From when we first opened our doors in the basement of the Calgary Central United Church in 1962, to our new space on the tenth floor of the Kahanoff Centre, Calgary Counselling Centre has always been committed to providing the best mental health support to people in our community.

In the 56 years since we started offering our counselling services, Calgary has grown exponentially and changed dramatically. Economic busts have followed the booms. Throughout every economic cycle we’ve remained steadfast in our purpose of serving our community. Along the way, we’ve grown with our city. We too have changed to make sure we are always offering the programs and services that individuals, families and the overall community need. This has meant new programs developed to address specific community needs, a no waitlist policy to ensure that anyone will get the help they need when they need it and with no barriers of language, financial or of any other kind.

Calgary continues to grow, adapt and change, and so do we. In 2017 we helped more people than ever before. As we look ahead toward the end of the decade, we are committed to continue to be a constant and reliable source of support and deliver the best counselling to achieve the best results for our clients. From the church basement to the tenth floor, we are always here for our community.

Rick Whitley, Board Chair

Message from the Board

In this, my first year as Board Chair, I have been heartened to see the community’s response to the growing need for mental health services through their ongoing support for the Calgary Counselling Centre.

In 2017, as Southern Alberta continued to recover from a long-standing recession — with the very real human toll that comes along with the dire economic indicators — Calgary Counselling Centre experienced a spike in the number of people requesting service. With the support of our community, we were able to meet the growing demand.

With the new space at the Kahanoff Centre — which included 25 per cent more room for counselling services and a specialized play area for children — and a dedicated team of counsellors, staff and volunteers, Calgary Counselling Centre is able to continue to expand the provision of excellent service to those in need.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I’d like to thank the staff and volunteers of Calgary Counselling Centre who have worked so hard at serving those in our community.

As you read the 2017 Annual Report, my hope is that you too are heartened by the support from the community that allows Calgary Counselling Centre to help thousands of children and youth, families and individuals, and ensure the well-being of our community every day of the year.

— Rick Whitley

Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO

Message from the CEO

In 2017, the brutal economic recession that has impacted our community for the last several years technically ended, but its effects are still hurting thousands of Calgarians — many of whom are using our services. 2017 also saw Canada’s 150th anniversary, and to mark that occasion, Calgary Counselling Centre posted stories from some of our clients. We shared videos and essays to try to help others muster the courage they may need to seek help improving their mental health.

Stories like Graham’s: he’s always battled anxiety and depression but when he was laid off, he started drinking heavily and using a lot of drugs. Eventually the young man found the courage to ask for help dealing with his “bucket of feelings and emotions and thoughts and self-doubts.” After a period of counselling, Graham’s mindset began to change. He now has this message to share with others:

“It can be really powerful, and you’ll figure out stuff about yourself that you never ever thought you would. It can help you reset the path that you’re on. You have everything in the world to gain.”

In 2017, our counsellors spent 36,288 hours with clients like Graham who came to us looking for help. While the economic situation improved in 2017, and we saw a decrease in the proportion of our clients that are unemployed and looking for work, we also saw that the average level of distress of our clients is still increasing.

We also saw more youth under stress, a troubling development which may or may not be linked to the economy. We’re seeing anxiety and depression in kids across the country and we know there is a link between the use of social media and phones and anxiety. It’s having all kinds of repercussions, developmentally and socially.

We’ve settled into our new home at the Kahanoff Centre where we continue to provide barrier-free access to our services — we have no wait list and a sliding scale for fees. We remain dedicated to inspiring our clients to change their lives for the better.

— Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner

Our Difference


  • 41

    Full/Part Time Staff

  • 60


  • 85


  • 14


  • 7

    Summer Students


  • 162

    Total Volunteers

  • 22,919

    Total Volunteer Hours


  • Richard (Rick) Whitley (Chair)


  • Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner

    Calgary Counselling Centre

  • Susan Cassidy

    Alberta Energy Regulator

  • Jocelyne Daw

    JS Daw & Associates

  • Kim Jones


  • Davin Kivisto


  • Nancy Laird

    Community Volunteer

  • Mary Lougheed

    Alberta Health Services

  • Tim Moro

    Hill & Knowlton Strategies

  • Jennifer Pendura

    University of Alberta

  • Wendy Tynan

    Direct Energy

  • Barbara Zach

    Community Volunteer

Board members who retired in June 2017

  • Roman Cooney

    TransAlta Corporation

  • Rod McKay

    Community Volunteer

  • Bill Smith

    Barrister & Solicitor

Our Funders

We want to thank the funders that have supported our work this year. Your support has enabled us to impact the lives of thousands of Calgarians.

Calgary Foundation
Alberta Health Services
RBC Foundation
Alberta Culture and Tourism
United Way
Clearwater Charitable Foundation
Calgary Herald Christmas Fund
Alberta Children’s Services
City of Calgary
Emergency Resilience Fund


Calgary Counselling Centre provides highly effective and affordable counselling services that deliver the best results for our clients. As the effects of the economic downturn continue to reverberate through our community, we are seeing an increased demand for our services.  We remain committed to providing barrier-free access with a sliding-fee scale and no waitlist.  We offer counselling services in more than 12 languages.

We use Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) to measure the emotional state of our clients at the beginning and end of every session. These questionnaires ensure the highest results for our clients. Since the economic downturn we’ve also been tracking the correlation between our client’s distress levels and the state of the economy. 

In April 2017, Atlantic Magazine featured our FIT model in the article "What Your Therapist Doesn't Know." It was also outlined in a chapter of a new book: The Cycle of Excellence: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Supervision and Training.  CCC is being internationally recognized for its groundbreaking and revolutionary work that is resulting in the highest client results in the industry.

With our true focus of delivering the best results for our clients and addressing mental health in our community, CCC collaborates with many different organizations and corporations. It takes the whole community to address mental health. As a result, CCC was nominated for the United Way Spirit of Gold Award in the "Together We Can" category for collaborating with other agencies to decrease service fragmentation.

We are working with the Emergency Wellness Response Team coordinated by the City Emergency Management Agency to help people removed from their homes in natural disasters deal with the trauma and emotional stress of that experience.  We are one of a number of organizations that will pool resources to offer a coordinated response in times of crisis.  And we are helping plan Psychological First Aid training to enhance emergency response.

During Stampede, CCC worked with the Prostate Cancer Centre and the Man Van to pilot mental health screening for men and boys by going into the community with the Man Van team and promoting mental health awareness.

Our Brief Intervention Caregiver Support Team (BICS) is working with Calgary Children’s Services and other partners to help families in the foster care and kinship system build resiliency and prevent placement breakdown.

Wilson Centre for Domestic Abuse Studies

Named for the generosity of W. Brett Wilson and his family, the Wilson Centre for Domestic Abuse Studies at Calgary Counselling Centre is a vital resource for those affected by domestic abuse and uses an innovative approach to create outstanding results. On average, 80% of men who start a program through the Wilson Centre complete the program, as compared to average completion rates of 40% to 60% elsewhere in North America. The Centre also has the largest and most comprehensive domestic abuse research database in Canada, a resource that is used often by professionals across the North America.

In 2017, the Wilson Centre hired a coordinator who conducted both a community-based survey and presentations on honour based violence (HBV), a form of domestic abuse committed in the name of 'honour.'

The survey, organized with five other agencies in the city that work in the area of domestic abuse, explored the capacity of service providers to deal with HBV. Results show 47.4% of the community providers surveyed feel they don’t have adequate training or sufficient support to address HBV and 95% of community members surveyed feel there are insufficient supports.  By understanding what service providers need, we can better address HBV among relevant ethno-cultural populations.

After seeing presentations on HBV in 2017, 56.8% of respondents reported an enhanced capacity to deal with the issue. About 41% reported the presentation would be of great use in their professional field or as a member of the community.

