Thursdays took on a whole new meaning at our agency beginning last October when we launched our official walk-in counselling program. Inspired by the work of Family Services in Barrie and other local organizations, we have made a commitment to provide counselling to clients when they need the help rather than have them stuck on long wait lists feeling isolated and increasingly frustrated.
John Ellis, Executive Director of Family Service Ontario, had this to say about walk-in counselling in his letter to the editor in the Toronto Star on June 11, 2012: “Congratulations to the Toronto Star for zeroing in on the three concepts with the most potential to heal the crisis in Canada’s mental health system: prevention, community support, and investment in cost-effective programs (Mental health: How three people are falling through the cracks, May 28, 2012)”. Nine of our agencies offer mental health walk-in counselling services, which provide assessments and solutions to people in their hour of need, when they are most open to change. We have a model that works. We have the research to prove it.
While, we know it is by no means a perfect system and we continue to iron out logistical kinks, we sincerely appreciate any feedback as to how we can improve our services. Here are some pointers that I think might enhance your experience:
1) You may not be seen right away. Bring a book or something to pass the time. You can request a later appointment once you’ve met with the intake worker.
2) Please leave the children at home. We prefer to have a first meeting with just adults so you can speak freely without concern for the impact on the kids.
3) It is helpful to find out ahead of time if you have group insurance or an Employee Assistance Program that may cover counselling costs. Discuss this at intake and clarify what qualifications your insurance requires to ensure we can meet your needs.
4) In most cases you will need to come back to walk-in and might not get the same therapist. While we know that the therapeutic relationship is an important part of counselling success, there can also be huge benefits in being exposed to different styles or perspectives.
5) Unlike ongoing counselling, we do not go into a lot of background details. Our goal is to help you stay focussed on a current concern and specific goal for the session.
Ultimately our goal is to empower you to connect with your strengths and formal and informal supports to transform your life, one hour at a time. You can expect to leave the session with lots of tools and community resources and most importantly a sense of validation and hope that things can and will get better.
Walk-in runs weekly Thursdays 1-7 pm at 18 Walnut St.
In collaboration with Family Service Ontario, we are part of a coalition that is aiming to increase government awareness about the need for consistent funding for mental health walk-in services. If you feel inspired, please contact your local MPP.
We have noticed a growing trend with youth accessing our walk-in services. There are currently four teams supporting FCCCND in the Amazing Race: Freaks of Nature, Partners in Grime, Victorious Secret and Double Trouble +1. Visit http://www.woolwichkin.com/ to make your online pledge to help ensure we can provide these courageous youth with the help they need.
Keep the conversation going; join us on Facebook with your comments
Nicole July 5/12