Shirley Porter, RP, RSW, CCC

Shirley Porter, Registered Psychotherapist


Registered Psychotherapist
Registered Social Worker
Certified Canadian Counselor

Area of Focus:

Working with adults (17 years +) from diverse populations who are dealing with:

    • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex PTSD – Providing clients with education to understand and normalize their trauma responses, offering strategies to reduce and manage distress, and if the client wishes, helping them to process and release their trauma experiences.  
    • Crisis – Working to identify the nature of the crisis and immediately mobilize resources to support the individual.
    • Chronic suicidality.  Working with the client to identify the underlying causes of ongoing suicidal thoughts, addressing the source as well as any contributing factors, improving supports and distress tolerance strategies.  
    • Depressive and/or anxiety symptoms. Providing education to help clients understand the biological basis of their illness, mobilizing supports and resources, and working on improving distress tolerance strategies.
    • Complicated Grief – Educating clients regarding normal versus complicated grief.  Validating their reactions.  Helping them to process any trauma which is blocking their recovery from grief.
    • Relationship Issues – Focusing on identifying and setting healthy boundaries in relationships, and working with clients to develop effective communication strategies.  


M.Ed., Counseling, Western University
B.A., Psychology, Western University

Recent Articles

Professional Background

Shirley is a Registered Psychotherapist and a Registered Social Worker.  She has 30 years’ experience providing individual psychotherapy.  Her expertise is in areas of:  trauma (PTSD), complex trauma (CPTSD), depression, anxiety, grief, stress management, suicidality, and relationship issues.  She has taught in the graduate Counselling Psychology program at Western University and has been providing clinical supervision to new and experienced therapists for more than 15 years.  

Shirley has written two books on trauma. She wrote Surviving the Valley: Trauma and Beyond, for her trauma clients, to provide them with a between-session reminder of the concepts and strategies discussed in therapy.  She also wrote a book for new therapists, or those new to trauma therapy, called Treating PTSD:  A Compassion-Focused CBT Approach.  Additionally, she has authored applied research articles on college student mental health.

She believes that no one specific therapy approach is the answer for every client – and that it is the therapist’s responsibility to adjust their approach to what will be the best fit for each client.  Thus, she draws on an eclectic mix of theories and interventions to meet the needs of her clients.  These include:  Relational Cultural Therapy (RCT), Culture Infused Counseling, Client-Centered Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Brief Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Compassion-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (cf-CBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Imaginal Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy (IRRT), Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM).  

In terms of her trauma experience, Shirley has worked with clients who are survivors of one or more of the following types of traumas:

  • childhood neglect and/or abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • domestic violence
  • sexual assault or stalking
  • racism
  • witnessed violent death and/or attempted murder
  • military/first responder experiences 
  • kidnapping
  • civilian experiences of war

As a result of providing years of trauma therapy, and her personal experiences of trauma therapy, Shirley developed a new approach to trauma processing, which she called Compassion-Focused CBT.  She found that clients who were unable to tolerate the high levels of emotional distress that EMDR can elicit fared much better with this structure, which appears to provide better containment of emotional distress.

Professional Affiliations:
Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association
American Counseling Association/a>
Ontario College Counselors

Porter, S.  Soldiers and PTSD. (2019). In B. R. Green (Ed.)., Into the valley of the shadow:  An American soldier’s military journey and his battle with PTSD. Ashland, OR:  Hellgate Press.

Porter, S. (2018). Treating PTSD: A compassion-focused CBT approach. New York: Routledge Press.

Porter, S. (2016). Surviving the Valley:  Trauma and Beyond. London, Canada: Althouse Press – Western University.

Contributor to the following publications:
Canadian Journal of Counseling and Psychotherapy
College Quarterly
Counseling Today
Trauma and Beyond