Tips for Creating a Healthy Relationship that Lasts

It’s easy to get caught up in the grand gestures of love and romance to celebrate your relationship. But what is really important, is maintaining a healthy relationship that will last, through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. While every relationship is special and unique, there are a few fundamental things every couple can do to create a happy and healthy partnership.

Learn More

2017 – The Year Ahead

With the New Year, comes a clean slate, and while some continue to be optimistic about the state of the economy, experts predict that it may not fully recover until 2018 or later.

Learn how Calgary Counselling Centre is working towards helping more Calgarians in 2017 than ever before and how you can help.

Learn More

How you can support the Centre in 2017

In 2016, the residents of Calgary and surrounding areas accessed over 31,950 face-to-face counselling sessions at Calgary Counselling Centre. But nearly 60 per cent of our clients needed financial subsidies to help pay for their session. In 2017, there are a number of ways that you can support Calgary Counselling Centre to help create a stronger, healthier community.

Learn More about how you support Calgary Counselling Centre this year.

Our new home at the Kahanoff Centre – Suite 1000, 105-12 Avenue SE

In September of 2016, Calgary Counselling Centre moved to a new facility in the Kahanoff Centre in an effort to meet the increased need of our community. Our new space allows us to expand mental health services with increased number of counselling rooms outfitted with brand new technology all centrally located in downtown Calgary.

Learn More about our new home at the Kahanoff Centre.

How Counselling Saved my Life

“This time last year I was in a pretty bad place and I was getting worse. Now, I’ve got an optimistic vision of my future and I’m working towards achieving it.” These are the words from 36-year-old Ara Shimoon. Learn how by working with his counsellor Cristina, Ara was able to create a positive shift in his life.

Read Ara’s Story

Paying it Forward

When we announced we were moving to a new space, Husky and Imperial responded to our need with a gift-in-kind of office furniture to help us furnish our new space. Thanks to their generous donation, we were able to pay it forward and give our existing office furniture to some deserving organizations.

Learn More

Ending Family and Domestic Abuse in Alberta

Family violence and domestic abuse continue to be prevalent in our community.

In November of 2016, we were pleased to participate in the 30th anniversary of Family Violence Prevention month here in Alberta.

Learn how we are working to help end the cycle of violence.

Learn More

Donor Profile – Canada Post Community Foundation

In 2016, the Canada Post Community Foundation made an investment to Calgary Counselling Centre to help support the expansion of our child and youth mental health counselling programs and services. The Canada Post Community Foundation aims to make a positive impact in the lives of children in the communities Canada Post serves.

Learn More

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and how to tell if you have it

You may have heard the term ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder before when describing people who tend to feel down during the colder and darker winter months. But what is Seasonal Affective Disorder and how does it differ from clinical depression?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a subtype of clinical depression that occurs during the winter season each year. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, symptoms first begin to appear as the days become shorter – usually in late fall and early winter and begin to subside by April or May.

The exact cause of SAD has yet to be determined but most experts agree that one of the key causes is a lack of sunlight as some reports suggest that there is a connection between vitamin D and the levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. A lack of sunlight has also been shown to upset our natural biological clock which controls our sleep-wake patterns.

What are the symptoms?

Generally speaking, medical professionals say that symptoms should occur for two consecutive winters without any other explanation to cause the changes in mood or behaviour in order to be accurately diagnosed with SAD.
Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Changes in appetite, in particular a craving for sweet or starchy comfort foods
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue or a decrease in energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Anxiety

Who is affected by SAD?

While statistics show that roughly anywhere from 2-5% of Canadians suffer from severe clinical depression, those who are considered to have SAD are part of the roughly 25-35% of Canadians that are simply described as suffering from ‘winter blues’ or seasonal depression.

While the weather and the amount of sunlight we receive has been shown to have a direct link to our mood, research has shown that SAD is more common in northern countries such as Canada. Research has also shown that SAD affects more women than men, 80% of those who are diagnosed with SAD are female.

Treatments for SAD and ways to conquer the winter blues

For those who are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or the winter blues there are treatments and solutions available to help you begin feeling better.

