Client Spotlight - Family Counselling Services Centre

By Crystal Wilson


Social Enterprise has been a buzzword for the last few years for sure, but did you know that right here in Guelph we've got a business that was on that bandwagon waaay before it was cool? Like, before there was even a name for it?  

Family Counselling and Support Services for Guelph-Wellington (FCSSGW) has been operating in Guelph since 1986 and from the start, embraced the qualities now associated with social enterprise. How awesome is that? As part of the Children’s Aid Society back in 1964, FCSSGW found themselves working beyond their original mandate incorporating wellness and mental health programs for not just children, but for the entire family and, by extension, the community. 

FCSSGW is a multi-service agency, offering a variety of options for support in the areas of: 

  • Counselling & Education 
  • Workplace Wellness and EAP 
  • Developmental Services

Rémi WalleImage coutresy of Rémi Walle


Looking a little more closely at each of these areas, you see a wealth of programs facilitated by this terrific organization. The Developmental Services arm of the agency assists children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by coordinating services in the community and providing support for challenging behaviours. The Workplace Wellness and EAP program offers employers a range of options allowing them to provide counselling and mental health service benefits to their employees, including private and confidential counselling for employees and their families, as well as workshops and wellness talks, mediation, termination support, and critical incident response. Employers who contract FCSSGW know that they are not only providing essential mental health benefits to their employees, but also supporting a not-for-profit agency that reinvests all profits into its social enterprise programs.

The breadth of expertise and assistance offered to the community by the Counselling & Education group is remarkable, offering programs that combat exploitation and trauma injury, teaching anger management and healthy relationships, facilitating children’s programs, and more. Many of the programs are offered in group formats but there are also structured one-on-one counselling sessions as well as weekly walk-in counselling services at locations in Guelph, Fergus, and Mount Forest. Since FCSSGW is a social enterprise, their programs work together to support those who cannot afford full fee-for-service rates.  For example, with funding from the United Way, subsidized counselling is available at the Guelph location on a sliding scale payment structure from $10-$130, but anyone can walk in at one of the Walk In Mental Health clinics: Monday in Mount Forest, Wednesday in Guelph, and Thursday in Fergus. There anyone can get free help if needed, with FCSSGW’s promise that they will never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay. Those clients who are able to afford the full service rate, including those who have insurance that reimburse for the cost of mental health services, do a beautiful service in helping to offset the fees for those who cannot.

So how do we get involved to keep an organization like FCSSGW prospering in our community and offering programs that benefit people in need? Although there is strong support through partners such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network, and governmental agencies in Wellington County and Ontario, the lean and efficient staff would not be as strong without reciprocal help from the community. Get involved by:

  • volunteering - a win-win knockout punch that makes up an integral part of the organization;
  • vehicle donation - Donate a Car Canada look after all the details to make it easy for FCSSGW to benefit. After your vehicle donation is complete, the charity organization sends out a tax receipt and your former vehicle is put to good use;
  • individual, corporate, and legacy donations - a fantastic way to ensure that future generations are taken care of and a boost to impact the lives of individuals and families in need.

And it’s not just us tooting horns for FCSSGW.  On June 7th, the group was recognized by the Employment Coordination Committee for providing training experience and employment opportunities in our region. Way to go; well deserved indeed! You can see more here.