Calgary Counselling Centre has always been committed to improving the mental health and well-being of people in our community. For 57 years, we have continually adapted to meet the needs of Calgarians. We have grown with the population of Calgary, offering programs and services to help specific groups of people, from those dealing with domestic violence, to families struggling from the effects of the economic downturn, to others who lost everything when their homes were destroyed in natural disasters. In 2018, we received a record number of requests for service, and provided our clients with barrier free access; no wait list and sliding scale fees.

For the past 15 years, Calgary Counselling Centre has been using and refining a revolutionary form of practice that is improving mental health outcomes. With Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) we have every client at every visit fill out an Outcome Questionnaire (OQ) to measure their levels of distress. This information has helped us consistently exceed published benchmarks in our industry.

We are delighted to share FIT best practices with colleagues around the world and help guide them in making improvements to their counselling methods. We are honoured to have local and international mental health professionals and organizations looking to Calgary Counselling Centre for our expertise in counselling outcomes.

Ever since opening our doors to our first client in the basement of the Calgary Central United Church in 1962, we have been working to help our community. With your support, we look forward to continuing to expand our services and impact.

Rick Whitley, Board Chair

Message from the Board

Allow me to begin with a nod of thanks to Calgary Counselling Centre’s funders and donors for your ongoing and unwavering support for the work we do serving thousands of people every year. 2018 was my second year serving as Board Chair and I continue to be heartened by the response I see from our community to the growing need for mental health services around us.

Calgary Counselling Centre has seen a significant rise in demand for our services. I am beyond grateful that our dedicated team of counsellors, staff and volunteers are able to meet that demand. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would also like to sincerely thank the staff and volunteers of Calgary Counselling Centre for their hard work and dedication to serving those who are in need.

We are proud of the outcomes we are able to achieve for our clients. We are establishing ourselves as an invaluable staple in this community—and beyond—not just for individuals, couples, and families, but for organizations, corporations and other teaching facilities.

As you read the following pages and learn more about the specifics around the work we do and the people we help, I hope that you too are buoyed by the sense of community and heartened by the significant support we receive that lets us continue to ensure the well-being of individuals, families and youth year after year.

— Rick Whitley

Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO

Message from the CEO

In 2018, even though more people were back to work in the city, Calgary Counselling Centre continued to see the very real negative effects of the economic downturn that has gripped our province for years. Despite the uncertain economic times, we continued to help children, individuals, couples, and families change their lives and improve their mental and emotional well-being. We pave the way in this industry and our expertise and methods are sought after locally, nationally and globally. Allow me to share a few examples of the reach we have had.

Close to home, we are working on a pilot project with the Workers Compensation Board. We provided a workshop on stress defense for 18 new entrepreneurs at Junction 31 - Calgary Technologies Inc., and we have given workshops to Veterans Affairs Canada’s Health Professionals Division Mental Health Team. We received a provincial grant to expand access to mental health services in Calgary and surrounding areas, to rural and indigenous communities, and to youth and their families. We present to children, youth, and their parents about child and youth anxiety at schools and consult with corporations around Calgary on workplace mental health. We are pleased to be working with other organizations in the United Way Social Impact Lab to find innovative solutions to complex social issues.

Further abroad, we consulted with a team from the University College Copenhagen Institute for Social Work on our FIT model. We presented the results of our child and youth outcomes at the Society for Psychotherapy Research Conference in Amsterdam, and advised representatives from Japan in the field of family violence.

Here at home, as we continue through the downturn, we are seeing more people find employment but we are also seeing unprecedented levels of distress in some of the people coming through our doors—the longer someone has been out of work the more distressed they are. As we continue to struggle with the downturn and despair it’s causing, we remain completely committed to providing barrier-free access to our services and inspiring our clients to change their lives for the better.

— Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner

Our Clients


  • 41

    Full/Part Time Staff

  • 67


  • 31


  • 16


  • 6

    Summer Students

We’d like to honour and recognize our co-worker and friend Karen Dick who passed away in July 2018. Karen was our Development Officer who was always committed to the Centre, clients and our community. We will miss her energy, her enthusiasm, her laughter and her humour. Always.


