Interview with Michele Kambolis – Child and Family Therapist and Registered Clinical Counselor

About Michele Kambolis, MA, RCC: Michele earned her master of arts in counseling psychology before pursuing a doctorate in philosophy in mind body medicine. Contributing to Montecristo Magazine, Huffington Post, WestCoast Families Magazine, and the Vancouver Sun, Michele is also the founder and director of CHI Kids – a program that provides children with tools to manage stress, anxiety, and other childhood challenges. Currently, she is also the clinical director of Harbourside Family Counseling Centre in Vancouver, BC.

[] What was your influence for pursuing a career as a professional counselor and child and family therapist?

[Michele Kambolis, MA, RCC] Inspiration is in abundance when we look to the people around us and my core influences have always been my teachers, mentors and those who invested their heart and mind in healing humanity. Dr. John Allen, Dr. Jane Garland, and Viola Brodie were all early pioneers in child therapy and their play centred approaches were groundbreaking to the field of counselling. Their work inspired a great desire to learn the language of children in order to help them heal their inner wounds.

[] You are also a parent educator with a column in the Vancouver Sun. How did you get into parent education and what is your interest in writing for parent magazines like WestCoast Families and Huffington Post?

[Michele Kambolis] Anytime we can use a media platform to educate hearts and minds we hold a powerful mechanism for change, so when editors began contacting me to provide content, I jumped right in. Students can offer free content, start a blog or send a pitch on a new research study if their dream is to share vital information to families on a more expansive scale.

[] Early years in a child’s development can be trying for both parent and child. Can you tell us more about the evolution of CHI Kids and the importance of early intervention programs like yours?

[Michele Kambolis] The emotional ecosystem we provide for children has the potential to hard wire their brain for a lifetime of mind-body health. Early childhood programs like CHI Kids (and now CHI School) teach both child and parent vital tools from evidenced based wellness practices like mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal neurobiology – the impact is nothing less than life changing. In both group and 1:1 formats, CHI Teachers guide children through mindfulness meditation, play based progressive relaxation, therapeutic yoga, thought busting exercises and gratitude awareness activities. Most importantly, parents receive the support they need to embody the skills and tools themselves to create a family system of resilience.

[] Your research and training is influenced by interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB). Can you expand on what this approach is and why it is your influence for your work in therapy and counseling?

[Michele Kambolis] I studied with Dan Siegal, the founder of IPNB, for a year in Santa Monica and he has revolutionized the way we look at our human experience. Interpersonal Neurobiology draws on a variety of scientific disciplines to understand the human experience, but integration within self and between all beings is at the heart of IPNB. In practise, IPNB supports mind-body awareness: drawing attention to our physiological systems, brain functioning and development, self-care practises, whole brain-body system needs and the importance of social connection are all spotlighted in the therapeutic process.

[] Your book – Generation Stressed is well reviewed on many different platforms. By utilizing play-based techniques to help children overcome their anxiety, why did you develop this literature to share with parents?

[Michele Kambolis] Chronic stress and anxiety has successively increased over the past 30 years and the consequences on the mind-body health of our children are catastrophic. I needed to do something. So many children and youth at my practice were benefiting from the adapted, child friendly versions of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that I decided to curate the activities into a book, making them accessible to parents everywhere. The play part was essential: Play is the language of children, an inscape into healing their inner worlds.

[] For students who are preparing to take their first steps as counselors and enroll in a master’s degree program, what advice can you give them about preparing to enter the field and the many populations they may work with?

[Michele Kambolis] Find a mentor that inspires you, create a dedicated practice of self-awareness, go to therapy, get vulnerable, do a deep dive into ethics, live by that code, learn to listen to your body, make your database your best friend, become a brain science nerd, lean into your supports, get supervision often, open your heart and mind to your clients, lovingly crush your ego, and finally, ask… “Who am I NOT to take this step toward healing our human family?”

Thank you for your time and insight into counseling, Michele!

To learn more on how to become a child counselor, visit our Child and Adolescent Counselor career page!

Last updated: April 2020