Frequently Asked Questions

Our services are affordable. We offer a sliding fee scale to ensure all members of our community can access services regardless of income and financial resources. Our Services may also be covered by your private health benefit plan. We also offer some specialized services at no cost. Please speak to our Intake Team to determine if you qualify for one of these funded programs.

People usually seek counselling when they are feeling stuck, unhappy or distressed. They often want things in their life to be different, but don’t know how to make those changes happen.

Counselling or therapy can help people struggling with emotional difficulties, life challenges, or mental health concerns – especially if these problems are affecting your relationships or your ability to manage work, school, or your day-to-day activities.

Therapy also offers a safe place to talk through problems like breakups, griefparenting difficulties, or family struggles. For example, couples counseling can help you and your partner work through relationship troubles and learn new ways of relating to each other.

Counsellors at Family Services Ottawa work in partnership with you to explore your areas of concern, and to make a plan for things in your life you would like to change or learn to do differently.

We have staff in an expertise in a range of areas, including: 

Managing stress
Abuse or violence, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial 
Relationship problems
Problems at work
Making difficult life decisions
Grief & loss
Separation & divorce
Mental illness 
Coping with chronic pain or chronic illness

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.

All of our services are self-referred, you do not need a formal referral. We simply ask that the person requesting counselling contact our Client Care Team at 613-725-3601 ext 117.

At your first appointment, your counselor will talk with you about the problems or stressors that brought you to counseling.  They are interested in how you define the problem; how bad or severe the problem is for you, and how it impacts on your life. They will also ask about your support system, and how you have been coping so far.  They will want to know about what your symptoms are, how long you’ve had them and what, if anything, you’ve done about them in the past.

They may ask about your history, your family, and your important relationships.  Sometimes they may ask you to fill out a questionnaire to give them more information about how you are doing.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the counseling process.  It is very important for you to feel comfortable with your counselor, and to be able to trust them.

Your counselor will work with you to explore your areas of concern, and to make a plan for things in your life you would like to change or learn to do differently.

There is no “one size fits all” answer – some people will benefit from only a few sessions, while other situations may require more time. Once you have met with your counsellor, they will work with you to identify your goals and together you will make a plan of how you will 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.

Our counsellors are Masters-level psychotherapists or social workers who are registered with their respective professional colleges.

Our counselling team works in a strength-based way, which means we see people as experts on their own lives, with valuable experience and skills. We also work from a trauma-informed model, where we prioritize safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment in all our therapeutic work.

Our counsellors participate in ongoing professional development to stay current with best practices in the field of mental health care. Many are trained in various types of counselling or psychotherapy, including CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy), ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), mindfulness approaches, and DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy).  Many of our counsellors work within an attachment-based framework, focusing on interpersonal and relationship issues. We also  have counsellors with experience in neuroscience and somatic work.

If you are looking for a particular type of therapy, please discuss with our client care team, and we will do our best to match you with a therapist that fits the approach you are looking for.

Services may be covered by your health insurance benefits, depending on the coverage your policy provides. Please discuss this with our Client Care team when you call. Counselling services are not covered by OHIP.

Unfortunately no. 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.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness; they sometimes provide counselling. Because they are medical doctors, they can prescribe medications.

Privacy and confidentiality are fundamental legal requirements of counselling and Family Services Ottawa is committed to protecting your personal information.

To request counselling, you may contact our Client Care team as follows:

Someone will contact you within 5 business days to discuss your options and inform you of wait times. If you are in crisis and require immediate attention, please contact the Distress Centre at 613-238-3311 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

Our wait times can vary depending on the time of year and what services you are requesting. We do often have a waiting list. The Client Care team will be able to offer an estimate of how long you may have to wait for ongoing counselling.

If you or someone you know is suicidal please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

For 24/7 crisis counselling you can call the Distress Centre at 613-238-3311

The Mental Health Crisis line at 613-722-6914 (in Ottawa) https://crisisline.ca/

For information on how to get quick access to walk in services or single session counselling please click here.

It’s very difficult to watch when someone you care about is struggling. Research shows that the support of family and friends is very important for people who are experiencing mental illness, addiction, or difficult life transitions. Let them know you care, and that you want to be there for them.

Many of us go through times when we may feel sad, worried, or have trouble sleeping. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medicine and/or participate in therapy in order to get better.

There are a number of organizations that offer support groups and resources 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, or see their website https://ottawa.cmha.ca/about-cmha/for-clients/mental-health-resources-and-crisis-lines/

Our Client Care team can connect you with a counsellor to help you find the support that you need to help your friend or family member. You may email intake@familyservicesottawa.org or call 613-725-3601.

There is free visitor’s parking available in our parking lot and there are street parking meters available on nearby streets. For more detailed information, review our contact page.

For More Information Connect With Our Client Care Team

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