Meet the LATS Practitioners
Dr. Smith, Dr. Penner, registered psychologists, Tracy Larson speech language pathologist, Diana Sharpe occupational therapist, Chloe Mc Kinley registered clinical counselor, William Galick, kinesiologist and Nicholas Brossard computer network electronics technician and behavioral interventionist have a wide range of skills and experience. They offer speech and language services, as well as, specialized mental health assessment and treatment services to children, youth, adults and their families for emotional, psychological and behavioral concerns, learning challenges and/or psychiatric disorders.
All personnel have been serving Vancouver Island communities in a variety of capacities: School systems, child development centers hospital and forensics settings, Child and Youth Mental Health, Canadian Forces health services, and private practice including employee assistance programs, Veterans Affairs, and medical-legal contexts – Work Safe BC, insurance companies, law firms, etc. Thus we are knowledgeable and able to consult and liaison with agencies, schools, hospitals and other program providers. All personnel are lifelong learners so stay tuned for ongoing training experiences that either of them have undertaken. All clinicians are independent practitioners. The LATS team works in unique fashion once an autism diagnosis is made. Tracy Larsen and Dr. Holly Smith are involved with the autism diagnosis and Dr. Smith does the full psycho educational assessment. Once the diagnosis is made if the family chooses to stay with the LATS team we meet every four months to define present goals and consider what work has already been accomplished. Families of course can choose to develop their own team outside of LATS once the diagnosis is made.
Holly J. Smith, Registered Psychologist #1849
Dr. Smith has a wide range of experience beginning with her life skills training while she was getting an undergraduate degree in Social work. She began leading groups in the correctional centers in Saskatchewan until she moved to BC. She then began working in the adult mental health field and eventually went back to school graduating in clinical social work in 1985 from the University of Calgary. At that time she developed her practice model which is a combination of family systems, feminism and a cognitive behavioral approach.
Dr. Smith then moved to Nanaimo to begin a new position at mental health with the children’s team. During her tenure at Child and Youth Mental Health, Dr. Smith began a Ph. D. in psychology. During this graduate degree program through Saybrook University she expanded her practice from children and families to couples and individual adults.
Dr. Smith’s philosophy is that all of us benefit from supported introspection and therapy is good for us all. None of us are immune from life’s challenges and support will be needed by everyone in his or her lifetime. The sooner we realize that our emotional health is as important as our physical health we will understand that regular preventative care by a professional will enhance and expand our coping strategies. Just recently Dr. Smith refreshed her training in the diagnostic process for children over six and adults with suspected autism spectrum disorder.
Born and raised in the Kansas City area, Dr. Ron Penner first knowingly met a Canadian at about age twenty, ended up in Victoria for graduate school after completing undergraduate work at the University of Kansas, and with citizenship after marriage. Prior to his current involvement with the Canadian Forces he worked in hospital, mental health, educational, forensic and private practice settings.
Registered in B.C. since 1983, his career began as a research officer for a few years, clinically starting work as the psychologist at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for nearly ten years. Since 1985 he has consistently been in private practice part-time to full-time until securing a position with Mental Health Services at C.F.B. Edmonton in 2008, later transferring to Esquimalt in 2009.
His clinical work has always been comprised of a mixture of assessment and treatment, and he enjoys diversity within both. Assessments have included neuropsychological, psycho-educational, medico-legal and forensic, with a lot of evaluations having been prepared for lawyers, WorkSafe B.C. and various agencies. Primary areas of treatment have included mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, brain injury, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, vocational issues, chronic pain and adaptation to disability. He has worked with all age groups except young children.
As for theoretical orientation, Ron prefers to be eclectic within a context that places the central priorities on the relationship connection and values clarification to guide therapeutic goals and evaluation of progress. Familiar with CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), he integrates ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) into his practice. Among his favourite tools is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that he often applies in a creative and emergent fashion when it seems especially pertinent. He enjoys psychometrics and integrating the findings into treatment. Rather than believing in a distinct dichotomy between assessment and treatment, Ron holds the view that when assessment is done at its best it tends to be inherently therapeutic.
Tracy Larson, Registered Speech Language Pathologist #0244
Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Tracy started her post-secondary education by obtaining a 2-year certificate in Human Services from Camosun College in British Columbia. She then transferred to the University of Victoria where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Linguistics. With her keen interest in learning more about communication difficulties she pursued a career path in Speech-Language Pathology. Tracy graduated in 1991 from Southern Connecticut State University and began a career in the Cowichan Valley region where she was employed in a Ministry Children and Family Funded Early Intervention Program. By 2003 her role had expanded, leading a team of therapists and consultants through a Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities accreditation process. During Tracy’s 15 years of involvement in early intervention work she was part of the development of the Autism Assessment Team in the Cowichan Valley. In this multidisciplinary team she worked with a local paediatrician and a psychologist in carrying out autism assessments for children. Eventually, Tracy was seconded to the Complex Developmental Behavioral Conditions assessment team and participated in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder evaluations with the Queen Alexandra Centre and the University of Victoria. Since 2007 Tracy has been working with school-age children in districts across British Columbia and has continued her involvement in autism diagnosis for independent schools and in private practice. In addition to registration as a speech language pathologist, Ms. Larson is certified by the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists.
