Why is it called Hard Feelings?

We all experience emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness and shame. These are hard feelings that can impact our day-to-day lives and take a toll on our physical and mental health. We know that mental health challenges are a part of life for pretty much everyone, whether we struggle ourselves, or know someone who does.

Mental health challenges can be isolating and stigmatizing. We want to move away from feeling bad about struggling with our mental health to feeling good about the supports that are available. We want people to know that we all have hard feelings and that working to understand them and the ways they impact our behaviour and thinking can change how we treat and accept ourselves. Talking and learning about hard feelings can help us cope with past experiences and move forward. It’s a personal and sometimes complicated journey, but we don’t have to travel alone.

We chose the name Hard Feelings because we want people to know we are a welcoming and safe place, free of stigma and shame. Bring us your hard feelings, we’re here to help.

What does it mean when people say there is a mental health crisis in Canada?

There’s a lot of talk about the mental health crisis in Canada. For some reason, despite all the attention and focus, things don’t seem to be getting much better. People have been encouraged to talk about mental health and pay attention to what they need, but we haven’t been able to keep up with the demand for service. It’s confusing and complex, and a lot of people get left out.

We know that getting the right counselling and support can make positive change. We also know that waiting for or not being able to afford service can make things worse. Limited access to mental health supports is at the core of the mental health crisis and is rooted in stigma. Stigma is visible in the limited amounts allocated for private counselling in employee and student benefit plans, the limited funding for public (free) mental health service and the lack of innovation in private practice models. This means that many people who might benefit from counselling never get the chance to find out.

How is the Hard Feelings model innovative?

All the counsellors practice in the same model of low-cost, short-term service. In Ontario, there are two traditional pathways to accessing mental health supports: free, publicly funded service, and market rate, private therapy. There are some in-betweens, like some publicly funded programs that offer low-cost service, and some market rate therapists who offer sliding scale spots.

We know that for many people, free service doesn’t always feel like the right fit, and market rate therapy is out of reach. We’re offering a third pathway, where folks who face financial barriers might get the help they need.

We’re a community. We believe that mental health professionals do incredible work, and need and deserve care. Being a part of the Hard Feelings Community of Practice means that counsellors get ongoing support, training and supervision, and camaraderie in their work. Most have full or part-time jobs elsewhere, and devote time to our model  because they believe in our mission and value the community.

We recruit and screen counsellors to ensure they meet specific standards of education and training, skill and experience, and alignment with our values. We’re always asking ourselves, who is missing? What representation, skill, or perspective should we be adding to the practice? It’s a long process to join the Community of Practice, but we think it’s worth it.

We’re a hub for mental health resources. Our retail shop (online and in-person) offers mental health tools resources that build stronger mental health. Our storefront is a space for stigma-busting conversation and support. We will help you navigate resources and try to connect you with the right counsellor or service. Stop by and visit us at 353 Church Street – and don’t forget to check out our Mental Health Library!

We’re an incorporated non-profit, registered charity. This means that our focus is on building social capital, not building profit. Unlike for-profit practices, we are focused on our social purpose and operate only to cover the expenses to deliver that purpose.

Traditionally, mental health services operate on two levels: as for-profit businesses where private practitioners charge market rate for service, and as charitable or public organizations where services are generally free. Hard Feelings takes an innovative approach that lies in the middle of these two models.

Our model allows us to facilitate the delivery of low-cost counselling through several revenue-generating streams:

  • Sales from our online store
  • Community of Practice fees from counsellors 
  • Donations and grants

If you have questions about our model, please contact Kate at [email protected]

What can I expect from limited-term counselling?

Counsellors in our Community of Practice offer limited-term counselling, to a maximum of 20 sessions. You don’t have to do all 20 sessions – some people find that less is enough.

We limit service to 20 sessions to ensure that we are increasing access for everyone and not creating another long wait list in the mental health system. For many people, limited-term counselling is enough support to understand and take steps to resolve a mental health challenge.

Your counsellor may also be able to offer you three (3) booster sessions, once you have completed your work together. This is a way you can stay connected and check in, if needed. As long as your counsellor is part of our Community of Practice, you may be eligible for three (3) booster sessions every three (3) months.

For some people, limited-term counselling will not be enough. In this case, your counsellor will work with you in the short-term to determine a path forward to get you the support you need from another counsellor or mental health organization.

How do I schedule an appointment with a counsellor?

We do not provide a centralized intake – you must book directly with one of the counsellors.

To make an appointment for counselling:

  1. View the counsellor profiles (available here)
  2. Choose a counsellor you might like to work with. Think about what you are hoping to get out of counselling and how that matches with the skills and experience of a counsellor.
  3. Email that counsellor directly and ask to schedule an appointment. You will hear back from them shortly.

You can also call us at 647-740-FEEL (3335) to get help navigating the website and counsellor profiles.

Are counsellor's fees covered by my student or employer insurance?

The counsellors in the Hard Feelings Community of Practice are graduate level Registered Social Workers (MSW, RSW) and Registered Psychotherapists (RP). Their services are covered by many student and employee extended health benefit plans. Check with your insurance provider to find out about your coverage.

If you don’t have benefits and are paying for counselling, you may be able to claim all or a portion of your expenses on you annual Income Tax Return, under the Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC). 

Is counselling private and confidential?

By law, information that is shared between a client and a health care provider cannot be disclosed without the client’s consent. In general, the following exceptions to confidentiality apply:

  • The counsellor is concerned about suspected child abuse for which health professionals are required by law to report to appropriate authorities.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person, the counsellor must notify the police and possibly inform the intended victim.
  • If a client discloses an intent to harm themselves, the counsellor will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, the counsellors may need to take measures to ensure their safety (e.g., call family member, take client to hospital).
  • Under special circumstances, the counsellor may be required by law to disclose personal health information (e.g., under a court subpoena).
  • If a client reports a past incident of abuse by a health professional and discloses the health professional’s name, the counsellor may be required to report that individual to their governing college.

Your counsellor will discuss privacy and confidentiality with you in your first session and you will be asked to sign a consent form stating that this has been explained to you and that you understand it. You can withdraw consent at any time.