Bridging the gap between agencies and community needs will help vulnerable people and strengthen neighborhoods. The project continues in 2018 offering training and education to help service providers and develop response strategies based on knowledge and good practice rather than stereotypes and misguided beliefs about culture and religion.


Our Defy Depression campaign is raising awareness that depression is highly treatable. One of the key initiatives is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) where we encourage people to take a short, easy-to-complete and anonymous online screening test and urge people with depressive symptoms to seek help. With the help of our media sponsor, Bell Let’s Talk, and our community outreach sponsor, Alberta Blue Cross, we saw more than four times the number of Calgarians take part in 2017 than the year before. In October, 9,094 people in our city took part in the online exercise and overall 50,703 participated. 17% of participants were “strongly recommended” for further evaluation while 43% were “recommended” for evaluation of depression. The screening test was also available during Mental Health Awareness Week in May where 7,000 tests were taken.

Children & Youth

When children under 12 participate in counselling, a parent completes an outcome questionnaire on their behalf. When youth over 12 participate, the youth completes the questionnaire and their parent completes a separate questionnaire. A third of children under 18 who participated in more than one session improved or recovered, as reported by parents. The youth also reported improvement — 43.1% age 3–17 and 49% for 17–24.

We offer the only two group programs in the city that with specialized services that requires the participation of children and their parents and caregivers — Responsible Choices for Children and Children of Divorce. These programs identify and treat a number of issues in children and youth including: depression, anxiety, self-esteem, bullying, domestic conflict, eating disorders and more. Children and youth are referred to these group programs as they finish individual counselling. That way we ensure they are getting the best treatment for their specific emotional issues. CCC’s research shows people who take group as well as individual counselling feel like they are not alone and often see better results. We also incorporate play therapy into our children’s counselling program, a program that has been enhanced with our new play therapy room.


Last year, 42 couples participated in our Marriage Preparation Workshops. The monthly workshop, for couples in any stage in their relationship, helps develop communications, conflict resolution and other important skills.

High River Counselling Centre

Education & Training

We have been educating students since the beginning.  In 1962 we had one student. As a national leader in training in psychology, social work and marriage and family therapy, we worked with 145 undergraduate and graduate students in 2017. Our students receive invaluable hands-on experience and participate in weekly integrated theory seminars. They also take part in observation labs where they are supervised live, ensuring they learn best practices. In fact our students regularly achieve results that are slightly higher than more experienced counsellors, a testament to their dedication and our supervisors outstanding guidance.

Through the Haskayne Learning Centre, we teach the next generation of frontline service providers at the largest non-university based training facility of its kind in Western Canada. Every year our Centre of Excellence sees an increase in applications and we routinely have more applications than available space.

In 2017, our Post Graduate Residency Program was reaccredited by the Federal Government. Every year, we renew our strategic training plan to ensure the next generation of counsellors is learning how to use outcome measurements to best help their clients reach their goals.

Our counsellors and staff participate in ongoing professional development and training to ensure we are always adapting to the changing needs of our clients.



Our community continues to feel the devastating effects of the economic downturn. While the economic indicators are improving, and fewer of our clients are unemployed and looking for work, we are also seeing an increase in the average level of distress of our clients.

Results from the 2017 National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) underscore this. In October 2017, with the help of our media sponsor, Bell Let’s Talk, and our community outreach sponsor, Alberta Blue Cross, a record 9,094 people in and around Calgary, out of a total 50,703 took the online depression-screening test that was developed by the Harvard Department of Psychiatry. The results show that 60% of the respondents are “recommended” or “highly recommended” to seek further evaluation for depression.

Our partners are a crucial part of NDSD. Together we are working to raise awareness of depression and reach those who may be in dire need of help. We have more than 33 corporate and post-secondary partnerships - relationships that help us adapt to the needs in the community and support other organizations.

Our Research


Ongoing and leading-edge research is a cornerstone for the work that we do at Calgary Counselling Centre. We have more than six research projects underway in our high quality research program. We collaborate with other researchers, publish our findings in peer-reviewed journals and present our findings at national and international conferences.

