Founder, Executive Director, Registered Psychologist, The Grief And Trauma Healing Centre
Ashley Mielke’s father was her everything. And then he was gone.
The last time she saw him was for his 45th birthday dinner, in 2010. They went to an AA meeting after, but he was there in body only. “So I began to cry in the meeting,” Mielke says, “knowing that, really, I had lost my dad at that point.” Two months later, he took his own life.
Having started her clinical psychology internship two months prior, she took the clinical approach, and reached out to her advisors. They didn’t help. “They were like, ‘You have to keep busy, you have to get back to work.’ One even said, ‘This is going to make you a better therapist’ — on the day my dad killed himself.”
It wasn’t until she researched and got trained in the Grief Recovery Method (a professional certification program created by author and lecturer John W. James) in 2013 that she saw how much her previous training had not prepared her for such a loss. She opened The Grief and Trauma Healing Centre the next day.
Her staff never advises clients to keep busy or get back to work, and they never use the word “closure,” as if death or loss is something one can neatly move on from. “We hold space for them to share their stories without fear of judgment, criticism or analysis. People are often trying to fix their pain, and say intellectual things that are not helpful. We don’t do any of that here. We allow them to share their stories, express their feelings, feel heard and witnessed. And when they’re ready to take action, we offer the treatment we think is best for them.”