Katherine Van Meyl, M.A.
Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
& sex Educator
Welcome to Umbrella Insights.
My name is Katherine (Kat) Van Meyl and I’m the founder of Umbrella Insights. I provide psychotherapy services to adolescents, adults and couples in English and French in Centretown (Ottawa). I also provide consultation, and education services in English and French in person in Ottawa, or nationwide virtually. It is my preference to see clients in-person.
My Journey to Becoming A Therapist
I’m a survivor of childhood domestic violence, sexual abuse and poverty. More recently, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggered by the loss of a loved one by suicide. I know first-hand how childhood adversity and trauma effects the human psyche and what is required for recovery. I draw on evidence-based practices, informed by my personal experiences, to help my clients recover from trauma. I was inspired to become a therapist in my early 20s when I first sought treatment, but it took until after the birth of my daughter in my early 30s to start my master’s degree in Counselling Psychology.
In my teens and early 20s, I had many negative experiences with therapists. I felt they did not understand me, and I felt judged by them. I remember feeling blamed for my symptoms, which felt both infuriating and shaming. Once I found a therapist who shared my values and really listened to me, I worked with that individual for over a decade. My personal experience inspired me to become a therapist to offer treatment to those who might not fit within the confines of what most consider “normal.”
Guest Lectures & Workshops
Starting in my mid-20s and to this day, I have provided countless guest lectures and workshops to students, mental health professionals, social service providers, and police service providers on issues related to sex, gender, and sexuality. I feel inspired to share my knowledge of sex work, non-monogamy and kink/BDSM with other mental health professionals so they may better work with these (often intersecting) populations.
In 2017, I founded Ottawa Independent Companions, a collective of independent sex workers whose goal is to share information, reduce isolation and increase safety among sex workers in the Ottawa and Gatineau region. Prior to this, I was employed by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects to help amplify the voices of sex workers globally through a robust communications plan. In the past, I volunteered with POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa, Gatineau, Work, Educate, Resist), CASWLR (Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform) and Pink Triangle Services (currently known as Kind Space).
I feel inspired to share my knowledge of sex work, non-monogamy and kink/BDSM with other mental health professionals so they may better work with these (often intersecting) populations.
First and foremost, my role as a therapist is to provide adolescents, adults and couples with a safe space to explore their inner world(s). I am a relationally focused therapist, which means our connection is an integral part of therapy. I rarely provide homework between sessions. Instead, I often leave my clients with something to ponder.
Are you a group of mental health professionals in private practice interested in learning more about sex work? Do you want to get together as a group to develop your cultural competence in working with this population?
Are you a mental health professional and feel you would benefit from my support? Do you want to learn about sex work, kink/BDSM and/or non-monogamous relationships? If you are working with a specific client, I can support you as you develop your case conceptualization given the material, legal, and socio-political environment of the individual you are working with.