JKT Spotlight: Julie Sabine from Inkblot Therapy

When we think about influencers our minds often go to famous people, and of some who use their media savvy for the greater good. Julie Sabine is a marketing expert, parent, and mental health advocate who uses her know-how to make a difference within the City of Toronto and Canada.

As Chief Marketing Officer for Inkblot Therapy Julie helps promote and destigmatize the use of mental health services to help Canadians live fuller, more connected, and joyful lives. Inkblot provides convenient, affordable, and confidential mental health services to Canadians who are 18-years old and above, and that can be accessed virtually anywhere you have a computer. Julie told Global News,

Our mental health system is flawed in that if you want to see a specialist, it takes up to six to nine months. If you go to a doctor and you present with anxiety or depression, they'll prescribe you medication. But you need to pair that with therapy.

Those seeking help simply fill out a short survey and then can book a session with a counsellor who best fits their needs. Following its launch Inkblot was honoured with a nomination and a spot as a finalist for the prestigious Canadian Startup Award.

Having years of experience interacting with new parents in her previous work with the site BabyCenter, Julie understands first-hand the modern struggles of young families and how a lack of time shouldn't mean a sacrifice of personal self-care. Inkblot provides its team with a fulfilling corporate culture, with those who work there embodying a "practice what you preach" attitude to a healthy life balance and a rewarding place to give back to the mental health community. Julie earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at McGill University and her Master's Degree, Counselling from the Australian College of Applied Psychology.

(right) Julie with her colleagues at Collision, Canada's largest tech event

What inspired you to pursue a career in psychotherapy?

I've always been interested in human behaviour and the brain but after doing the research in psychology, I realized that what I wanted to do was help people directly. My parents were both teachers so I probably got my need to help others from them.

Can you tell me about your education?

I majored in Psychology at McGill and then once I completed my Bachelor I went to Sydney, Australia to do my graduate studies in psychotherapy/counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology. I loved this program because it was hands-on and I learned how to work directly with clients as opposed to just doing research.

How did your work with Baby Center, focusing on new parents going through a challenging time in their lives help you with your work at Inkblot?

When my kids were little, BabyCenter was the perfect fit for me because all I thought about was babies and toddlers! Then when I started working with Inkblot, I focused largely on maternal mental health because of my connection with parenting and my role at BabyCenter. I'd speak at moms' groups to raise awareness about postpartum depression and anxiety, and I'd provide Inkblot as a resource for mothers - not only to treat the issue but as a way of preventing it. I don't know any parent who wouldn't benefit from counselling!

What was the catalyst for starting Inkblot therapy?

Inkblot was founded by Dr. Arash Zohoor, a family physician and ER doctor who was frustrated by our limited mental health care system. He wanted to provide his patients - and all Canadians for that matter - with an easy way to get therapy to treat, manage and prevent mental health issues, and he did!

The Inkblot Therapy Team

What makes Inkblot Therapy so unique?

Inkblot offers affordable, secure video counselling at any time, any place. We connect clients with the most effective counsellors based on their needs and preferences, and sessions take place from the comfort of home or a quiet space at work. Our prices are half of the national average and are reimbursable by most private health insurance plans. What's more, the first session is always free to ensure compatibility and an effective therapeutic alliance. We're leveraging technology to revolutionize mental healthcare in Canada.

How has your background in public relations and marketing helped you promote Inkblot?

I think it's my passion for mental health as well as my belief in the product that has truly helped me promote Inkblot. I've seen how we have changed people's lives for the better and I want to continue to help as many people as possible get the support they need.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in psychotherapy? What is the most challenging?

The most rewarding thing is seeing people transform into the best version of themselves. It takes work, but it is so worth it. On the flip side, it can be very painful to see others struggle - life can be so hard.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Personally, I think I do a great job parenting. I work hard at it and my kids are incredible. Professionally, I've been the voice of Inkblot and I think it's been received well. I'm proud to go to work every day and know that I'm doing something for the greater good.

(left) Julie with her family

What can we do to better break down the stigma of therapy and normalizing mental health care?

Talk about it. Talk about our issues, reach out to others who have issues and connect with one another, rather than judge each other. I'm all for Bell Let's Talk and World Suicide Prevention Day - anything that gets us talking about it. Inkblot goes even further to provide Canadians with easy access to the support they need.

What are your favourite mental health-related charities? What can we do to better support them?

I love Jack.org. This is a charity that was started by the Windelers after their son, Jack, died by suicide at the age of 18. There are young people around the country who are working hard to raise mental health awareness in our universities and colleges. Their goal is to help all young people understand how to take care of their mental health and look out for each other. It's very inspiring and they have done some excellent work.

As a resident of Toronto, what do you think we can do to improve our city?

We should provide our residents with free therapy and make care available for those who are mentally ill. Currently, it can take up to a year to see a psychiatrist and this is just not good enough. Healthcare is handled at the provincial and federal level, but how amazing would it be if we could get funding to help Torontonians who need it?

How has your approach to your own mental health and self-care changed or evolved since you began working in psychotherapy?

I'm constantly learning about myself and others and continue to grow mentally - it's an ongoing process that I really enjoy. Even though my responsibilities have increased, I manage my stress a lot better than I used to. I'm good at putting things into perspective and taking breaks when I need to. Being grateful for my amazing family, friends and my job helps too!

(right) Talking mental health and Inkblot on Breakfast Television Toronto with Roger Petersen

What are some of your favourite books or speakers, that you enjoy and that focus on self-improvement and self-care?

Goop tends to have some great thought leaders on their podcast so I tune into that when I can. I also love This American Life, but who doesn't? Psychology-wise, I love Brene Brown, Gabor Mate, and Esther Perel.

Who inspires you? Can you tell me about some of your mentors?

One of my mentors is a psychologist who focuses on emotional intelligence. She works with CEOs and leaders around the city and she has such insight and wisdom. She's been in the field since the 1980s but she's still able to bring a fresh perspective to the topic and helps people of all ages.

Can you tell me something that you are personally working on improving? Why?

I'm working on embracing my flaws and moving away from perfectionism because it can be debilitating. I think this is an issue for many women and it can be so liberating to just stop trying to make everyone and everything okay all the time!

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