  • 165

    Total Volunteers

  • 25,537

    Total Volunteer Hours


  • Richard (Rick) Whitley (Chair)


  • Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner

    Calgary Counselling Centre

  • Susan Cassidy

    Alberta Energy Regulator

  • Jocelyne Daw

    JS Daw & Associates

  • Wayne Foo

    Community Volunteer

  • Kim Jones


  • Davin Kivisto


  • Nancy Laird

    Community Volunteer

  • Mary Lougheed

    Alberta Health Services

  • Tim Moro

    Hill & Knowlton Strategies

  • Jennifer Pendura

    University of Alberta

  • Mike Shaikh


  • Dawn Tinling

    Community Voluneer

  • Wendy Tynan

    Direct Energy

  • Deanna Werklund

    Emergenetics Canada Inc.

  • Barbara Zach

    Community Volunteer

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.

United Way
Government of Alberta
City of Calgary

We would also like to acknowledge our appreciation of our generous donors who supported our clients in 2018.




Calgary Counselling Centre provides highly effective and affordable counselling services in more than 12 languages. 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 use Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) to measure the mental health vital signs of our clients at every session. These questionnaires give us the information to change course if the client is not benefiting from counselling which ensures the highest results for our clients. The measures also let us track the correlation between our client’s distress levels and the state of the economy.

We are recognized internationally for our groundbreaking FIT work that delivers the highest client results in the industry. A research team from Denmark joined us for two days in June 2018 to talk about the application of FIT in counselling and child welfare systems. Veterans Affairs Canada’s Health Professionals Division Mental Health Team also consulted us about implementing FIT into their work with veterans.

With our focus on delivering the best results for our clients and addressing mental health in our community, we collaborate with many different organizations and corporations. We are working with Worker’s Compensation Board — Alberta to pilot community-based counselling for their clients using the FIT framework.

We work with the Emergency Wellness Response Team (coordinated by the City of Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency) helping people who fled natural disasters deal with the trauma and emotional stress of leaving their homes. We collaborate with a number of organizations to pool resources and offer a coordinated response in crisis. We are helping plan Psychological First Aid training to enhance emergency response.

During Stampede, we worked with the Prostate Cancer Centre and the Man Van to pilot mental health screening and promote mental health awareness for men and boys. We are looking at ways to continue to grow this outreach service.

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. In 2018, this successful program expanded to work with kinship care, extended family that have approved to care for a child or youth.

Wilson Centre for Domestic Abuse Studies

Over the summer, we hosted a Japanese delegation that was interested in how we provide treatment for domestic violence. As well as discussing our collaborative approach to family violence in Alberta, the Japanese mental health professionals observed our Responsible Choices for Men Group. Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner received the Lifetime Achievement Inspiration Award for Leadership in Family and Community Safety from the Alberta Government for bringing awareness to and working to prevent domestic violence. Team members spoke at conferences across the country:

  • In Halifax at the Canadian Domestic Violence Conference 5, presenting about working with male victims of domestic abuse.
  • In Edmonton, at the Diverse Voices Conference and the Alberta College of Social Workers Conference, speaking about honour-based violence.
  • In Regina at the RESOLVE conference.

We continue to work with the province on treatment standards for domestic violence.

Our new online trauma training program for first responders, human service professionals and counsellors was launched. More than 50 professionals completed the training with a second group of 30 now working through each of the three modules.


The World Health Organization has stated that “depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” Depression is also one of the most treatable mental health issues, and the sooner people seek help, the more rapid the recovery process. In 2018, as seen in the year prior, anxiety was the most requested treatment service and depression was a close second at CCC. We continue to work strategically to develop more training in these areas and our outcomes have been excellent. Our data suggests that people who receive between 8 and 10 sessions of individual counselling followed by 12 sessions of group counselling recover better than any published benchmarks. We will continue to find innovative ways to offer clients and their families pathways out of depression that are sustainable over time.

Children & Youth

When children under 12 participate in counselling, a parent or caregiver completes a Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ) on their behalf. When youth over 12 participate, the youth completes the YOQ and their parent completes a separate questionnaire. A third of children under 18 who participated in counselling saw their mental health distress improve or recover, as reported by parents. The youth also reported improvement — 41% ages 3–17 and 51% for ages 18–24.

We offer the only two group programs in the city that require the participation of children and their parents or caregivers — Responsible Choices for Children and Children of Divorce. These programs identify and treat issues that children and youth may experience including: depression, anxiety, self-esteem, bullying, domestic conflict as well as many others.

Group therapy for families ensures that children and youth are getting the best treatment for their specific emotional issues. Our research shows better outcomes for those who participate in group therapy as well as individual counselling. Clients report that working with others in similar situations reminds them that they are not alone. We also incorporate play therapy into our children’s counselling programs.

