New low-cost counselling centre proves popular with clients working through difficult emotions

From CBC news

At $50 a session, client working through ‘pretty serious’ anxiety calls Hard Feelings a lifeline

A new Toronto counselling centre is proving to be popular because it is based on the idea that working through difficult emotions shouldn’t bankrupt clients who need a little help.

Hard Feelings, which calls itself a non-profit social enterprise, offers short-term counselling, or 10 to 12 sessions, at a low cost. It opened its doors on Bloor Street, east of Ossington Street, about 10 months ago.

The centre sells books as one way to generate revenue, and from the outside, it looks like a bookstore.

“We are growing so fast,” Kate Scowen, founder and president of Hard Feelings, told CBC Toronto. “Demand is huge for this project.”

The centre started with eight counsellors in September and now has 23. There’s also a wait list of counsellors who want to join the practice, according to Scowen.

“It’s going better than we had ever hoped it would,” she said adding that she would eventually like to expand to other locations.

Hard Feelings, which calls itself a non-profit social enterprise, offers short-term counselling, or 10 to 12 sessions, at a low cost. It opened its doors on Bloor Street, east of Ossington Street, about 10 months ago. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)

Scowen, who has a masters degree in social work from the University of Toronto and has worked as a counsellor, program manager, writer and consultant for community organizations, said she founded the centre because the cost of mental health services can be out of reach for people who need emotional support.

“There’s a real gap in service for people who can’t afford counselling, and the wait times for free counselling are really long.”

She said she also wanted to work in a private practice, at low cost, in a welcoming space within a community. Scowen said she is working with other people to try to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

“To house that all in one space just felt like a good idea,” she said.

The centre says on its website that it aims “to reduce barriers and increase access” to services in what it calls an “innovative” practice or model of service. Clients pay $50 to $80 for one session with a social worker. The majority of counsellors at the centre are graduate-level registered social workers.

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