Dr. Malak Abu Shakra, Ph.D, C. Psych
Executive Director & Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Abu Shakra is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She earned her Ph.D. degree from McGill University in Montreal. Her doctorate research focused on the vulnerability for addiction, and specifically addressed the different motivational systems underlying alcohol misuse across at-risk individuals with distinct personality profiles.
She held positions at the Jewish General Hospital’s Teenage Health Unit and Goldman Herzl Family Practice Centre, Montreal General Hospital’s Pain Clinic, and Royal Victoria Hospital’s Allan Memorial Institute. She then worked in different private practices in Toronto and Oakville, Ontario prior to opening her own.
Dr. Abu Shakra specializes in working with adolescents and adults presenting with a wide range of psychological concerns, including alcohol and substance abuse, anger management, anxiety (generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias), post-traumatic stress, depression, chronic pain, interpersonal relationship problems, feeling stuck in life or struggling to find a sense of meaning. She has worked with gifted individuals, competitive athletes, members of the LGBTQ community, and survivors of childhood abuse and narcissistic abuse. She is additionally highly experienced in developing and implementing research-based personality-tailored interventions targeting alcohol and substance misuse.
Dr. Abu Shakra has extensive education and experience in using various evidence-based, empirically-supported therapeutic approaches, including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Emotion-Focused therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness, Psychodynamic Therapy, Existential Therapy, and Schema-Focused Therapy. Her approach is integrative, and her interventions are personalized and tailored to clients' individual needs.
Dr. Abu Shakra has a particular interest in and knack for working with individuals who may be considered “difficult”, as well as those who have worked with multiple mental health care professionals before, with limited success.
Dr. Abu Shakra is fluently trilingual and can provide services in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
Dr. Hanna McCabe-Bennett, Ph.D, C. Psych
Dr. Hanna McCabe-Bennett is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She completed her Master’s degree and PhD in Clinical Psychology at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). She completed her predoctoral internship at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) where she completed a major rotation in the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic, and minor rotations in the Borderline Personality Disorder Service, and the Clinical Neuropsychology Service. She has previously held positions as a psychologist in the Mental Health Program at the WSIB Specialty Clinic (SJHH) and in private practice. Other clinical experiences have included the Mood Disorders Program (SJHH), the Psychology Training Clinic (St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto), and the HIV Prevention Lab (Ryerson University).
Dr. McCabe-Bennett has experience providing comprehensive diagnostic assessments and evidence-based treatment for an array of mental health concerns. Her primary focus is in anxiety (e.g., social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, excessive worry) and anxiety-related concerns (e.g., OCD, hoarding and severe clutter, perfectionism, depression). She uses a trauma-informed cognitive-behavioural approach and integrates additional techniques (e.g., mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal skills, and acceptance-based interventions) when appropriate. She offers a safe, inclusive environment where clients can freely express themselves and work collaboratively toward their goals. She enjoys working with clients who have had difficulty connecting with other therapists in the past, who may be new to therapy, or who are looking to find practical ways of coping with longstanding or new difficulties in their lives.
Dr. McCabe-Bennett’s distinctions include a Doctoral Research Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2015-2018), Ontario Graduate Scholarships (2013-2014), a Master’s Research Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (2012), and certificates for academic excellence from the Canadian Psychological Association for her Master’s (2015) and Doctoral research (2018). She has co-authored publications on the topics of perfectionism, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, and Hoarding Disorder. She has made multiple media appearances and is passionate about providing the highest possible quality of mental health care to each of her clients.
Dr. Rebecca Stead, Ph.D, C. Psych
Dr. Rebecca Stead is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She specializes in working with adults and seniors who experience a wide range of psychological concerns, including depression, anxiety (e.g., generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias), obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma, perfectionism, interpersonal problems, emotional dysregulation, insomnia, stress, and self-esteem challenges. She is passionate about using a client-centered and strengths-based approach and integrates compassion, humour and curiosity in her interpersonal style. She strives to provide a non-judgmental, warm, and safe environment for her clients to make therapeutic change. Dr. Stead takes an integrative approach, using empirically supported treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, schema-focused therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy in her work. Dr. Stead’s therapeutic interventions are personalized and tailored to the individual needs of her clients.
Dr. Stead earned her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University. She completed her residency at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, where she worked with adults and older adults in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders program, as well as the Schizophrenia Program and the Geriatric Psychiatry Program. Her distinctions include several scholarships granted by both the provincial and federal governments for her psychology research. Most recently, she has worked in Private Practice addressing a variety of mental health challenges with adults of all ages. She has extensive training conducting complex differential diagnosis and engaging adults in treatment who are new to therapy, who have had limited success working with other mental health care professionals in the past, or who want to continue to find better ways of coping with challenges in their lives.
Dr. Leah Tobin, Ph.D, C. Psych
Dr. Leah Tobin is a registered Clinical Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She completed her Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary. Most recently, she has worked in private practice working with a range of mental health difficulties with adults and adolescents. Her previous work experience includes positions at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre’s Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy Service and its Regional Psychological Assessment Service, the Foothills Medical Centre’s Mood Disorders Program and its Addiction Centre, the Sunridge Medical Gallery’s Community Mental Health Clinic, the Alberta Health Services’ Forensic Adolescent Program, and the Peter Lougheed Centre’s Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit.
Dr. Tobin has undergone extensive training in comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for a range of mental health concerns. She specializes in working with adult and adolescent clients who are struggling with depression, anxiety (e.g., generalized anxiety and worry, panic attacks, social anxiety, phobias), OCD, perfectionism, PTSD and trauma-related difficulties, body image and eating disorders, stress, interpersonal difficulties, and assertiveness. She takes an integrative approach to therapy, incorporating CBT with additional evidence-based approaches, including mindfulness, motivational interviewing, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy. She strives to provide a warm, non-judgmental, and open environment for clients to explore these concerns, to aid in developing client-tailored interventions.
Dr. Tobin has co-authored multiple publications in the area of mental health, and she has most recently published her research on an eating disorder prevention-intervention that focuses largely on improving body image. She has received several provincial scholarships and was awarded the Certificate of Excellence from the Canadian Psychological Association for her doctoral research. She has also worked as an instructor at the University of Calgary.
Ms. Valerie Presti
Ms. Valerie Presti is the clinic manager at Dr Malak Psychology Group.
She is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor’s degree in Administrative and Commercial Studies, and throughout her career has excelled in a number of executive administrative roles in the fields of Healthcare and Advertising.
Valerie is absolutely committed to ensuring you have the best experience possible when you reach out to the Clinic. She is focused, empathetic, and brings the highest standards of care and attention to detail to Dr Malak Psychology Group.