Challenge brings change

Nikki Hemstad Leete

I hold a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I have twenty-eight years of experience working with children, youth, adults and families. I have been registered and in good standing with the B.C. College of Social Workers since 2006 (registration #08815). I am registered with the BC Association of Social Workers and the Canadian Association of Social Workers, (registration # 1007113).

When I think about the comments on my high school report cards, it was clear what profession I was suited for. “Nikki is a good student, but grades would be better if she spent less time socializing with peers”. I was listening and (admittedly) talking, but, with my friends, we were maneuvering our way through the trials and tribulations of teenage-hood. Listening, reflecting, seeking to understand, and helping others has always come naturally. When I began my education in the Social Service Program at the age of 18, I knew I was where I belong.

28 years later, I still know I am where I am meant to be. My journey has lead me to certification in Choice Theory Counselling (1995), Bachelor of Social Work (2002), Masters of Social Work (2007), and various other certifications, including Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (1993), STEP-WISE interviewing (2002), SAFE Assessment (2005), foster-parent training (2011), trauma-informed practice training (2015) and EMDR (basic training, 2020 – working toward certification).

As the Coordinator of RCMP Victim Services in Mackenzie, BC, (1993-1999), the courageous survivors of crime and trauma taught me about endurance and strength in the face of powerlessness and loss. Child protection social work in Prince George, BC (2002-2005) showed how resilient children are while proving how oppression, marginalization and unhealed trauma are barriers to families providing the best for their loved ones. Adoption social work (2002-present) solidified my understanding of the power of choice, love, and tenacity in adversity. As a college educator (2009-2017) I was inspired by the intrinsic motivation that call people to the profession. My work as a clinical counsellor at an in-patient, residential treatment center for addiction (2017-present) teaches me how connection, vulnerability and openness result in self-compassion, freedom from shame and changed behavior.

I have training and experience in various counselling theories and methods – EMDR, psycho-dynamic, cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused, critical-incident, grief and loss. I am a strengths-based, anti-oppressive, client-centered, culturally-competent structural practitioner. As a post-secondary educator, I was the Social Services instructor for the following courses: addiction, advanced communication skills, self-care, group process and practice, social welfare policy, community development, child welfare policy, techniques for working with children and youth. In addition, I have been the educational supervisor for approximately 150 students entering the field of social work.

As enriching as my professional journey has been, the greatest learning about hope, courage, trust and commitment has come from my children, (who are no longer children), and 3 little ones (who are no longer little) we were lucky to provide foster-care for. I am proud Mom to 4 amazing humans, mom-in-law to 2 beautiful daughters-in-law and Grandma to a beautiful Grandson. Our children joined our family through the gift of adoption. In the professional world, our family is referred to as being a cross-cultural, older-child, high-needs, sibling group that was high-risk. Our family journey hasn’t always been easy, but the challenges have been 100% worth the struggle.

With compassion and a genuine desire to see people live their lives happy and content, I bring authenticity, non-judgment, and the ability to create a feeling of safety to my practice. I enjoy fishing, knitting, gardening, and teaching group fitness. I live in the Kootenays with my incredible husband, dogs, cats, and horses where we all share a love of hiking, exploring, and spending time in the fabulous rocky mountains.