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  • Our Story

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    The First Need

    After opening ML Family Counselling in 2020, Michelle Labine immediately encountered the powerful need and desire for affordable counselling therapy in Nova Scotia. Her private group practice offered a number of sliding-scale spots for clients, but these spots filled quickly and a wait list began to grow.

    Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

    The number of Nova Scotians seeking mental health support increased dramatically. It became clear that more radical action was needed to support our community, friends, family, and neighbours.

    The Second Need

    At the same time, ML Family Counselling began receiving inquiries from graduate students finishing their degrees in counselling psychology. These students had completed their academic studies and needed a place to complete their clinical practicum hours (required experience working with real clients under the guidance of a supervisor).

    The community needed accessible counselling therapy. New counselling therapists needed time with clients. These two needs converged into a possibility.

    The Beginning

    In September 2021, ML Family Counselling launched a non-profit program with two Intern Therapists providing counselling therapy to 24 clients per week. These sessions were provided at no cost to the clients. The counselling itself was highly individualized and the therapeutic relationships between the interns and the clients were deep and personal. Unlike in some programs, clients were not expected to fit into a “one size fits all” approach to therapy. The impact of the program was quickly evident, and word of mouth spread. A wait list began to grow once again.

    In November 2021, the program registered with the province as a non-profit under the name Healing Opportunities for People Everywhere Counselling Services Society.

    In the community, it had become known by a simple and telling name – the Couch of Hope.

    The Present

    Currently, the Couch of Hope team is comprised of 7 Intern Therapists from Yorkville University’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology and Acadia University’s Master of Education in Counselling. The interns are supported by 2 trained Clinical Supervisors, an Intake Coordinator, and a part-time Registered Counselling Therapist (Candidate) who offsets potential gaps in client care during intern transition periods.

    The Couch of Hope offers free counselling to all Nova Scotians who otherwise would not be able to access therapy due to financial barriers or long wait times (often several months or more) for publicly funded services. We meet with clients in person, via phone, and via video. This flexible delivery opens our services to clients who are unable to attend in-person due to geography, caregiving responsibilities, work schedules, disability, illness, a lack of reliable or affordable transportation, or personal preference. For those who prefer in-person sessions, our clinic is centrally located on Wyse Road in Dartmouth, just off the MacDonald bridge.

    We work with a wide range of clients, from pre-teens to older adults. Many clients come to Couch of Hope for help 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, including clients who identify as gender-expansive, 2SLGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, and those who are members of the global majority (people of colour).

    Currently, our team provides free counselling therapy to 90-105 clients each week.

    Clients have described the Couch of Hope’s services as professional, compassionate, accommodating, imaginative, and life changing. What’s more, the therapeutic relationships fostered through the Couch of Hope are transformative for both the clients and the Intern Therapists. Couch of Hope is not only providing crucial mental health services to the community; we are also ensuring there are highly skilled, experienced, and compassionate counselling therapists in the next generation of mental health clinicians in Nova Scotia.

    The Hope

    The Couch of Hope is dedicated to Diana Hope George (Bastien), a close friend of the program’s founder, Michelle Labine. Diana dedicated her career to working in Social Services and her life to helping and contributing to the well-being of others. She is deeply loved and deeply missed.

    At Couch of Hope, we know that one person can have a life-changing impact on others. Our program strives to carry forward the hope that Diana brought to this world.