Family and Community Services is pleased to offer professional walk-in counselling sessions.
- no appointment is needed
- "pay what you can afford" service within the range of no cost to $90/session (2017 Counselling Fee Schedule)
- our team includes registered psychologists and social workers, as well as, credentialed volunteers and graduate students
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
8 a.m. to 12 Noon
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Family and Community Services also offers free, facilitated education & support groups for adults.
Open weekly to new participants designed for adults to gather together for support and encouragement
Professionally facilitated weekly format provides opportunity to discuss and strategize how to navigate life's challenges
Registration occurs upon arrival
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is walk-in counselling?
Sometimes life is complicated. Walk-in counselling is an opportunity to focus on your concern, challenge, difficulty, or an area in your life you would like to change. You decide what you want to achieve from your session. You will leave the session with some ideas or strategies to try out, and a deeper understanding about the changes that you want to make for yourself. You can use walk-in counselling as an opportunity to gain information, get advice and seek support without committing to ongoing counselling.
Our counselling approach focuses on solution-building by discussing your current resources and future hopes with little talk about present problems and past causes. By the counsellor asking questions about what you hope to get out of the session and how, specifically, your life would change when steps are taken to resolve problems you can begin to identify solutions and come up with a plan for change. You will be asked to open your mind to creative thinking, setting goals, skill building and developing a clear plan that will lead to life-changing solutions.
2. What happens in the counselling session?
Many times a single visit to walk-in counselling is all that is needed to cope better with a situation and take steps toward useful change. To create this possibility, our counsellors use a team approach and you may have more than one counsellor in your session. Initially, you and your counsellor(s) will talk about what is important to you. This information comes from you – to the counsellors.
After meeting for some time, the counsellor(s) will take a quick think-break to consult with the counselling team and together create a written plan of action that recognizes and builds upon your strengths, ideas and abilities. To complete the session, ideas come from the counsellors — and back to you.
After a short while, the counsellor(s) will rejoin you in the counselling room to share strengths and provide suggestions. These ideas are shared both verbally and in writing. You will walk away with an action plan tailored for you. Sessions take between 60-90 minutes. Time expectations will be discussed and agreed upon when you first meet with the counsellor(s).
3. Is walk-in counselling confidential?
Yes! Your information is kept confidential to the counselling team, manager and director, and is only accessed on a need to know basis. We strictly adhere to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIP).
There may be times where the counsellor is required, by law, to include external resources to help maintain the safety of either yourself or others you may know. Counsellors are required by law to report identified abuse/harm to a child under the age of 18 to appropriate authorities or report if there is a reason to believe that a person’s life may be in jeopardy. In addition, our counsellors are legally obligated to break confidentiality if court ordered by a judge to appear in court through a subpoenas. If you have questions or concerns about these limits to confidentiality, please bring them forward to your counsellor(s).
Information from your last session, confidential to the counselling team, assists your counsellors to continue to respond to your situation. If you worry about starting ‘from the beginning’ or retelling your story, you can be assured that walk-in counselling is designed to help clients identify their immediate needs in the ‘here and now’. Any of our trained counsellors can focus on your most important concern, and what has happened for you since your previous visit to walk-in counselling.
4. Why did Family and Community Services (FCS) move to walk-in counselling?
People struggling with every day challenges want useful strategies to resolve their difficulties sooner than later. With walk-in counselling you can come in any week day without an appointment. A variety of times are offered including daytime and evening. In the past, individuals frequently had experienced a delay, sometimes weeks, before an appointment became available. This is no longer the case. By moving to walk-in counselling, FCS offers professional, confidential, affordable, accessible and timely counselling services.
5. Why should I come in, and do I need to be in crisis?
People come to walk-in counselling for a wide range of reasons. We all experience difficulties from time to time. You do not need to be in a crisis to come in – some individuals come in before they feel their life is “out of control” and are overwhelmed. However, if you are experiencing a high level of distress we encourage you to walk-in. Common reasons people chose to meet with the counselling team:
- I have something I am trying to figure out.
- Lots of people are giving me advice, and I trying to sort out what to do.
- I really need someone to talk to about this, right away.
- I am not sure yet about the next step or steps to take to get back on track.
- I wish I knew more about my concern, because that would give me some motivation.
- How can I better cope with my situation?
- I wonder if counselling would be useful for me? (Best way to know is to give it a try!)
- I am worried about a friend or family member and I want to know how I can help them.
6. What will you leave a counselling session with?
You will leave your walk-in counselling visit with an action plan. This plan will have at least one idea that we hope will be useful in helping you meet your goal. You may also gain information about resources including apps, websites, workshops, counselling groups, and more.
7. Can I book an appointment?
No. Instead, you can access walk-in counselling every week day, and some evenings, when you want to make a change in your life.
8. What are your hours for walk in counselling?
- Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.……Arrive before 2 p.m.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.……Arrive before 8 p.m.
- Wednesdays are early, from 8 a.m. until 12 Noon……Arrive before 11 a.m.
To provide enough time for the counselling session, participants must arrive at least ONE HOUR before walk-in counselling closes for the day.
9. What can I expect when I first arrive?
When you arrive at the office, let our receptionists know that you want walk-in counselling. You will be provided details about the walk-in process and asked to complete a counselling questionnaire designed to learn about you and your goals. For confidentiality, only the counselling team reviews your information. A counsellor will invite you into a confidential counselling office and your session will begin.
