Rita Aurelio has been working in health care for the past 27 years. She began in the Purchasing Department at the Doctors Hospital, and has worked with in-patients in the Medical Day Unit, on patient care floors, and the Pain Management Clinic. In 1998 when the Doctors Hospital closed, its ambulatory programs were transferred to the Toronto Western Hospital and Rita moved from the Pain Management Clinic to the Seniors Wellness Clinic. She has been with the Chiropody Clinic and the Artists’ Health Centre since 2002.

Rita enjoys dealing with clients from all walks of life. Her trade mark is her wonderful sense of humour, contagious laughter and collaborative team work spirit. She is the proud mother of two boys.



Leisa graduated with honors from the Shiatsu Academy of Tokyo’s 2200 hour program and has been practicing shiatsu since 2001. Her first career was in theatre, and she has a great respect and love for the arts and an understanding of the commitment and discipline required to live and work as an artist. Leisa works with a wide range of clients with diverse health conditions, including musicians and other performing artists, focusing on overcoming stress and strain on the body and mind to help achieve peak performance. She has been working regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2002 and is currently working on a book on self-care for musicians.

Passion for her work and the natural healing professions led Leisa to volunteer with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC), of which she is a member. She served on the NHPC Board of Directors from 2004-2008, serving as President from 2007-2008. She also volunteers at Toronto’s Ronald McDonald House where she offers short shiatsu treatments to the families who stay at the house. This has provided her with valuable clinical experience in working with severely stressed individuals and children coping with life-threatening illnesses. Leisa believes that we all must take an active role in our health, and she enjoys helping her clients attain their health goals while increasing health awareness. She regularly presents workshops focusing on self-care.

Sandra Cina, RMT

Sandra Cina is a graduate of the Sutherland Chan School and Teaching Clinic where she gained clinical experience working with a wide range of clients and conditions.

Her experience includes pregnancy massage, including work with those in high risk situations; massage for breast cancer patients post surgically, utilizing lymphatic drainage and scar work; and massage for athletes and individuals with a variety of musculoskeletal issues.

Sandra’s approach is client-centred and she is dedicated to providing care and promoting well-being through therapeutic massage and patient education.

Prior to studying massage therapy, Sandra worked in arts administration for 10 years. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. She has also studied classical singing and opera for over 15 years and enjoys performing in her free time.

Sandra Cina is registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) and a member of the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario (RMTAO).


Matt is a registered social worker, having completed his Master of Social Work degree in 2013. Prior to joining the Artists' Health Centre, he held social work positions at Credit Valley Hospital, OakMed Family Health Team, Belleville and Quinte West Community Health Centre, and Belleville General Hospital.

Matt has a background as a competitive trampolinist/gymnast, and prior to becoming a social worker, he performed as an acrobat in the Cirque du Soleil production of Dralion.

Matt's professional experience includes co-ordination, program development, and individual/group psychotherapy. The Artists' Health Centre is a perfect fusion of 2 of his passions: the arts and healthcare. He is honoured to be a part of a team that works to help keep artists healthy.


Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, or Dr. JJ as he is affectionately known, is a naturopathic doctor (ND), clinical pharmacologist and researcher. He is first ND to practice at the Toronto Western Hospital as well as The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre, where he practices naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Dr. JJ has given a number of workshops throughout Ontario specifically focused on artists and their health care, and has given presentations internationally, including the World Health Organization in Washington DC. He is the Chief Medical Officer of the Liberty Clinic in downtown Toronto. He does research with the Motherisk Program at Sick Kids Hospital. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Dr. JJ completed his PhD in Pharmacy Sciences at the University of Toronto. He has co-authored 2 books on pregnancy safety and one book on diabetes. Dr. JJ has many peer-reviewed scientific publications published or in press. He is a world expert on natural health products pharmacology and pregnancy safety. Local and nationwide print and television media frequently consult him to provide expert commentary.


Vicki Hawkins completed her Physiotherapy degree at University of Toronto. Previously she obtained an honours degree in Kinesiology with a Certificate in Sport Therapy and a Certificate in Fitness Assessment at York University. She is a member of the Women's Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine & Science) and PAMA (Performing Arts Medicine Association). She has been a Clinical Instructor with the University of Toronto, Department of Physiotherapy since 2003 and has held a Status-only Appointment with the University of Toronto since 2009.

Vicki has worked with members of the national figure skating, and gymnastics teams. She has worked with members of the York University Dance, Theatre & Music Programs, the Ryerson University Dance Program, the University of Toronto Music Program, OCAD University, the National Ballet School, Toronto Dance Theatre, COBA, Ballet Creole, and Esmerelda Enrique Dance Theatre. She also worked with the Mirvish musical, A Chorus Line

In 2014, Vicki completed her Level 2 certification as a GYROTONIC® Trainer. In 2011, she completed her Level 1 certification as a GYROKINESIS® Trainer. The GYROTONIC® exercises are used alone or in conjunction with treatment to help her clients achieve optimum wellness.

Vicki ‘s interest in becoming a therapist for artists began as a student at The School for Toronto Dance Theatre and the University of Calgary Dance Program.

GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with permission.