In 2018, we ran two Self-Esteem for Adolescents groups. These groups offer youth 13 to 17 therapeutic support to develop a healthy sense of self. This group uses group discussion, activities, art and music in counselling and addresses many important topics that influence self-esteem for adolescents. Group activities nurture a more positive self-concept and normalize difficult experiences such as: identity and beliefs, values and self-talk, depression, anger, relationships, boundaries, communication, coping strategies, self-care, sexuality, body image and appearance.


In 2018, 39 couples participated in our Marriage Preparation Workshops. This monthly workshop is for couples at any point in their relationship. Couples develop conflict resolution, communication and other important relationship skills.

High River Counselling Centre

Education & Training

In 1962, when Calgary Counselling Centre began operations, we trained one student. Since then, we have become a national leader in training in psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy. In 2018, we provided training to 106 undergraduate and graduate students. They received invaluable hands-on experience and participated in weekly Clinical Practice Seminars. Our students also participated in supervised observation labs where they worked directly with clients, and learned how to conduct counselling in real time. Our students regularly achieve results that are slightly higher than counsellors that are more experienced, 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 2018, we expanded our training to create multiple tiers of instruction and learning using the latest research and experiential learning best practices. 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.

Tony Rousmaniere, the author of “Deliberate Practice for Psychotherapists: A Guide to Improving Clinical Outcomes,” provided two days of training for our staff and students as part of our ongoing professional development and training to ensure we are adapting to the changing needs of our clients.

As well as our counselling residents and interns, students join us every year from the fields of information technology, research, communications, and graphic design. Through their internships at the Centre, they are able to gain practical skills that they can apply to their area of study and their future careers.



Over the course of 2018, our work in the community included collaborating with the United Way Social Impact Lab to help come up with innovative solutions to complex social issues. We consulted with corporations around Calgary on workplace mental health, worked with Strathcona-Tweedsmuir school on a student project, presented at Calgary French and International School on child and youth anxiety and collaborated with the family violence sector on community initiatives.

In October, over 8,800 Calgarians participated in National Depression Screen Day (NDSD), our annual campaign to raise awareness about depression and encourage people to check in with their mental health. During NDSD and the week surrounding it, we offer a free, anonymous online test that screens for depressive symptoms and offers resources for people to get help. Of those Calgarians that participated, 38% were not recommended for further evaluation, 43% were recommended for evaluation, and 19% were strongly recommended for evaluation. This year, we were pleased to offer the test in three additional languages. Along with English and French, participants had the options of Punjabi, Spanish, and Chinese. We recorded our highest male participation ever, with 35% men completing the screening test compared to less than 25% last year. This is a positive indicator of reducing stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

Our Research


Since 1996, one of our core strengths has been our unwavering vision of building a robust knowledge base to gain a deeper understanding of client outcomes and the effectiveness of our counselling practice. We apply research findings to the 'real world' to make a difference — bringing research to practice in a purposeful way. Leading-edge research is a cornerstone for the work that we do.

Currently, we have nine 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) is the foundation of our research and gives us reliable information on outcome measurement that achieves a number of important goals: it helps our clients achieve better outcomes, helps us develop more effective programs, and helps improve counsellor practice.

Research highlights in 2018 include:

  • A collaboration with the Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse (RESOLVE) and University of Calgary on a study: “The multi-faces of intimate partner violence across the prairie provinces: Men as victims.” We interviewed 16 men and 11 service providers from Calgary and area to understand men’s experiences of intimate partner violence and ways to improve services for men. We will combine what we learned with our collaborators from Manitoba and Saskatchewan who facilitated research in their provinces to get a bigger picture of what men are experiencing and how we could improve care for men who are survivors of intimate partner violence.
  • A study to improve mental health outcomes in children using FIT at two Alberta Health Services clinics in Calgary. Parents and youth complete a youth outcome questionnaire prior to each counselling session and the results are discussed with the youth and parent at the start of each counselling session. We will look to see how the results of both clinics counselling outcomes compare to our counselling outcomes at the Centre.
  • A collaboration with Idaho State University Clinical Psychology researchers to better understand how the therapeutic relationship between the counsellor and client predict treatment outcomes.
  • Developed a trauma informed care training program with three interactive online training modules. We are positioned to launch the modules in 2019 to other human service professionals to better support and intervene with clients who have experienced trauma.

In addition to our research collaborations and projects, our research team provides a real-world opportunity for practicum students in social work and psychology to get experience in practice-based research. New in 2018, we held a bi-weekly research seminar for our bachelor and master’s students to understand basic topics of research. Some of the topics covered included: how to find a good research article and analyze it, how to perform a literature review, data entry using statistical software, and the basics of statistical analysis techniques. These seminars are a way for our students to get a sense of how these basic research techniques are ingrained into our practices.

