Angelique Montano-Bresolin – leading a team of 18 at Toronto’s Proactive Pelvic Health Centre

By Rose Marie Bresolin

The centre is the first private integrative pelvic health rehabilitation clinic in Toronto to offer treatment for women, men and children – of all ages and stages – with pelvic health issues, such as pain and incontinence.

Angelique Montano-Bresolin

“Our mission is simple,” states Angelique. “We want to improve the quality of life of those we treat, and we do that with professional, confidential and compassionate care.”

Over a glass of wine, part of our health and wellness after a long day of work that leads into the weekend, Angelique has agreed to an interview for Spencer Magazine.

“Our mission is simple,” states Angelique. “We want to improve the quality of life of those we treat, and we do that with professional, confidential and compassionate care.”

Demonstrating Proper Lifting techniques to new mothers – part of the range of services provided

Angelique is a practicing pelvic health physiotherapist who owns and operates her own clinic. After I came away with increased energy from a Meditation and Medical Qigong class conducted at her clinic by Occupational Therapist, Jaisa Sulit, I was eager to learn more about the young entrepreneur behind a sizeable operation.

Rose Marie Bresolin: Maybe you can start off by sharing how you came to choose physiotherapy as a career.

Angelique paused briefly, and then responded in a bright and cheery voice.

Angelique: So, ever since high school, I enjoyed the sciences, and knew I wanted to apply it to health care. I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario in ’97, and from there I was accepted to the Bachelor of Science Physiotherapy Program at the University of Toronto. I graduated as a physiotherapist and completed my National Exams to practice as a registered physiotherapist in Ontario. I began my career working in a hospital in Richmond Hill, practicing in a variety of roles for a physiotherapist in both in-patient and out-patient care. After two years there I went into private practice, primarily in the field of orthopaedic physiotherapy as a full-time employee. I worked as an employee with other rehab companies for 6 or 7 years, in roles that included management and as a clinical director before I began to explore a role as an independent contractor.

Rose Marie: I’m left curious as to what made you take a leap from the security of full-time employee positions to open your own specialized private practice.

Angelique: Over the years I grew a passion for pelvic health and, in my work at a spinal clinic, that passion only grew stronger. As I treated clients with neck and low back pain, I started to notice that there was always a percentage of people being treated for low back pain that did not 100% recover. So, I kind of wondered and explored, why this was the case. After looking into the research regarding low back pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction, I realized there was a very high correlation between the two areas of pain. Some of the more recent research findings even showed over 90% of people with low back pain actually have pelvic floor issues!

Rose Marie: And did you also notice that once you made the decision to follow the strong drive, the help you needed seemed to come along?

Angelique: Funny you should say that, because, at the time when I was researching and exploring it, I thought of a colleague and friend who had gone on to become an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn). I contacted her in the USA where she was completing her fellowship, and I inundated her with questions:

“Is this pelvic thing really legit? Is it for real? Does it work? And she responded saying, “Absolutely!” And added that she refers to pelvic physiotherapy all the time. I was so excited to hear that and after searching out where I could take courses in pelvic health, I found one in Ottawa being conducted by two physiotherapists from Montreal. At the time, there were no other pelvic health education courses in Ontario. These women were the only two that were teaching pelvic therapy courses at the time.

Rose Marie: What’s been coming to my mind as I listen, is that somewhere in there, you were still weighing your decision. The whole idea of venturing out on your own, still a little scary? Maybe more so, in that now you learned that the venture you were considering would take you into an untested landscape?

Angelique: For sure! And, another friend, sensing my apprehension, suggested I try a wall chart to help me to visualize where I was going; to map out the steps and use a timeline to project what came next. She even brought in the Bristol board and my favorite colors of markers. And that one simple step is really what got me started. Yeah, it was truly helpful. I don’t think I could have done it without having my charted action plan there to look at.

Rose Marie: And, tell us how it made you feel with every time you were able to check off a step as you went along?

Angelique’s smile widening, she bursts into spontaneous response.

Angelique: Amazing! Like, ‘one down, and fired for the next.’ Action plans are great, and I still use them at my clinic. I have introduced them to my physios and other colleagues as well. It’s so important. She laughs. It really does work. It allows you to have some direction and guidance.

Rose Marie: That could be a really good strategy to share with young people looking for encouragement; for any of us reading this! So, take me back to Ottawa.

Angelique: After that first course I was super intrigued. I tried to actually incorporate pelvic physio into my practice at the spinal clinic I worked in at the time, but they just weren’t interested. And that was when I started to explore self-employed/independent contract positions in order to get more experience with clients needing pelvic health physiotherapy. I was lucky enough to meet another physiotherapist who had been practicing pelvic therapy for a few years, and she allowed me to practice in her clinic for 2 evenings a week while I was still working full time as a clinical director in downtown Toronto. But, you know, you can’t do that for very long. It’s just too much. So, I took a leap of faith and left my full time job to pursue this passion further. It was a hard decision.

Rose Marie: I’m thinking that you may have been getting some serious encouragement to leave your job from someone in your court?

