Copyright 2018 © New Start Counselling

Our Staff

Wendy Keen MSW, RSW, Executive Director

Wendy is a registered Social Worker who has practiced social work in both Alberta and Nova Scotia. She has been the Executive Director of a women’s shelter and in 2009 retired from the Department of Community Services as a District Manager. Wendy served as Executive Director of Family and Children Services for several years, where she demonstrated leadership in the support to families in the community. Her field of practice is social work administration. Wendy’s focus at New Start is to develop and encourage collaborative relationships with similar community agencies to address the program, policy and resource issues that will lead to peaceful families and communities.

Jane Donovan MEd., RCT,
Counselling Therapist, Clinical Supervisor - New Start Counselling

Jane has been working as a therapist in the field of domestic violence since 2006, having worked at Bridges Institute in Truro, Nova Scotia and now as Clinical Supervisor at New Start Counselling in Halifax. Jane has considerable experience and great interest in counselling those affected by trauma, violence and abuse. Her therapeutic approach has been influenced primarily by Narrative Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Feminist Theory and Art Therapy. With a Narrative lens, Jane focuses on abilities rather than dwelling on problems. She views problems as separate from people and through collaborative conversations of people’s stories she brings forth their skills, values and knowledge that can assist them in moving away from abuse and/or violence in order to build the respectful relationships they prefer.

Jane has attended and presented at numerous national and international conferences and workshops on Domestic Violence and Narrative Therapy. Closer to home, she offers her experience to university graduate students as a counselling supervisor. Her role as Clinical Supervisor at New Start helps to bring about a consistent, comprehensive counselling methodology and collaborative workplace environment for both staff and interns. Jane’s conversations are ever-evolving and her creative approach has recently led her to facilitate group therapy sessions for men who have perpetrated violence, men who are suffering from the effects of sexual abuse, and a women’s art therapy group addressing the effects of domestic abuse and/or violence.

Eric L. Ross M.Ed., RCT, MTA
Registered Counselling Therapist, Accredited Music Therapist

Eric’s therapeutic approach is rooted in narrative therapy and music therapy—incorporating cognitive-behavioural therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, and mindfulness methods. He works collaboratively with people to set therapeutic goals—helping people to create meaningful and lasting change in their lives. He is committed to helping people explore possibilities of moving away from abuse and violence towards respectful and safe relationships.

Eric holds a Master of Education (Counselling) degree from Acadia University (Wolfville, NS). He attended Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) where he received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education and Music Therapy. He is a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists and a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Eric is an Accredited Music Therapist (MTA) with the Canadian Association for Music Therapy and a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) with the Certification Board for Music Therapists.


Eric is committed to regular professional development to ensure that he offers people current information and an integrative approach to therapy. He is currently pursuing advanced training in music psychotherapy using the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music at the Therapeutic Arts Institute (Indianapolis, IN).

Eric’s research interests include the use of music in psychotherapy and the use of music as self-care practice. He has presented his research findings on music as a supportive and insight-oriented method at national and provincial conferences.

Stephanie Wells, M.Ed, RCT-C, DVATI

Stephanie comes to New Start after more than 11 years of practicing in British Columbia as a child and family therapist where the majority of her work was focused on supporting families impacted by violence, abuse and addiction. A true Nova Scotian at heart, she returned ‘home’ in 2012 with her partner and two young children after 16 years on the West Coast.  In addition to her Master’s in Education (Counselling), Stephanie has a Graduate Diploma in Art Therapy.  Her thesis included work and research in the areas of abuse and the role of creativity in healing historical trauma.

Stephanie has had the privilege of working in clinical settings with mental health teams and in non-profit community agencies, as well as maintaining a small private practice. In addition to individual therapy, she has experience running therapeutic and psycho-education groups for children, youth and adults.  She has also obtained clinical certifications and professional development specific to trauma, attachment, and relationships.

Building respectful relationship with others in the foundation of how Stephanie navigates herself in session.  She understands people as coming from complex systems, often impacted by experiences of trauma and thus her way of working with clients is informed by their stories; honouring their experiences and supporting them to draw from their natural strengths and resources. Stephanie considers this work to be among the most profound and humbling experiences of her life and credits the courage of clients as some of her greatest teachers.

