Joan Spence

Counselling & Coaching Services Inc

​​​​​​Counsellor and Coach

Joan has been an amazing help with the journey of recovering from a difficult marriage and divorce. The divorce was a positive step forward in my life, but moving forward after psychological, emotional, religious and other forms of abuse left behind a broken family, a weary me, and many broken dreams. Throughout the process I learned about grief and gratitude. I learned to recognize unhealthy, toxic relationships even amongst family members where it was hardest to see, and learned to set guidelines around the impact those people were allowed to have in my life. I learned to recognize triggers and deal with them in constructive ways. I grew stronger and stronger as I made the journey back to wholeness and emotional healthiness again. I learned that I am sufficient, and remembered that I am a kind, good person. Under Joan’s guidance, I was able to set up parameters around my life to navigate the the interactions of others. I learned to build a new life for myself, to laugh again, and to dream again. During the process, Joan helped me with putting together resources that will serve me down the road as I journey through life, whether the situation is positive or negative. And, after much progress was made, I relish the occasional session with Joan to stay on track, feel encouraged about where my life is now, and to be reminded of tools in the “toolbox” of life. The pain isn’t all gone — there are still pieces to deal with from the past, especially when it comes to family issues, holidays like Xmas when we often feel the greatest losses because of societal and family messages about what life “should” look like.  I highly recommend Joan as a caring, highly competent powerful resource for anyone who wants to build a new direction in their life. Thank you Joan, for the difference you have made in my life. I will be forever grateful for the impact you have had in my life, and attribute where I am now to your professional, caring guidance.

Name withheld for confidentiality

Joan is passionate and committed to her clients. Her integrity shines through. Her knowledge comes from a broad base of education and personal experience. Highly recommend her.
Janice Benna, Consultant 

​Joan has been a tremendous source of insight and guidance as I worked through a period of intense and unexpected changes.  Over several months I felt as though I was coming to my own conclusions about how I process information and events, and what I wanted to change.  Rather than a counselling process working with Joan felt like a process of discovery, fully tailored to my needs.  She is an extremely empathetic source of support and guidance and displays the utmost care and respect for her clients.  I am very grateful to have met Joan and to have worked with her to reach a happier place, fully engaged in life. 

I found Joan through the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors as I was specifically looking for someone to help me with relationship issues.  I was stuck in a dating rut, unable to let my issues from my marriage and relationships since go.  With empathy and genuine care Joan helped me to talk through each of these relationships.  She gave me realistic tools and helped me set goals and boundaries, which finally broke my unhealthy cycles.  She challenged me, but did so with warmth and compassion.  I would recommend her to anyone looking to break free from the past and finally live life happily and in the moment.

In a world where we spend so much money on frivolous items that have no meaning or use, or over loading our child's schedule with activity after activity. We decided that mental health needs to take priority in our ever changing teenage daughters life- we will never regret the time or expense for our one on one sessions with Joan Spence. 
She fostered something else during those visits and allowed our daughter to feel important and appreciated. And although not an instant fix we feel a sense of peace with where our daughter is heading. 

There is something to be said for Joan's ability to bring these young adolescents in and make them feel safe, secure and warranted. It is a scary world and we are so lucky to have met Joan and had the opportunity for her to be part of our daughters life in such a positive way. 
I would not hesitate for a second to take the time and spend the money to invest in your child with Joan Spence, I am confident you will feel at ease and your child will benefit years to come.
(Name withheld for confidentiality)

I met Joan Spence at a business event and immediately was drawn to her authenticity.
As a registered family therapist, advocate and coach, Joan impressed upon me the reason why she made it her life work to make a difference in the lives of others.
Her passion to guide and teach young adults who have "aged-out" of the system really hit home for me as I have two boys in that age group. 
In a world where we can rely to a certain point on our community to help keep us from falling, ... Joan is present at that drop, and works tirelessly to help as many people as she can.
In addition to her private practice, Joan is running the Young Parent Program at the YMCA, as well as volunteering on the board of executives for the Okanagan Collaborative Family Law Group.
Her time is valuable, yet there are no boundaries to what she has to offer. 
An energy practitioner, benevolent and empathetic, Joan can understand pain language intuitively and specific to each soul that she works with.
On a personal level, apart from business, networking, referrals and work, I asked Joan for help with an issue that has affected me deeply over the years. As I was coming to a part resolution, I did not know how to proceed or how to communicate.
In my office, after a business meeting, with a schedule clock ticking, and a possible parking ticket looming, Joan gave me all of her attention, and "plugged" into me.
She then gave me the most valuable, intuitive and concise advice to help me move forward. 
Joan, I want to thank you for your authenticity, caring and value that you put on every conversation and every person that you meet as I am privileged to be one of them.

