Frances Jasiura, BPHE, BSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Based in Vancouver, BC, I offer training and coaching with individuals, groups, teams, and organizations across Canada, in an evidence-based communication style that strengthens empathy, engagement, collaboration and internal motivation for change. I also offer Spiritual Direction with individuals, both virtually and in person.
Growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario embedded within me a deep value for community and the out-of-doors, where we walked everywhere, played outside from morning ’til night, slept over at our neighbours, and went to the little corner community centre to take square dance lessons. I fondly remember snowbanks-large-enough-for-tunnels; yearly family camping adventures; 10 day wilderness canoe trips and provocative connections in the United Church; crackling and colourful northern lights; and childhood friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Coming of age in the 60’s, I had such optimism that ‘we could change the world’ (we didn’t really have to change ourselves, mind you) and a growing ethos to ease suffering, my own included. Singing, swimming and soulful conversation were early ‘spiritual practices’ that offered me both comfort and guidance.
Completing high school, I knew 2 things for sure: it was time to leave Thunder Bay, and that I wanted to be a social worker. Aiming for a Masters in Social Work, I completed a double honours degree in Psychology and Physical and Health Education at the University of Western Ontario in London. Residence living, substantial friendships, engaging professors, and long hours in Weldon library strengthened me both academically and emotionally. Already accepted in the MSW program at Ottawa’s Carleton University, my life plans changed when my husband’s dad died very suddenly, which left his elderly, immigrant mother alone and needing us. We returned to Thunder Bay for what would became 5 years. We lived with Mama awhile and rebuilt her home while I completed my BSW degree at Lakehead University. I still remember the challenge of writing a term paper on “When is Help Helping?” …a question that haunted me, and set the stage to recognize the potential of Motivational Interviewing 10 years later. Entry-level work at Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital and then as a protection worker with the Children’s Aid Society sparked my desire to specialize. My husband and I broke ground and took ‘a year off ‘ to travel Europe and Northern Africa, creating cornerstone memories of free camping in farmers’ fields, skiing in the Andorran Pyrenees, rolling down sand dunes in the Moroccan Sahara, exploring historical family roots with my parents in England, and living with relatives in communist Poland. We returned dirt-poor, well-resourced, and determined to move West and/or North to find work.
Landing a job in the outpatient Heroin Treatment Plan in Kelowna, BC initiated a career focus in, and passion for, addictions, group work and Life Skills training. Over the years, my clinical social work practice cultivated a depth of experience in hospital-based detox, residential treatment, private practice, strategic planning and community-based prevention programming. When I read Dr. Miller’s first article on Motivational Interviewing (MI) in1983 and met him that same year, the answers to that question ‘When is Help Helping’ began to emerge, fostered through his lifelong commitment to diligent research and compassionate concern. Another career highlight for me was a decade of managing a women’s day treatment program through the Family Resource Centre of the North Okanagan, where my experiential base in group facilitation grew to 5000+ hours. That work of synthesizing Motivational Interviewing, group psychotherapy and women’s empowerment is the focus of our contributed chapter in the upcoming Motivational Interviewing in Groups book (Guilford Publishers, in press).
Motivational Interviewing provided the catalyst for Cristine Urquhart and I to meet in 2008. Our ongoing work as MI trainers, friends, and business partners in Change Talk Associates continues to inform and inspire me.
Throughout these years, while raising 2 ‘cool’ kids in a small community (I just slipped on my mothers’s hat), surviving car accidents, and hitting brick walls both personally and in relationship, I became painfully aware and personally undermined by endless, circuitous, and destructive mind chatter. I knew I needed to learn to meditate. From a religious and serious young person, I became an inquisitive and open-minded seeker. I left the Judeo-Christian tradition of my childhood and spent 15 years in dedicated eastern spiritual practices, including 5 sabbatical retreats at the International Meditation Institute in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. Discovering the space between my thoughts and the observer of those thoughts becomes forever a true ‘eureka’ moment for me, transforming my identity in ‘relationship’ with the Whole. Spiritual thirst and grace led me to teachers in Mexico, Spain and Brazil. Childhood prayer traditions were re-awakened and revitalized when introduced to spiritual Kabbalist practices, the Hebrew language, and more recently the Aramaic work of Dr. Neil-Douglas Klotz. Participation in both the Spiritual Direction program through the Prairie Jubilee/University of Winnipeg’s School of Theology Program and the Abwoon Interspiritual Leadership Program helped weave together a lifetime tapestry of apparently divergent paths. Each year I am thrilled to be the Spiritual-Director-in-Residence with Naramata Centre’s summer music program. Passionate about true freedom, embodied interspiritual practices, and communication, I offer Spiritual Direction with individuals, both in person and over the phone, and group workshops that combine Aramaic chant, breath awareness, meditation, circle dance and communication. I cherish the opportunity for those of us with Judeo-Christian-Islamic backgrounds to explore together the depth and authenticity of our shared traditions… to connect through spiritual practice, sacred text and empathic communication.
As members of the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, Cristine and I offer training across Canada in MI’s evidence-based communication style. We are contributing authors in areas related to MI in Groups, Social Work, Women and Smoking, and Trauma-informed Practice. To learn more about our work at Change Talk Associates, email us and sign up to our mailing list.