  • The most common form of treatment for people experiencing SAD or other seasonal mood disorders is light therapy. Get outside and get more sunlight when you can. Not only will the extra sunlight boost your Vitamin D levels, but it can also improve your mood. Winter is full of shorter and darker days and because of the cold weather most of us flock to indoor activities. Try keeping the blinds open and sit near windows where you can – and of course head outside during chinooks
  • If natural sunlight isn’t an option, a Light therapy (high intensity ultraviolet-filtered bright light) lamp may help by resetting your biological clock. Ask your doctor for more information.
  • Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Being active during the daytime, especially early in the day, may help you have more energy and feel less depressed.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement when you need it. Something as simple as a phone call, a chat over coffee, or an email can brighten your mood.
  • Register for counselling. Consider speaking to a counsellor at Calgary Counselling Centre. They can help you sort through your feelings and determine if it is just seasonal depression, or something more.

Register for Counselling

How to Cope With Debt and Unemployment Stress

In November of 2016, Alberta’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.0%. At this time last year, the same rate was at 6.9%. As unemployment continues to be a result of our current economic state, those who are managing the stress of tight finances or debt, need to know that it can take a toll on mental well-being but also be aware that help is available.

Unemployment can affect mental health in a number of ways including higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, increased risk of problematic substance abuse, and fear and uncertainty about the future. But it can also increase the risk of developing a mental illness or worsen existing symptoms.

According to a national survey, 42% of Canadians rank money as their biggest cause of stress.

Causing them to be more likely to lose sleep, argue with romantic partners, lie to family and friends and reconsider past financial decisions.

With a highly competitive job market, and several organizations not hiring, it can be difficult to navigate and accept your situation if you are currently out of work.

Coping with Unemployment

Here are a few tips to consider to help you cope with unemployment:

  • First and foremost, keep busy. It is important to not dwell on the situation and isolate yourself from friends, family and former colleagues. Getting out of the house, meeting new people and networking could help you identify and land a new opportunity.
  • If you find it difficult to keep busy and fill your time, consider making a daily schedule. Set-aside specific times during the day where you will focus on your job hunt. Creating a daily schedule, will help you establish a sense of normalcy and improve self-esteem as you accomplish tasks you have set out to complete.
  • Consider taking a course to build on or keep your professional skills up to date. If budget is a concern, look online for free webinars or tutorials.
  • Volunteer your time or skills to a local charity or organization.

By following these simple tips, you can help maintain a positive attitude and mental well-being as you continue your job search.

Dealing with Debt Stress

On average, households in Alberta have anywhere between $124,700 and $157,700 worth of debt. Research has shown that an increased amount of debt is directly correlated with greater depressive symptoms.

Debt can accumulate for a variety of reasons. Whether you have previous student loans or have been relying on credit while unemployed, there are things you can do the mitigate the amount of stress your debt is causing you.


The first step is accepting that your debt has become an issue. You may feel as though it has grown to be overwhelming and unmanageable and this is often an indicator that it is time to accept it has become an issue.

Getting Help

Once you have acknowledged your debt and are ready to take action there are a few ways you can get help.
First and foremost, there are several organizations in Calgary that can provide support and resources to help you manage your debt and become more money mindful.

Money Mentors, the Credit Counselling Society, and Momentum Money Management are all organizations with no fees that can help you assess your financial situation and help you come up with solutions to pay off your debt.

If you are in distress and need immediate financial support to pay for basic needs, the Red Cross, Distress Centre of Calgary and CUPS can all provide you with emergency relief funds.

Speak to a Counsellor

Once you have established a plan to address your finances, you may want to consider speaking with a counsellor to talk about the emotional impact of your debt. Debt and depression are often connected. In some cases, shopping and spending money can be used in an effort to boost your mood or happiness, in others shopping can be considered an addiction.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can all result from debt. A Calgary Counselling Centre counsellor can help you address any emotional issues your debt may have caused and help you identify other areas that may have played a role in creating debt as well.

At Calgary Counselling Centre, we understand that reaching out and asking for help can be difficult. If you are experiencing stress or depression as a result of unemployment or debt, we urge you to reach out for guidance. At The Centre, we are committed to providing counselling on a sliding scale, ensuring everyone can access counselling services.

