Below are counselling testimonials regarding my career in play therapy and parenting coaching.
Mary was an important part of our week every week for about 18 months. Through ups and downs, Mary helped my son, age 4/5, handle big feelings that come with having to weather storms bigger than 4/5-year-olds should have to weather. As a widowed mom, the support I received in parental coaching, and techniques for creating the conditions for clear communications, fully seen and felt emotions, expectations, and play that nourishes us both was so valuable. She helped me be more of the mom I hope to be, and equipped my son with tools that have served him so well in his peer relationships, at school, and at after school care. He is thriving. He knows his needs, how to ask to have them met, and he regularly displays his deep empathy, kindness, and sweetness. We are so lucky to have had Mary help us right our ship after so much difficult change and transition, and I know she will be there for us if we need her again. Thank you Mary — you made a tremendously positive impact in our home.
I reached out to Mary about a year ago regarding my youngest son, we were having difficulties with him regulating his behaviour, with his listening skills, and his incredibly destructive behaviours, and I came across play therapy, but more specifically, Mary. My son started seeing Mary, and he always felt at ease with her, he loved going to see her for his special play time, and over the sessions we started seeing change. Our parent sessions with Mary were incredible, we learned so much. Each session we were given small pieces of information, or tools to help understand and guide our child better, and each step was completely manageable. And now that our play therapy journey is done, we can look back and see that Mary gave us small pieces which complete a large puzzle. We cannot thank Mary enough for everything she has done for our entire family. The change we have seen in our son is incredible, it’s not totally smooth sailing but we, as parents, now have the tools to understand and work through an issue, rather than getting overwhelmed. In the end, this experience was not only for the benefit of our son, but for our entire family, and I can say wholeheartedly that it made us better parents.
DN & AN
As a parent, nothing is more satisfying than seeking help and actually finding what one needs. Mary is a true expert whose gentle approach enabled her to genuinely connect with our child. Not simply a resource for the kids, however, her insights, explanations, and suggestions for us as parents helped us support our son in a way that allowed for real progress.
– A parent
I first met Mary about two years ago, through our family therapy zoom meetings. My brother and I were looking for a counsellor that would be able to speak and translate Cantonese to our parents. Throughout our 10 family sessions, Mary was very thorough and compassionate and efficient while translating. My parents even said they wanted to take her out for dinner when we were ‘finished’ our sessions! I continued Individual sessions with Mary, because I felt that I had built a strong sense of trust and comfort with Mary, and it has been the best self care I have ever done for myself! Some sessions are definitely more work than others, but most were very natural and Mary always made me felt like it was okay, it was okay to cry, it was okay to be silent, it was okay to be me. I really appreciate her kind and approachable demeanor and one of the many quotes that we have talked about in our sessions that will stick with me always is ‘life is meant to be lived forward, but only can be understood backwards’. Mary has most definitely taught me different ways to see and hear my own thoughts, and to be more ‘content and calm’ with myself.
–January 2022 Anna Mak
Mary taught us how to communicate with our child in ways that empower her to independently problem solve and self-regulate. Our child is happier and more confident as a result. This has been a transformative process for our family.
–L.C. & C.L.
My husband and I have reached out to Mary for parenting sessions over zoom (during the pandemic) for our 3 year old son who was showing aggressive behaviours at child care settings. She has provided us with useful tools to know how to calm a distraught child and discipline properly in ways to help him handle his emotional outbursts effectively and for us parents to keep calm.
After we saw how much the therapy sessions has helped us and our son, I wondered if counselling would help my adult sister, my mom and I to get along better as I felt we could all use therapy to handle our past hurts and minimize future conflict. I didn’t expect everyone to change overnight especially as adults, but, we started to understand each other’s perspective and started to try to resolve any arising conflict in more constructive ways. We felt Mary was able to mediate and guide our sessions for it to be very effective.
“Mary is a very kind and caring counselor with many years of experience. She is very good at helping kids solve their issues through play therapy. My daughter made great progress in expressing her feelings and dealing with emotional problems. Thank you, Mary!”
–B., a parent
“Mary, you have been such a positive force in our lives over the past year. From the first day onward, our family felt safe and comfortable talking to you. We appreciated your use of technology to make weekly updates a breeze. Our son thrived under your gentle guidance. He is spending this spring working in the dirt with his hands – something he wasn’t able to enjoy a year ago. He proclaimed the other day “landscaping is my passion!” Thank you on behalf of the 4 parents.”
