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How do I find counselling?

Sometimes it's difficult to find the counselling your child needs, and it can seem confusing and overwhelming. We hope the following information will make your search easier.

Counselling services can be accessed in two main ways: through the public system or the private system. 

Accessing counselling through the public system

In the public system you might be able to access counselling through, a community mental health team or program, or your child's school. There is usually no cost to you.

For example, you may be able to access free counselling through Child & Youth Mental Health services after an intake interview (for ages 18 and under), or free drop-in counselling at Foundry Centres or Foundry Virtual for young people ages 12-24 and their caregivers. 

Accessing counselling through the private system

Private counselling usually charges a fee. To find a private counsellor or psychologist, you can search these websites for options in your area:

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You can use website filters to search for a counsellor in your community that specializes in certain types of therapy or mental health conditions. You can also consider your child’s preference for counsellor gender or ethnicity.

If you are comfortable, ask someone you trust to recommend a counsellor (your family doctor, close friends, school). Use this as a starting point, but look further into it yourself to make sure they are registered and a good fit for your child.

You will want to find someone with the proper education, training and standards of care. Make sure to look for a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) or Registered Psychologist (R.Psych). Registered Social Workers (RSW) sometimes provide counselling and might be recommended to you. 

Paying for private counselling:

  • Some costs might be covered if you have an extended health benefits plan. Check your plan to see what’s covered for your family so you know your options. Some plans will only cover certain types of therapy or providers and not others. For example, many plans cover a Registered Clinical Counsellor but might not cover counselling by a social worker.
  • Find out if your employer offers an Employee/Family Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs often provide counselling services that are easy to access. You can speak to a counsellor on a confidential basis and without your supervisor knowing that you called.
  • Some places may offer low-cost counselling in your community. You can also ask the service provider if they offer a sliding fee scale.
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Finding the right fit 

It’s important to remember that your child might not “click” with the first counsellor they meet, and that is totally okay.

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Depending on your child’s age, let them be part of the choosing process. If your child is a youth, they may like different counsellors than someone you would choose, and that’s okay too.    

Sometimes finding the “right fit” is a bit of a process. To make things easier, try to connect with the counsellor directly before you book a first appointment. That can help you save time and money, as well as increase the chances that it will be a good fit the first time around. 

Most counsellors are open to responding to emails or returning a phone call. You might want to describe your child’s situation and what they might be struggling with. You can ask questions like: 

  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • Do you treat children who struggle with_________?
  • What kind of treatment do you use?
  • Do you offer individual or group therapy?
  • Do you offer a sliding fee scale?
  • Do you offer an “introductory” session to see if this is a good fit?

Make an appointment and see how it goes. If your child is young, you can ask about making an appointment on your own with the counsellor to get a feel for them. You know your child best and will likely know after a meeting if your child will do well with that particular counsellor. That saves taking your child to more than one “meet and greet” appointment.

Take your time finding a counsellor that connects well with your child. The public system may have some limitations around which counsellors are available. If you decide to go with a private counsellor, you may have more flexibility in being able to choose a counsellor that is a good fit for your child. A positive connection between your child and the counsellor will make or break the success of counselling.

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