The top 10 ways to deal with holiday stress

For many, the holidays are a joyful time filled with colourful twinkling lights, quality time with family and friends, and delicious food. But for some, this time of year creates or emphasizes depressive or anxious feelings. From the pressure of finding the perfect gift, tension between family, and financial strain to extra temptations to those who are battling eating disorders or addiction, the holiday season can quickly become an incredibly stressful time.
This holiday season, Calgary Counselling Centre encourages everyone to take care of their emotional well-being by following these 10 simple tips to find balance during this stressful time of year.

  1. Plan ahead: With competing priorities such as work deadlines, family plans and holiday activities it is easy to become burnt out. We recommend using a calendar to keep track of everything you need to do. Organizing your thoughts into lists is also a good way of outlining and prioritizing certain tasks such as gift shopping and meal planning. It is also important to not be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for help from family or friends if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Spend within your means: Especially with the current state of the economy it is important to not over-spend this holiday season. Decide on a budget that feels comfortable to you and try to stick to it. If you are feeling pressured to buy presents for several people, suggest a Secret Santa gift or cookie exchange instead.
  3. Maintain perspective: If finances limit your spending this holiday season, remember that you don’t need extravagant gifts or huge festivities to show your love. You just need to be there, to listen and to share the moment.
  4. Acknowledge your feelings: If you are feeling overwhelmed or upset, take a moment to acknowledge and express your emotions and tell yourself it is OK. If you have recently lost someone, or cannot be with your loved ones with this holiday, know that it is normal to feel sadness or grief.
  5. Be realistic: It is important to acknowledge that this holiday season may not be like the previous year. As families grow and change, traditions may change as well, but be open to accepting new traditions. If you cannot be with your loved ones face-to-face, consider sharing stories and pictures through email or video.
  6. Stay connected: Keep in contact with family and friends. Social support is vital to managing stress. Sometimes chatting with a friend or loved one can take your mind off of stress, allow you to relax and remind yourself it will be okay. You may even realize they are experiencing the same feelings as you, allowing you to have someone to share your feelings to.
  7. Take time for yourself: During the holidays, we are often so focused on the needs and wants of others we forget about our own. It’s important to give yourself a break during the holidays and make time to do something you enjoy every day.
  8. Don’t overindulge: It’s often difficult to say no to the tasty food and drinks during the holidays, but try to choose the items you can’t live without and enjoy them in moderation.
  9. Maintain healthy habits: Keep up with a healthy exercise routine, get plenty of sleep (eight hours per night) and choose healthy snacks when possible.
  10. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, participate in events offered around your community. Volunteering is another great way to make connections with new people, lift your spirits and give back.

While these tips are a great way to ensure your emotional and physical well-being this holiday season, it’s important to remember that if you need us, Calgary Counselling Centre is always here to help with no waitlist, a sliding fee scale based on income, and barrier-free access to counselling for all Calgarians.

Register for counselling today or call us at 403-691-5991.

Calgary Counselling Centre Holiday Hours:

Calgary Counselling Centre employees and students are taking some much deserved time with family and friends this holiday season. The Centre will be closed starting December 24 and will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.
Friday, December 23: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 24 – Saturday, December 31, 2016: CLOSED

Men Experience Domestic Abuse Too

There is a stigma around abuse. While rarely talked about in the media, more men and boys than ever before are coming forward to seek help for domestic abuse. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any age, ethnicity and gender. In fact, according to a domestic violence report produced by the Calgary Police Service in May of 2016, one in five victims of domestic conflict in our city were men.

Men and boys are just as much at risk of any type of family violence as women. While psychological and emotional abuse are the most common types, physical abuse does happen as well.

For men who are experiencing any form of abuse or conflict with an intimate partner or family member, it is important to know that at Calgary Counselling Centre, we have specialized programs available.

Research has shown that men are often reluctant to report abuse by an intimate partner because they feel embarrassed, they are worried they won’t be believed, or that authorities will assume that because they are male that they are the perpetrator and not the victim.

These notions have made it increasingly difficult for those experiencing abuse to come forward, leading to only 50% of men self-reporting abuse over the last five years.