Before my first session with Joan, I was a bit nervous, and wasn't sure what to expect. But Joan quickly set me at ease, and welcomed me into her cozy office space. She is caring and thoughtful, and it shows in every detail of her practice. 
The session itself was effortless. Joan is intuitive and calming, and a great listener. She helped me to find a fresh perspective on long-standing worries, and gave me guidance that's made my daily life much less stressful. I left our session feeling grounded and happy. I am happy to recommend Joan to friends and colleagues!
Heather H.

​​​I recently met Joan through LinkedIn. She offered to read my book and give me insight. When we met in person I was immediately at ease within myself. Joan is compassionate, professional yet very easy to talk to and makes one feel very comfortable and at ease in her presence. This is not always easy to do considering the reason most of us reach out to someone in her profession. It is a touchy and usually very difficult time for the individual, as it was for me as my book is of a very person nature. 
Joan is filled with heart centered contentedness and helping one figure out how they got to their present situation and then guiding them through/to the journey to self and the mind/heart/soul connection that is the true healer of all our present life situations. 
I highly recommend Joan to anyone looking towards moving through their current station and proceeding onward and upward with am empathetic, knowledgeable and sincere counsellor. 
 Janette Pink, Author of: Higher Than I've Ever Been Healing Addiction Inside Out 




A donation from the Morningside Rotary Club just made it possible for more young parents to complete their education through the purchase of five new laptops for the YMCA’s Young Parents Program. 

Run in partnership with Central Okanagan Schools, the YMCA Young Parents Program provides parents under the age of 20 with the fundamental tools they need to thrive, including child care, parenting education, life skills training, connections to critical resources and a supportive community.

“Our Rotary Members are incredibly passionate and supportive in helping young families, no matter what age, to have a healthy start and reach their full potential,” says Sheila Perepalkin, Morningside Rotary Chair. “The purchase of much needed laptops will help these young parents to complete their homework and studies while their children are being cared for in the room next door, as well as advance their technology skills and pursue post-secondary and career opportunities.” 

If you, or someone you know is interested in contributing to our community by joining the Morningside Rotary Club, please contact Sheila Perepalkin at or visit thier Facebook page. To donate to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign or to learn more about their charitable work, contact Rhonda Zakala at 250-491-8672. 


The Young Parent Program, currently in its second year of operation by the YMCA of Okanagan, has received a $12,000 funding boost.

"I would not have graduated from high school without the Young Parents Program," says a teenage mom from the program.  "Knowing my child was well cared for in a licensed, quality day care with the YMCA I was able to focus on my education instead of dropping out. With the help and support I received, I am able to move towards my dream of going to college and securing sustainable employment to care for my child and myself in the future."

The YMCA Young Parents Program, located next to Kelowna Senior Secondary, provides parents under the age of 20 with the fundamental tools they need to continue their education, life skills training, connections to critical resources and a supportive community.

I am grateful to be able to make a difference in the lives of young mothers and families in our community,"' said Joan Spence, YMCA Family Support Facilitator. "Many of them face significant challenges, which are often difficult to overcome without the support of community resources and positive role models. Ultimately, the most rewarding part is seeing young parents succeed, even beyond their own expectations. It's so amazing that it brings tears to my eyes."

The YMCA Young Parent Program is funded in part through donors, providing basics many teenage families would not be able to afford such as nutritious daily meals, diagpers, formula, and clothing for their child.​

Nominated for the BCCF Distinguished Service to Families:

It is with great honour that I nominate Joan Spence for the BCCF Distinguished Service to Families Award. Over the past few months I have been working along-side Joan as she graciously guides and mentors’ young parents. As soon as I met Joan, her passion and dedication to young parents was evident, creating positive influences on young parents lives. Throughout my time learning and shadowing Joan, it has been apparent the need for the young parent program, as well as a mentor such as Joan. I have experienced the impacts and positive changes Joan has influenced on young parents lives.  
Joan has a gentle, supportive and encouraging approach where I have witnessed her build strong relationships with young parents. Not only does Joan provide a safe, accepting and warm environment for young parents, she advocates for their needs and rights during times of frustration and additional barriers that young parents face. Joan has intervened with a keen awareness of policy, advocating for young parents to have access to the services available and encourages young parents to attain their goals. Joan emphasizes her work with young parents on building healthy attachments, and it is evident that this knowledge is integrated and passed down to the young parents in their parenting and communication styles. Joan has helped many young parents build stronger connections within their communities, peer interactions, families as well as within their selves.
Joan has emphasized to me as a graduate student the importance of supporting families and professionals by sharing knowledge and building community connections. Joan is an active member on the Okanagan Collaborative Family Law group which shows her dedication and the importance of supporting families. Communities are influential aspects in family lives, and Joan works with this value by helping build strong relations and connections to our greater community. Joan’s passion to create positive change is evident, as she is focused on continuing education and utilizing evidence based research and best practices. 
In closing, it is my hopes that Joan is considered as the nominee for the BCCF Distinguished Service to Families Award as her passion and expertise are evident and vital to the growth and ongoing positive changes to the community of Kelowna. 
Thank you,
Skylar Gunderman
MSW (candidate)