Our use of Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) sets us apart and gives us reliable information on outcome measurement that achieves a number of important goals: it helps our clients achieve results, helps us develop more effective programs and helps improve counsellor practice.

In 2016, we began the Calgary Recession Project study. Our data shows the depression, anxiety and mental health distress in our clients increased along with unemployment rates in Calgary. In 2017 the proportion of our clients that were unemployed and looking for work decreased but the levels of distress were still increasing. In 2016 15% of clients were unemployed and looking for work and 41.9% were employed full-time. The average level of distress, as measured on the Outcome Questionnaire, was 75. By December 2017, 14% of clients were unemployed and looking for work while 42.8% of clients were working full time. The average level of distress was 76.2. Our research and counselling teams are working to understand these findings and provide direction on how we can adapt to the needs of our community.

In 2017, we used the outcomes from parents and youth to write a report on the results for our children and youth clients. This report showed that according to the parents, one third of children under 18 who attended multiple counselling sessions, improved or recovered. Parents of clients under 12 complete outcome questionnaires on their behalf, and both youth and parents of clients over 12 complete outcome questionnaires. The youth also reported improvement — 43.1% age 3–17 and 49% for 17–24.

Our research team provides a real-world opportunity for practicum students in social work and psychology to get experience in practice-based research. Our ongoing, high-quality research helps us monitor our services and continue to make a difference for our clients. We have a well-developed Provincial Research Advisory group that provides input on the focus of our research and helps us connect with the broader community.


Refereed Journal Article

Tutty, L.M., Babins-Wagner, R. & Rothery, M. A. (2017) Women in IPV Treatment for Abusers and Women in IPV Survivor Groups: Different or Two Sides of the Same Coin? J Fam Viol (2017) 32: 787.

Book Chapters

Goldberg, S., Babins-Wagner, R., & Miller, S.D. (2017). Supporting the cycle of excellence at mental health agencies. In, The Cycle of Excellence: Using Deliberate Practice for Supervision, Training, and Career-Long Advancement. (Eds.) Rousmaniere, T.G., Goodyear, R., Miller, S.D., & Wampold, B. London: Wiley Press.

Babins-Wagner, R. (2017). FIT in Agency and Clinic Settings. In S. D. Miller & D. Prescott, C. Maeschalck. (Eds.). Reaching for Excellence: Practical Applications of Feedback-Informed Treatment. APA Press. Under Review.

Tutty, L. M., & Babins-Wagner, R. (2017) Strengthening Families: A pilot couples program for intimate partner violence and substance abuse. In T. Augusta-Scott, K. Scott, & L. Tutty (Eds.), Innovations in interventions to address intimate partner violence: Research and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Our New Home

In 2016, Calgary Counselling Centre made the move to the Kahanoff Centre

Suite 1000, 105 - 12 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 1A1

Calgary Counselling Centre’s goal is to enable more Albertans to experience improved well-being to live in and create stronger and healthier communities. A critical aspect in achieving this goal is to ensure access to leading mental health services. To that end, we are committed to being accessible so that Calgary and area residents who need support can access it in a timely manner. We are constantly working to improve the well-being of individuals, families, couples and children. We have worked to strengthen our communities and transform the lives of Calgarians, and we have accomplished this all without a waitlist.

The growing demand for our services, and the fact that we were out of space for counselling, led us to explore a new space that could accommodate the higher demand and ensure we could continue our commitment to operating without a waitlist. In September of 2016, we officially moved to the Kahanoff Centre for Charitable activities. Our new space allows us to provide the best experience possible to our clients while accommodating more counselling sessions per year. Our new offices are outfitted with the best of counselling technology to assist us in the training of practitioners, students and post grads.

In order to adequately and efficiently respond to the needs of the community, while helping more people than ever before, we required a comprehensive and flexible office space. Our new space at the Kahanoff Centre features specialized improvements not found in traditional office spaces. These include:

• A welcome and spacious client waiting room, which includes a small, private waiting area for those experiencing severe distress.

• A 25% increase in counselling service capacity to meet the growing demand for counselling.

