How to Find Free or Low-Cost Counselling

Where to start when it comes to finding accessible counselling in Vancouver, BC

There are multiple barriers that folks can face when accessing counselling services, but there is one barrier that most of us can relate to and that is cost. Counselling is expensive. For many of us, spending $120 or more weekly or bi-monthly is simply not an option. There are low-cost options, though, but they can be hard to find.

When you search for “free or low-cost” counselling options in Vancouver google will offer you many results. Which results are most appropriate for you, though? That can be the tricky part. Not all of us qualify for all of the low-cost or free options, and determining which service is going to be the best fit for you can be overwhelming.

Here at Cedarwood Collective you can access free or low-cost ($10-$20) with one of our intern counsellors. These are individuals who have completed two years of graduate studies in counselling psychology and who have entered into their programs’ practicum component. Intern counsellors are supervised by an experienced counsellor, who is on call during all of their sessions and who provides guidance outside of sessions.

When it comes to a comprehensive list of free or low-cost services in Vancouver, I’m not about to recreate the wheel. Willow Tree Counselling here in Vancouver has a list of options that they update quarterly. I encourage you to check it out here as a starting point.

Groups of Services for Low-Cost or Free Counselling

For-Profit Clinics in Vancouver

Many for-profit counselling clinics or practices take on counselling interns who are completing their programs’ practicum component. For a clinic or practice to take on an intern, there must be a supervisor available who has at least 3 years of experience. 

The cost of a session with an intern counsellor varies, but the cost will be lower than working with a registered clinical counsellor. This might be a good option if you would like to choose a clinic or practice based on its focus or values, or would like to choose who you work with. Since these services aren’t connected to any kind of government funding, there may be more flexibility in the frequency of sessions and duration of the counselling relationship.

University Clinics

Vancouver has a couple of public institutions that offer graduate programs in counselling psychology, and both provide free or sliding scale services to the community. They are:

At these institutions, you will receive counseling from students enrolled in the institution’s graduate program in Counselling Psychology. Supervision is provided by registered counsellors or psychologists from the respective institutions. 

Local Not-for-profits 

There are many not-for-profit organizations in Vancouver that offer free, low-cost, or sliding scale counselling to the community. If you are interested in seeking counselling from one of these organizations, it would be best to first identify what type of counselling you are looking for. Many non-profits offer counselling for specific groups—for example, to survivors of trauma, domestic violence, members of the LGBTQ2+ community, etc. 

Vancouver’s Health Authority 

British Columbia has five regional health authorities that deliver services to their respective regions, Vancouver being one of them. Vancouver Coastal Health offers community mental health services for those who are over the age of 19 and have been diagnosed with a mental illness or experiencing significant problems. You can view a complete list of their mental health offerings here.

I know, it’s a lot. Perhaps one of the barriers to accessing free or low-cost counselling is the navigation required to find a service that is a good fit for you. It takes time, energy, and an understanding of how these various services operate. 

If you are interested in speaking with our client care coordinator to determine if Cedarwood’s services might be a fit for you, you can fill out this form. If  we aren’t a fit, we can do our best to refer you to an organization that might be.

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