Canadian Association of Psychologists #26417
Raised in the beautiful West Kootenays (Nakusp, BC), Chloe moved to Vancouver Island in 1990 to start her post-secondary education at the University of Victoria, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care (with distinction) in 1998. After a decade of experience raising and homeschooling her 3 children and extensive involvement in the Vancouver Island church community, she returned in 2008 to the workforce employed as a Family Support Worker and Child and Family Counsellor, serving the families of the Cowichan Valley through Integrity Family Services. As well, volunteering as a lay counsellor at Cowichan Family Life Association.
With a deep desire to further serve the therapeutic needs of individuals and families, Chloe entered into the Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program through Yorkville University. She completed a full year internship with Dr. Smith learning psychometrics, facilitating therapeutic groups and practicing as a community based clinician and behaviour interventionist for referred Autism Spectrum Disorder clients, and graduated in 2013. She uses an eclectic approach to therapy allowing for adaptive treatment plans tailored to meet the needs of the individual and their family. Additional Specialized Trainings include: Bowen Family Systems Therapy, Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Indigenous Cultural Competency, Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention, Eating Disorders Clinical Practices, Mindfulness Practices, Psychological Assessments – Levels A and B, The Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Support ( SCERTS) Model – Next Generation Practices for Children with Autism and Their Families, and Social Thinking and Mental Health Frameworks.
Chloe is registered with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counselors, and is a Registered Autism Service Provider (over 6).
Diana was born in Montreal and moved to the West Coast when she was 8, developing a love of swimming and the outdoors early in life. She began her post-secondary training at Simon Fraser University, completing a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Kinesiology and a Minor in Math. From there she moved to Hamilton, Ontario to pursue a Master’s in Occupational Therapy (OT) and has since 2004 found her passion as a pediatric occupational therapist.
Diana uses a client centred approach grounded in developmental theory and sensory integration theory to help children and families in their overall function. She believes we are all sensorimotor beings and at our core we need to be efficient at processing information to function effectively across people, environments, and activities we encounter in our daily living.
For children who have a sensory integration difference, there is an inefficiency in the system to take in and integrate sensory information. When this is the case, behaviour can be inappropriate and there are problems with growth and development. Ultimately the ability to learn becomes hindered because a child’s sensory experiences (visual, vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile/touch) are meant to lead to adaptive responses and help a child stay still or move through their world with appropriate fluidity, timing, and speed.
Diana brings a forward-thinking, “can do” and calm attitude to her practice. She enjoys sharing with families and the team about the dynamic interplays she observes when a child moves in her therapy gym. What are the child’s strengths? Are there any areas that need attention? If so, can these be attended to in an evidence based way which stimulates changes in the child’s nervous system? If yes, then these changes can markedly improve the child’s higher order gross and fine motor skills, attention, and learning capacity. Diana sees therapy as an art. Her 50 minute therapy sessions are play-based and take the child’s ideas into the fold, creating therapeutic affordances for their areas of interest.
In her 12 years of working in paediatric occupational therapy, Diana previously worked with teams at the NONA Child Development Centre (Vernon), Sundrops Child Development Centre (Duncan), and the Pivot Point Family Growth Centre (Victoria). She is now providing direct therapy from her therapy gym in Cowichan Station, encouraging multi-disciplinary involvement and collaboration. She is SIPT (sensory integration and praxis test) certified, has completed the practitioner training of the integrated listening system (iLS) and intensive training with the Neufeld institute regarding challenging childhood problems from childhood through adolescence. She weaves all these elements into her practice, enabling her to make sense of the child and streamline her treatment approach targeting top priorities first.
Diana is able to effectively establish rapport with children and families of all kinds.
William Galick, Kinesiologist
Kinesiology is a scientific study of human or non-human body movement.Dr. Smith in conjunct with Will Galick have combined a treatment program for youth on the Autism spectrum who are often very sedentary. Will engages with the youth in the community with a focus on activity nutrition while blending interpersonal connection and *social thinking skills.
* Credit: Michelle Garcia Winners
Philippa Brown, Executive Assistant
I grew up in West Vancouver and moved with my family to Montreal in 1971 where I went to High School. Once I graduated High school I went to CEGEP at John Abbott College and then went to McGill University where I graduated in 1981 with a BSc Ag. After Graduation I married and moved to Gabriola Island and ran a goat dairy consisting of 40 milking goats. I made specialty goat’s milk cheese which was sold on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. We moved to Cedar in 1988 and have been there ever since. I have three children, all grown now. While the kids were at home I was always very involved in the school and in their organizations that they belonged to. One of my children has special needs and it was through him that I met Dr. Holly and became part of her team. My experience in dealing with a child with special needs and mental health issues has helped me to become more tolerant, understanding and forgiving of people and their differences. It has helped me to look at the person and not the disability, it is a bit of a cliché but the important part of dis-ability is the ability. I am grateful to my son for the lessons I have learned from him. Patience and the different ways to look at situations and life in general are valuable tools in life and essential in dealing with the agencies, schools and people you meet especially when helping someone with differences. So to him, I say thank you for being who you are.