JULIE SWEENEY (she/her) is a client-centered, anti-oppressive, social justice-oriented, counsellor who specializes in supporting clients in finding freedom for themselves.
Registered with the OCSWSSW as a social service worker, Julie offers openness, honesty, and a willingness to be part of your journey in a way best suited to your needs.
Julie aims to help clients feel less alone in their struggles and offers clients the opportunity to develop new skills and ways of thinking. Outside of her specialty in body image and self-esteem, she also works with clients experiencing anxiety,
depression, ADHD (no diagnosis needed), shame, religious deconstruction, and relationship issues (parent/child; intimate partner; sibling or other), focusing on self-care and changing negative coping habits. Julie works with clients one-on-one, in workshops, and in groups – both in person and online.
Julie is non-judgmental, and compassionate and enjoys helping people become aware, gain insight, and move into action to create lasting change. You would be a fit for her work if you’re interested in the change process and taking action toward making space for new energy in your life.
“I have been there,” Julie explains. “My personal story is what led me to this work, and I look forward to sharing when appropriate.” She works with a client-first approach and meets each individual where they are at. “I believe that we are all capable of change if that is what we want for our lives.”
Further, Julie is passionate about public speaking. As such, she is available for special events and speaking engagements that focus on the following topics: disordered eating, body image, self-esteem, self-care, change processes, and compassion fatigue. She is also the founder and host of the Braving Body Shame Online Conference. In the past, she’s spoken at NEDICs 7th Biennial Body Image and Self Esteem Conference 2019 in Toronto ON, International Weight Stigma Conference 2019 in London ON and the Harm Reduction Task Force event in Belleville ON, among others.
When I was 18 years old, I was done. Finished. Exhausted. I felt like the world was against me – because what self-respecting, beautiful girl could possibly be comfortable at this size? – and often had intense thoughts of what it would be like if I just did not exist.
Thinking back on it now, I ache for this girl – and for the heartache, turmoil, and trauma that she went through over the next two decades, trying to fit into a mold that was never made for her in the first place.
Because for twenty years, I tried multiple corporate diet programs, boot camps and personal trainers, and ordering every lose-weight-feel-great product being hocked on late-night TV – all with the hope that through a smaller body, I would finally have a real place in this world.
And then, one day, I simply chose a different path.
During a community volunteer course that I was a part of, we were challenged to give up something in our life that did not serve us. For me, that was pizza and ice cream. Not because eating these things is wrong inherently, but because I had a sense that I was using those foods to placate an unhappiness deep inside of me. And it was true: When I stopped burying my feelings with pizza and ice cream, a million feelings came up for me. Loneliness, disconnection, unworthiness, fear.
And I realized that I had some issues to work through.
After taking multiple steps to help me help myself – from self-development workbooks to finding online community to going to a counsellor – I realized that the power to change was always inside of me. I just had to choose it.
And now I can confidently say that my worthiness is evident and inherent – unconnected to what I eat. I don’t feel the need to compete with other women from a scarcity perspective; I don’t have to say no to social events because of a diet. I’m not scared of food or fitness anymore. I am calmer, kinder, and have more belief in myself.
I haven’t lost weight. I haven’t finally tamed my unruly hair or developed perfect skin. These things that I once thought would bring me confidence and self-esteem turned out not to be the cure-alls that I imagined them to be. Instead, I have found love for myself. And as such, I’ve changed my thoughts about my body, my inner self, and my role in this world.
Now, I am capable of so much more than I thought I was when I was 18. I will never be someone who thinks that way again. I have become someone who fights for women and girls like her. I have become a mom who works diligently to keep my daughter from self-loathing. I have become a friend who tells her loved ones that they are enough just as they are. I have become an advocate who proclaims that no one needs another diet to be a better person. And I have become a counsellor who teaches her clients that who they are is enough – as is.
I know the struggle. I lived the struggle. I beat the struggle. And with my guidance, you can, too.
I decided to go into this field to help others create their own change – not from a place of self-importance, but from a place of self-awareness. Because of my experience processing my own anxiety, depression, and body loathing, I help others from a very personal perspective. It’s been a journey for me – and it will absolutely be a journey for you – but I believe that together, we can do it.