We are pleased to have a robust well-developed Provincial Research Advisory Group — a diverse set of professionals who meets twice a year to provide input on our research and help connect us with the broader community.


Berzins, S., Babins-Wagner, R., & Hyland K. (2018). Relationship of employment status and socio-economic factors on distress levels and counselling outcomes during a recession. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.

Breault, L. J., Rittenbach, K., Hartle, K., Babins-Wagner, R., de Beaudrap, C., Jasaui, Y., … Mason-Lai, P. (2018a). People with lived experience (PWLE) of depression: describing and reflecting on an explicit patient engagement process within depression research priority setting in Alberta, Canada. Research Involvement and Engagement,4(1).

Breault, L. J., Rittenbach, K., Hartle, K., Babins-Wagner, R., de Beaudrap, C., Jasaui, Y., … Mason-Lai, P. (2018b). The top research questions asked by people with lived depression experience in Alberta: a survey. CMAJ Open, 6(3), E398–E405.

Our Finance
Revenue 2018 2017
Grants from Funders $2,774,313 $2,559,168
Fees for Services
Counselling $2,168,713 $2,245,724
Fundraising revenue
Donations $65,134 $131,687
Special events $64,701
Annual campaign $4,530 $59,303
United Way of Calgary and Area donor choice $68,052 $45,795
Recognition of deferred contributions related to property and equipment $145,076 $134,048
Bequest $33,854
Other $110,653 $62,578
Revenue Total $5,336,471 $5,336,858
Expenses 2018 2017
Salaries and benefits $3,181,434 $3,171,090
Occupancy costs $526,399 $950,506
Bursary and residency payments $428,327 $612,011
Amortization $378,955 $443,465
Consultant fees $294,248 $269,439
Miscellaneous $186,054 $184,327
Interest and Bank Charges $39,233 $105,731
Accounting fees $36,500 $36,504
Advertising and promotion $22,279 $32,923
Printing $27,542 $31,116
Workshops and conferences $25,565
Goods and Services tax expenses $26,131 $25,086
Bad debts $11,182 $18,704
Repairs and maintenance $19,371 $18,703
Fundraising $9,240 $17,877
Legal Fees $1,446 $1,320
Expense Total $5,188,341 $5,944,367
Excess (deficiency) of revenue over expenses $148,130 $(607,509) *

* 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 2018 audited financial statement, please contact Calgary Counselling Centre.

Our Donors

Our Donors

We are grateful for the continued support from the community, and recognize that for many, 2018 continued to be a challenging economic environment. 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 without a wait-list or financial barriers. This generosity allowed the Centre to continue to meet the changing mental health needs of our clients and their families.

2018 Willow Park Charity Golf Classic
Donor Profile

2018 Willow Park Charity Golf Classic

The Willow Park Charity Golf Classic began in 1988, with the simple idea of giving back to the community and supporting causes on behalf of the club and its members. Today, with the support of players, sponsors and volunteers the classic has raised over $10.7 million for local charities.

We were thrilled to be selected as the charity of choice of the 2018 tournament, which raised $700,000 for Calgary Counselling Centre – a new tournament record. Thank you to the committee, donors, sponsors and participants for your support.

The proceeds supported our capital costs and other costs associated with relocating to a bigger space at the Kahanoff Centre. The move ensures we can see more clients on a timely basis.

Further, for every $2 raised from the tournament, an anonymous donor donated another $1. This significant donation further increased the investment and will make a long and lasting impact to help meet the needs for mental health services.

Thank you Willow Park Golf Charity Classic again for your generous support and helping us to continue expand mental health services in the community.

Donor Profile

Calgary Flames Foundation

In January 2018, Calgary Counselling Centre received $25,000 from Calgary Flames Foundation for the Urgent Access for Depressed Youth program. The program helps children and youth, ages 3-18 in southern Alberta who are experiencing mental health issues related to depression, anxiety, self-esteem, bullying, family violence, divorce and much more.

We were also a recipient of one of Calgary Flames Foundation’s fundraising initiatives, the Calgary Flames Hockey Talks January 30 2018 game. The proceeds, $4,150, also supported the Urgent Access for Depressed Youth program.

The Foundation’s mission is to support initiatives that bring positive change to the lives of southern Albertans. The Foundation is committed to supporting education, health and wellness and amateur and grassroots sports.

Thank you Calgary Flames Foundation for supporting local children and youth mental health!