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Counselling

The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) offers individual and group counselling for people who have been affected by sexual violence, for example, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Counselling is provided by professionals who have completed, or are enrolled in, recognized counselling degree programs.

As a feminist-based organization, we believe that the individual seeking counselling is the expert of their own experience. SACE believes that sharing knowledge, skills, and perceptions is therapeutically effective. Clients at SACE will be treated with respect and dignity in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment.

SACE does not charge clients a fee for counselling services or for participation in groups. However, donations are welcome and greatly appreciated, and will help us improve the services offered and reduce waiting times. Tax receipts will be provided for any donations made.

 

Confidentiality

Counselling is conducted in a confidential manner. Information related to counselling at SACE is only released to other professionals with a client's written permission, with the exception of other counsellors at SACE, and the counsellor's supervisor. No information, either written or verbal, gained during the counselling process will be used for the purposes of resolving child custody and access disputes. Client files for adults are destroyed after ten years of inactivity. Client files for children and adolescents are destroyed ten years after the individual turns 18.

SACE adheres to the Alberta Social Work and the Canadian Psychological Association Codes of Ethics. Anything you say in a counselling or group session will be considered confidential with the exception of:

  • Information which leads us to perceive a child (under 18) is at risk of physical, emotional, sexual violence, or neglect as we are legally bound to report such concerns to authorities under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act
  • Information which leads us to perceive that the elderly or anyone who is vulnerable (mentally or physically challenged) is at risk of physical, emotional, sexual violence or neglect as we are legally bound to report such concerns to the appropriate authorities
  • Information which leads us to believe that you are in danger of harming yourself or others
  • Files subpoenaed by courts

 

Are you ready for Counselling at SACE?

Do you have safe and secure housing? Is your life currently free from abuse or violence?

During the healing process, having a safe place to go is important. The counselling process can bring up emotions that may cause a person to feel tired or out of sorts, and being able to go to a safe home after sessions is crucial. We encourage people to find stable housing, in an environment free from violence prior to engaging in counselling at SACE.

Are you currently struggling with an addiction, such as with drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, or sex? Are you currently struggling with an addictive eating disorder?

Some survivors of sexual abuse and assault have used alcohol, drugs, eating, etc. in the past to help cope. During counselling, when a person is focusing on memories of the past abuse or assault, those coping strategies can be re-activated. We want to ensure everyone receiving counselling at SACE has additional support if they are working through addictions or eating disorders, because we have limited ability to offer support in these areas.

Are you actively suicidal?

If a person is actively suicidal, beginning counselling for sexual assault or abuse can be destabilizing. Because a person's safety is a priority, we recommend delaying counselling at SACE while a person is actively suicidal. If anyone seeking counselling at SACE is acting on their suicidal thoughts, we refer them to a hospital or their family physician.

Do you currently have a mental health diagnosis, which requires support, for example, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia? Are you receiving support from a doctor or psychiatrist?

If you are aware that you have a mental health diagnosis and are not receiving treatment, it is recommended that you seek treatment for the mental health concerns before receiving counselling at SACE. Early stages of counselling for sexual abuse or assault can destabilize an individual. We want to ensure individuals with mental health diagnoses are receiving the support they require, which SACE may not be able to provide.

 

Benefits & Limits to SACE

Benefits to attending counselling at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton include:

  • Our counsellors are experts in trauma counselling
  • We provide support and advocacy
  • We provide education on sexual assault and abuse
  • We provide our services with no charge to clients and are accessible to those who seek counselling
  • We provide both individual and group counselling
  • We provide counselling for all genders, children, adolescents, and adults
  • We use a feminist, client centered approach that understands each individual is the expert of their experience

Limits to services at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton include:

  • Limited number of individual sessions (15 sessions)
  • Potential wait times to access services
  • We are unable to provide adequate support for other issues an individual may be going through, such as addictions, mental health concerns, etc.
  • We do not offer services to individuals who have engaged in sexual offending behavior over the age of 12. In other words, we do not offer services to any person who, when they were 12 years old or older, sexually abused or assaulted another individual. We have this policy to ensure the emotional safety of our clients and respect their right to comfort and security when accessing services.
  • We do not offer services to individuals who are currently viewing child pornography. We have this policy to ensure the emotional safety of our clients and respect their right to comfort and security when accessing services.
  • We offer counselling sessions a maximum of once per week
  • We offer counselling sessions in person and at the SACE office

 

What is the first session of counselling like?

The first session of counselling at SACE will involve:

  • Paperwork – We will ask for consent for counselling, and ask some questions regarding the individual's history and how the sexual abuse or assault has affected them
  • We will gain a sense of the individual's goals for counselling as we see this as an important first step for the counselling process

 

Once an individual is a client at SACE

Some additional things to know about receiving counselling at SACE include:

  • Individual counselling sessions last no more than one hour
  • Once a group session has reached its maximum number of participants, individuals who have not gone through an intake process will have to wait until the next group session to join.
  • If an individual misses a counselling session without giving notice, or cancels a session within 24 hours of the session, the session will count towards the total number of sessions an individual is able to access. For example, we have a fifteen session limit for counselling. If a client misses their third session without giving notice, it will still count as their third session out of fifteen.
  • If an individual is 15 minutes or more late for a session, this cancels the session and counts as one of their total number of sessions at SACE
  • SACE holds a zero tolerance policy regarding abuse towards staff. Threatening and disrespectful conduct will result in the immediate termination of services between SACE and the client