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Everyone’s healing journey is unique

SACE offers individual child and youth counselling for young people who have experienced sexual violence, including sexual abuse and sexual assault. These trauma-centred, specialized support services are available for clients of all genders, ages 3 to 17.

of children demonstrated a reduction in trauma symptoms
New child & youth clients in 2019
A photo of the child and youth counselling playroom shows a sand tray and shelves full of figurines used for therapeutic play
A photo of the child and youth counselling playroom shows an easel and rack full of puppets used for therapeutic play

Preparation for Counselling

At SACE, our number one priority is client safety.

Questions asked during the Intake and Counselling processes are used to assess:

Clients safety
Identify existing supports
Ensure effective use of counselling
Ensure best outcomes for clients

SACE services are approached from a place of nonjudgement. Counselling can be destabilizing and due to the specialized, short-term nature of SACE counselling services it is not possible to address core impacts of sexual violence until a level of stability is attended to. It is important that before and during counselling, clients struggling with their mental health, disordered eating, addictions, housing or family instability, or active suicidality have additional supports in place.

SACE is not able to offer services to individuals who have had a history of sexual offending behaviours after the age of 12. This is for the safety and emotional wellbeing of our clients who attend the centre. For information about services that work with people who have been sexually violent please contact 211, Alberta’s information and referral service.

We believe counselling should be empowering.

Our model for child and youth counselling helps clients to cope with the impacts of sexual violence, from feelings of anger, grief, and anxiety, to developmental and behavioural issues, to relationships and trust.

sace services

SACE does not charge clients a fee for counselling services or for participation in groups.

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Clients of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and ages are treated with respect and dignity in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment.

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling is available for children and youth between the ages of 3 and 17. Prior to accessing counselling, the sexual abuse or assault must have been reported to police or child welfare authorities, although charges or convictions are not necessary.

Reports can be made to the:

Child Abuse Hotline

Edmonton Police Service

Alberta RCMP

  • Call the SACE main office at 780.423.4102 to speak with our Client Care Specialist, who will complete the intake process
  • After this conversation, the individual receiving counselling will be placed on the waiting list
  • The Client Care Specialist will contact you when a counsellor is available

The first session of counselling at SACE will be a meeting between the legal guardian(s) and the counsellor, generally without the child/youth present. For minors to access counselling, consent must be obtained from all legal guardians. If there is concern about the ability or safety of obtaining consent from a guardian please discuss this with the Client Care Specialist.

In the first session, the counsellor will ask questions to build on the history obtained during the intake process, and to discuss confidentiality. Counsellors will also ask about possible observed symptoms of stress and coping strategies. 

  • 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.
  • 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

Counselling is provided by professionals who have completed, or have nearly completed, a Master’s-level Counselling program, and the department operates under the parameters of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP).

College Of Alberta Psychologists Logo
Canadian Psychological Association

Healing is Possible

At SACE we believe that healing is possible. Individual paths to healing vary greatly, with different stages along the way. Children and youth are resilient and can heal from sexual abuse and assault with the support of family, friends and community. For many children and youth counselling can be an important part of their healing process.

Your child’s counsellor will work with you and your child to support their feelings of safety. There is no perfect or ideal way for someone to heal. If at any time throughout the process you have concerns or questions about your child’s wellbeing or behaviour, talk to an intake worker or your child’s counsellor.

Hug? High Five? Nothing? Support children's boundaries to prevent sexual violence against children and youth

What is counselling like for children and youth?

Counselling focuses on improving how the child or youth copes with the trauma (coping mechanisms) and works through issues related to sexual abuse or assault.

Approaches to counselling vary depending on the individual’s age and interests.

Play Therapy

While different forms of talk therapy are also commonly used, particularly with older children and youth, most of the kids who access counselling at SACE engage in play therapy of some form. In our play therapy space, kids express their feelings using various therapeutic toys and tools (sand tray, puppets, games, paints, clay, etc.). Play therapy provides a safe way for them to share their feelings and emotions about the sexual abuse.

SACE Services Psychoeducation

Support for Caregivers

Sexual abuse impacts the family and friends of those who experience it. After a child or youth discloses, those around them may find themselves in crisis. About once a month, SACE hosts an in-person information session or online course for people who are supporting friends or family through their healing journey.

SACE Services Group Counselling

Group Counselling

Currently, there is one group offering in our Child and Youth Counselling Program: the Who I Am Now: Trauma & Healing in Adolescence Group. The SACE Who I Am Now group provides space for femme-identified and non-binary youth aged 13 to 17 to process experiences of sexual violence in an environment focused on strength, resilience, and community. This group is held based on demand: we invite youth or their caregivers to call SACE to find out about whether this group is a good fit, and when the next series will be offered.

Support is also available to people affected by the abuse of children and youth in their lives through the SACE Support and Information Line from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at 780.423.4121

Group counselling is designed for clients who have already accessed individual counselling and programs are offered as demand allows. Once a group session has reached its maximum number of participants, individuals who have not completed an intake will have to wait until the next group session to join.

Resource Package

To support you before and during your child’s time in counselling at SACE, this resource package includes information about what counselling is like, understanding how trauma impacts a child, and how to support your child during counselling.


Counselling at SACE is conducted in a confidential manner. Information related to counselling 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 are retained based on current College of Alberta Psychologists guidelines.

SACE adheres to the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) 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) or other vulnerable individual is at risk of physical, emotional, or sexual violence or neglect, as we are legally bound to report such concerns to authorities under Section 4 of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act
Information which leads us to believe that you are in danger of harming yourself or others
Files subpoenaed during a court proceeding
Where otherwise required by law

When you start counselling at SACE, your counsellor will obtain your informed consent for counselling services and will further explain these limits to confidentiality.

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