May 1, 2018
To Whom It May Concern;
RE: Carol Matusicky Distinguished Service to Families Award

It is my pleasure to provide a letter of recommendation for Joan Spence.  Joan has worked for the YMCA of Okanagan in the roll of Family Support Facilitator for the Young Parents Program since June 2017 when the YMCA was approached to take over the operations of this program and the child care in partnership with SD#23.
We are so grateful that Joan came to us with her vast experience in working with Young Parents, her years of experience and education allowed her to build trust with the families in the Young Parent Program who were without any services for at least 4 months.  Their prior experience led them to distrust the young parent program and staff along with the care providers.  Joan had a difficult job ahead as we worked carefully to rebuild the service and reputation of the program for these families and within the community.
Since the start of our operations Joan has been vital to the lives of many young parents.  She is their greatest advocate and support system.  I have witnessed her go above and beyond on a daily basis, working every angle to ensure these families have every available resource.  She takes a holistic approach to all the work she does and establishes strong foundations of success for each family. 
Early on, Joan advocated to the school district for class space and an assigned room teacher.  We were  unsure of the number of students utilizing that space, they were considering reconfiguring the previous parent classroom.  This decision would have the greatest impact on the parent-child bond, as this classroom is next door to the child care center.  Joan found a way to ensure the district held this spot regardless of the number of students accessing it.  The program continues to thrive and grow, many families use this space today because of Joan’s continued outreach skills and inviting the young parents to try the program. 
Joan brings a wealth of experience and education including Masters of Education, Early Childhood Education Certification, BA in Child & Youth Care, and Registered Clinical Counsellor.   She is passionate about working with at-risk youth and supporting the family bond and with her vast expertise she is a unique gift to the families who participate in the program.  Even though she is qualified to do many things, she chooses to work passionately with the young parents and for the YMCA of Okanagan.  We could not express the gratitude we have for the lives she is changing everyday, we are so fortunate to have Joan leading our Young Parent Program.
Joan’s acts of service reach far beyond her profession and career at the YMCA.  I can not think of anyone more deserving of this award, as not a moment passes that Joan is not advocating for someone in this program or removing barriers to success for the families.   Joan cares deeply about each and every young parents education, their emotional well-being and is fully believes that they can reach their full potential.
Danielle Miranda, YMCA G.M. Day Care

Young Parent Program

    I am one of the young parents at the Young Parent Program (YPP), and am attending Secondary School with the YMCA graciously providing daycare, and providing us with Joan Spence. She is undoubtedly the single best family support person I have ever encountered; she makes her teachings relevant to things happening in each of our lives, she gives us fully updated information, and quite honestly goes above and beyond for each one of us.
    A little about what Joan does for us may provide some insight as to how valuable she is for this program. She saw the turmoil all the young parents were thrown into from the events within the last school year, and I’m sure she vowed that it would never happen to us again. I was put into courses that just barely scraped me by for graduation, and I didn’t even end up graduating because of the seeming determination of everyone to just produce the bare minimum with the young parents. Joan spun that around though the summer, and come September I was entered into courses that provided me with what I need to graduate, while preparing me for the career path I have chosen.
    A small note on that, Joan has been the most influential person on helping me choose a career path. She helped me do the research, learn the requirements, meet those requirements, and has encouraged me to continue triumphing. My grades and attendance has skyrocketed, because I now see my time at school going somewhere and turning into something, all thanks to Joan and her endless support in everything I do. Things that were impossible for me last year and seemed impossible this year turned out to be some of the easiest things, due to her endless push to prepare and know the material in order to not only understand but to excel and thrive within my courses.
    In the YPP, my classes with her are intense and filled with work of one kind or another. Her consistent method and delivery in teaching have made my days improve infinitesimally, and my entire life has improved from her teaching. I have an incredibly higher understanding about myself, my family, social perception of young parents, programs and help available to those in my position, as well as risks and common issues that people in my position often face that I may not have gotten to. Before Joan entered the program, I had no idea about anything I now know of; I didn’t have a clue about the programs available to me surrounding secondary education and work programs, tutoring programs, and helpful programs within the programs. We work on anything we might need to, from learning new cooking skills to new meals, how to optimize our budgets and potentially save money in a way we didn’t think possible, how to address mental health issues and self care (as well as programs that may help with both), child development with effective and helpful parenting tips that are alternatives to perhaps ineffective ways that we ourselves were raised. Teaching is relevant and tailored to each of us, although there are many overlapping things, and I am terrifically surprised with how much I learn from Joan each and every day, as well as how much of it I have retained.

