About Us

We, at The Toronto Institute of Group Studies acknowledge that we are hosted in Toronto on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat.

Our wider community members across Canada are equally hosted on Indigenous lands, far too many for us to honour individually, and so we would like to recognize the home and enduring presence of all First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

We are committed to creating safe learning spaces and supporting group leaders to strive for social justice and a sense of belonging for all members in our communities.


Our faculty team draws from diverse professional backgrounds and interests, in the service of advancing our shared commitment to group learning and group leadership development. Exploring the creative and healing possibilities that groups provide has been a central and sustaining passion throughout our careers. Each of us has participated in and led countless groups over the years, and these experiences have reinforced our belief in the power of belonging. Each member of our team has been recognized individually as Fellows (acknowledgement of excellence in the advancement of group psychotherapy through education, research and clinical practice) of the former Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA), and each was actively involved in this Association at both local and national levels in education, and various leadership capacities. In addition, our collective backgrounds incorporate curriculum development and implementation at the University level. Our team has collectively presented locally, nationally and internationally, and has published several books and peer-reviewed journal articles.

We were recently named the 2023 recipients of
The Harold S. Bernard Group Psychotherapy Training Award,
presented by the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists at the American Group Psychotherapy Association Conference, New York City, 2023.
This award recognizes "outstanding contributions in Education and Training in the field of Group Psychotherapy."

Co-Directors and Core Faculty

Aida Cabecinha
Trained in Occupational Therapy, Bowen’s Family Systems and Group Psychotherapy.
• Current individual and group therapy private practice, as well as community mental health consultation.
• Over 34 years as a mental health clinician in a variety of previous settings including Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, The Addiction Research Foundation, COTA Health and Toronto East General – as Director of the Occupational Therapy Department.
• Particular interest in psychodynamic, systems-centred, and attachment theories.

Susan Farrow
• Trained in Occupational Therapy and multiple theoretical models of Individual and Group Psychotherapy.
• 30 years teaching at the University of Toronto; currently Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.
• Previously 11 years at The Toronto General Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry – Coordinator of the Group Therapy Program, and the Group Psychotherapy Training Program.
• Particular interest in inter-professional education, student mental health, mentorship, curriculum development and the application of theory to clinical practice. 

Maureen Mahan
• Trained in Nursing, Counselling Psychology, Group Psychotherapy, Educational Development, and Visual Arts.
• Current inter-professional program development for health care and community service providers in the areas of mental health, HIV awareness, harm reduction, trauma informed care and long-term care.
• Previously 10 years at The Toronto General Hospital – nurse clinician and group facilitator in the Eating Disorder Day Hospital Program.
• Over 30 years in clinical and community settings including Casey House, Gilda’s Club, and Sheena’s Place.
• Particular interest in client-centered, systems-centered, harm reduction and trauma informed care.

Allan Sheps
• Trained in Social Work, Family and Group Psychotherapy.
• 24 years in private individual, marital, family and group therapy practice.
• Previously 20 years at Jewish Family and Child Service – managed staff teams, developed innovative programs, including the agency’s first treatment program for men who use violent or abusive behaviour.
• Particular interest in developmental theories, co-therapy, and the socio-cultural context of group systems.

Terry Simonik
• Trained in Nursing, Women’s Studies, Counselling Psychology and Group Psychotherapy.
• Current individual and group therapy private practice and consultation.
• Over 35 years of clinical practice in mental health in various settings including The Foothills Hospital (Calgary), The Clarke Institute, The Toronto Hospital, York University Counselling and Disabilities Centre, and Family Services of York Region – as Clinical Supervisor in Group Services and Cultural Outreach Programs.
• Particular interest in interpersonal, neurobiology, systems-centred, and narrative approaches.

Invited Faculty

The richness of our program is greatly enhanced by the generous contributions of expert group leaders and educators from our national and international group community, both within our training programs as well as continuing education opportunities offered to our alumni.

Willard Ashley
Senior Pastor, Certified Psychoanalyst, Certified Group Psychotherapist in New Jersey, distinguished author and teacher.

Kaitlyn Axelrod
Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist and Manager of Community Outreach and Education at Sheena's Place, Toronto.

Aziza Belcher Platt
Psychologist, Group and Family Therapist, specializing in racial-cultural issues, trauma, and grief, and evidence-based research focused on health disparities to inform culturally responsive clinical practice.

