Day One: SVN Ontario Training 


Utilizing DBT Skills to Assist in Managing High Conflict Clients Within a Supervised Parenting Setting
Barbara Hotson, RSW
Family Matters Counselling & Assessment

Individuals using the services of a supervised parenting setting often struggle to manage their emotions and as a result utilize limited skills in order to express their needs.  Barbara will provide an understanding of DBT; Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and how skills from this modality can be applied in this setting to help staff and clients manage conflict and difficult situations. This behavioral approach will provide practical learning in regards to specific DBT skills that focus on emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness.

Barbara has been working with families and children for the past 20 years in the fields of mental health, child protection and family court. She has been empaneled with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer since 2012, conducting  assessments for the family court system. Barbara has a private practice in the Niagara Region (Family Matters Counselling & Assessment) where she works with families going through separation and divorce; completing private family court assessments, reconciliation counseling and parent coordination.  She has a passion for helping families going through difficult changes and strives to help family members find understanding.

Barbara has a Bachelors degree with Honours in Child and Youth Studies and Psychology as well as a Masters degree in Social Work. Barbara is a registered social worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers as well as a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Listening to Children’s Voices within Supervised Access and Exchange Services: 
Making Room for their Perspectives of Safety and Wellbeing

Michael Saini, Ph.D, endowed Factor-Inwentash Chair in Law and Social Work
University of Toronto

There is a heightened awareness that children’s views and preferences must be taken into consideration when decisions are made that impact them.  This workshop will highlight key themes emerging from studies that have explored children’s perceptions of supervised access and exchange services and will present results based on  semi-structured interviews with 23 children between the ages of 7 and 18 about their experiences.  Based on the views of the children interviewed, suggestions for improving services will be offered as well as tips for further engaging children within these services.  

Professor Michael Saini holds the endowed Factor-Inwentash Chair in Law and Social Work.  He is the Co-Director of the combined J.D. and M.S.W. program with the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.  His scholarship addresses the advancement of children and families’ wellbeing in systems governed by law. He has over 200 publications, including books, book chapters, government reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2019, He was awarded AFCC’ Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award, sponsored by the Oregon Family Institute.  

Understanding Cluster B Personality Disorders and How to Support Children 
Gillian Sheldrick, MSW
Connect Family Solutions

Gillian has been working with children and families in a variety of settings for over ten years. She obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, NY and her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto. She has experience working in child protection agencies, children’s mental health agencies, and offering private therapy to individuals and families. Recently, Gillian worked as the divorce and separation therapist at Pathstone Mental Health, where she redesigned and implemented the agency’s Therapeutic Reconciliation Counselling program.

Gillian has received training in parent/child contact problems, parenting coordination, mediation, individual and family therapy, child abuse, domestic violence, mental health, and high conflict families. Gillian is passionate about working with families who are in conflict and strives to help families come up with positive and workable solutions that are child focused and that aim to reduce the conflict within the family unit. Her private practice currently offers adult and child counselling, coaching and educational sessions for parents, therapeutic reconciliation counselling, parenting coordination, custody and access assessments, parenting plan mediation, and collaborative divorce services. Gillian is a panelled clinical member with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and offers co-parenting workshops to families in the community in collaboration with Pathstone Mental Health.


Panel Discussion: Emerging Legal Issues in Supervised Parenting Time 

Ashley Gibson, BA, LLB, Managing Partner at Gibson & Reitboeck LLP, Fort Erie, ON 

Ashley attended the University of Windsor for law school where she developed a passion for social justice.  Ashley graduated in 2007 and was called to the bar in 2008.  After articling at Chown Cairns, Ashley accepted a position with David Hurren in her hometown of Fort Erie.   In order to continue to grow her practice and expand her business, Ashley partnered with Anthony Reitboeck in January of 2020 to form the firm Gibson & Reitboeck LLP. Ashley’s passion for social justice, and equality along with her desire to succeed saw her starting out her career taking on many different areas of law, from real estate, to family and criminal law.  In 2012 Ashley was appointed as a panel member of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and this caused her to focus her practice on family law. Ashley still maintains a busy solicitor practice and she is forever grateful to her staff for keeping her organized.  Representing children and advocating for their rights in court is Ashley’s favourite part of law and she is passionate about children’s rights.  Ashley’s practice, whether she is representing a child or a parent is child focused.   Ashley is a strong advocate for all of her client’s and she excels in the court room while knowing when to stay out of it! Ashley has experience in the Ontario Court of Justice, Superior Court of Justice, the Unified Family Court, Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Ashley approaches each and every case with common sense based and logic, often reminding her clients that it is not what she believes that matters, it is what she can prove.  Ashley does not allow her client’s to waste their time or money on senseless litigation, and as such she has become an accredited member of the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation. Ashley works closely with family and financial professionals to bring all of her clients an expeditious resolution that causes the least amount of trauma to each and every family she serves.  Ashley prides herself on her ability to come to amicable resolutions in an expeditious manner rather than commencing complicated and expensive litigation. 

