Services

Services provided by Ross Laird

The Back Story

I began my career 35 years ago, working with corporate executives on themes of team development. Those early experiences led me to a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology (with a focus on somatics and creativity), after which I opened a private practice and began to work with a diverse range of clients grappling with mental health and chronic pain issues.

In my practice I began to see that trauma lies at the root of most mental illness, most chronic pain, and almost all addictions. As my interest in this field of research deepened, I focused increasingly on trauma and the important role that creativity can play in the healing process. I completed a doctoral degree that explored the therapeutic creative process and wrote my first book, Grain of Truth, which was a best-seller and finalist for the Governor General’s Award. At about the same time, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was facing increasing challenges with addictions, poverty, and trauma. I reached out to social service agencies to help them deal with the many issues involved in providing care for the most vulnerable residents of the Downtown Eastside: homeless, addicted, traumatized survivors. I have now worked with more than a hundred local social service agencies (as well as dozens more across Canada and internationally). I am the clinical supervisor to BC’s largest provincially-funded addictions treatment program and a consultant to many others.

My interest in trauma, addictions, and personal development has led me to work with many organizations. I have been involved with research at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, and the Happy Museum Project in the UK. I have consulted for corporate groups (YPO, IKEA, the Business Council of BC, Air Canada, the Wallace McCain Institute, and many others) as well as governments (the Public Health Agency of Canada, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, and many more). I have worked with first responders, parent groups, refugees, Indigenous communities, university students, cancer patients — a wide range of clients both in Canada and internationally. Additionally I have taught at more than a dozen post-secondary institutions and have won multiple awards for my consulting, teaching, writing, and scholarship.

I continue to focus on the themes that I first explored in my own early development: the importance and fragility of mental health; the role of creativity in resilience and wellbeing; the crucial function of mentorship. I have had a diverse career working with people: vulnerable, fragile, fractured, regular people. To be a witness to their evolving stories, to make a small contribution to their healing, to stand with them: for me, these are the rewards of my chosen path.

Testimonials

Ross has made such a positive impact on my life and on those of my peers. He has helped us realize that we are able of creating and walking our own paths. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Abbey Ratcliff, former student

At the risk of being overly-dramatic, what I experienced was something near an epiphany. I learned that I enjoy not only the process of creating something that is my own but the finished product as well. These feelings are the beginnings of pride, which I don't feel I have truly had with my work for many years. I can truly say that I have delved deeper into myself, learning about what and who I really am. It is this that I find truly valuable.

Workshop Participant

I have gained so much. A simple little project turned into something wonderful. I built new relationships that I didn't know existed.

Workshop Participant

The amount of personal growth I have experienced in these classes has been extremely positive and I cannot express my gratitude enough. If it was not for these classes and the projects and assignments that we had to do I would not have been able to reconnect with the creative part of myself that I have somehow managed to lose track of over the last many years.

Former Student

I honestly feel that learning happens when there is a lighter atmosphere with a sense of freedom. This has been a wonderful experience and I am glad I had the chance to do this. I realized a lot about myself and changed my way of thinking. I will take many aspects of this experience with me in my future endeavours.

Workshop Participant

This without a doubt the most enlightening class that I have ever taken. Never before have I seen a class that facilitates you diving into yourself to discover and understand your own creative process in a way that relates to you. It's truly been an incredible experience that I will never forget.

Former Student

This course moved me to my core.

Former Student

Thank you for a wonderful semester. I have fundamentally renewed how I operate. I’ve sought to add and welcome creativity to my life… The culmination of applying these tools and projects is that I am happier and more efficient, and have maintained my motivation to keep moving through it all. Also, being in the circle re-conceptualized my ideas of instruction and the classroom. I plan on becoming a teacher, and reflecting on this semester, my consciousness is now awakened to the way that traditional education and its content is formatted, constrained and determined through the physical arrangement of a classroom. Further, my eyes are now incredibly open to how children interact with their traumas. I will carry these lessons forward.

Former Student

Thank you so much for such an inspiring, motivating and fabulous year of self-discovery. I will never forget your class; it will always have a place in my heart. I have learned so much about myself and your class has taught me skills that no other class could have taught me. You are simply an amazing instructor and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving students a place for self-expression.

Former Student

I just wanted to thank you for helping me discover who I am and allowing me to feel comfortable enough to share my thoughts and feelings in class. I have taken three of your classes now and I have to say that these classes have changed the way I view myself and the world and have helped me gain a greater appreciation about life. Please continue to do what you are doing: helping students become better people!

