Compassionate Connections Therapeutic & Consulting Services

About Compassionate Connections​

Shauna van Niekerk MSW, RSW

I have worked as a registered social worker and therapist for the last 10 years within Mental Health and Addiction Services. I studied Psychology and Child and Youth Care at Mount Saint Vincent University before completing my Bachelors degree and Masters in Social Work at Dalhousie University.

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 behavioral and emotional needs.

I am a certified 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 behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Solution-Focused Therapy. My overall hope is to support families on their journey towards increased health and wellness.


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.

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 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.


Mindfulness is about maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment while using a gentle, non-judgmental and accepting framework. Mindfulness can involve a variety of different practices including breathing, meditations, and awareness generating. Mindfulness is an evidence based practice that has been shown to help improve symptoms of anxiety and increase positive mood and engagement.

What to Expect