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Cheryl Bradshaw

Helping youth build healthy relationships

Cheryl BradshawRelationships feature prominently in our discussions, whether we’re talking about finding our soul mate, strengthening our friendships or building closer ties with family. University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) alumna Cheryl (Cnoop-Koopmans) Bradshaw believes we need to focus more on having a good relationship with ourselves.

Cheryl focuses her energy on empowering youth to nurture their mental health, and advancing youth mental health initiatives. She recently started a position as a counsellor at the University of Guelph. Previously she was a counsellor at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario – the youngest one ever hired by an Ontario college.

She also works for Jack Talks, a project under, which provides a platform for young students with mental health experiences to share their stories with other youth in an effort to reduce stigma and empower them to take ownership of their own mental health. She has also authored a book, How to Like Yourself: Defeat your Inner Critic, Gain Confidence, and Live the Life You Want, which will be published in 2016.

Her career has taken some interesting twists along the way. When she started her undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, she thought she might go to medical school. But an Introductory Psychology course triggered her interest in how people think. She realized teaching could be her platform to connect with people, so after graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours), she entered UOIT’s Bachelor of Education (BEd) program. There her career aspirations took another interesting shift because of an influential person and a life-changing event.

One of her lecturers was Jennifer Laffier, a counsellor and art therapist who works with children and adolescents – and the first youth counsellor Cheryl had met. “At the time, Jennifer was working with youth involved with gangs and I found it inspirational to learn there were many different ways of counselling and connecting with young people,” she says.

Then an incident during a practicum sealed the direction of Cheryl’s career. While she was leading a Biology lab, a student collapsed. When paramedics arrived, they determined the student was suffering the after-effects of a suicide attempt from the previous day. This life-altering event steered Cheryl toward the field of counselling psychology.

Today, she has a caseload of students whom she counsels. She loves working with young people. “They’re discovering who they are,” she says. “It’s a really impactful stage of life.” As she continues tackling the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues and the lack of resources for youth, she would like to do more public speaking and workshops as a way of connecting with a broader youth audience on issues such as self-identity, body image and confidence.

Cheryl Bradshaw
Class of 2010
BEd – Intermediate/Senior Biology and Math
Counsellor, University of Guelph
Author, How to Like Yourself