About Maria

Maria Stella is a registered clinical counsellor, educator, and researcher. In her private clinical practice she focuses on issues related to loss, trauma and transition. She brings insights arising from practice and a wise, caring approach to help clients cultivate inner peace and acceptance.

In addition to her private practice, Maria is an associate program director MEd in School Counselling and an associate faculty member and a clinical internship supervisor at City University. She is also a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist community.

Her research interests include emotional regulation, somatic psychology, contemplative practices in health and education, and applications of mindfulness.


Ph.D., East-West Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco
M.A., Consciousness Studies, University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles
B.A., Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Professional Development

CSTP, Certified Somatic Transformation Practitioner
Somatic Transformation: Healing Trauma Through and In Relationship, Dr. Sharon Stanley, Victoria                                                                                                                                                        The Somatic Narrative: A Sensorymotor Psychotherapy Approach to Child and Family Treatment, Dr. Pat Ogden, New Westminster
Art Therapy: Tending Psyche, Tending Soul, Dr. Judith Bertoia, Vancouver
Step to Leadership program, Psychology of Vision, Dr. Chuck Spezzano, Vancouver
Conflict Resolution Training, Justice Institute of British Columbia, New Westminster

Memberships and Affiliations

Canadian Psychological Association
BC Association of Clinical Counsellors
Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education


Befriending Death: A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Cultivating Self-Awareness in Counselling Students - Stella 2015Stella, M. (2015). Befriending Death: A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Cultivating Self-Awareness in Counselling Students. Death Studies, 1-7. This article provides theoretical constructs and practical suggestions to promote self-awareness in master’s level counselling students. Firstly exploring four theoretical constructs: mindfulness, emotional regulation, death anxiety, and relationship dynamics. Then, outlining a practical learning activity on the topic of death. To download the article, click here.

cultivating_presenceThis article combines research data and professional experience in exploring the importance of counsellor presence in therapy and provides suggestions for practical application and further exploration.
It explores the power and the value of therapeutic presence in client-therapist relationships. It is my desire to increase awareness of the concept, practice and research on therapeutic presence research, and to develop further ideas to improve a therapists’ quality of presence. To download the article, click here.

This book investigates the theory, practice, and transformative benefits of a Shambhala Buddhist approach to working with afflictive emotions. A PhD dissertation, it uses a descriptive phenomenology research method in a contemplative psychology frame. Available through:
Barnes & Noble

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