Getting Help

There is never a wrong time to seek help or support. Admitting that there is a problem is not a sign of weakness or failure. Telling someone you trust is the first step, and without intervention the situation could get worse before it gets better.

Ending any relationship, especially an abusive one, is never easy. Often times, men who are experiencing abuse feel that they have to stay in the relationship for a variety of reasons:

    • Protecting the children. Some men may worry that if they leave, their partner may harm their children or prevent access to them.
    • Feeling ashamed. Many men feel ashamed that they have been beaten down by an intimate partner or that they failed in their role as a protector and provider for the family.
    • Religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs may say that you should stay in the relationship.
    • Lack of resources. Many men have difficulty being believed by authorities or their abuse is minimized because of their gender. This leads to a perception that there is a lack of available resources.
    • Same sex relationships. Men in same sex relationships who have not come out to their friends or family could be afraid that their partner will out them.

You’re in denial. Denying that there is a problem can be an easy solution to not address the issue. Many believe that they can help their abuser or have been promised a change.

If you are considering leaving your abusive partner, there are a few things to be aware of.

  • Be ready to leave. Be conscious of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they would a female victim.
  • Never retaliate. An abusive partner may try to provoke you into retaliating physical abuse or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, there is a chance you could be arrested and/or removed from your home.
  • Get evidence. Be sure to always report any incident to the police and get a copy of each police report. You could also consider keeping a journal of any instance of abuse with dates, times and any witnesses. Be sure to include photographs of any injuries and make sure your doctor or the hospital documents your injuries. Medical personnel are unlikely to ask men if they have been a victim of domestic violence, so be sure to speak up so the cause of your injuries is documented.
  • Keep evidence close at hand. If you have to leave a situation quickly, you may want to consider having the evidence of your abuse on a mobile phone or in a safe location outside of the home where you can easily access it.

Our programs for male victims of domestic abuse

Here at Calgary Counselling Centre, we can support men who are experiencing domestic abuse in a variety of ways.

Our Turn for the Better program is designed for men who have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. It explores the issues of abuse and offers methods to have a healthier life.

Additionally, we offer a Men’s Domestic Outreach program where individuals who are unsure about counselling and need support can meet with one of our counsellors in a neutral location, such as a coffee shop, and talk about their situation.

If you or someone you know may have experienced any of the above types of abuse, or need someone to talk to, we are here to help.

Talk to a counsellor today to learn more about our Turn for the Better and Male Domestic Abuse Outreach programs.


Help for Family Violence

Domestic and family violence continues to be prevalent in our community. It’s an issue that hurts families and impacts the community, yet talking about it is tough.

With over 85,000 victims of violent crimes reporting the person responsible was a family member, it is critical that those who are experiencing abuse know that help is available.

How we can help

Since 2006, The Wilson Centre for Domestic Abuse Studies here at the Calgary Counselling Centre, has been the leading research and training facility in North America for those affected by abuse.

Individuals interested in or referred to our domestic abuse program begin with individual counselling sessions, followed by an assessment to provide the counsellor with the client’s history with aggression or abuse. Counsellors then assess whether group participation is appropriate for the client, and if so, they are assigned to one of the four programs that we offer:

Responsible Choices for Men and Responsible Choices for Women:

Designed to help men/women who are abusive or aggressive in intimate relationships. Clients learn to be self-aware of their emotions and deal with them in a healthier manner. Positive relationships are modeled and taught in the group.

Turn For the Better:

This is a program designed for men who have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. The program explores issues of abuse and offers methods for healing from the effects of violence.

You Are Not Alone:

For women who have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. The group explores issues of abuse and offers methods for living life free from abuse.

Youth and child counselling services for domestic and family violence are also available for parents and children who are experiencing conflict.

By the Numbers

In 2015, the Calgary Counselling Centre responded to 8,230 requests for service. Of these, 511 clients specifically requested participation in one of our domestic abuse group programs. This resulted in over 2,500 hours of direct counselling services to offenders and victims.

How you can help

According to the Government of Alberta’s 2016 Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying Survey, 51% of Albertans believe that Family Violence occurs a lot/a fair bit in their communities.

