistles, cardinals remind us to pay attention and to be clear in our intentions.  setting a clear and insightful goal for yourself will accomplish everything you are asking for and more (2).  the distinctiveness of cardinal’s song brings lessons about finding our own distinctive voice and keeping it true to self (3).




    i’m ready to get in touch

    no issue is too big to overcome. reach out to me today.

    Northern Cardinal Counselling | Developed by Mupha Media