The OSRP is proud to present Student Stories, a blog series that spotlights Student Members and their journeys to becoming registered psychotherapists. In this edition, we hear from OSRP Student Member Breanna Trozzo.

By: Breanna Trozzo

Mental health and well-being have always been a passion of mine. I had the opportunity to take my first psychology class in high school and instantaneously knew this was the field I was born to contribute to.

I spent the majority of my teenage years through early adulthood living with panic attacks and major depression. For the longest time, I experienced a lot of low motivation and sadness, wondering what bad thing I had done in my life to deserve to regularly feel this profound emotional pain. I began to participate in self-sacrificing activities where I would go out of my way to do good things for others, even if it was not what I needed, thinking that if I was my then-definition of a good person, the world would not continue to punish me psychologically.

The day I began to heal was the day I recognized that these mental health struggles were not “punishments,” but rather a gift in disguise. I truly believe there are just some skills you cannot learn from a textbook and going through these hardships has built me into an incredibly empathetic and validating future psychotherapist with strong listening and comprehension skills.

Whilst I have a personal appreciation for those experiencing mental health concerns, I also am distinctly aware of the differences among individuals. I am currently on a journey of learning about the norms, values, and practices of various cultural groups in order to achieve insight into how our cultural identities shape our lived experiences. I have participated in courses pertaining to religious diversity and exploring the spiritual belief systems of Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam, and I am interested in further developing my awareness of the Indigenous worldview through content shared by Indigenous creators.

While completing my education in counselling psychology, I spent time working with Habitat for Humanity in Ottawa, ON. This experience taught me about the structural and social barriers to achieving homeownership, and how good mental health and well-being involves having a safe place to call home. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Habitat homeowners and hear their inspiring stories of overcoming hardships and persevering despite many institutional and personal obstacles. One man I will always remember kindly allowed me the privilege of hearing about his life story. I admired that despite how unkind the world had been to him, he was always grateful and eager to give his time to help others in his community. My time with Habitat for Humanity opened my eyes to how well-being requires collaboration among people, societal institutions, cultures, and systems.

I currently spend my time working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, striving to end the stigma surrounding mental health through conducting Mental Health First Aid and The Working Mind training sessions with companies across the country. What has resonated with me the most has been my time spent conversing with first responders. One man who works with a team of paramedics shared with me that 30% of his team is off at one time due to psychological injury. They cannot find enough qualified professionals who are able and willing to help them cope with the depression, anxiety, and PTSD that they have developed on the job. I was really impacted by this heartbreaking revelation given that these first responders consistently put themselves at risk and are always ready and willing to help others in need.

I am currently completing my Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) at Yorkville University, and upon completion, I intend to pursue a psychotherapy career with a focus on first responders healing from grief and trauma. As a future practitioner, I want to explore incorporating person-centred and existential elements into trauma-informed therapy, with the possibility of eventually introducing animal-related therapies. I currently have a rescue dog from Barbados who is healing from his own traumatic past and I admire his subtle ability to pick up on emotions and gravitate to those who are struggling and provide comfort. I truly believe animals have a unique capability of understanding the things that humans cannot always bring themselves to put into words, and I look forward to exploring any connections between animal-assisted therapy and trauma.

I am grateful for the people, organizations, and experiences that have contributed to my growth as a psychotherapist, and I continue to welcome ongoing education and knowledge sharing as I carry on with my journey.

To get in touch with Breanna, please contact Breanna.Trozzo@yorkvilleu.ca


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