Yvonne Bergmans
PhD and Social Worker, Consultant and former Suicide Interventionist at the Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair in Suicide Studies at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, for over 20 years.

Nina Brown 
Licensed Professional Counselor, group clinician, researcher and author.  Distinguished Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) and Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Jennifer Brownstein
Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Ontario, Massachusetts and Florida, focusing on positive psychology, self-compassion, acceptance and commitment therapy groups.

Isabel Fryszberg
Arts-based Registered Occupational Therapist, and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Susan Gantt
Psychologist in Private Practice, Chair of the Systems-Centered Training & Research Institute and Emeritus Faculty, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.

Kelsey Johnston
Registered Social Worker, and former Program Manager at Sheena's Place, Toronto.

Kasra Khorasani 
Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Group Therapist, and Faculty at the University of Toronto.

Noelle Lefforge
Psychologist, and Director of the Professional Psychology Clinic at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

Molyn Leszcz
Psychiatrist, Professor at the University of Toronto, and Distinguished Fellow and Past President of the American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Cheri Marmarosh
Psychologist and full-time Associate Professor of Professional Psychology at the George Washington University.
Scott Rutan
Psychologist in Private Practice, and Distinguished Fellow and Past President of the American Group Psychotherapy Association.

Kathleen Ryan 
Registered Occupational Therapist, based in Calgary. Group therapist and community activist.

Joe Shay
Psychologist in Private Practice  in Cambridge, Massachusetts, renowned scholar, educator, author and  supervisor. 

Joan-Dianne Smith
Social Worker based in Winnipeg, Fellow and Past President of the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association.

Giorgio Tasca
Psychologist, Professor at The University of Ottawa, and Director of The Psychotherapy Practice Research Network.

Stephane Treyvaud
Psychiatrist, Founder and Director of The Mindfulness Centre, Oakville, Ontario.

Victor Yalom
Practising Psychologist based in San Francisco, and founder and CEO of Psychotherapy.net.

Elliot Zeisel
Group Psychoanalyst in Private Practice, Distinguished Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, Founder of the Center for Group Studies in New York, and creator of the Web series, GROUP.

Alumni And Testimonials

Comprehensive Program Alumni

Farzaneh Amin
Registered Psychotherapist

Kam Balchand

Cynthia Bates
MEd, MA Psychotherapy and Counselling

Kosu Boudreau
MSW, Spiritual Care Practitioner 

Stacy Campbell

Jeremy Chiptin

Kent Comeau

Pablo Diaz

Melissa Gansner

Lindsey Gerace
Registered Social Worker

John Giffen
Men's Group Facilitator, Management Consultant

Angela Golas
Geriatric Psychiatrist

Zsofia Grandpierre
Registered Psychotherapist

Zsuzsanna Grandpierre
Canadian Certified Counsellor, Registered Psychotherapist

Brenda Griffiths

Rehana Hirji
Occupational Therapist, Psychotherapist

Julia Johnson
Registered Psychotherapist

Susan Joyce
Family Physician, Physician practicing psychotherapy

Lori Kolesnik
MA, Canadian Certified Counsellor

Sharon Konyen
Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner, Registered Psychotherapist

Brittany Krahn
Clinical Social Worker, RSW

Lorena Lazar
Social Worker

Li Lin
Human Resources (Neuro -Sciences Psychology)

John O'Grady
Estate Lawyer and Mediator

Shola Oludipe
Registered Psychotherapist

Tony Pahulje
Men's Group Facilitator

Charmaine Patterson

Melissa Ramirez
Mental Health Counsellor

Natasha Sandy
Registered Psychotherapist, Liberation and Decolonization Accomplice

Susan Tarshis
Registered Psychotherapist

Tatjana Tyzkyj
Registered Mental Health Nurse


"Relevant. Excellent framing of background of group therapy with integration of process material."

"Overall, well-structured and thoughtful. Material flowed well and seamlessly with the parallel experiential learning."

"Combination of didactic and experiential was very helpful. Parallel process between training group and theoretical material was brilliant."

"Process Group - best part of training. Allowed us to experience what we want to be able to give to our clients."

"I would recommend this program to any clinician who works with clients and wants to enhance or expand their tools to be more effective and to learn more about themselves."