Ema Nardella


Ema Nardella


-Born in a small town in Puglia Italy
-Raised in Toronto Canada by an aunt and uncle since mid childhood
-Graduate Education at Simon Fraser U. in British Columbia
-Teacher in public school system and tutorials at SFU
-Mother of 2 daughters via assisted reproductive support
-Grandmother of 2 boys (no effort to create for me at all)!
-Married to same cool dude since 1977
-RP in private practice since 1988 (love facilitating gestalt process groups too)







Where are you from? Tell us where you were born and raised. Did you have a traditional upbringing for your culture or a unique situation? Did you and/or your family relocate?

I was born in San Marco di Lamis, Puglia Italy. My family came over to Toronto Canada in the 1950’s. I had a very traditional upbringing dedicating every day to mass and social service until I was 14 and then decided I wanted to be a regular teenager and enjoy partying and questioning introjects’. I was then fortunately raised by an aunt and uncle who encouraged my education in a broad array of academics and fine arts.

Your education: Where, when and what did you study? In what courses did you excel and were there any challenges in your education?

My education has included graduate degrees at Simon Fraser University Faculty of education and clinical psychology.after my teacher certification. Previous to this I attended York U and Seneca College for Social Sciences and Social Services. My broad earth school includes travelling, a variety of expressive arts ( poetry, dance, painting) and the fine art of the I – Thou encounter. The challenges to my Education include my sensitive nature finding my creative adjustments to excel in academia while unsupported by both my dominant mainstream and traditional cultures.

What led you to a career in mental health? Did you have an inspirational mentor or a turning point event in your life?

As a child and early teen my vision was to be a nun. Then I discovered Feminism and decided to be a priest. The Catholic Church disallowed womyn in the priesthood. Sister Michael Vincent (St. Francis of Assisi School), Selma Wassermann (director of alternative education at SFU) and James Marcia ( Director of SFU clinical Psychology and Jay Tropianskaia of training at the GIT) taught me that compassion could take me outside the church. So I decided to be a Psychotherapist.

What is your current workplace setting? What were there stages involved in getting to where you are now?

Private Practice in the Guildwood area.

I went from working in schools, clinics to private practice with individuals and then to couples and groups. I have continued personal/professional development through my being in therapy (various modalities) to training under the humanistic umbrella as well as cognitive/behavioural modalities.

Tell us a bit more about yourself – what do you like to do with your free time? Do you have hobbies, a favourite author, artist, movie, series, food, destination, blogger, etc. – anything at all you’d like to share?

I don’t call my artistic/creative expressions hobbies. All of what I do is an art form. I am a whole being in often spontaneous creation. My ‘tool kit’ constantly expands. I dabble in a wide array of mediums. The electronic medium is the most challenging for me! I find my teachers along my path. Way too many favourites to mention! Martin Buber is one name that is always figural!

A lot has changed in 2020. Any advice to share about how to approach your work, relationships or homelife in the era of the ‘new normal’? What will life be like in a year from now?

I see life as a series of experiments in the ever changing earth field. I always encourage finding supports that nourish our bodies and souls. I value the give and take rhythm of life. I follow spirit, community and the gestalt cycle of experience. And always listen to our inner body wisdom and nature’s healing voices.

What advice would you offer to someone thinking about a career in mental health or just getting started?

Do ‘a lot of your own emotional work’ first and don’t ever stop. Be engaged with your clients and in your other relationships, show up! Be open to all the modalities. Do not quickly marry the trends of the day!
Grow in awareness and choice and realize that being a psychotherapist takes a lot of time and commitment. Keep open to new teachers along the way.

Are you seeing clients in-person again? What have you learned about this process?


Expect change, keep open and interconnect.

Member of the OAMHP since: