Tonya’s early career goals included being a princess, a marine biologist, a big-rig truck driver and a sheep farmer (for wool production only, of course).

tracey-castleHowever, having been informed from a very young age that she would be a musician, that was the inevitable course. With an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in hand, it seemed the next logical step was to pursue a Masters in performance. What followed was a year of practicing 8 – 10 hours each day, 3 nerve-wracking auditions, and a slew of cash paid for twice-weekly lessons.

After a nail-biting and teeth-gnashing wait, a letter arrived indicating she had been accepted into a Masters of Chamber Music program. Oh Happy Day! Except it wasn’t. The thought of another few years of practice rooms, tendonitis and competition didn’t qualify as a shiny beacon of career development.

Addressing the identity crisis, Tonya went to the Alumni Career Counsellor and spent the following 2 days completing skill and preference tests, personality inventories and other career assessments. The Counsellor asked her to return in two weeks’ time for the results.

Later that day, a music colleague informed Tonya of a Music Therapy course at Wilfrid Laurier University. Having enjoyed a life-long interest in psychology, she was intrigued. Looking up the phone number in the university library  – the Google equivalent in Ye Olden Times – she immediately called Laurier, and found they were currently holding auditions for the limited spots in the program. Within a week, she completed the application, found an accompanist, passed the audition, attended an entrance interview, and accepted the offer to enter the program.

Tonya returned to the Career Counsellor the following week, eager to inform him of the latest developments, and learn how they fit in with the results of the assessment.  The Counsellor had the reams of paper which contained the results sitting on his desk. Tonya quickly babbled out the events of the week, and eagerly awaited the response.  What she got was rather unexpected. The Counsellor, with a look of utter resignation, picked up the stack of paper and threw it backward over his shoulder. “Well, we won’t be needing these”, he said. Bewildered, Tonya didn’t know whether to laugh, apologize or run away. Thinking quickly, she replied, “What?”.  This situation crystalized when the results of all the assessments and inventories were revealed, indicating Tonya’s top two career paths as,

1. Psychologist  – 2. MUSIC THERAPIST …mic drop…

Tonya focussed on psychiatric music therapy, working at several psychiatric facilities, including Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital (now part of St. Joseph’s), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Along the way, she attained Music Therapist Accredited status, and a completed a Master’s in Public Health, for which her thesis was the development of the first clinical guide of evidence-based music therapy interventions in the treatment of schizophrenia. She has completed all coursework for a PhD Rehabilitation Sciences, exploring the impact and prevention of compassion fatigue in social services. This pursuit was slightly derailed with the arrival of two beautiful, but time-consuming daughters, born 19 months apart.

Moving away from front-line work and into educating and coaching, Tonya spent 8 years training social services staff on a diverse array of practice-specific issues and challenges (please see the Training & Coaching tab for sample subjects). She was a founding member and Team Lead in the Mississauga/Halton LHIN Mental Health and Addictions Detailed Action Planning team and the Systems Integrations Group.

Tonya is Certified with the Advanced Gerontological Education Inc. as a Gentle Persuasive Approach Coach; with the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology as a Compassion Fatigue Educator, and; with Credit Valley Hospital as a Coach of Our People Care. She has developed and facilitated hundreds of training and educational programs for community services and educational institutes across Ontario, including the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute, McMaster University, Charles Sturt University, and the University of Toronto.

Tonya lives in picturesque Milton with her spouse, two daughters, their rescue cat, Lou, and rescue St. Bernard mix, Henry. When not parked in front of any number of Apple products, Tonya enjoys weight-lifting, non-fiction (particularly Tudor history), forensic science, videos of people falling down, interior design and travelling. Preferably not all at once.