A DBT informed, mindfulness based skills learning and recovery group for both persons who struggle with emotion regulation and their family/friends.

Meet the Team

Recognizing the extreme need for services, Dialectical Living was formed to provide Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills and support to those in need. We would like to reduce the needless suffering for many by offering more options to acquire skills learning and support with trained peers. We strive to create a safe environment to learn and grow. Our mission is to enable those who struggle with emotion regulation and their families and friends a better quality of life; as Marsha Linehan says “a life worth living”.

handsheartWe are a group of health care professionals who are passionate about helping others and teaching and using DBT skills. Each of us have lived experience in addition to health care backgrounds and have been touched by emotion dysregulation either ourselves and/or have lived or worked with others who struggle. We are social workers, nurses, teachers, and peer support workers who are leading successful lives using DBT skills.  We are family members, friends and/or loved ones overcoming emotion regulation challenges for ourselves and our families using DBT skills.

We hope to exceed your expectations with quality learning and supportive discussions.  We pride ourselves in making DBT learning a fun, interactive and supportive learning experience.

Our Bio’s

Julie Hayden, BA, BSW, MSW Candidate, RSW, PMP
Founder/Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator/Therapist

Julie 2Julie is a social worker with an extensive background in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) training with Shelley McMain (UofT and CAMH) and also completing the Family Connections DBT program with Alan Fruzetti (NEABPD).  Julie has worked with Sashbear helping to create awareness for BPD/DBT.  She is also a certified yoga teacher having studied yoga for mental health and addiction.   Julie is passionate about creating awareness for mental health and reducing stigma and has worked on anti-stigma campaigns with CAMH.  She was recently seen in the intro clip for the Rendezvous with Madness film festival and is currently writing a script with Ari (below) for a film about BPD.   She would like to see DBT taught in schools.  Julie is the organizer for two groups on meetup.com namely Toronto Borderliners and Toronto Borderliners Family and Friends, groups for those who struggle with Emotion Dysregulation and their family and friends.  Julie’s lived experience and her energy, passion and sense of fun interaction inspire compassionate positive change in others.

Laval Martin, BSW, MSW, RSW                                                                          

Family Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator/Therapist

Laval Martin

Laval has both a bachelors and masters degree in social work. He has skills in counselling, crisis intervention, workshop facilitation, conflict resolution, time management, research methods, anti-oppressive practice, and documentation practice. He has worked with various populations and in various settings, including people with developmental disabilities, people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and people experiencing mental health challenges. With extensive training and experience in crisis intervention and conflict resolution skills, he has experience in group homes, shelters, community centres, and drop-ins. His undergraduate education focused extensively on anti-oppressive practice. Laval’s graduate education included work on grant-writing, leadership, and human resources within social work agencies. These experiences enable him to build rapport with a wide variety of people.  More info

Mike Menu, Sashbear.org
Family Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator

Sashbear logoMike Menu and Lynn Courey from Sashbear have been integral in our inspiration to bring Dialectical Living to life.  Mike and Lynn have amazing passion for bringing awareness to suicide prevention and Borderline Personality Disorder.  Having lost their daughter to BPD their courage and determination have sparked a movement across schools with their talks on “Borderline… What?” and their enthusiasm to bring DBT skills into this environment.  Mike Menu was trained by Alan Fruzzetti from NEABPD in the “Family Connections” program.  Mike has quickly developed a speciality in validation and teaches validation techniques with vigour and flair!

Karen Cox, B.Sc. (Health Education), BSW, MSW, RSW
Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator/Therapist

Karen CoxKaren enjoys promoting wellness, peer support, DBT, and a sense of community/connectedness. She has extensive experience in mental health, both as a professional and as a person with “lived experience.” Karen has had the honour of working with a variety of populations, including military, LGBT, homeless, those with severe mental health/addiction issues, and their families. She is active in the peer community, facilitates WRAP groups, and has a particular interest/expertise in trauma. Karen also maintains balance practicing yoga, doing crosswords, and cuddling with her golden retriever.

Celeste Shirley, BA, Honours, Kinesiology (Founder of The Yoga House)             Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator

Celeste Shirley

Celeste is a kinesiologst in addition to her teaching role. The role of a kinesiologist is to use exercise to rehabilitate you after an injury. Celeste has a passion for helping others both physically and mentally on their journeys toward a beautiful dialectical balance. Her diverse teaching background draws on a variety of exercise forms including yoga, pilates, meditation and breath work.  Celeste is described as a delightful, energized teacher and she has a beautiful smile to light up the room.

Chloe Rosemarin

Melanie Adamsons


Yael Greenberg, MSW, RSW

Yael is a MSW specializing in family therapy, whose mission is to promote the teaching of DBT skills to families in the Hamilton area. She has had extensive professional experience helping children with learning and behavioral problems.  She has volunteer experience as a youth worker, a women’s counselor and group facilitator. Yael became keenly aware of emotional and mental health issues in families through her work and her lived experience coping with a child who struggles. Her interest in attaining clinical excellence led her to do an additional one year post-graduate internship in Marriage and Family Therapy at Thames Valley Family Services (in London). Yael had the privilege of working with vulnerable individuals, couples and families from a mainly a ‘systems’ perspective.  Yet, she felt more effective with clients when she combined a systems approach with DBT skill-building. She continued training in DBT at Dialectical Living and is enthusiastic about joining the team as a therapist, group facilitator, and their Hamilton affiliate.

Kristen Bellows, BSW, RSW                                                                         Peer/Program Developer/Facilitator


Kristen has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University. She has a background in anti-oppressive practice and is influenced by Critical Disability Studies and Mad Studies. As a person with lived experience, Kristen has dedicated her life to mental health activism and has been speaking publicly for over 5 years at professional organizations, high schools,  post-secondary schools and online  about stigma, discrimination, barriers to treatment and wellbeing, solutions and empowerment for those who experience mental health issues. Kristen has spent the past 4 years volunteering at a youth mental health/addiction organization where she is the Peer Support Program Coordinator, Educator, Social Media and Website Coordinator and sits on the Board of Directors. Professionally, Kristen has been working with children who have reminded her that the little things are important and everything is interesting. Kristen describes DBT as “breathing clearly for the first time,” and is very excited to have the opportunity to teach the therapy that has changed her life to others. Kristen enjoys reading, blogging, learning and being with the people she loves.

Linda Miller,

Linda is a compassionate dedicated registered nurse with over 30 years of experience.  In the past 7 years Linda has concentrated on mental health and addictions, primarily in the areas of addictions, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder. Linda was introduced to Mindfulness for Stress Reduction in 2006 and has continued with a personal practice since then.  In 2009 trained with Dr. Kabat Zinn and Saki Santorelli from the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness in California.  In 2011 took part in a yearlong clinicians training program with Michael Stone integrating Buddhist teaching and meditation practice with clinical work.  Was instrumental in starting Mindfulness for Stress Reduction at the Toronto CCAC and the Mindfulness for Relapse Prevention group at CAMH.  Presently working in the Eating Disorder and Addictions Clinic and the Borderline Personality Clinic at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.  Presently the coordinator of the intake process of the Borderline Personality Clinic as well as co- facilitating in the treatment groups.


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Dialectical Living at Mindfest 2019


DBT Training with Shelley McMain – UofT School of Social Work and CAMH

Shelley McMain and Dialectical Living 6

Driving home the skills!


Try on your wise mind!

wise mind

Dialectical Living at Addiction Concert in Washington DC – Unite to Face Addiction Oct. 4th 2015 – The day the silence ends!

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