Valya Roberts, B.A., SW., M.Ed., Executive Director at Dalhousie Place, Brantford, ON

Valya Roberts is the Executive Director for Supervised Access Centre's in 3 court districts in Ontario Canada.  Valya is also the past President of the Supervised Visitation Network (SVN).   Valya is a former Professor in Human Services at two community colleges (Social Work, Recreation Therapy).  Valya is currently Chair for the Mohawk College Ethics Board.  Valya provided consultation and expertise to several organizations including; Ministry of the Attorney General; U.S. Justice Department (VAWO); Safe Havens National Review Committee.  Valya is a graduate of Mohawk College (Recreation), University of Waterloo (Social Development Studies) and Nipissing University (Masters of Education).  Valya also received the Governor General of Canada Gold Medal Award for her academics at Nipissing University and received Alumni of the year 2018 for Mohawk College.  Valya also published research with Nipissing University to examine whether there is a need for supervised access centres to keep victims of domestic violence and their children safe and what are the variables that affect the effectiveness of supervised access centres in Ontario.  More recently Valya co-authored a Practice paper on the KATCH program for Recreation Therapy Journal. 

Marion Wright, Manager of Legal Services at Gillian's PlaceSt. Catharines, ON

Marion graduated from Brock University in 1994 with a Masters in Political Science specializing in Judicial Administration. She attended Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Bar in 1999. Marion has worked at Gillian’s Place for the past 23 years providing legal advice to women experiencing gender-based violence primarily in the areas of family and criminal law. Marion works to ensure that women experiencing gender-based violence in Niagara are aware of their legal rights and can safely access legal services specific to their circumstances. Marion also works with various community partners including the Niagara Regional Police, Crown Attorney’s Office, Probation and Parole, Victim Witness Assistance Program, and Family and Children’s Services to improve the response and outcomes within the judicial system and Niagara for women and their children. Marion also Manages Gillian’s Place Domestic Violence Consultant program with Family and Children’s Services which assists Family and Children’s Services with all Domestic Violence referrals in order to ensure an effective, well-coordinated, enhanced collaborative approach to services to meet the complex needs of women and children experiencing abuse. Marion is a member of the Lincoln County Law Association, Domestic Violence Court Advisory Committee, St. Catharines and Welland Liaison; Resource Committees for Family Court, MTERS (Mobile Tracking Emergency Response System) Steering and Review Committee, the Niagara Child Abuse Review Team, and the Niagara Sexual Assault Case Review Team.

 Day Two: SVN Blue Print 

When you attend one of our regional sessions, you will join a team of SV Providers and allied professionals who will discuss changes, adaptations, and trends for our field leading to a formally published Position Paper designed to educate and inform courts, communities, and legislators.

The Blueprint Meetings will be one-day networking and brainstorming opportunities with a modest registration fee to cover costs. This is NOT training, we will be facilitating the discussion with the intent to offer a concrete vision and pathway to increasing awareness of the value of supervised visitation.

At this meeting, we will also be soliciting feedback from the membership to help inform the strategic planning process scheduled to begin in November. This is your chance to voice your thoughts about the future of your association.

What is a Position Paper?
position paper (sometimes a position piece for brief items) is an essay that presents an arguable opinion about an issue – typically that of the author or some specified entity. Position papers are published in academia, politics, law, and other domains.

What do We Hope to Learn?
The Future of Supervised Visitation: How do we Effectively  Engage and Influence Courts, Communities, and Legislators?

Registration Info

One Day Attendance for SVN Member: $85 
One Day Attendance for Non SVN Member: $100 

Two Day Attendance for SVN Member: $150 
Two Day Attendance for Non SVN Member: $175 



*Canadian Registration is for those in Canada Only*

United States Providers Register HERE 

Hotel & Training Location Info: 

DoubleTree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton - Niagara Falls

We’re a 10-minute walk from the Falls, Fallsview Casino, and Clifton Hill neighborhood. Our rooms and suites offer views of the city, Niagara River, or American Falls. We have a cedar sauna, fitness center, hot tub, two indoor saltwater pools, and an AVEDA spa. Enjoy our restaurant and lobby bar with Starbucks, convenient on-site self-parking, and free WiFi.

Limited Room Types Available-First Come, First Serve. 
2 Queen Beds with view of American Falls/City: $169 CAD SOLD OUT 
1 King Bed with Soaker Tub with view of American Falls: $189 CAD SOLD OUT   



Location from Airports: 
Buffalo Niagara International Airport: 25.00 miles
Toronto Pearson International Airport: 72.00 miles
John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport: 50.00 miles


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What's nearby

Canadian & American Falls:  2.00 blocks
Clifton Hill Tourist District: 0.50 miles
Fallsview Casino Resort: 0.25 miles
Grape & Wine Country - NOTL: 8.00 miles
Maid of the Mist Boat Tours: 1.00 miles