• Several large group rooms to provide group counselling sessions to up to 14 individuals at a time.

• A specialized play therapy space that provides a warm, safe and therapeutic environment for children that includes special toys, games and a place to play.

• State-of-the-art counselling and business technology to support our counselling services.

• Expansion of our quick-response or urgent appointments to accommodate and assist those seeking immediate support.

Our Finance
Revenue 2017 2016
Grants from Funders $2,559,168 $2,450,304
Fees for Services
Counselling $2,245,724 $2,131,832
Fundraising revenue
Donations $131,687 $151,094
Special events $64,701 $1,695
Annual campaign $59,303 $52,157
United Way of Calgary and Area donor choice $45,795 $51,196
Recognition of deferred contributions related to property and equipment $134,048 $147,201
Bequest $33,854 $1,350,000
Workshops and conferences $8,300 -
Other $53,858 $44,252
Membership Fees $420 $350
Revenue Total $5,336,858 $6,402,904
Expenses 2017 2016
Salaries and benefits $3,171,090 $3,177,155
Occupancy costs $950,506 $692,312
Bursary and residency payments $612,011 $592,658
Amortization $443,465 $264,479
Consultant fees $269,439 $259,160
Miscellaneous $184,327 $227,306
Interest and Bank Charges $105,731 $28,117
Accounting fees $36,504 $37,5116
Advertising and promotion $32,923 $30,417
Printing $31,116 $33,527
Workshops and conferences $25,565 $611
Goods and Services tax expenses $25,086 $30,414
Bad debts $18,704 $16,012
Repairs and maintenance $18,703 $20,541
Fundraising $17,877 -
Legal Fees $1,320 $12,662
Expense Total $5,944,367 $5,422,705
Excess (deficiency) of revenue over expenses $(607,509) * $980,199

* In the December 31, 2016 period, revenues exceeded expenses due to receipt of a bequest of $1,350,000. In the December 31, 2017 period, the primary reason expenses exceeded revenue was due to rental costs at our old vacated premises through October 31 (approximately $433,000) and non-cash amortization on leaseholds at our new facility (approximately $200,000).

For more information, or to receive a copy of the 2017 audited financial statement, please contact Calgary Counselling Centre.

Our Donors

Our Donors

2017 continued to be a challenging economic environment for many in our community. We are grateful for the support from our donors that see the impact and value of having affordable and accessible mental health services in our community. Their generous investments allowed us to provide the resources available to continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of our clients and their families.

Calgary Herald Christmas Fund
Donor Profile

2017 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund

The Calgary Herald Christmas Fund was developed by Calgary Herald employees in 1991 to give readers an opportunity to support and respond to the need of our city’s social agencies. Today, the Christmas Fund provides funding to local charities that address critical needs that thousands of Calgarians face including hunger, homelessness, addiction and abuse.

Calgary Counselling Centre was one 12 agencies selected in January to receive funds from the 2017 Christmas Fund to support our programming for children and youth with an investment of $80,645.  The Christmas Fund let us create a new Urgent Access for Depressed Youth program which will provide 2,500 to 3,500 new counselling sessions for children, youth and their families.

Clients like Anna.  She immigrated to Canada with her family when she was five and lost both of her parents by the time she was 18. She felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under her. She was overcome with anxiety and depression.  Reeling from her emotions and not sure how to cope she came to Calgary Counselling Centre. She wasn’t expecting much. “I was kind of skeptical in the beginning,” she says. “I didn’t see how it could help by just talking to somebody.”

But getting “a fresh perspective” from her counsellor and the space to come to her “own conclusions” helped set Anna on a new path. She’s studying psychology at university and she hopes to complete a Master’s degree in counselling so she can help others the way Calgary Counselling Centre helped her. 

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of Calgary Herald readers, the Christmas Fund has raised over $25 million dollars for local charities since 1991. The Calgary Herald covers all administrative costs so that 100 per cent of the money raised every year can be shared equally amongst the charities.

Thank you 2017 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund for your support!