Specialists in Arts-based Education


Bill Gayner, BSW, MSW, RSW, is a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist with the Centre for Psychology and Emotional Health and a Mindfulness and Wellness Clinical Educator, Health Arts and Humanities Program, University of Toronto.

Bill developed Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy (EFMT), adapting mindfulness-based interventions to target internal conflicts and unfinished business, navigate issues in daily life, and cultivate growth and flourishing. He researches and provides professional training and mentoring in EFMT. He presents his work on mindfulness at national and international conferences and trainings.

Bill is a pioneer in providing professional mindfulness training in Toronto. He has trained and mentored mental health professionals, psychiatry residents and social work students in mindfulness-based approaches for fifteen years and leads an annual residential EFMT retreat for mental health professionals at the Ecology Retreat Centre, north of Toronto. Bill led a randomized-controlled trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for gay men living with HIV that was the first to indicate psychological improvements for mindfulness in this population. This study inspired him to explore integrating self-compassion more deeply into mindfulness-based interventions to better address harsh self-criticism, shame and inter-personal injuries, leading him to develop EFMT.

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LJ Nelles brings years of experience as a theatre professional to her work with health care professionals. Her work as an actor, director and voice teacher led her to investigate the ways in which performance training can assist non-performers including clinical practitioners and learners to develop self-awareness and an embodied ability for “being with” both self and others.  LJ is a registered psychotherapist in private practice and an educator in geriatric psychiatry at The Reitman Centre Sinai Health System.  She works with individuals, couples and groups.





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Elysse Leonard M.A. is a film educator and programmer who works at the intersections between film, mental health, and community engagement. With a background in Psychology and Cinema Studies, she is passionate about creating inclusive, interdisciplinary spaces for people to connect, learn, and express themselves through film. Elysse is the film education lead for the Health, Arts & Humanities programme. She also oversees TIFF’s Mental Health Outreach programme, which brings film screenings and film-craft workshops to mental health programs across Toronto.





Eva-Marie Stern, RP, MA, Adjunct Professor U of T Dept of Psychiatry, is a psychotherapist, art therapist, and medical educator. She co-founded the Women Recovering from Abuse Program (WRAP) at Women’s College Hospital, where she spent 20 years learning and teaching at the intersections between art, therapy and trauma. She is a recipient of the Award of Excellence in Supervision from the Department of Psychiatry; co-authored “The Visible Curriculum” (in Health Humanities in Postgraduate Medical Education, Oxford U Press); offers seminars and workshops that explore witnessing as a transformative act in therapy and everywhere else; and maintains a private practice for therapy and consultation, artandmind.net.