Adult F.A.Q.

Mental health

What types of mental health issues can you provide counselling for?

Our counsellors are trained and experienced in working with a broad range of issues associated with mental health. We do not exclude people from our services based on diagnosis. Access to the Mental Health Program is based on our capacity to work with the identified issues and the persistence of the mental health issues.

How do I know if I or someone I know needs help?

If there are issues, which impede some area of functioning in daily life, it is worth seeking help. Talking with a professional experienced in mental health issues can be very helpful in understanding what you are dealing with and clarifying what type of assistance would be useful to you.

What is the first step to take if I think I’m dealing with a mental health problem?

Consultation with a professional who is experienced and trained in mental health is important. Discussing your concerns openly with a professional is necessary to determining if you might benefit from various treatment options, which may include options such as medication and counselling/treatment programs. Treatment of mental health problems usually involves a psychiatrist who can provide an assessment of the symptoms. The first step in obtaining this type of assessment is to contact your family doctor. If your family doctor feels that you would benefit from an assessment, they will refer you to a psychiatrist and this psychiatric assessment will be covered by OHIP. If through the assessment process, a psychiatric diagnosis is made, your doctor or psychiatrist can explore various treatment options with you. Counselling within the range of treatment options is important to explore as developing the skills to address the stressors related to your mental health can be key to your recovery process.

Do I need a referral from my doctor or psychiatrist to access the Mental Health Program?

You do not need a referral to obtain counselling through the Mental Health Program at Family Services à la famille Ottawa. We ask that the person requesting the counselling contact our Intake Worker by email at or by telephone at 613-725-3601 . In some situations, our counsellors, with your permission, will talk with other professionals in order to provide the best service for you.

Can your mental health counsellors prescribe medication?

Only your family doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medication. Our counsellors’ work focuses on the psychological, emotional and social aspects of mental health.

How often are the sessions?

The Mental Health Program offers a range of services; how long of a time period that each individual remains in counselling depends on what issues they are dealing with and the progress they are making towards their goals. Generally, our counsellors meet with clients every two weeks for a one-hour appointment. You and your counsellor will discuss and determine what is appropriate for you in terms of a service plan.

How can I deal with mental illness in my family?

Mental illness affects not only those who are diagnosed, but also their families and loved ones. It can be very difficult and stressful to watch someone you care about struggle with mental health issues. You may try to deal with this on your own but it’s important to know that you are not alone.

Family or couple counselling may be beneficial to family members trying to cope with mental illness in the family. Many families struggle with concerns about safety, medication compliance, and lack of appropriate services for their loved one. You may call our Intake Worker by email at or by telephone at 613-725-3601 if you would like more information about family or couple counselling in the Mental Health Program.

There are associations and organizations that offer support groups for family members of those affected by mental illness. To find out about such support groups in your community, contact the Canadian Mental Health Association at 613-737-7791.

How do I access service?

To request counselling, contact our Intake Worker by one of the following:

Someone will contact with you to discuss your request for counselling. Note that no counselling will be provided over the phone and that counselling will begin at your first face-to-face session with a counsellor.  If you are in crisis and require immediate attention, please contact the Distress Centre at 613-722-6914 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

Is there parking available?

There is free visitor’s parking available in our parking lot and there are street parking meters available on nearby streets.

Art studio

What can I expect when I come to The Art Studio?

You can expect to be greeted by a professional artist-facilitator who will assist you with specific questions or challenges you are having in your work. You can expect to have access to paper, canvas, paint, and drawing materials. You can expect to be inspired by working beside 8-12 other artists, all of whom are pursuing their own styles and mediums.

Do you have to be an artist to participate?

The Art Studio is designed for artists who live with mental illness. If you want to explore your creativity, or are just getting started, then it might not be the right place for you. To find out for sure, our coordinator will meet with you when you first come to the studio. She’ll ask you about your art interests and what kind of work you’ve done in the past. Together, you can decide if this is the right place for you.

What kinds of information will you collect about me?

