top of page

Shelagh Keesmaat (she/her)

Registered Psychotherapist, Recreation Therapist 

I have worked as a Registered Psychotherapist and Recreation Therapist in adult mental health for over 28 years providing support for clients struggling with various mental health issues. My extensive work in residential treatment settings has given me a wealth of experience helping people cope with the challenges of anxiety, depression, stress, relationship difficulties, life transitions, disordered eating, body image issues and substance use. As a registered member of Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, my role as a recreation therapist offers a unique opportunity to bring discussions about meaningful leisure and lifestyle balance into therapy sessions for clients who believe this would be helpful. I strive to help others create the fulfilling life they deserve. 


I am passionate about helping people build self-confidence, discover their self-worth and make room for meaning and pleasure in their daily lives. With compassion and respect for each person, I hold an inclusive and non-judgmental space for clients to safely express themselves.

"It’s important for me to bring the qualities of empathy, compassion, open-mindedness, non-judgementalness and humour to my sessions. "

CCP April 2023-6497.jpg

Shelagh first met Carly while doing some supervision work in 2021. After meeting in person for our Eating Disorder Sensitive Training for Professionals and helping to facilitate our Caring for Carers groups, Carly approached Shelagh to join our team in September of 2022. 


Shelagh has an immense amount of experience in mental health settings. With over 27 years of experience along with her work with client's with Eating Disorders Shelagh brings a tremendous amount of experience to our clients. Shelagh is passionate about her work as and Registered Psychotherapist and Recreation Therapist and has done an incredible amount of work preparing for a shift in career working in private practice. 

Shelagh will be joining us virtually for online sessions Monday through Thursdays.


Shelagh is currently accepting clients for her wait list.  

What areas of practice and populations do you enjoy working with? 

What modalities do you use? How would you describe your approach/style to this work? 

I enjoy helping people work through life transitions. While I enjoy my work with adults of any age, I excel working with women over the age of 40. 

What prevents people from coming in and doing this work? 

The main barriers I hear people talk about are: 1) fear of the unknown (What’s involved in therapy? Where do I start? Do I need a diagnosis?), 2) not knowing how to find a good therapist, and 3) finding time to prioritize therapy in their busy lives. People often tell me “I’ve been meaning to reach out for support for a long time” — if we always wait for the “right time”, that time may never come.  

I always meet the client where they are and base my approach on their needs. I typically use CBT and DBT as my foundation along with other approaches I think would be helpful. This might look like helping clients learn how to regulate their emotions or helping them shift their thoughts to a more balanced perspective.

How do you know if you're the right fit for a client? 

Knowing that my skills and experience match the needs of the client is the first step in creating the right fit. However, I believe the most important part of the client-therapist relationship is the ability to build a rapport based on trust, comfort and safety, along with a little bit of humour. 

"Some of my clients have told me that I have a very calming effect on them and that they always feel better after talking to me." 

When treating someone with an Eating disorder, what do you feel they need most?

I believe anyone struggling with an eating disorder needs a safe, non-judgemental space to talk about their struggles and to have their feelings validated by someone who is familiar with the psychological impact associated with eating disorders.


What do you think prevents people from getting help?  

I believe the stigma associated with seeking therapy is slowly melting away as our society begins to talk more openly about it and shed more light on the prevalence of mental health. I think one of the reasons people avoid seeking therapy is fear. Perhaps a fear of the unknown, fear of how and where to start, fear that they will open a Pandora’s box, or a fear of feeling difficult emotions. While these may all be a part of the therapy process, the client determines when they are ready to share and my role is to help guide this process in a safe and compassionate way. 

What phrases or sayings have people used to describe their work with you? 


Some of my clients have told me that I have a very calming effect on them and that they always feel better after talking to me. 

CCP April 2023-6519.jpg
CCP April 2023-6499.jpg

What Made you want to work with CCP?

Ever since I first met Carly in January of 2021, I knew she was a special person. Her extensive knowledge, experience and connection to the mental health community thoroughly impressed me. Carly has brought together a team of warm and caring professionals who are as passionate as I am about helping people improve their mental health. I am honoured to be a part of this wonderful team. 


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My job has allowed me to work with hundreds of courageous people who teach me something new everyday. I consider it an honour to walk alongside people on their journey of self-discovery and to witness their transformation from a place of struggle to a place of recovery and hope. Every small success in someone’s journey gives me hope and strength to continue doing my job. I am so grateful to my clients for putting their trust in me. 


Most surprising thing about you?

Working as a recreation therapist in adult mental health for most of my career, I decided to pursue psychotherapy and became a registered psychotherapist in 2017. Since I was young, I’ve been intrigued by human behaviour, our innate ability to adapt to our circumstances and how making small changes in the way we think and behave can alter the course of our lives. My ongoing interest in this area has facilitated my passion for lifelong learning. I believe my combination of recreation therapy and psychotherapy offers my clients a holistic approach to therapy. Nonetheless, my original reason for pursuing recreation therapy as a career has not changed - I believe in the healing power of finding joy and meaning in our lives outside of work. I live these values in my own life and I can be described as a nature lover, a doting dog mom, and a movie buff who loves laughing with family and friends.

CCP April 2023-6412.jpg

Get in touch with Shelagh today. 

CCP April 2023-6510.jpg
bottom of page