Book an appointment

To book an appointment, click on the “Book Your Appointment Online” button in one of the Counsellor, Student Life and Outreach or Healthy Students Liaison bios below or, for the next available counselling appointment, click on the link below and select any counsellor.

*Please note that our Student Life and Outreach and Healthy Students Liaisons are not able to offer counselling services. If you need to see a counsellor, please select one of the counsellors indicated below.

*If this is an emergency, or you need to speak to someone outside of regular office hours, please call 911, Here2Talk: 1-877-857-3397 (24/7 free student counselling service) or the Vancouver Crisis Line (24/7) 1-888-494-3888.

You can also contact Student Services to make an appointment:

  • Campbell River/Mixalakwila: 250-923-9700
  • Comox Valley: 250-334-5000
  • Port Alberni: 250-724-8711

Appointments for video, telephone and in person counselling can be made at the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Mixalakwila and Port Alberni campuses and for those taking in-community programming.

Meet the Counsellors

Indigenous Counsellor - Campbell River/ Comox Valley

Kathryn Priest-Peries

Kathryn Priest-Peries is an Indigenous woman of Anishinaabe and French Canadian descent. She’s also the proud mother of two young adult children, one of whom is a college student.

Kathryn has decades of experience working with Indigenous clients both on and off-reserve and has been a therapist for over 30 years. Her specializations include working with neurodivergence and assessing and treating PTSD, complex grief and loss. Kathryn is also a registered clinical counsellor and registered social worker in BC. She’s also working on her PhD in cognitive neuro-psychology.

Tel: 250-923-9708

Campbell River/Comox Valley

Amy Rowes

Hi, my name is Amy. I was raised in Alberta and came to Vancouver Island in 1997 to attend university in Victoria.

I have both an education degree and a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology. I completed a one-year Compassionate Inquiry (trauma theory) training program with Dr. Gabor Mate, which heavily informs my therapeutic practice. I work from a “brain-body” perspective, helping students understand how their nervous system shapes the way they experience their lives. I’m certified as a clinical counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

I have an interest in many things: neurodivergence, identity development, 2SLGBTQ+, anxiety, emotional regulation, relationships, communication and trauma. I believe each person has the capacity to heal themselves and that change is possible with awareness and connection to our authentic selves. When I’m not working, you would probably find me at the gym, running in the forest or reading young adult fiction. I look forward to meeting you.

Tel: 250-334-5000 Ext. 4277

Jennifer Barth

Twenty years ago I moved to Vancouver Island from the Fraser Valley with my husband and young children, I grew up in a blended household with indigenous and white settler family members, I carry with me a profound sense of duty towards truth and reconciliation. This commitment informs my personal and professional endeavors as I navigate the complexities of cultural identity and healing. Currently, I'm pursuing my Masters of Counselling at City University's Victoria campus. As a practicum student at North Island College, I'm dedicated to providing support to individuals grappling with various life challenges such navigating grief and loss, regulating emotions, anxiety, living with chronic illness, as well as religious trauma and religious deconstruction. Upon completion of my MA, I will specialize in trauma therapy, particularly through the lenses of compassionate inquiry and somatic experiencing. Central to my approach is the belief that living with congruence and authenticity is key to unlocking our fullest potential. I'm deeply passionate about guiding individuals on their journey of self-discovery, helping them embrace their true selves and find balance and fulfillment in life. Outside of my professional pursuits, you can find me powerlifting, running, tending to my garden, walking the dogs, or curled up with a book.

Campbell River

Catherine O’Toole

Hello, my name is Catherine. I am a registered clinical counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors and I have been supporting students at NIC since 2019. I hold a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology and I am also a NIC alumna. I started my education journey at NIC, completing an Associate of Arts degree at the Comox Valley campus in 2012. I value a person-centered, collaborative and solution-focused approach to counselling, as well as a strong emphasis on self-care and compassion. I believe in supporting students to recognize and grow their strengths, as well as tailoring counselling to each student’s individual needs and goals. Your journey at NIC will challenge you, but you are not alone. I am here to support you in finding and paving your path forward.

Tel: 250-923-9700
Email: catherine.o'

Comox Valley

Janet Beggs

Hi, I’m Janet. I was born in England, moved as a child to Australia, and made Courtenay home in 2006. I like to explore—in the mountains, within myself, and in connecting with people. This exploration led me to study a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (SFU). I am a certified clinical counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

My aim is to assist students to acknowledge whatever is happening, investigate feelings and thinking and what the body knows, recognize capabilities, and gently find ways forward. If you are unhappy or struggling with something, are facing a tough decision or a life transition, want to understand yourself better, or to simply talk through what’s going on in your life, please consider making a time to meet.

My other main passions are music and animals.

Tel: 250-334-5000 Ext. 4048

Vickie Ackerman

My name is Vickie Ackerman (she/her), and I am deeply rooted on Vancouver Island, where I've been living and learning my whole life. I hold a strong belief that each of us carries within us the wisdom and answers to our own concerns and challenges. It's an honour for me to create a safe and supportive space where individuals can reconnect with their values, motivations, and aspirations.

With a trauma-informed, strength-based, and person-centered approach, I draw upon the innate wisdom of the body as a valuable resource in the therapeutic journey. Guided by principles of experiential awareness, mindfulness, movement, and breathwork, I facilitate a journey of self-discovery and wellbeing. I hold a BA in Child and Youth Work and am currently in the process of completing my MA in Counselling Psychology practicum at NIC.

My work is deeply meaningful to me, and I find renewal and inspiration through connections with family, friends, nature, and mindful practices. You might find me walking my chocolate lab, Doug, along our local trails and beaches.

Tel: 250-334-5000 ext. 4022

Port Alberni

Samantha Banton-Smith

Hi, I am Sam. I have a Master of Arts in Counselling, as well as certification in Coaching and Harmony Integration practices. I am a certified clinical counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). I have worked at NIC since 2005 as a counsellor, academic success coach and an instructor in the Human Services department.

I enjoy supporting students towards their academic and life goals through a collaborative and strength-based approach. Together we break down obstacles and explore solutions to support your journey at NIC.

Tel: 250-724-8734

Student Life and Outreach Liaison

Patricia Curtiss

Patricia Curtiss

Hello, my name is Patricia Curtiss. I am the Student Life and Outreach Liaison and I manage the Early Assist program. At Early Assist, we know that life as a student in post-secondary education can be challenging. In my role, I listen to your story and connect you to the supports and resources that can help you in your learning journey. If you or someone you know is struggling and you are not sure what your options are, please send me an email at


**Please note that our Student Life and Outreach Liaison is not able to offer counselling services. If you need to see a counsellor, please select one of the counsellors indicated above.

Healthy Students Liaison

Sierra Gale

Sierra Gale

Hello! I'm Sierra, the Healthy Students Liaison at North Island College. I'm here to provide dedicated support to students in the NIC Trades, Apprenticeship, and Technical programs. My main goal in this role is to promote mental health and wellness within the trades community by connecting you to the right resources and developing tools that align with the fast-paced nature of school, work, and life. I approach this work with a strong commitment to fostering respect, diversity, inclusion, and equity within the trades community.


**Please note that our Healthy Students Liaison is not able to offer counselling services. If you need to see a counsellor, please select one of the counsellors indicated above.