However, they also responded that there are a variety of reasons that they might not step in and help during a family violence situation including:

  1. Being unsure of what action to take
  2. Feeling that it is a family matter and not their concern
  3. Being afraid of being harmed themselves
  4. Believing that involving the authorities could make the situation worse
  5. Believing it to be an isolated incident

If someone you know is experiencing family violence, here are some ways that you can provide support:

  • Listen, and take their concerns seriously. Coming forward and talking to someone you trust when you are experiencing conflict in a relationship takes courage. Many people assume that the person they tell will not believe them. The best thing you can do is listen and provide support.
  • Ensure that the person is in a safe environment. If you are concerned for their safety, talk about options available so they can remove themselves from the unsafe environment.
  • Encourage them to speak to a counsellor. We are committed to making counselling accessible to everyone, with fees determined on a sliding scale, with no waitlist
  • If they are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or the local authorities.

Family violence affects us all, and while there is no simple solution, it is important to know that change is achievable.

To learn more about our programs and services or to register for counselling, call 403-691-5991 or click here to schedule an appointment with a counsellor today.


National Family Violence Prevention Month – What is family violence?

Family Violence Prevention Month

November 2016, marks the 30th anniversary of Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta.

According to the Government of Alberta’s 2016 Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying Survey, 51% of Albertans think that family violence occurs a lot/a fair bit in their communities.

For concerned family and friends, it’s important to understand who experiences family violence, what the impacts are, and how together we can support those in need.

What is family violence?

Certain behaviours are considered family violence when they are used to harm or control members of their family or their intimate partner. Often times, these types of behaviours create direct and indirect impacts on health.

Family violence can come in the form of child abuse, elderly abuse or any type of family violence listed below between family members.

Types of family violence

  • Physical abuse: physical acts such as striking, pushing, slapping, or choking.
  • Sexual abuse: any type of forced sexual activity or coercion. Sexual contact with anyone under the age of 16 is a crime, as is sexual activity that exploits anyone under the age of 18.
  • Emotional abuse: using words or actions to affect someone’s emotions.
  • Financial abuse: the intent to misuse someone’s finances or property.
  • Neglect: not providing basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, health care and protection from harm.
  • Exposure: when children are aware that any of the abuses listed above are happening in their home.

What are the signs of family violence?

By educating the general public on the types and signs of family violence we can come together to end the cycle of violence. Often, people who are or have experienced a form of family violence are encouraged to reach out and tell someone they trust, but understandably this can be difficult.

While indicators of family violence aren’t always identifiable, some possible signs of someone experiencing family violence could include:

  • Bruising, cuts, breaks or sprains, or the general fear for safety
  • Intentional hiding of bruising or injuries with makeup or clothing
  • Dramatic change in dress or appearance
  • Lethargy, being easily distracted and dismissing fundamental needs such as eating
  • Severing or avoidance of personal relationships
  • Difficulty concentrating on work, school or other tasks

Who is at risk?

According to 2016 Family Violence in Canada Report produced by the Chief Public Health Officer, just under 9 million Canadians, or approximately one in three people, said they experienced some form of abuse before 15 years of age.

Women, children, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and those that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or questioning are at a greater risk of experiencing family violence and feeling its impacts.

However, men are just as susceptible to domestic abuse. According to a May 2016 report on domestic violence produced by the Calgary Police Service, one in five victims of domestic conflict is male.

Family violence counselling

These statistics are alarming and sobering. But it is important to know that help is available, counselling works and change is achievable. For the month of November, and every month, we at the Calgary Counselling Centre are committed to providing results-driven counselling services with no waitlist and no financial barrier to help end the cycle of violence.

To learn more about the family violence counselling services we offer, click here.

Need help or more information on family violence or domestic abuse?

Have you been acting in ways that make you feel uncomfortable? Are you feeling badly about how you have recently treated your child, partner or family member? If you or someone you know is exhibiting or experiencing these types of behaviours, we can help. Consider booking a session with a counsellor today. To register for counselling, click here, or call 403-691-5991.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or need of help, call 9-1-1 or your local police emergency number.