“Mary put my son at ease immediately and through their sessions together, helped him develop age appropriate coping skills. She provided me with an insight into his behaviour and gave me practical suggestions for supporting him as a family while he learned to manage his emotions. While the source of his stress is largely beyond his control, he is now able to keep most things in perspective. His outbursts at home have diminished considerably and he is much happier. His grades have rebounded and he is currently receiving straight As in his first year of high school. He is developing into a confident young adult who is a pleasure to be with and we feel so fortunate to have had Mary guiding us through what was a difficult time for us.”
“Mary worked with our sensitive 5-year-old son for over 6 months. She has been instrumental in helping him learn to manage his emotional response to uncomfortable situations. By the end of our time with Mary, we noticed that he started communicating about his feelings in a mature and meaningful way. Mary was also great at explaining what was going on with our son during the parent feedback sessions. She really helped us to understand our son’s behavior better. I would highly recommend her services.”
–KM, A parent
“Mary is a compassionate and knowledgeable counsellor. She makes parents and children feel at ease and is very experienced in regards to her therapeutic techniques and recommendations. We would highly recommend Mary to anyone seeking services for their family.”
“With her warm, genuine, and professional manner, Mary quickly developed a strong rapport with our daughter and was always sensitive to our needs as a family. We came away each week feeling understood and with practical ideas to try at home. Playtime sessions with Mary were always something to look forward to and provided support during a challenging time for us.”
Here’s a story shared by a parent:
“As a parent, it is difficult to see your child suffer, and feel that you do not have the skills to help them through their problems. When our son first started seeing Mary, his social anxiety was preventing him from enjoying activities that other 8 year olds participated in readily. Arriving at a birthday party, joining a new sports team, or sometimes even getting dropped off at school were enough to reduce him to tears – quiet tears that he would knuckle away, folding in on himself and refusing comfort.
From his first session with Mary, where he needed me in the room with him and didn’t speak, he has blossomed. Going to see Mary became a highlight in his week. He has become able to express himself, whether is he anxious, sad or angry, and is able to seek comfort from us when he needs help, or to let us know he needs space to work something out for himself. He has also developed an awareness of the struggles others are facing, and that when friends behave angrily or meanly it may be because they are dealing with emotions that are too big for them and that they don’t know what to do with, and he tells us he thinks these friends would benefit from seeing someone like Mary.
Observing our son in social groups now, you would never know that this smiling, laughing, jocular boy experienced anxiety; in fact, teachers and other parents have looked at us dumbfounded when we’ve said he’s been seeing a play therapist. Friends and family members have commented on what a drastic change they’ve seen in the fact that he now seeks out interaction with them.
We can’t thank Mary enough for helping our son develop tools to regulate his emotions. For our part, her skilled guidance during our weekly Skype meetings have been invaluable in helping us to implement strategies at home that have supported his growth, and has made us more thoughtful about our standard responses to the behaviour of all of our kids.”
“About two years ago, going through a divorce led me to a really low point of myself. I knew I needed some professional help to strengthen my emotional and mental health. Reaching out to Mary was the best decision I have ever made.
Ever since the first meeting, Mary has been always supportive and cared about what I went through. Especially, she has taught me many different ways of how to interact with my two kids.
I have learned from Mary to understand patterns of my behaviours and to change them into positive ones. With her help, I am gaining a lot of confidence in myself and becoming my best self.”
“Based on her professional knowledge and intuition, Mary’s presentations for our Parenting Teens program were always well planned. Her demonstration of daily family issues through role play were exceptional effective for participants to become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as parents. She suggested different tools that were effective and practical for working with teenage children in different situations. Mary’s strategic facilitation skills guided participants to become self-reflective and motivated them to explore empathy through listening and observation. As a result, her presentations have a significant impact on newcomer parents and families that attended the program.”
“Mary Yan is a gifted therapist whose dedication to her clients is unparalleled. She bridges experience and cutting edge neuropsychological principles with compassion to achieve results.”
-Kathryn Clarke, LPC, RPT-S
Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
“Any child or family lucky enough to get to work with Mary won’t be disappointed. Mary’s dedication to helping children and her passion for doing so is palpable. She understands children in ways that are a true gift to the families she works with. Mary has also been recognized as the first Certified Synergetic Play Therapist in Canada.”
-Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S
Creator of Synergetic Play Therapy