We maintain attendance lists with basic contact information (name, address, phone number, emergency contact). We do not keep records about the specific things you say in our groups, or about your progress.

You will be asked to sign a consent form and a release of information form to give your permission to exhibit your art at occasional community exhibits.

Upon request, we will provide you with a letter confirming your attendance at The Art Studio.

Can I sell the work I produce at the studio?

With artists’ consent, The Art Studio takes advantage of opportunities to exhibit artists’ work in occasional exhibits throughout the community. Artists set the price of their work in consultation with the coordinator. Proceeds of the sales are split 70% to the artist and 30% to The Art Studio.


What is counselling?

Counselling is a process that allows you to explore and discuss various aspects of your life in an open and free manner that is not always possible with friends and family. Counselling sessions are scheduled appointments, they occur in a private and confidential setting, and what you discuss in your sessions with your counsellor is protected by the professional standards of the counsellor and the agency. Counselling is a process in which you have the opportunity to explore the difficulties that you are experiencing, gain a better understanding of yourself, your relationships and your life, and work towards making the changes that are most important to you.

What types of problems do people seek counselling for?

There are a wide range of issues that lead individuals to seek counselling, such as:

These are just examples. If you feel that counselling may be helpful to you, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss whether our services may be helpful to you.

Do I need a referral to obtain counselling?

You do not need a referral to obtain counselling at Family Services à la famille Ottawa (FSFO).   We ask that the person requesting the counselling services contact our Intake Worker.

How can I get the most out of counselling?

There are steps you can take that will help make counselling more beneficial to you, such as:

How long do I need counselling for before my issues are resolved?

Everyone’s needs and resources are different and so everyone resolves their problems at their own pace. There is no specific timeline at which issues should be resolved. Once you have met with your counsellor, he/she will be able to work with you to identify what might be reasonable goals and the amount of time that you agree to work towards those goals. What is most important is that steps are being taken to make positive changes and choices in your life and that you are moving towards your goals.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that have specialized in psychiatry. Therefore, their focus, training and treatment approaches are generally medically based. They specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness; they may also provide counselling. Because they are medical doctors, they are able to prescribe psychotropic medications.  In order to access a psychiatrist, you need a referral from your family doctor. If you are referred to a psychiatrist, it will be covered by OHIP.

In Ontario, a psychologist has obtained a doctorate in psychology. They are able to administer diagnostic testing and provide assessments for identifying learning disorders, etc. They also provide counselling services. Many psychologists work in private practice and you can access them through your local directory. However, note that psychologists are not covered by OHIP. Psychologist’s fees may be covered through insurance.

Social workers have a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree in social work. Social workers provide various services including counselling services. Social workers also work in private practice and can be accessed through your local directory. Social workers do not prescribe psychotropic medication and are not covered by OHIP. Social worker’s services may be covered through insurance, depending on the specific policy.

Is this service covered by OHIP?

Our counsellors are trained professionals in social work, counselling, and psychology; therefore, they are not covered by OHIP. However, we are subsidized and we utilize a sliding fee scale to adjust your fee according to your income and family size so that counselling becomes affordable and accessible to all. Our counselling services may be covered by insurance, depending on the policy agreements.

Our Anti-Violence Program has no fee.

Is this service confidential?

Privacy and confidentiality are fundamental aspects of counselling and Family Services à la famille Ottawa is committed to protecting your personal information. For more information, review our confidentiality policy.

How do I access service?

To initiate counselling, contact our Intake by one of the following:

Someone will contact you to discuss your options and book an appointment if appropriate. Note that no counselling will be provided over the phone and that counselling will begin at your first face-to-face session with a counsellor. If you are in crisis and require immediate attention, please contact the Distress Centre at 613-722-6914 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

Is there parking available?

There is free visitor’s parking available in our parking lot and there are street parking meters available on nearby streets.

Family Services Ottawa
312 avenue Parkdale Ave.
Ottawa ON K1Y 4X5
T. 613-725-3601