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Compassionate Connections Therapeutic & Consulting Services

Compassionate Connections

Helping Individuals and Families Reconnect and Heal

Welcome ​to Compassionate Connections. 

My name is Shauna van Niekerk and I am a registered clinical social worker in Chester, Nova Scotia.

I have worked as a social worker and therapist for the last 10 years within Mental Health and Addiction Services. My time with the health authority has been split between working with adult mental health and the child and adolescent school based team.


Through my experience with Mental Health and Addiction Services I have assisted individuals with a wide array of concerns including individual and family mental health (anxiety, addiction, depression, OCD), trauma and PTSD, as well as complex grief and loss. I also specialize in attachment parenting approaches and helping parents address and support their children's behavioural and emotional needs.

I am an Emotion Focused Family Therapist and practice from an attachment framework. However, I also tailor sessions to fit the unique needs of you and/or your family by using evidence-based approaches such as Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Solution-Focused Therapy. My overall hope is to support families on their journey towards increased health and wellness. 

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Looking for a therapist that is right for you? Explore what I can offer you and your family. 

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My Philosophy

I believe in the extraordinary healing power of individuals and families. I believe that all people have the ability to learn, and overcome fears, in order to help support themselves and their loved ones during times of extreme difficulty.

Main Therapeutic Approaches

Emotion Focused Family Therapy

The philosophy of Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is to support caregivers to increase their role in their loved one’s recovery from mental health issues. As an EFFT clinician, I believe that empowering parents to help their children, regardless of age, is the most successful approach to overcoming a variety of mental health concerns. Thus, my main responsibility is to support parents and caregivers to become active agents of healing, and to increase their involvement in helping their child to process underlying emotions that may be contributing to problematic thoughts, behaviors and symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to assist you in learning how to identify your thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physical sensations. It is used to help teach strategies around shifting unhelpful thinking patterns and applying problem solving skills to to the difficult situations you are experiencing. It is a structured and specific approach that requires active and collaborative efforts from both the client and therapist.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it

What to Expect


Compassionate Connections is located in a discreet office space within Our Health Center in Chester, Nova Scotia. This not only allows for anonymity, but also convenience of access for complex individual and family needs.