SACE offers individual and group counselling for people who have experienced sexual violence, including sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. These trauma-informed specialized support services are available for clients of all genders ages 3 and up. Counselling is provided by professionals who have completed, or have nearly completed, a Master’s-level Counselling programs, and the department operates under the parameters of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP).
Counselling should be empowering, as such we believe that the person seeking counselling is the expert of their own experience. Our model for counselling helps clients to cope with the impacts of sexual violence, from feelings of anger, grief, and anxiety to re-engaging with sexuality, relationships, and trust. Clients of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and ages are 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.
Healing is Possible
At SACE we believe that healing is possible. Individual paths to healing vary greatly with different stages along the way. During counselling you are in charge of what you choose to incorporate into your own healing process. The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre website has a great Approaches to Healing resource. Your counsellor will work with you to determine what works best for you. There is no perfect or ideal way for someone to heal. Our counsellors understand that this process isn’t linear and will support you where you are at.
At SACE our number one priority is client safety. Questions asked during the Intake and Counselling processes are used to assess safety of clients, identify existing supports, and ensure effective use of counselling resources and 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 those individuals struggling with managing mental health, disordered eating, addictions, housing instability, or active suicidality have additional supports in place.
Clients who have been sexually violent are not able to access our services. 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.
- 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 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 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 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
Everyone’s healing journey is unique and for some people counselling can be a valuable part of their process. Adults of all genders may attend up to 15 no-fee individual counselling sessions as well as various group therapy options. Counselling at SACE focuses on building emotional stability and providing adults with tools to support them with their healing.
- Call the SACE main office at 780.423.4102 to make an appointment with our Client Care Specialist
- The Client Care Specialist will phone you at the time of your appointment to complete the 30-minute phone-intake
- After this conversation, you will be placed on the waiting list and the Client Care Specialist can provide options for support while you wait
- The Client Care Specialist will contact you when a counsellor is available
SACE offers up to 15 weekly, one-hour sessions of counselling at no fee and, prior to counselling, individuals on the waitlist have the option of attending Skills for Change.
Therapeutic approaches include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Body based therapy – Hakomi, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Experiencing (SE), Movement Therapy
- Play Therapy
- Expressive Art Therapy
What is the first session of counselling like?
In the first session, your counsellor will ask questions to build on your history obtained during the intake process, discuss confidentiality, and obtain consent for counselling. Counsellors will also inquire about possible symptoms of stress and coping strategies. Preparation for Counselling has additional information about what questions might be asked and the reasoning behind them.
Because SACE counselling prioritizes emotional safety, an important first step for the counselling process is gaining a sense of the individual’s goals for counselling. During this discussion, the first session, and the entirety of your counselling experience you are in control of what you speak about.
Group counselling is designed for clients who have already accessed individual counselling. Our varied counselling programs are offered as demand allows with some groups occurring more frequently than others.
Groups are not offered in a drop-in format. 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.
Adult group counselling programs offered include:
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.
- 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
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 1.800.387.5437, the Edmonton Police Service 780.423.4567 or local RCMP.
What is the first session with the guardian like?
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 consent for counselling 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 discuss confidentiality. Counsellors will also inquire about possible observed symptoms of stress and coping strategies. Preparation for Counselling has additional information about what questions might be asked and the reasoning behind them.
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.
Children typically engage in play therapy using the Child and Youth Program’s play therapy space. Here, children express their feelings using various therapeutic toys (sand tray, puppets, paints, clay, etc.). Play therapy provides a safe way for them to share their feelings and emotions about the sexual abuse.
Click here to learn more about Play Therapy.
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 a 2-hour information session for people who are supporting friends or family through their healing journey. To find out when the next Supporters’ Night is, call SACE at 780.423.4102.
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 am to 9 pm 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.