A compound consequence of the pandemic is that, for many, it has challenged both mental health and income simultaneously. Most counselling is offered privately (though options through Alberta Health Services can be found here and here) and not all employers cover it with benefits packages. That said, there are many organizations in Calgary offering free or low-cost counselling based on need. Some options are general and others are specialized to specific communities or issues. Most services are delivered virtually as of publication, but check directly with providers for the latest information. If you’re a student, consult with your student centre on options offered through your school. Thank you to Women’s Centre of Calgary for some of the tips on this list.
Africa Centre and Alberta Black Therapists Network
These two organizations have partnered to offer free therapy to Black Albertan individuals, families, couples and children. Register through the Africa Centre website or by calling 1-833-381-1242. Therapists speak a total of nine different languages and interpreter services are available for anyone whose language is not offered.
Calgary Counselling Centre
Perhaps Calgary’s largest resource for counselling services, Calgary Counselling Centre determines fees based on both income and a suite of other factors grouped under the classification “ability to pay.” No one is turned away here. There is currently no waitlist and clients will be matched with a counsellor within two business days of registering. Call 1-833-827-4229 or visit this page to get started.
Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association
Free one-on-one counselling and a suite of other mental health supports for immigrant women who are permanent residents, refugees and naturalized citizens are available through the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. Email email@example.com for more information and to sign-up.
Calgary SCOPE Society
This organization is dedicated to supporting Calgarians who have developmental disabilities. Free counselling is offered to adults with developmental disabilities who have Persons with Developmental Disability (PDD) funding. Find the intake form here.
Carya offers numerous mental health services including support groups and counselling. Counselling for families is offered on a sliding-scale basis for people aged 24 and younger, or who have children aged 24 and younger, plus older-adult counselling for those aged 65 and older. There is also the Functional Family Therapy program offered in partnership with Catholic Family Service.
Catholic Family Service
You can access an array of mental health services through Catholic Family Service regardless of your faith. In addition to rapid-access, single-session counselling for individuals (on a self-determined, pay-what-you-can basis), there are specific streams for teenage parents and families. See all the options here.
Centre for Sexuality
Those looking for free, short-term counselling services to address challenges related to sexuality and sexual health can look to the Centre for Sexuality. The centre uses a single-session approach in hopes that your issue can be addressed in one session. On a case-by-case basis, additional sessions may be offered or clients can be referred to service partners. You can register in a variety of ways, all detailed here.
Distress Centre Calgary
Distress Centre Calgary is a 24-hour resource for Calgarians in distress, offering a number of services including counselling. Registrants can receive free, general, short-term crisis counselling for up to six sessions. Call 403-266-4357 or click here to enroll. It also offers free telephone support for youth under the banner of ConnecTeen — click here to learn more.
Immigrant Services Calgary
Refugees and immigrants are eligible for sliding-scale psychotherapy and counselling, as well as free multi-cultural in-home support and the “Become a Better You” program through Immigrant Services Calgary. Psychotherapy and counselling are available in 13 different languages. Learn more about each program here.
Insight Counselling & Therapy Centre
Counselling for individuals, families, children, youth and groups is offered on a sliding-scale basis. No one is turned away due to lack of funds. Browse services here.
In response to COVID-19, JFSC (formerly Jewish Family Services Calgary) has created a mental health support line where clients can get up to three free sessions with a registered provisional psychologist. This is open to all — it is not faith-specific — and you can sign-up by calling 403-287-3510 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transgender youth, adults and their families are eligible to self-refer for Skipping Stone’s counselling services. Based on ability to pay, clients can pay between zero and $150 per session for up to six sessions. Use Skipping Stone’s general intake form to get started.
Wood’s Homes Eastside Community Mental Health Services
Wood’s Homes Eastside Community Mental Health Services (ECMHS) is a rich resource for mental health services. Among them are single-session therapy, extended therapy, “eTherapy” (offered via email) and more. All services are free. A good place to start is with ECMHS’s mental health system navigation services which will refer you to the correct department of ECMHS or an external organization if necessary.