Student Profiles at Rhodes Wellness College

Parker Toovey: How to Make Peace with Chaos

Parker Toovey has come a long, long way- and he is only 23 years old.

Parker grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Due to family changes, Parker ended up in a situation that was negative and often traumatic. Raised in an extreme conservative setting, Parker faced severe physical discipline, which when combined with homeschooling from pre-school through to Grade 9 and social isolation, led to an inability to trust or build any type of relationship with others. Put back in public school for Grade 10 he struggled with everything- academics, friends, and home. His mom, not knowing what to do asked him to leave. He moved in with a friend, but free from any constraints, in his words “he became his own abuser.” Parker started doing drugs and within six months was addicted to crystal meth and heroin. At one of his lowest points, and during a moment of sobriety, he reached out to his mom and asked her to help. She took him back in and helped him become sober. They both decided he needed a completely different environment if he wanted to move forward. It was then that Parker came across Rhodes Wellness College. Parker wanted to help others that also were going through pain and suffering. He felt that if he could help others, he could also find meaning for himself.

In the fall of 2017, Parker enrolled in the Professional Counselling Diploma at Rhodes Wellness College. He entered his first class with the school’s founder and counselling instructor, Bea Rhodes. In his simple words, it was a “shock” to join an environment that he had never felt before. Parker states that he had never felt more accepted. He had never been in an environment where he could explore his capabilities and shortcomings without the worry of being judged. He was in an environment where he could let go and not feel the need to protect himself. Parker stated that even when he tried his old defense mechanisms they just did not work because his instructors and classmates“wouldn’t let him go there”. There were lots of tears and angst, and agony, as Parker worked through the very worst of his past. He willingly went through all of it- knowing that if he wanted to help others he would have to not just “talk the talk”, but also “walk the walk”. Technique after technique, theory after theory, experience after experience, as he learned how to become a professional counsellor, Parker learned how to take his own experiences and relate them to others, so they could escape their trials and tribulations.

Parker completed his diploma program and is now working in an addiction centre as a valuable counsellor. He now sounds remarkably generous, humble, sincere, and wise. This is not the voice of a twenty-three-year-old. When asked what a defining moment in his education was, he related how in his second semester his instructor, Katarina Osterlind, provided him “a moment to let it all go”. And he took it. Parker said it was then that he decided to stop fighting his heart. He now says that he has learned how to take his new-found knowledge, only given to him through is college experience, and “run with

it.” He is currently exploring somatic theories and is learning how to help others deal with their life trauma through physical techniques that help them accept their past, and work through it physically. He is excited to jump into his counselling career and is already seeing how it will help many – just like him!

One of the most impactful statements Parker made, when asked what he has learned through his post-secondary education at Rhodes Wellness College is simple and beautiful: “Chaos and Order are the same things. What is different is our perspective-how we view what we are going through. The dots can line up either way depending on how we are viewing them.”

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