Family Service Ontario Strategic Priorities 2022
Family Service Ontario believes Ontarians are stronger together because meaningful relationships and strong support systems contribute to overall well-being and functioning.
We also believe that as an association, we are stronger together and therefore we are committed to working collaboratively with our members, our partner provincial associations, and government to ensure that all Ontarians have equal access to service that meets their diverse needs, across the lifespan.
Strengthen member capacity
Family Service Ontario will build capacity across the network through the development of tools, resources, educational, and networking opportunities to support high quality and sustainable services to individuals, couples, and families.
Collaborate for system optimization
Family Service Ontario will build strong relationship across the membership and with other key stakeholders, including other associations and government, to enhance the service system for all Ontarians.
Advocate for comprehensive services
Family Service Ontario will foster relationships with government to ensure they are informed of the challenges and needs of individuals, couples, families, and communities.
Who do we help?
Jerimiah describes himself as lost, and this was the reason he reached out for therapy. Conflicts with his wife were escalating and he felt criticized for his parenting. Jerimiah felt like he could not do anything right. In therapy he was able to share his feelings of shame about of how he handled conflict – either avoidance or saying things he later regretted. Therapy was an opportunity to safely work through his feelings of shame and gain enough confidence to be honest with his wife about his feelings. The therapist helped Jerimiah take responsibility for his choices, which helped him feel more capable of growth. Jerimiah has remained committed to growth and continues to use therapy as a tool to become the husband and father he aspires to be.
When Asia called for therapy, she said she felt completely unhappy in her life. She was dissatisfied with her job, feeling alone, without friends and desperately seeking an intimate relationship. Asia felt stuck and that moving forward was impossible. It was overwhelming, not knowing where to begin to create the life she wanted. Asia and her therapists started with facing her deep fears of inadequacy, to help Asia believe that she deserved a better life. For Asia, this opened the door for feelings of hope. From there, she was able to develop a plan, which included taking some risks and moving outside of her comfort zone. It was a small step, and she was able to begin to build the life she wants and deserves.
Sarah and Li
Sarah and Li were living together for a few years when they reached out for therapy. Sarah reported feeling frustrated by Li’s lack of interest in intimacy. Their difference in desire had resulted in anger and resentment that was undermining their otherwise strong relationship. Initially, Sarah came to therapy by herself, but then Li agreed she would attend a session. Once Li realized the therapist was not taking sides, she felt ready to commit to the process. The therapist helped Li and Sarah communicate and listen to each other’s feelings regarding their relationship and their intimacy. Equipped with a better understanding, and compassion, Sarah and Li were able to negotiate their differences and stop the cycle of conflict that threatened their relationship.
Grace, who has an intellectual disability, has had the same roommate for the past 20 years, Missy. When Grace’s mother recently died, Missy was there for her and spent time with her to help ease her sadness. When Missy died suddenly, the developmental services worker knew Grace would need additional support. She brought Grace to therapy and attended the first session with her because Grace was nervous. Grace quickly felt safe with her therapist and appreciated the opportunity to talk about her friend and her mom. Together, they found ways for Grace to manager her sad feelings and honour her memories of Missy and her mother. Then Grace and her therapist helped her support workers know how to best assist Grace in practising her newfound skills at home.
Donna’s father died recently. He had lived a long life and died peacefully but she was struggling with finding peace with his death. Donna’s husband suggested she reach out for professional help. Her father’s death brought up childhood memories of living with an alcoholic. Donna felt she never had a good relationship with her father due to his drinking and his anger. With therapy she was able to work through the feelings related to the loss of her father, the one she knew, and the one she never had.
Eva called for therapy because she felt she was not a “good wife”. She reported that she struggled with feeling satisfaction with her relationship, and this had contributed to regular conflict. Eva described herself as nagging too much, which angered her husband. Therapy helped Eva free herself from the sole burden of responsibility for her marriage. She began to feel a sense of power again and recognize her husband’s controlling behaviour. When her husband refused to also engage in therapy, with the support from the therapist and a referral to a shelter, Eva was able to safely leave her husband. Eva continued in therapy for months to help her heal the emotional wounds and regain her strength.
Cam is frightened by his own anger. Mostly he is frightened by the realization that he is becoming his abusive father. Cam knows too well where his behaviour towards his girlfriend could lead. He remembers what happened when his father was charged with assaulting his mother. Cam did not know where to get help until a friend told him about his local walk-in clinic. The therapist at walk-in eased his mind about the potential for help and connected him with ongoing therapy. His therapist helped him learn the skills needed to manage his feelings in his relationship and be a better partner. Cam even found it helped him deal with his boss and colleagues better. When Cam and his girlfriend were ready, they attended therapy together. Cam is beginning to forgive himself and both are feeling hope for the future of their relationship.
Miya is 19 years old and estranged from her parents. They separated when she was twelve and have an ongoing tumultuous relationship. She feels neither parent understands her life’s challenges. Every time she has tried to talk to them about her feelings it has resulted in conflict. Through therapy Miya was able to feel understood for the first time in many years. The therapist helped her talk about her feelings in ways her parents may understand. Miya agreed to bring her parents to therapy – all together. After numerous difficult conversations, Miya and her parents listened to each other and developed a deeper understanding of each person’s unique challenges. For Miya and her parents, this was the first step to a more trusting relationship. Miya felt less vulnerable and ready to reconnect with her family.
Daniel’s only loving relationship was with Ali, which began when he was 19 and first came to terms with his sexual orientation. He assumed they would be together forever, but after 25 years Ali ended the relationship. Daniel called for therapy saying that he is not coping, evidenced by his lack of sleep, eating and not feeling ready to return to work. Daniel was stuck in his grief and could not imagine life without Ali. The therapist provided a safe and supportive space for Daniel walk through the stages of grief. After a few tear-filled sessions, Daniel was able to return to work, tend to his health and take steps towards the next part of his life’s journey.
Josh and Riya
Josh and Riya have been slowly drifting apart as they focused on the challenges of money, work, and parenting. Both describe their relationship as cold and distant. Recently, Josh had an intimate relationship outside of their marriage. Both Josh and Riya were committed to finding a way to make the relationship work for themselves and their children. Through committed effort and couple therapy, Josh and Riya are feeling connected again and Riya has begun building trust in Josh. They have a journey ahead, but are well on their way to a loving, healthy relationship.
News + Careers
We are social beings, so it is not surprising that relationships support our health and well-being. However, this fact is often overlooked in our treatment of health, including mental health, which treats individuals and their illnesses.
The doors closed at Catholic Family Services of Hamilton on April 30th, after 74 years of service. This is the third family service agency in Ontario to close since the onset of the pandemic, with the others being in Thunder Bay and Northumberland. In each case, the ministry-funded programs live on through other service providers in the community. But family service agencies are more than a collection of their programs. Family service agencies play a critical role in the system of care.
For over 50 years family service agencies have been the primary source for low to moderate mental health services across Ontario. With walk-in clinics and minimal wait times for service, family service agencies are one the frontlines for mental health services.
As a provincial network of 42 members serving women who have experienced intimate partner violence, as well as offenders, through twenty-one of Ontario’s Partner Assault Response (PAR) programs, we believe meaningful change is needed to prevent intimate partner violence and femicide.