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Child & Youth Counselling
child and youth clients
counselling sessions
child and youth clients accessed counselling online via telehealth
parent support sessions

The Child and Youth Counselling Program provides no-fee, trauma-centred individual counselling for clients ages 3 to 17, group counselling for youth ages 13 to 17, and information and support for their family members.


Child and youth counsellors recognize that a client’s path to healing varies greatly and that it may move through different stages along the way. The counselling offered at SACE is client led, which means that the client is in charge of what they choose to incorporate into their own healing process. In the case of young people, child and youth counsellors work with the child or youth and their family to determine what therapy might look like. There is no perfect or ideal way for someone to heal. Our counsellors understand that this process is not linear, and will support clients where they are in this process.

Moments of Learning

Supporting children and youth impacted by sexual violence requires understanding the legalities associated with custody and guardianship, as separation and divorce is an element in many of the cases that we see. In order to ensure that we are offering accurate information and that our policies reflect the legalities of guardianship, this year the Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) met with the Child and Youth Counselling Program to explore issues pertaining to parenting rights, guardianship, and consent. These conversations resulted in updating policies related to consent processes. Our policies addressing who must consent for a child or youth to access services now ensure that the rights of legal caregivers are being held in mind within each step of the process. While there are many challenges with this shift in policy, it ensures that families are receiving accurate information, and complexities are not being introduced to any future legal matters. An outcome of this will be an increased need for parenting orders. While this creates an additional initial barrier to accessing services, it ensures that caregivers have the appropriate documentation not only for counselling at SACE, but also to make decisions for their child’s care and well-being.

Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC)
SACE playroom entrance with bean bags, shelf of play therapy toys and a playhouse for dolls.
SACE playroom with shelves full of action figures and a sandbox with a kid sized chair.
SACE playroom with two green bean bags in front of a quilted picture of mountains.
SACE playroom with stuffed animals, costumes and play therapy toys

Child and Youth Counselling Program Development Highlights

In many cases the services a client accesses at SACE are only one part of longer-term therapeutic interventions. Because many of the children and youth accessing services through SACE have experienced other forms of complex trauma in addition to sexual violence, referrals are frequently made to programs such as the Trauma Program at CASA. Since the clients across these programs often overlap, a direct referral route between SACE and the Trauma Program at CASA is being piloted.  

Previously, access to this specialized Trauma Program required a multi-step referral process that could include multiple waitlists and assessments. The direct referral pilot project allows each participating program to directly refer five clients a month to the other program’s waitlist. Release forms signed at the time of the referral support therapists to ensure smoother transitions and support continuity of care. The hope of this pilot is to significantly reduce barriers that families can experience when accessing services in multiple community agencies.

CASA Mental Healtth
of children demonstrated a reduction in trauma symptoms

Stuffed toys generously donated by Parkland County

Community Impact

Supporting children and youth impacted by violent crimes such as sexual abuse or assault requires understanding of legal obligations related to reporting. Numerous community agencies, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and other professionals reach out to the Child and Youth Counselling Program and broader Clinical Department at SACE for guidance in navigating these processes. Reporting disclosures of child sexual abuse presents numerous challenges due to varied interpretations of the existing legislation. This can result in children and youth not always being protected by the laws and systems in place to do that very thing. Through the development of collaborative relationships, the clinical team is exploring ways to support clarity in reporting processes, and SACE hopes to develop resources to provide support to community members and organizations navigating these challenges. 

“(As a result of counselling we have come) together closer as a family, building confidence in our selves.”

– Parent of a SACE client

“In the absolute worst time of our family’s life SACE was there providing support for both my child and myself.”

– Parent of a SACE client

“It has made me feel better as a person because it feels like there has been a weight lifted off my shoulder. I don’t have nightmares every couple days anymore.”

–  SACE client

Your donations help SACE offer no-fee services and support to thousands of individuals affected by sexual violence in Edmonton every year.

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