(Name withheld for confidentiality)

YPP provided me an opportunity to job search, secure my dream job this summer. I will be able to continue working part-time as I complete my high school studies and continue onto college.  This would not be possible without the support of the Young Parent Program.  I know my baby is well cared for in the YMCA Infant and Toddler centre while I work towards the best future both of us.
(Name withheld for confidentiality)

YPP has given me the chance to be a better me and my daughter too.  Helping us to find the best version of ourselves -for our kids.  Achieve my goals in a supportive, safe and welcoming environment.  This program is more than I expected it to be. The program fosters building a community of belonging.
(Name withheld for confidentiality)

As for the Young Parent Program bit, i loved the experience and was very thankful to be a part of something so helpful in my life. It had a huge impact on me, i learned how to make cheap, healthy delicious meals, i learned about budgeting, parenting, careers, etc.The subjects we talked about were very interesting and i felt like i benefited from a lot thanks to our wonderful worker Joan that made us feel very comfortable and was amazing at taking the time to teach us everything that we learned about. I greatly appreciate being a part of the program and i highly feel that the Young Parent Program would definitely benefit many young moms all over and help them prepare for the future,

(Name Withheld for Confidentiality)

The YPP program has made it possible for me to achieve my goals by having a successful career to support my family. I dropped out of school without completing any high school courses which means for me that finding a job that paid more then minimum wage was impossible. I wouldn’t be able to afford child care nor my tuition. If YPP was not available, I would probably never have even got my high school diploma. The help and support means everything and I learn so much. Not just from upgrading but from Joan and all the other young parents. The YPP makes me feel as though I have a good of people I belong. My life would be much different without it.

(Name Withheld for Confidentiality)

 ~Without the young parent program I would not have been able or thought it possible to begin my journey at school. The biggest barrier for myself was finding affordable and reliable childcare for my two young daughters. Being a single mom I struggle with the means to be able to afford much more than my little families bills and childcare for my two littles seem daunting if not impossible. I had decided to take the Nobody's Perfect course at the YMCA.  This is where I met Joan. During the course I expressed my dreams of becoming a nurse but that I felt it was hopeless because of the high costs of childcare. Joan's wheels must have started turning because after class that day she started asking many questions. Then she told me to apply for a spot in the young parent program and she changed not only my life but my daughters lives in one moment. She gave me back my hope and lite my fire back inside myself once more. I am closer to my dream than I ever thought I would be at 23. My kids have made friends and build strong bonds with the incredible staff at the daycare. I have not only been given a change to get my education but also foster lasting friendships with other young moms, to build myself up, heal from trauma, and learn life and parenting skills I can use in my life as well as pass on to my daughters. I wasn't just given an opportunity to get my education started but to open many doors in my life. With the help of Joan and this program I have bloomed into the person I am today and always to challenge myself to keep moving forward and growing as a person every day. Without the young parent program I honestly would have never have been able to accomplish what I have and what I will by the end of my time with YPP. I was able to realize my own potential and was given the tools, support and time to use my potential to the fullest. I will forever be grateful to all who helped make this program what it is. ~ (Name Withheld for Confidentiality)

YPP has helped me graduate high school, attend college and find meaningful employment.  The parent, life skills, Ed/career plan coaching/counselling has been an amazing resource as I learn to become an adult and a better parent. My daughter has attended the child care centre since she was 3 months and have been through different staff and management. She has benefited from this program the most, being in a nurturing, stable, learning environment. I also wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the program, without child care that I trust. I’m very thankful for having the young parent program/child care, so my daughter and I can continue to develop a healthy relationship and build a sustainable future.

​ (Name Withheld for Confidentiality)


​​Joan Spence has been volunteering with Aunt Leah's Place since January of 2011.  Joan's volunteer journey began as a tutor with our young participants and grew into an educational presenter/consultant for our literacy program and then as a child & youth advocate and board member.
It was a privilege to have Joan volunteer with us.  Her ability to connect and establish trust with our youth and families was invaluable for our young people as well as to our new program focus area of increasing educational outcomes for foster youth.   Joan's passion and dedication for the work that we do translated into a strong board member that clearly understood the risk and protective factors involved in our work with foster children.
Joan was an incredibly reliable and passionate volunteer.  

She is greatly missed.

Sarah Stewart, Executive Director, Aunt Leah's Place