Professional Passage

Paula Butler graduated from the University of Calgary in 2000 with a joint B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies with a focus on Eastern religions and practices. While attending university, she worked as a Rehabilitation Worker at the Society for the Treatment of Autism, and later as an Educational Assistant for the Calgary Board of Education working exclusively with a child on the autism spectrum. Paula was then accepted to the University of Victoria in 2002 and went on to earn her M.A. in Counselling Psychology in 2005.

When Paula returned to Calgary in 2005, she was accepted to the Calgary Family Therapy Centre (formerly known as the University of Calgary Family Therapy Program) to complete her clinical internship in family therapy. Under the direction of Dr. Karl Tomm (International Marriage and Family Therapist), Paula embraced the theoretical appreciation and understandings of Systems Theory. She was also introduce to Narrative Therapy (a form/methodology of psychotherapy) when working with families, which Paula still implements in her practice today.

Paula has also had the pleasure of sharing her family therapy skills and learnings as a University of Calgary Family Assessment Unit Preceptor via the Faculty of Medicine. Here, Paula taught U of C medical students in their learning and practice of family assessment skills (e.g. genogram construction, clinical interviewing, recognition of interpersonal patterns for relationship assessment, etc.).

In addition to her Family Therapy internship, Paula’s return to Calgary also included co-facilitating the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course (based on Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s research) through the University of Calgary’s Continuing Education department for several terms. Paula’s personal and professional confidence in mindfulness practices is a strong influencer in her private practice services current day.

Paula has been working for Alberta Health Services (AHS) since 2005 within a range of clinical settings. Her first being with the Early Psychosis Treatment Service at the Foothills Hospital where she was the program’s Psychometrician (administrator of neuropsychological testing). Upon becoming a Registered Psychologist in 2007 with the College of Alberta Psychologists, her career passion led Paula to many opportunities within AHS’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Programs.

One of her first positions with was with Student Heath Partnership (now known as School Based Mental Health) where Paula had the opportunity to work closely with many public school board personnel in their key understanding, development and integration of mindfulness initiatives within educational settings. This was in addition to her individual therapeutic work with students, their teachers (and parents) on various mental health challenges that impacted educational success.

Paula then spent over two years working with the Adolescent Day Treatment Program (ADTP) (via AHS) as a Case Manager for at-risk youth and their families. She was responsible for providing weekly individual and family therapy sessions, co-facilitated four psycho-educational groups (including Dialectical Behaviour Therapy), directed case conferences that include psychiatric and educational personnel and collaboration with AHS community programs/resources to best serve client needs after day treatment discharge.

After the birth and 18 month bonding process with her first-born child, Paula serendipitously accepted a Family Counsellor role that allowed her to work with families in the Early Childhood Mental Health Outreach (ECMHO) program (via AHS). In this role, she worked with parents, caregivers and their child(ren) (under the age of five) who experienced difficultly with parent-child attachment/relationship building. Paula assessed and treated social and emotional functioning of young children, and provided referral support for additional areas of early childhood development; speech and language, fine motor skills, gross motor skills and cognitive development (i.e. problem solving skills). During her employment with ECMHO, Paula underwent her second pregnancy and went on maternity leave once again to be a full-time mom to her newborn son and young daughter.

The time spent raising her young children inspired Paula’s curiousity to continue her professional growth, specifically in the area of early childhood social/emotional development. In 2016, she become a Circle of Security Parent Facilitator with Circle of Security International… “an early intervention program for parents and children”. Circle of Security (COS) International concepts are key in Paula’s current day therapeutic approach when working with families and parents. In 2017, she pursued further Circle of Security International training (i.e. Core Sensitivities) with COS co-founder Kent Hoffman in London, UK.

After her extended maternity leave was complete, Paula decided to return to her original roots of work with AHS - School Based Mental Health in September 2017 where she works part-time current day. Her professional duties include mental health assessments, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations for children and youth.

Professional development opportunities is essential in staying current in evidence-based practices within the field of mental health, and as such Paula’s most recent professional undertaking was to become trained in the administration, assessment and diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This was completed via the University of Calgary’s ASERT program.

What a journey it has been! Paula’s all-encompassing career goal is to take her child, adolescent and family therapy learnings from the past 20 years (thus far) within the mental health field and apply this rich and vast experience to/for others in her private practice: be. Psychological Services.