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Single Session Walk-in Counselling

Single-session counselling can provide you with the emotional support, feedback and ideas on how to make positive changes in your life. You may also receive referral information to other community supports and resources, websites, apps, books, articles or groups. Each counselling session is treated like a separate counselling experience. The counselling session is 50 minutes and is open to all persons 18 years of age and older.  

Single sessions are offered: 

In-person: As of April 11th, 2024, Family Service Toronto offers in-person single sessions at the Church Street location (3rd Floor, 355 Church St., Toronto, ON M5B 1Z8) from 3:00pm to 7:00pm weekly on Thursdays. Registration begins at 2:00pm and ends at  5:30pm. 

Virtual: Our counsellors offer a single telephone or video-counselling session. Community members are invited to access our virtual counselling program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling our Service Access Unit at 416-595-9618. As available, an appointment time will be booked for you with a counsellor on that day between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00pm. 

All Single Session Walk-in Counselling sessions, whether virtual or in-person, are provided free of charge.

Note:  Any callers who may need crisis support will be directed to the appropriate service. The service will be closed on weekends and statutory holidays. 

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Who can come?

The FST single-session counselling service is appropriate for adult individuals, couples, and families ages 18 and above. People come to the single session walk-in wanting help with a variety of issues that may include but are not limited to anxiety; depression; social isolation; interpersonal conflict; personal stress; trauma; relationship issues; parenting concerns; general emotional upset; coping with abuse. 

May I request a certain counsellor?

Due to the nature of the single-session model one cannot request a particular counsellor. We cannot guarantee that you will see the same counsellor if you return to the single session walk-in. Single-session counselling is not the same as on-going counselling where you see the same counsellor on a regular basis.

Can a single-session counselling really help?

There is a growing amount of research that shows that single-session counselling has a positive impact for many people because they get the help they want when they most need it.  Single-session counselling has been proven to decrease emotional distress in the short-term and may have positive long-term impact as well. Some people only need one or two counselling sessions to significantly improve their emotional well-being. Single-session counselling can help a person enhance their personal insight, access their healthy emotional resources, and develop useful coping strategies.  The single session can help people develop helpful coping skills which may assist in the wait for more long-term services.  The counsellor works collaboratively with each person to co-create a plan for support.  With very few accessible counselling resources in the City of Toronto, the walk-in single-session counselling service is a valuable service for those who want the help now.

Who are the counsellors and what is their training?

All counsellors are registered psychotherapists or social workers.

What will happen when I arrive at the Church Street location for the Thursday single-session walk-in?

Upon arriving  a receptionist will give you some paperwork that includes a one-page client information form, a brief questionnaire, and a service agreement. You will also be asked to read some information about your rights as a client and the Family Service Toronto privacy statement.

What language options are offered for counselling sessions?

While Single Session Walk-in Counselling is always available in English, many of the counsellors on the team speak other languages. If you require counselling in a specific language, please contact the Service Access Unit, who will advise you as to whether we have a counsellor who speaks that language and when that counsellor may be available.   

What is the single-session questionnaire?

The questionnaire is to help people focus their thoughts on a single issue that is of most concern to them at the time they are at the session.  Some of the questions are:

  • What concern brought you here today?
  • What would be important for us to know about the background of this concern?
  • What would be one thing that would make you feel that things will get better?
  • What things have you tried in coping with this concern?
  • What made you decide to seek counselling support now?
  • Have you ever had counselling support in the past?

How long will I need to wait before being seen for in-person single-sessions?

Registration for the in-person single-session begins at 2 pm for first and second-time clients. Wait time is based on the volume of clients. Our last appointment starts at 6 pm. Please be aware that due to capacity issues, it may not be possible to see all people who come to the in-person single-session on a given day.

Is childcare/child-minding provided?

Family Service Toronto is not able to provide child-care/child minding services during the session.  If you have young children who require supervision, please ensure that you make arrangements for their care before you come to the walk-in.  Children are not allowed to attend counselling sessions with their parents/guardians due to the sensitive nature of the sessions that are held. This includes babies.

What if I don’t want anyone to know that I accessed the Single-session Service?

Counselling at Family Service Toronto is strictly CONFIDENTIAL. The limitations to confidentiality include (1) If there is a safety or abuse concern about a minor (16 years old or under); (2) If client indicates that s/he may be an immediate physical threat to her/himself or another; (3) If the counsellor is subpoenaed by the court.

Can I return to the single-session service for more than 3 sessions?

People who have had three single-session consultations within a 12-month period can only register for the in-person sessions at 5:30 pm on Thursdays and they will be offered the last time slot only if capacity allows.

For the virtual single session: If you have had 3 sessions within a 12-month period, you may request a session, however you will be placed on standby, and priority will be given to clients who have not previously accessed the service.

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