Alex Wolf

Alex is a Registered Counselling Therapist - Candidate (RCT-C) with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists and a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. He holds a Master’s of Education in Counselling (MEd) from Acadia University and is a Field Leader with the Outdoor Council of Canada.

He works from a trauma-informed perspective to best serve and support people in moving toward the kind of healthy relationships they prefer.  His therapeutic foundation is in Narrative Therapy, and he incorporates Psychodynamic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and Adventure Therapy, as well as elements of mindfulness practices. Alex aims to assist people  in cultivating healthier relationships by helping people explore their use of abuse and its effects, develop ways of preventing further abuse, and repair past harms.

Alex has worked in the mental health field for over 10 years. His background includes working as a health care provider for individuals living with mental illness and physical/intellectual disabilities, and working individually and in groups with men and boys to address a variety of mental wellness and relationship challenges. He believes that the space in which counselling therapy occurs has a profound impact on a person’s sense of comfort and readiness to engage in the therapeutic process. This is one reason he offers both office-based and outdoor-based counselling services whenever possible. 

Felicia Boutilier B.Sc.O.T. (Reg) NS, MEd., RCT

Registered Counselling Therapist

Felicia uses a number of therapeutic approaches including mindfulness practices, cognitive behavioural therapy, narrative therapy and solution-focused brief therapy all with a trauma-informed lens. 


Each person’s situation is unique so her focus is to provide a safe, caring and supportive environment to help people feel heard and understood.  The counselling process can help people to gain insight and learn the tools to assist in moving forward.


Felicia has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Dalhousie University and a Masters in Education (Counselling) from Acadia University.  She is committed to professional development to ensure therapy is based on the most up to date practices and the latest research.


Felicia has many years of experience in the areas of depression, anxiety/stress, chronic pain, disability, addiction and trauma.  She has a history of working in various treatment programs,  private and public agencies and in private practice.

James Maynard, MES, MSW, candidate (RSW)


James holds a Master of Environmental Studies from York University with a focus on male socialization, and men and violence as well as a Master of Social Work from Carleton University with a focus on clinical social work.


James works to integrate a number of therapeutic approaches according to the individual needs of each client, addressing both early trauma and its influence on current behaviors and full accountability for harmful behaviors and perspectives. James works primarily from a Narrative Therapy approach while also drawing on elements of mindfulness and grounding practices, CBT, DBT, somatic therapy and a psychodynamic model of practice wherever relevant and necessary.


Research interests include the impact of early trauma, abuse, violence or neglect on mental, emotional and neurological development and how that may influence later actions, behaviors and responses to stress and conflict. For James, each individual represents a collection of stories, both recognized and remembered or subconscious and unremembered, and an important of the work seeks to understand and address  how these stories influence and define the way in which a client may see themselves, their relationships and their place in the world.

Maher Masalmeh

Maher is a Registered Counselling Therapist - Candidate (RCT-C) with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists and a Canadian Certified Counselor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. He holds a Master’s of Education in Counselling (MEd) from Acadia University. Maher can provide counselling in Arabic.

He believes that the clients are the experts themselves and the solutions are stored within the clients’ inner resources. Counselors only offer the guidance by providing unconditional self acceptance to their clients. People are inherently good and creative, they will flourish and reach their potential if their environment is good enough.


Maher has a diverse background experience, he has been working with individuals and families from different backgrounds. He believes that reality is constructed by social rules and there is no absolute truth, by understanding the bigger system, clients can choose how to live in their environment and how to construct the meaning for their life. He is focused on providing services adapted to the client’s needs. 

As an internationally trained pediatrician, Maher has a lot of experience working with children, adolescents and their families. This includes mental health and counselling. By viewing the client’s challenges beyond the clinical picture, it opens the door to explore other stories that might function better on the long journey for the client’s potential.

In his free time, Maher enjoys hiking, fishing and playing his musical instrument “Oud”. He believes that life is a journey, not a destination and the best way to enjoy it is to be present.