Jessica Earle is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with a focus in early intervention and school-age therapy services. After working in various pediatric settings across Canada, Jessica owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her practice focuses on providing quality therapy services to bilingual families needing support around feeding, sensory integration, and attachment-based therapy. She offers a blog that combines common parenting struggles with helpful therapeutic tips for families. Jessica will be launching an online course for therapists seeking support in assessing children’s feeding skills in the community. She values a family-centered approach and encourages an inter-professional collaboration between health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of each family.
Jessica Earle, Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.
My name is Jessica Earle. I am a pediatric occupational therapist, wife, mom of three boys, and entrepreneur. I was born and raised on the east coast of Canada and worked as a therapist from the west coast and back to the east coast with my family. My personal life and work life often coincide, and my work has helped shape me become the parent I am today. I get to meet amazing families all over and truly enjoy supporting them wherever I live and work. I love to spend time on the beach, reading books, drinking my hot cup of coffee with a book :) and spending time with my family now that we are physically closer geographically. What inspired you to start New Leaf Occupational Therapy, and what is the primary mission or goal of your practice?
I initially started my business because we moved frequently across Canada, but I knew that one day we would reside in one location, and I wanted to build a practice that aligned with my values and passions. When you have small children, it can be hard to uproot and relocate often. I wanted a practice that could meet my family's needs/schedule while also providing therapy services in line with my training and competencies.
I had a vision one day that I would move back home to the East Coast and be closer to family while offering family-centered services to help reduce the “waitlist” wave that we see have seen all over Canada. As a parent, being on a “waitlist” to help your child can feel daunting and also discouraging because you simply want to help your child succeed, feel good, and ultimately see them happy now…not later in a few months to years. What specific occupational therapy services do you offer, and are there particular areas or populations that your practice specializes in?
We offer services in the areas of feeding therapy, sensory integration, and attachment-based therapy. These areas cover many layers to a child's development but also in support of the family development as well. Feeding therapy often includes children who struggle with a limited diet, require a tube for their primary source of nutrition, and/or the common term "picky eaters" that we see everywhere. Sensory-based therapy is often seen in occupational therapy and is an instrumental part of my therapeutic process to help understand a child's sensory system and how it impacts them from day to day. Attachment-based therapy is interwoven in my sessions generally because of the importance of a positive relationship between parent/caregiver and child. The social-emotional aspects are very important to understand to best serve children and families. We provide services to children from newborn to school age range. Families can access occupational therapy services anytime and we do not require a doctor's referral. We offer live webinars, virtual presentations, and one to one coaching services to therapists who want to learn more about feeding therapy. Parent coaching services will be available soon because we understand the important of supporting parents/caregivers so that they can feel supported and be able to support children in their lives. Can you share some success stories or testimonials from clients who have benefited from your occupational therapy services?
My provincial regulation does not allow for testimonials.
My business operates on word of mouth and referrals from other health professionals, families, and school staff in the community.
In what ways is New Leaf Occupational Therapy involved in the local community? Are there any community outreach programs or initiatives that your practice participates in?
We are often participating in volunteer opportunities that highlight and/or increase awareness of occupational therapy services in general. We offer free calls to families who are unsure if occupational therapy is needed and/or help families find the appropriate resources that meet their needs. A blog was created to support families who would benefit from occupational therapy feedback on various topics such as managing a parent and child's stress, how to support families with their overwhelm, tips to develop a child's fine motor skills, ideas to help encourage trying new foods, and other sensory motor-based activities they could try at home. Live webinars have been offered to support families and other therapists who want to learn more about early intervention services. What qualifications and credentials do the occupational therapists at New Leaf hold? How do you ensure that your team stays updated on the latest developments in occupational therapy?
At New Leaf Occupational Therapy, we hold a master’s degree in occupational therapy with an undergraduate degree. We are a regulated profession and must be registered with the college in which we reside. Each province has its own regulatory body for occupational therapy. We stay up to date with our college as well as our Canadian Association of Occupational Therapy.
Additional credentials are obtained post graduate studies, and each therapist can explore various areas of pediatrics. Specific trainings are encouraged to support families in specific areas (e.g., feeding therapy, attachment-based therapy, etc.). We are genuinely driven professionals who want to support families as best we can and therefore, it leads us to learn and participate in updated workshops, publications, and fellow colleagues offering insight into the field. Are there any upcoming developments, expansions, or new services that the community can look forward to from New Leaf Occupational Therapy?
We are expanding our practice to include an additional occupational therapist to provide quality family centered therapy services locally.
We have also been working on offering more digital products for families to access all over the world. We want to provide usable and family friendly resources for children and families to access now and also while they are waiting for more in depth services.
Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.
My greatest career achievement has been my overall resiliency to ongoing obstacles and still finding my motivation to keep pursuing my goals. This has presented itself in many ways such as graduating from first and then second degree, relocating and restarting my career many times over in various locations, being a present parent while building a business in-person and online.
If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?
If I could change the overall awareness of occupational therapy services and how it can positively impact individuals, families/groups, and companies. Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.
As military spouse, we have had to relocate many times and with that comes lots of uncertainty, stress, and at times complications. The pivotal moments in my life have also been because of those moves/transitions, if it weren’t for relocations, I would not have met the fantastic people who have helped encouraged, taught, and shaped my career that way it has. I attribute a lot of my resiliency, knowledge and experience because of those pivotal moments.