10. How long should I plan to be at walk-in counselling?
Much like a walk-in medical clinic, waiting times will depend on how many people arrived before you, the complexity of your concern or difficulty, and the number of available counselling teams. Our model of counselling is focused on understanding the situation, figuring out goals, recognizing strengths and setting up each person with a plan for moving forward. On average, people meet with the counselling team between 60 to 90 minutes, but not always.
Your time is valuable and we are committed to meeting with you as quickly as we can. At the same time, we want to provide you with the most useful service so we ask you respect that counselling times vary and are difficult to estimate in advance of the counselling team meeting with you. It is best to plan to be here between 1.5 to 2 hrs, although you may be here less or more time – much like a walk-in medical clinic, it is difficult to estimate.
11. I was here first. Why might someone who arrived after me be seen before me?
Occasionally, a person with an urgent situation (as assessed by the counselling team) may arrive after you and require an immediate response. In other cases, the counselling team member that is most able to respond to your issue may be busy with someone else when you arrive. Your time is valuable, and we are committed to providing you service as soon as we can. Our goal is to give you the most suitable counselling team for your situation.
12. Who are the counsellors?
The counselling staff are professionally qualified and trained to provide walk-in counselling. Our team includes psychologists, social workers, graduate level counselling students and trained professionals. In order to address what is important to you and what result or outcome you would like, our counsellors work together as a team. The team’s purpose is to share ideas to create immediate problem solving, as well as connections to other resources as required. This counselling team approach helps achieve results for participants in a way that is collaborative, responsive and effective.
13. What paperwork do I need to complete?
When you arrive, you will fill out a service consent agreement, and after your session, a counselling questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to understand your unique needs. The counselling team uses the questionnaire to determine your counselling team and to work with you to develop an action plan based on best clinical practice. At the end of your session you will be asked to complete a written feedback form about the session, to help us monitor the quality and outcome of our counselling services.
14. How much does walk-in counselling cost?
Walk-in counselling is a pay what you can afford service. It is your choice how much you pay for the counselling and you decide at the end of your session. Our fee range starts at $0 (no fee) to $90 per session (2017 Counselling Fee Schedule). Residents seeking guidance about fees may ask their counsellor for support. Pay what you can afford is not on a sliding scale.
15. Can I claim my session through my extended health plan or employee assistance plan?
If your plan specifically requires a psychologist or Masters in Social Work please let us know. Each participant is given a receipt at the end of the session with information necessary for billing purposes.
16. What kind of counselling does the walk-in counselling program provide?
Our walk-in service provides quick counselling access for our community. Whether coping with a stressful situation, looking for direction, or wanting understanding, our counsellors are trained in Solution Focused interventions as a foundation for exploring solutions. You can use walk-in as an opportunity to gain information, get advice and seek support without committing to ongoing counselling.
17. Where is walk-in counselling located?
Strathcona County Family and Community Services is located on the second floor of the Community Center next to the Library, #200, 501 Festival Avenue, Sherwood Park.
18. Are walk-in services offered in rural Strathcona County?
Not yet. This is something we’d like to explore if there is sufficient need. If you are interested in walk-in service in a rural location please email us at email@example.com or call our office (780-464-4044).
19. Can I visit walk-in counselling more than once?
Yes.Each session focuses on your immediate needs in the here and now. Walk-in counselling is designed to be collaborative and responsive, so you may want more than one visit. You may return, when needed, as you continue towards your intended hopes and goals. You may be asked to try our free counselling groups as an option to build specific skills or gain support, or referred to other services with specialists.
20. How many times can I visit walk-in counselling?
You may continue to access walk-in counselling for reasons including: moving forward on your action plan; revisiting the steps on your last action plan, or when a new situation arises. Walk-in counselling is not designed as a long-term counselling approach. Depending on your counselling goal, your counselling team may recommend you access specialized, long-term therapy as a more suitable counselling approach to achieve your goal.
21. Do I get to pick my counsellor? Do I see the same person each time?
The walk-in counselling program uses a team approach and the counselling team you work with each session depends on your situation and the availability of team members. It is possible that you will be seen by someone who has been on your counselling team previously, although perhaps not who was in the counselling room with you. At another time, you may be seen by people you have not seen previously. Research and evidence strongly indicates that the walk-in model we use is not dependent on seeing the same counsellor each time to be effective.
Information from your last session assists your counsellors to continue to respond to your situation. If you worry about starting ‘from the beginning’ or retelling your story, you can be assured that walk-in counselling is designed to help people identify their immediate needs in the ‘here and now’. Any of our trained counsellors can focus on your most important concern, and what has happened for you since your previous visit to walk-in counselling.
22. Is there walk-in couples counselling?
Yes. Couples counselling is effective when both people want to make individual and personal changes to help their relationship. Both want to share in ideas for solutions, and both are willing to try a new strategies. Couples may be seen separately or together depending on the goals of each couple member.
Walk-in counselling can be useful for couples who are concerned about parenting, finances, major decisions or improving communication. We also offer support for couples experiencing family violence.
23. What about coming to counselling as a support person?
Our counsellors encourage people’s supporters, loved ones and family to consider attending walk-in counselling sessions. Due to our team of counsellors, we can often provide more than one session at a time, so everyone can gain information, learn coping tools and be provided with support to help each other
If you are a credentialed counsellor (certified counsellor or masters level social worker) and are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact us. Practicum experience is also available for counselling and social work practicum students.
For more information: