About Me & FAQ’s

Here at Night Owl Counseling, I believe that you are the expert in what you need and your own experiences. To follow that, I’m going to let you choose what information you’d like to know about me. I’ve tried to write all of this in plain, easy to read English, as a kind of accessibility.
Click any of the drop-downs that interest you. If there’s anything not answered here, please check out my Contact page to send me your questions. Thank you!

My name is Tristan, and despite some of the language on the website there is only one of me here! (Currently, anyway… who knows, perhaps Night Owl Counseling will grow someday!) My pronouns are they/them or he/him.

Sadly, even in this day and age I can’t be ‘out’ as trans, enby, and queer (let alone disabled and all the rest) in 100% of spaces, so limiting the ease with which my name can be associated with my website and identities is a mild precaution. When I first started as a counselor, I didn’t have my name on the website at all – but my confidence has grown, and I’ve decided that being welcoming to you wonderful folks is far more important than concern about what a few ignorant people might think.

Remember, kids: disclosure is a matter of consent! We all get to choose what feels safe to share about ourselves with others.

The short answer is: yes/probably! Though the majority of my experience has been with adults, I have worked with children as young as six years old (life skills, understanding change and loss, gender expression, social skills, boundaries, self-concept, and/or challenges at school).
Something to keep in mind is that young children may find online counseling to be difficult to focus on. You are always welcome to book a free consultation to discuss whether I could be a good fit to support the child/young person in your life.

Everyone who practices social work, counseling, or mental health -related therapy in Ontario must be registered under at least one professional College. These professional colleges regulate our work, which includes:
making sure that we stay up to date with new methods and information;
keeping a public list of everyone performing this work;
and giving the public (you!) a place to make complaints and understand more about how our profession works. You can use the link above to search me by name on the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers website if you’d like to see for yourself!

For a full list of my credentials, click here. I got my Master of Social Work degree from Wilfred Laurier University in Kitchener, Ontario. Before that, I got my Bachelor’s degree from Brock University in a combination of psychology and sociology (with a focus on a developmental psychology and critical animal studies). I have been attending workshops and learning from within my communities for over 15 years about how to best support other people, especially when what people need isn’t often included in what a school will teach.

In the kind of work that I do, there isn’t a huge difference between ‘counselor’ and ‘therapist’. Sometimes, someone who calls themselves a therapist has taken a psychotherapy degree instead of a social work degree, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, someone who calls themselves a therapist focuses on offering mental health support through one or more very specific methods. Some methods you might have heard of are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and many, many more.

Counselors, instead, tend to focus more on blending parts of many different therapeutic approaches, but may not apply a specific named method to how they work with people. I consider myself more of a counselor than a therapist, in that I use parts of many approaches and focus on what people need in the moment. I believe that this allows you more control over what happens in our sessions, and doesn’t hold either of us to following a system that might not be working for you. However, let me know if there’s ever a specific kind of therapy that you would like me to try using with you.

I consider myself a white settler in Canada, with one distant Shawnee ancestor with whom I have very little connection. The rest of my background is Sicilian, English, Irish/Welsh, Scottish, French, German, Dutch, and possibly more. I am currently most interested in learning most about the Welsh, Irish, and Sicilian parts of my family.

I identify as queer, trans, non-binary on the masculine side, pansexual, and demisexual. (For more information on what all those terms mean, I will eventually have a library of links on my Resources page; for now, try looking up a few videos or articles online that you are pretty sure were made by people who are LGBTQ+ themselves.)

I also identify as autistic, ADHD, disabled, and generally neurodivergent (or ‘neurospicy’ as some folks like to call it). Anxiety, sensory processing differences, and chronic digestive issues are other facets of my invisible disabilities. I am proud of how I manage to thrive despite a world that is often inaccessible.

I practice a form of Norse Paganism sometimes known as Heathenry, as part of a small inclusive group called a Kindred. I mix this with forms of Celtic-inspired Wicca and elements of Buddhism for my own unique spiritual path.
I believe that all things have some kind of spirit within them, and that nature in some ways is a living being itself. I also believe strongly in the scientific method, and turn to magic and the spiritual as a complement to science – never instead of scientific observation and study.
I am open and curious about all faiths and spiritualities, including beliefs in nothing supernatural (atheism) and not being sure (agnosticism). I would be delighted to hear about how your beliefs, and possibly faith, inform how you feel about yourself and the world. I aim to be respectful of all ways of being and relating to the world.

I have one partner, and three cats. I have family scattered across multiple countries, and spend most of my time with friends so close they may as well be family (chosen family). I am very lucky that I can have both biological and chosen family in my life at the same time.

I am part of a medieval reenactment group called The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), where we dress up in medieval clothing from all over the world and learn together all kinds of practical skills from the past. It also gives a great opportunity to learn more about how complex history really is, because there are many, many stories that are very hard to find in regular textbooks and other materials. I do archery, singing and other performance, and heraldry, and volunteer as a safety marshal for axe, knife and spear throwing.

I do a lot of computer gaming, and some board gaming. I run a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for my friends and I’m a player in other games. I’m also a member of the furry fandom, and one of these days might volunteer at a convention! I deeply enjoy hiking, gardening, cooking, and spending time with the four cats in my household. I like to read, and I’m slowly getting back to it after university made it hard to read for fun.

In the end, I really enjoy anything that lets me learn new things, be out in nature, or support other people!

Most people will be looking for one-hour appointments online, and those normally cost $130.
That may sound like a lot of money (and it is). It’s important to know that many counselors are now asking for at least $140/hour just to make enough to live on. (If an agency is advertising appointments for a lot less than this, it likely either a) has extra funding through government or charity, or b) is cutting corners somewhere.)
If you are short on money, especially if it’s because of disability, discrimination, activism efforts, tending to a dependent family member, etc., I might be able to charge less than my usual rate. Please don’t be afraid to ask! Poverty is real, and should not get in the way of your mental health.
Check out my Fees page for more information.

  • No eye contact required. You’re allowed to look down, look away, fiddle with a craft, walk around, or turn off your camera entirely! Just let me know so I can learn what works best for you.
  • 20-minute no-judgment forgiveness for late arrivals. There’s nothing to be anxious about – I’ll still be here until 20 minutes past your appointment start time.
  • Through the Jane telehealth platform, you can sign up for multiple automatic reminders for appointments; make, change, & cancel appointments online without having to call or email; and pay (by credit card) with only a few clicks, or even set up automatic payments.
  • As much as possible, I use plain language on my website and forms.
  • Text-based communication and full AAC are fine by me. If you plan to communicate via text or an AAC system, just let me know when you’re booking your initial consultation so that I can plan ahead and ask the right questions. We might be able to work something out to accommodate the extra time you might need to express yourself, without it costing you extra.
  • I understand alexithymia (difficulties with recognizing/naming emotions and/or body sensations) from the inside. I’ll be fully prepared if you don’t know how to answer ‘how are you feeling?’.
  • Your communication pattern is nothing to be ashamed of. (Yes, I do want to hear about your special interests!) Tell me what you want to focus on to get the most out of our time together, and we’ll work out the best ways to stay on topic without making you feel un-heard or interrupted.
  • Anti-ableist approach in general. I believe that your disability/condition just makes you different, not broken. That goes for emotional & mental health just as much as for physical & developmental.

For more specific information on how I’ve come to know the many social work skills I offer at Night Owl Counseling, and my perspectives on those skills, check out my Credentials page.