About Us

We, at The Toronto Institute of Group Studies acknowledge that we are hosted in Toronto on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat.

Our wider community members across Canada are equally hosted on Indigenous lands, far too many for us to honour individually, and so we would like to recognize the home and enduring presence of all First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

We are committed to creating safe learning spaces and supporting group leaders to strive for social justice and a sense of belonging for all members in our communities.


Our faculty team draws from diverse professional backgrounds and interests, in the service of advancing our shared commitment to group learning and group leadership development. Exploring the creative and healing possibilities that groups provide has been a central and sustaining passion throughout our careers. Each of us has participated in and led countless groups over the years, and these experiences have reinforced our belief in the power of belonging. Each member of our team has been recognized individually as Fellows (acknowledgement of excellence in the advancement of group psychotherapy through education, research and clinical practice) of the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA), and each has been actively involved in this Association at both local and national levels in education, and various leadership capacities. In addition, our collective backgrounds incorporate curriculum development and implementation at the University level. Our team has collectively presented locally, nationally and internationally, and has published several books and multiple peer-reviewed journal articles.

Co-Directors and Core Faculty

Aida Cabecinha
Trained in Occupational Therapy, Bowen’s Family Systems and Group Psychotherapy.
• Current individual and group therapy private practice, as well as community mental health consultation.
• Over 34 years as a mental health clinician in a variety of previous settings including Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, The Addiction Research Foundation, COTA Health and Toronto East General – as Director of the Occupational Therapy Department.
• Particular interest in psychodynamic, systems-centred, and attachment theories.

Allan Sheps
• Trained in Social Work, Family and Group Psychotherapy.
• 24 years in private individual, marital, family and group therapy practice.
• Previously 20 years at Jewish Family and Child Service – managed staff teams, developed innovative programs, including the agency’s first treatment program for men who use violent or abusive behaviour.
• Particular interest in developmental theories, co-therapy, and the socio-cultural context of group systems.

Maureen Mahan
• Trained in Nursing, Counselling Psychology, Group Psychotherapy, Educational Development, and Visual Arts.
• Current inter-professional program development for health care and community service providers in the areas of mental health, HIV awareness, harm reduction, trauma informed care and long-term care.
• Previously 10 years at The Toronto General Hospital – nurse clinician and group facilitator in the Eating Disorder Day Hospital Program.
• Over 30 years in clinical and community settings including Casey House, Gilda’s Club, and Sheena’s Place.
• Particular interest in client-centered, systems-centered, harm reduction and trauma informed care.

Susan Farrow
Trained in Occupational Therapy and multiple models of Individual and Group Psychotherapy.
• 30 years teaching at the University of Toronto; currently Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.
• Previously 11 years at The Toronto General Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry – Coordinator of the Group Therapy Program, and the Group Psychotherapy Training Program.
• Particular interest in group processes within the context of inter-professional education, student mental health, mentorship, curriculum development as well as community activism. 

Terry Simonik
• Trained in Nursing, Women’s Studies, Counselling Psychology and Group Psychotherapy.
• Current individual and group therapy private practice and consultation.
• Over 35 years of clinical practice in mental health in various settings including The Foothills Hospital (Calgary), The Clarke Institute, The Toronto Hospital, York University Counselling and Disabilities Centre, and Family Services of York Region – as Clinical Supervisor in Group Services and Cultural Outreach Programs.
• Particular interest in interpersonal, neurobiology, systems-centred, and narrative approaches.

Invited Faculty

The richness of our program is greatly enhanced by the generous contributions of expert group leaders and educators from our national and international group community, both within our training programs as well as continuing education opportunities offered to our alumni.

Molyn Leszcz                                               Cheri Marmarosh
Joan-Dianne Smith                                   Elliot Zeisel                        
Stephane Treyvaud                                    Isabel Fryszberg
Yvonne Bergmans                                      Kasra Khorasani 
Kaitlyn Axelrod                                           Noelle Lefforge
Kelsey Johnston                                            

Alumni And Testimonials

Farzaneh Amin - Registered Psychotherapist
Kosu Boudreau - Spiritual Care Practitioner; MSW 
Angela Golas - Geriatric Psychiatrist 
Sharon Konyen - Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner; Registered Psychotherapist
Lorena Lazar - Social Worker
Tony Pahulje - Men's Group Facilitator
Tatjana Tyzkyj - Registered Mental Health Nurse

Kam Balchand - Psychiatrist
Pablo Diaz - Psychiatrist
John Giffen - Men's Group Facilitator; Management Consultant
Julia Johnson - Registered Psychotherapist
Li Lin - Human Resources (Neuro-Sciences Psychology)
Melissa Ramirez - Mental Health Counsellor
Natasha Sandy - Registered Psychotherapist


"Relevant. Excellent framing of background of group therapy with integration of process material."

"Overall, well-structured and thoughtful. Material flowed well and seamlessly with the parallel experiential learning."

"Combination of didactic and experiential was very helpful. Parallel process between training group and theoretical material was brilliant."

"Process Group - best part of training. Allowed us to experience what we want to be able to give to our clients."

"I would recommend this program to any clinician who works with clients and wants to enhance or expand their tools to be more effective and to learn more about themselves."