Angelique: Oh yes! I don’t want to leave out the most important factor; a constant with me all along this journey, my husband JJ. We made the decision together. JJ is the marketing strength behind the business side, and the life coach. It was a difficult decision for both of us, and none of this could have happened without his full support. With dropping to an income of only a few hours a week, it was tough. But I felt so strongly about the field and I really wanted to learn more. Thank God for my husband being okay with it and for trusting that it was something that would grow into something bigger. And it was amazing. It’s kind of strange though, the unexpected emotions you go through. I didn’t imagine just how difficult it would be to see myself so dependent on another person. Not to be working full time.

Rose Marie: I would have thought the discomfort to be minimized with knowing that your husband was on board.

Angelique: I thought so too, but I was used to being a female who was financially independent. It’s such a part of your identity, being able to work full time, enjoy your work and the people you work with and to provide an income to look after yourself. But now, when I look back it’s probably the best decision that we made together. If it wasn’t for JJ’s support, I don’t think we would be where we are today.

Rose Marie: So, give us a ride on the ‘Reading,’ as you walked the chart.

Angelique: So, after starting independent contractor work with my mentor in Richmond Hill, I grew into working at 2 of her locations. From there I started a pelvic health program within an existing physiotherapy clinic in North York and continued to build my own caseload. When I began getting really busy at my practice in North York, I stopped working in Richmond Hill and that’s when I opened up my own clinic on Toronto’s Danforth. Humble beginnings, really. I had no idea what I was getting into – kind of went with the flow. Taking it one day at a time. It’s funny, you get extensive theoretical and practical training in physio school but virtually nothing when it comes to starting a business and marketing yourself.

Angelique and Receptionist, Melissa Disabato, going over the day’s appointments at the clinic

Rose Marie: So maybe that’s your next? A first school for marketing and business for physiotherapists, initiated by Angelique-Montano Bresolin?

Angelique: Haha! So, I had no idea what I was doing and with help of family and friends I just kept trudging along. Upon opening my clinic in 2012, I hired a sex therapist and a registered massage therapist, and they were my first two practitioners. I have to say, it was exciting, and we went from 3 to 18 staff members and today, we are a multi-disciplinary team offering a variety of related therapies. We have grown from one pelvic physiotherapist to a group of 7. We outgrew the first space in 3 years so we moved into a medical building on the Danforth. A bigger and brighter space. So, that’s where we are now, and I am still learning something new about business every day!

Rose Marie: Oh yes! The never-ending learning! Tell us a little about the education piece you went on to add to the clinic.

Angelique mentoring a Ryerson midwifery student

Angelique: In 2015, a client introduced me to a Professor in the Midwifery Program at Ryerson University. Over time I developed a relationship with the program. As pelvic health practitioners, we see a lot of pre and post natal clients, so working with midwifery students just seemed like a good fit. I began mentoring students and to date, we continue to have Ryerson midwifery students for clinical placements at the clinic and provide guest lectures for the program.

We also take pride in advocating for clients of all genders with pelvic health issues. So, getting the word out to other doctors, educating moms in different mommy groups in the community and getting things published so that people understand the importance of this kind of care is key to our vision.

In Canada, we’re a little bit behind; if you look at some countries in Europe, pelvic physiotherapy is just a normal part of health care after having a baby. But we are starting to catch up.

Rose Marie: Your message is so powerful, and it makes me think that it would benefit from adding more voices to it; say from a platform that reaches out to listeners to make more people aware of the difference that your work makes.

Angelique pauses again, and her tone becomes cautious.

Angelique: I have to work up to that. I need to think from where I am.

Rose Marie: Fair enough, we’ll leave that for another time. Maybe you can share with us how you’re being received by the medical profession in general?

Angelique: I’m still trying to gauge that. But I feel lucky to be practicing in the Toronto East Community where doctors are open and accepting of the work that we do. Even though we are only minutes to the downtown core, the Danforth area really is still a community. People talk to each other, moms talk to each other, doctors talk to each other. And yeah, I think from the start, we landed in the right space. Our community is very open, and we have some devoted doctors that refer to our clinic. When you continually see doctors and other health practitioners accessing care at our clinic, it confirms that they trust what we do.

Rose Marie: And I’ve heard that you’ve been invited to speak at medical conferences.

Angelique: Yes, we do speak at various conferences such as midwifery, sexual health conferences, family practice conferences and education at hospital rounds typically for obstetricians and gynecologists.

Rose Marie: Tell us a little about how you came to develop a syllabus for an online course that you now teach.

Angelique: A couple of years ago, I was approached by a naturopathic doctor in Toronto. She is regarded as a changemaker in health outreach abroad, primarily in Africa. Aligned with a group of Naturopathic Doctors Without Borders, they treat and educate globally. Her focus was prenatal and postnatal care and she asked me to lead up a pelvic health course, that’s recently been published online. Even if it’s used just to learn about your own anatomy, I think that it has value. Much of the revenue that comes out of this goes out to improving maternal health globally.

Rose Marie: And, do you see yourself going to Africa?

Her tone picked up a lilt.

Angelique: JJ and I are talking about it. Who knows? For the moment, I think we will continue to grow where we are now. I think the sky’s the limit. Potentially, I’d still like to start a second location and continue to educate other health professionals and the general population. I’d also like to explore the opportunity to educate and reach out on a more international scale. Maybe it’s time to chart out another action plan. Haha!

For more about the team and the services you can click the link to their website:   https://www.proactiveph.com/

 

 

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