Photo of Nicole Penak, MSW, RSW, PhD
Dr. Nicole Penak, MSW, RSW, PhD
Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Hi I’m Nicole. I’m a psychotherapist in the downtown Toronto area.

As a mixed race First Nations woman, witnessing family and community access individual mental health services as a response to the impacts of systemic violence and oppression has revealed itself to be inadequate and abstracted from our lived reality as Indigenous peoples at the best of times. In my over 10 years experience as a therapist, I realize that modern North American society is organized in a way that has really isolated people, operating in a manner that cuts us off from family, community, creation, even from a full sense of ourselves. This disconnection has affected wellness in a significant fashion, the myriad of impacts extending to all of us in different ways. It has pressed me to pursue restoring wholeness in therapy, where all aspects of ourselves and our realities can be taken up, nurtured, and addressed in the space. Where our thoughts or feelings are not disconnected from shifts in our environments, movements in our communities, or conversations about colonialism, capitalism, or cis-heteropatriarchy. The counselling relationship is too significant and vulnerable a space to feel nervous – bringing up the impacts of racism to your counsellor for example, and yet I know this is a common experience for folks seeking out supportive services.

I have been fortunate to work with a wide diversity of peoples and communities, responding to a range of concerns such as depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, grief and loss, trauma, relationship challenges, family conflict, and life transitions such as student life, re-considering life paths, and parenthood. I would describe my practice as relational in focus, trauma and structurally informed. I strive to nurture authentic, safe, and compassionate space, where we can bring honesty, transparency, creativity, even humour to the counselling process. When relevant or requested we can also draw on Indigenous approaches, Narrative Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), or Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) training.

Choosing a counsellor to work with you is more than picking a name off a list. Forgive me for the cheesy simile, but finding the right therapist is a lot like searching out a good pair of shoes, you cant know they fit just by looking at them, you need to try them on and walk around a little. If you are interested in exploring whether this could be a potential therapeutic match, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation or send along any questions you may have via the phone or email contact below. I look forward to hearing from you.


Nicole is a member in good standing of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (registration # 818432), the Ontario Association of Social Workers (membership #17299), and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. Licensed to practice psychotherapy as per the Regulated Health Professions Act and Social Work and Social Service Work Act of Ontario. Nicole has a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from York University, and a PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Nicole is also an Assistant Professor at York University’s School of Social Work.

Book a Free 15 Minute Consult with Nicole today, here at this link.