Former Student

Your presence and wisdom are guiding principles that have shaped my life over the last two years. I have never been happier and stress-free. I feel like I have a good sense of who I am as a person cause I have learned so many skills that can help ease stress in life. I seriously could not have learnt that without your classes. You are an inspiration.

Former Student

I discovered my calling, after years of desperate seeking. In this unexpected elective, I found what I was meant to do. It’s worth more than any letter on a transcript, truly. Your classes have changed me and my life and my path.

Former Student

I have found a whole new understanding of who I am and who I want to be.

Workshop Participant

This was a life-changing experience for me. I felt like I was working on my development as a person and not just focusing on hard skills… I would recommend this field school to anyone looking to experience something life-changing and with much personal growth.

Field School Participant

For me, it was an extremely rich experience… I gained creative inspiration that will direct me on multiple levels of my life. I came back with a new drive and broadened perspectives. I came back with a new layer of skin and soul that share the same storytelling nature as the layered trees.

Field School Participant

The field school has reminded me how much I enjoy learning. I have always found that I have had problems connecting to the material in a traditional classroom setting. I have difficulty focusing during lectures, as I know that my style of learning is a kinesthetic one. The student-directed approach to learning is one that really appeals to me as well; I am much more willing to put effort into a project that I devised, or devised within a group, than I am with an assignment that is imposed upon me, or that I do not understand. I feel as though my input is welcomed, and the learning environment is one that is receptive, friendly, and encourages personal growth and development. I love that every student gets a chance to speak… The skills I have developed are skills that I will keep with me, and continue to use, for the rest of my life.

Field School Participant

I tackled my fears while I was there and it has given me a new sense of courage now… I felt that I pushed myself to be brave and not worry about the outcome as much and I always ended up realizing that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I surprised myself with how I reacted emotionally to the situations I was put in. Even though overall I had anxieties there was something internal pushing me to be brave. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before.

Field School Participant

I was much more open than I am used to being. It was not just about facing fear, it was about trusting others. Something I feel I had lost. Now, I want to only associate myself with things I believe in and things I am proud of. I want to see the world… Life is a journey, and I think that mine is finally taking off. I want to have more of these experiences; they are priceless lessons; an entirely different type of education.

Field School Participant

I now know a calm peace within myself like I have never known before. Spending two weeks walking side by side with the group, every day has been the catalyst for this. I realize now that I cannot move forward alone, I must engage and be part of the greater whole in order to realize any true and lasting meaning… We are all connected. I can now feel the connection after living it – it was not there before.

Field School Participant

Ross has stretched and supported me far more than anyone else has in growing into my potential, and I know he has done the same for others. He gave us the opportunity to be, and to see each other, as fully human. What more could we ask for?

Tierney Wisniewski, Research Associate

Ross is one of the most genuinely creative individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. I would recommend Ross to any organization that wants an exceptional and memorable experience.

Jamie Billingham, BC Nonprofit Housing Association

Ross imparts his wisdom with such ease and playful enthusiasm one is often surprised at just how much skill and knowledge is acquired.

Margo O’Hara, Hope Bridge Services

Ross was a catalyst in my development to reconnect with my passion for leadership. Through his example of consistency, compassion, and intelligence, I felt empowered to take control of my education. I feel inspired by his integrity and his intense love of education, cultural understanding, and knowledge.

Amanda Smith-Weston, former student

Based on conversations I’ve had with many students over the years, I know that I’m not alone in believing that Ross Laird has been one of the most influential people in my life.

Field School Participant

Ross is simultaneously brilliant and humble; forceful and gentle; present and silent. He is a front line educator who is on fire and who has that rare talent for igniting the minds and hearts of every learner and colleague he encounters.

Farhad Dastur, Psychologist

In his classrooms I have observed students, including myself, come out of their shells, contribute with purpose and meaning to class discussion and activities, and have transformative learning experiences.

Lee Beavington, interdisciplinary educator

Ross Laird teaches like no other. He leads by example and is always ready to share his knowledge and wisdom. The enthusiasm that is found in and outside of the classroom with his students is phenomenal.

Field School Participant

Ross’ experiences have given him an abundance of empathy and universal wisdom. His enthusiasm for learning is palpable and invigorating.

Field School Participant

Ross’ teaching has inspired me to do more than I thought possible, to view challenges as opportunities for growth and exploration, and it has utterly changed how I view education.

Former Student

Ross’ welcoming and caring nature helps to foster an environment whereby learners can engage with one another on a more intimate and understanding level. Ross encourages us to push boundaries, to play, to explore, to create, and to reflect.

Braeden Saucy, media artist

I have never had an educator influence me more. I have learned more in my time with Ross than in the rest of my education combined. I am a better student, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend because of my opportunity to learn from Ross.

Former Student