Shelley Behr


Shelley Behr, MSW, RSW is a trusted and respected therapist with more than 20 years of experience in the mental health field.

She is the founder of her own private therapy practice and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families on a range of issues including families who are impacted by divorce, trauma, mental health concerns and life transitions.

Her care helps clients understand the impact of divorce on their children in every developmental age and guides parents in developing a parenting plan that accounts for the children’s thoughts and feelings. She assists parents to develop a customized, comprehensive method to improve communication and ease transitions.

Shelley is trained as an art and play therapist and works with children of all ages in the process of divorce and separation. She provides guidance to parents in how to discuss separation and divorce and provides ongoing support for the family through the process.

In addition to divorce and separation counseling, Shelley helps clients cope with and recover from mental health issues that range from anxiety and depression to phobias, relationship issues, adolescent/child issues, grief, loss and life transitions.

Shelley is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Psychology and earned a Master of Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York in 1998.

She enjoys biking, exercise, playing mahjong, dragon boating and raising money for breast cancer research.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I began my private practice in Richmond in 2001. I wanted to start a counseling center that would help the local community, families and individuals and couples going through life challenges.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I work with clients every day in my office located in central Richmond. I work with clients who are struggling with life challenges. I offer evening support twice per week and weekend support once per month.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a collaborative divorce coach, I have done many speaking engagements in the local community and at the Richmond Public Library. I was part of a panel of presenters at a workshop on Collaborative Divorce for women where we brought a group of women together to discuss the various aspects of divorce, including financial, legal, emotional and family.
The presenters included myself as a mental health professional, a lawyer, a real estate agent and a financial specialist. We met with a group of women who were at a variety of stages in the divorce process, from contemplation to completion. I created a support group for the women so that they were able to connect with each other after the workshop to provide support through the divorce process. We offered a free legal clinic where we met with clients on a one-to-one basis and talked to them about their divorce process options from litigation to mediation to collaborative divorce.
In addition, our group attended several speaking engagements that were for the general public of mixed genders to discuss divorce options and provide a framework for separation agreements, parenting plans and financial planning.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that excites me is mindfulness and meditation for mental health. There are now a variety of apps around mindfulness, including CALM, Headspace, and Mindshift, and there is an increased awareness of mental health and the priority of self care. Workplace mental health is also trending, where corporations are having mental health awareness weeks and offering personal days for support. Public awareness of mental health issues is on the rise, and speaking about our struggles is encouraged more than it has been in previous generations.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am open and experienced in supporting people in all different life situations. As a counsellor, my focus is collaborative divorce and trauma. My experience includes individual, couple and family therapy. My work with clients involves processing present and historical trauma, mindfulness, anxiety, and depression, gender, LGBTQ, OCD, sexual abuse, family violence, grief and loss and addictions.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To keep on trying. If you have a vision, keep that goal in mind and work towards it. It doesn’t have to happen right away, just continue walking on that path and don’t be discouraged when things get difficult.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Couples can move through a difficult and challenging divorce and still remain as a two-home family. They can work through the most difficult times, where it feels like it’s never going to end, and come out the other side and still raise happy, healthy children. Separated families can celebrate Christmas, Easter, graduations and weddings together. Parents can work together for their children at all life ages and stages.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Set goals. Set goals for yourself. Set goals for your life, your personal life, your health, your professional life and review and update them all the time. Make sure that you’re always aware of where you’re going and what you hope to achieve.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I think the key to growing any business is relationships. Having positive relationships with clients, with referral people, and just doing the best job one can possibly do.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I see all challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow as a counsellor. For a divorce coach, it is sometimes challenging for separating couples to communicate with each other. My role is to assist with communication and information-sharing strategies. This is often difficult when couples are separating and when there is still a great deal of uncertainty. When parents keep their children at the centre of all decisions, it is easier to make better decisions that involve both parents and to foster their love and support of the kids.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I enjoy participating in professional practice groups and attending workshops. I am a member of the Registered Clinical Counselling Association, BC Association of Social Workers and Collaborative Divorce Vancouver. I attend monthly dinner meetings, professional workshops and training and also attend peer support groups. It’s important to stay connected to my professional communities and continue ongoing education.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m not very technical. I have mastered the art of Zoom meetings, which I often use for remote sessions. I also use the Jane app, which helps book appointments, send reminders and organize my practice

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Actually one book I use all the time is the Coping with Anxiety workbook by Edmund Bourne. I love it. It’s a great resource to help people. It outlines ways cognitive behavioral therapy helps people calm their fears and be more mindful.

What is your favorite quote?

I like this quote from Golda Meir: ““Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.”

Key Learnings:

  • Always set goals for yourself and always make sure you’re aware of them and update them all the time;
  • Couples can go through a challenging divorce and still remain as a two-home family with happy, healthy children.