Graduating from high school helps ensure future success in terms of career choices, income, family health and stability, and participation in community life. Yet, all children of all ages and income levels face barriers to doing so when confronted with financial or social challenges or the overwhelming pressure to succeed.

The Family Centre currently provides mental health therapists in 15 schools to improve the educational experience for students and staff. We believe children should not be judged solely on their misconduct or grades; we should aim to understand and support the underlying reasons for their behaviour. Those who access our therapists sometimes face multiple stressors, such as poverty, abuse, or addiction, and would not typically access therapy services otherwise. Other times, they may have experienced a trauma or are struggling to meet expectations.

In addition to supporting students, mental health therapists work with their family, community, and teachers to help them better understand children who have gone through trauma. This includes educating the community about the impact of trauma on the developing brain. We believe reaching children and youth while they are in school is the best way to encourage future success.

How does it work?
Once a child is referred to us, mental health therapists provide a combination of counselling and group work, customized for the child and their family.

In schools and the community, therapists are part of an integrated service delivery team. They work collaboratively with other service providers in a ‘circle of support’ model for children and their families. Their goal is to make community networks for families stronger, and facilitate support for those who need it most.

Who can participate?
Our mental health therapists see children and adolescents who have been referred through a teacher or the principal at their school. Often, parents will be asked to participate in the process as we aim to support the whole family.

What issues do the therapists address?
To help young people and families overcome the barriers and challenges that inhibit learning and development, and stop kids from completing high school, we focus on:
Children engaged in high-risk behaviours (e.g., drug and alcohol abuse)
Bullying and conflict resolution in school and peer environments
Chaotic, unhealthy home environments
Dysfunctional and dangerous relationships (e.g., participation in gangs)
The debilitating stress of living in extreme poverty
The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome
Children experiencing the effects of abuse and trauma
Parental dysfunction and child neglect

When and where is it offered?
Therapy services in the community are available only through our partnering schools. This is a current list [link] of the schools where this support is available.
If your child’s school is listed, please contact the school principal to discuss a referral.

How can we get a mental health therapist in our school?
Please have your school’s principal contact:
William Smiley, Therapy and Counselling Manager
Phone: 780.917.8215

For general information, please contact the intake office:
Phone: 780.424.6103

How much does it cost?
There is no cost to participating families.
Mental health therapists are funded by The City of Edmonton – Family and Community Support Services, United Way of the Capital Region, or directly by participating schools.

“The Family Centre’s team had a tremendous, positive impact on our school. Their expertise and professionalism gained them the respect of staff and students alike. They provided much-needed supports for many children this year, who may not have had access to counselling otherwise. They were able to set up Girls Group and Boys Group in addition to individual counselling sessions. They have become valued members of our community.”
Lorelei Hironaka
Assistant Principal
St. Francis of Assisi School