Susan employs Swedish Massage Techniques to produce deep states of relaxation to relieve muscular pains & enhance wellbeing. Her philosophy of massage is to use focused manipulations combined with integrative massage for the whole body. Susan recognizes that artists create using their whole body/mind/emotional/spiritual selves, and is passionate about a holistic approach to restoring and increasing the inner resources available to the creative artist.

Susan is also trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy, the ‘talking cure’ that uses the format of a relationship to address problems of living. She has recently trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for Treatment of Trauma, which uses a body-centered approach to resolve traumatic memories trapped in the body/mind. She is currently President of the Board of CAPT, Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy.


Susannah McGeachy is a primary health care nurse practitioner who trained at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Susannah is delighted to be returning to the Artists' Health Centre, having completed a locum there in 2014.

Susannah has a worked in both hospital and primary care settings including a family health team, community health centre, and nurse practitioner led clinic.
Susannah has a number of interests including swing dance, long distance running, singing, and (amateur) acting. A Toronto native, she loves this city's vibrant arts scene, and particularly enjoys seeing new Canadian plays and visiting the AGO.


Dr. Chase McMurren is a psychotherapist and the medical director at the Artists’ Health Centre, a home-visiting physician for frail older adults who are homebound, a coroner for the Province of Ontario, and a faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Dr. McMurren believes that a person-centred, integrative approach to psychotherapy is central in helping artists identify and modify patterns that seem to get in the way of living and practicing well.

In addition to training at the Mount Sinai Psychotherapy Institute, Dr. McMurren has also trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and recently completed restorative yoga teacher training. To keep musically active, Dr. McMurren is currently studying the pipe organ and is using it as an opportunity to learn and apply the Alexander Technique.


Nishta Saxena has been working as a registered dietitian in the public and private sectors since 2005. Her expertise includes pediatric nutrition, along with chronic disease prevention and management.

As a former dancer, she is acutely aware of the power nutrition can have on a body and performance. In her practice she helps individuals and families through the stages of nutrition — child growth and development, shopping and meal planning, and common issues like allergies and eating disorders. With Nishta’s holistic, nutrition-for-real-life approach, which she uses in her own family, she helps people feed the household affordably while meeting nutritional needs in fun, easy ways. This is one reason her “Feeding Your Baby“ program is so popular. She is also known as a “nutrition myth buster,” promoting evidence-based nutrition rather than food trends.

Nishta completed her clinical dietetic internship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and her MSc in Clinical Nutrition Science at the University of Toronto, where she has a faculty appointment in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. A frequently invited speaker at conferences, she presents up-to-date clinical nutrition concepts to physicians and the general public. Nishta is also a food and nutrition expert with Global National News, and makes regular contributions to the Globe and Mail, and UHN News.


Dr. Anita Shack is a chiropractor who uses an integrated approach in her work at The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre (Centre). She combines chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, and acupuncture, customizing care to the individual artist’s needs and goals. Fascinated with the relationship of physical structure to biomechanical, neurophysiologic and psycho emotional function, (body/mind/spirit connection), Dr. Shack is concerned not only with the relief of symptoms but with getting at the cause to facilitate change and healing, with the maintenance of good health. Dr. Shack has extensive experience working with artists from many disciplines, including: dance, theatre, film, visual arts, music, and writing. She performed as an independent dancer from 1974-1986 in Canada and the United States, and is sensitive to the specific stresses, and sensibilities of artists.

Dr. Shack was an original representative of the Health Care Practitioners meetings at the inception of the Centre. Very happy to be working with her colleagues at Centre, Dr. Shack is no stranger to collaborative care. She was founding director of Health Focus, an integrated multidisciplinary alternative health care center in downtown Toronto from 1992-2005. She remains committed to this kind of care to ensure a holistic approach to treatment. In her experience over the last 22 years she has seen how modalities enhance each other, maximizing the benefits of care and the achievement of wellness.


Paul Uy (MD, RCPSC, BHSc) is a physician who completed his psychiatric training at the University of Toronto. He has trained in a number of therapeutic modalities from psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, group therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and mindfulness therapies. He also travels, practices yoga and writes poetry.

Paul's eclectic interest in various therapies emerged partly from a lifelong interest in writing, particularly poetry. He appreciates the many links between psychotherapy and the arts - how one can inform the other in harnessing physicality, intuition and community for healing and meaning. He values the role of art in society in cultivating immediacy, curiosity and creativity in a highly complex and interconnected world.

Upcoming Workshops

STRESSED! Workshop Series

May 02, 2019

Stress is a tricky part of life. Too much of it, and you’re a blob on the floor. Too little of it, and you’re a blob on the floor. For artists, stress comes not only from the normal pressures of life, but also from the precarious nature of the arts sector which usually means too little time, ...

STEP ONE! Primary Care

November 07, 2018

What’s this got to do with stress? Primary healthcare providers, such as family doctors and nurse practitioners, are the starting point to accessing healthcare services in Ontario. They can treat many health conditions (including stress-related ones) and can lessen the stress that often comes ...

DIGEST! Eating with Mood in Mind

December 05, 2018

What’s this got to do with stress? What we eat, our eating patterns and our mindset about food are all fundamental to health. This workshop considers the time and financial restrictions artists commonly face to offer stress-reducing, health-boosting, nutrition-focused knowledge. In this ...