I’m so glad you found us and that you’re here checking us out!
Whether you are a client searching for services, an organization looking for referral information, or a community member curious about Couch of Hope as a resource – you are all most welcome here.
Couch of Hope is a special place, held dearly in the hearts of all who have the privilege of working in and contributing to the work. I know you’ll feel it too, from any point of contact, whether it be on social media, through our outreach coordinator, our staff, our interns, or our Board of Directors. We are all so passionate about providing accessible mental health support to Nova Scotians.
When people discover us (by the way, if you’re here we kindly ask that you help us spread the word and promise to tell at least one friend about us!) the first question they often ask is ‘How did Couch of Hope come to be?’
And, this is the story, I just love to tell! It is not about one person, it is about one person, joined by another person, joined by another and another and so on. We are truly all in this thing called life together! We make the most difference when we join together, and that is the story of Couch of Hope.
It is routine for therapists who are in private practice, to hold ‘sliding scale’ spaces for clients who need services, do not have insurance, and cannot afford to pay full price out of pocket. For affordability, therapists can usually only carry a few sliding-scale clients and understandably, we all have bills to pay. We usually devote a small percentage of our caseloads to sliding scale or pro bono clients.
In 2020, amidst the pandemic, I was aware that all my sliding scale spots were filled, and more clients were looking for services. I also realized all the sliding scale spots of my associates were filled. I started asking around in my network and it was the same for everybody.
The number of Nova Scotians seeking mental health support increased dramatically. It became clear that more radical action was needed to support our community, neighbours, friends, and families.
Around the same time, I realized the magnitude of the need (okay maybe I didn’t fully realize the magnitude but had a big hunch!) our group practice began to receive inquiries from graduate students finishing their Masters degrees in counselling. These students had completed their academic studies and needed a place to complete their clinical practicum hours- which are hours directly working with clients therapeutically under the guidance of a Supervisor.
Something started to click for me, it went something like this: the community needed accessible mental health counselling resources + and new counselling therapist interns needed time with client = a possibility to create something here.
In conversations with a colleague (also now a Practicum Supervisor with Couch of Hope), she shared she had an interest in contributing to and providing leadership in a mental health services non-profit. Before I knew it, we were spinning ideas and we landed on launching a pilot program. She applied to be a Practicum Supervisor with Yorkville University and I applied for the site to be a practicum site for the pilot of accepting Counselling Therapist Interns. Very quickly, we were approved, and we accepted our first two Interns in September 2021.
Our first two Interns provided counselling therapy to 24 clients per week. Based on a financial assessment, these sessions were provided at no cost to the clients. The impact of the program was quickly evident, and word of mouth spread. A waitlist began to grow (gasp!).
Exactly, the thing we were trying to avoid, was waitlisting people. We knew we had to shift and grow some more to meet the needs of the clients who were waiting and the ones who didn’t yet know about us.
We didn’t wait for the completion of the pilot, we knew we needed to build this into something more sustainable. I ran the idea past a few of my friends, who fell in love with the possibility and enthusiastically signed a memorandum so we could register with the province as a non-profit society. We recruited a Board of Directors, created by-laws, a vision, a mission and values statement. It was official and our official name was registered as Healing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) Counselling Services Society. In the community, we became known as Couch of Hope.
We continued to grow, I applied to become a Practicum Supervisor with Yorkville and Acadia Universities. We are now partnered with both the Masters of Arts Counselling Psychology (MACP) program and the Masters of Education Counselling program (MEd) and accept interns in May, September and January. We also accept new clients at these times of the year when we have new interns and build their caseloads.
Clients are fully supported- directly by their Counselling Therapist Intern and indirectly by their therapist’s Practicum Supervisor and their therapist’s Practicum Professor.
Our therapists work with a wide range of clients, from pre-teens to older adults. Many clients come to Couch of Hope for support with stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, relationship issues, grief, and difficult life transitions. Our therapists are knowledgeable and passionate about providing safe, inclusive, and affirming care to individuals in Nova Scotia who experience marginalization.
Clients have described Couch of Hope’s services as professional, compassionate, accommodating, and life-changing. The therapeutic relationships fostered through Couch of Hope are transformative for both the clients receiving the services and the Interns who are developing clinically.
Couch of Hope is not only providing crucial mental health services to the community, we are also ensuring there are highly skilled and experienced counselling therapists in the next generation of mental health clinicians in Nova Scotia.
Couch of Hope has evolved over the last two years, we are now a registered charity with CRA, we have a staff that includes an outreach worker, an intake worker, one paid supervisor position, one part-time Registered Counselling Therapist (to work with complex cases) and one part-time Executive Director.
At Couch of Hope, we know that one person can have a life-changing impact on others. We also know that we can do more and go further together. Our program strives to carry HOPE forward.
With sincerest gratitude,
Founder and CEO Couch of Hope