Catholic Family Services – Supporting Success

Catholic Family Services is a not for profit, non-denominational agency that provides two main streams of service. First is the Family School Liaison Services, this program runs in fourteen schools within two school districts in Grande Prairie and rural communities. The program is designed to offer support for children, youth, families and school staff with the general goal of improving the student’s personal, social and academic success.

Second is Professional Counselling. CFS provides counselling to low-/no-income and marginalized populations, primarily throughout Grande Prairie and surrounding areas; however, with the provision of phone and video sessions, Alberta residents may access these services from anywhere within the province. Counselling is offered on individual, couple and family bases, and is made available for those with and without coverage, as well as those unable to pay anything towards their treatment. A message from the team: “Thanks to the support of our generous funders, we have the privilege of serving a variety of underserved communities who may otherwise forgo accessing mental healthcare services.”

Through support from the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, they were able to start a new project that assisted in helping clients and therapists identify and address psychopathology/ mental health indicators, as well as personality traits through the use of formal assessments.

The MCMI-IV (Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory), MMPI-3 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and other empirically validated assessments may help elucidate sources of distress, struggle, and strain which have not been identified or discussed directly upon intake or within session(s). These tools may help to uncover relevant factors which underlie and/or exacerbate client concerns, helping to clarify therapeutic goals and increase overall efficacy of treatment.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly posed innumerable challenges to individual and collective health, with compounding effects on mental and emotional wellbeing. Physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, social/relational, financial, and occupational health are inextricably linked and, to varying degrees, may all be addressed within the course of therapy, and even within a single session. With so many deleterious new and old stressors brought about and amplified by the current pandemic, it can be difficult for people to determine which of their concerns is most imminent.

Therapists use clinical judgment to help their clients to refine therapeutic objectives, though this can be challenging when there are so many variable concerns at individual, relational, community, national, and global levels. The objective of this project is to utilize formal assessment tools to help distill clinically relevant considerations which may have been missed or brushed over amidst the array of presenting concerns which bring a person in for counselling.

While some clients have a fairly well-defined reason for attending counselling, each person and each concern present with a unique set of features which contribute to stress and strain.  Formal assessments provide a structured way of obtaining insight into areas of one’s life and experience which would be largely inaccessible through talk therapy alone. The questions and the delivery of such questions are informative in and of themselves, and they also provide a basis for deeper inquiry and processing.  

With mutually enhanced understanding of client concerns, perceptions, feelings, behaviours, and experiences, the therapist and client may broaden, refine, integrate and focus attention on the most essential considerations for healing and sustained wellness. Access to these formal assessments would not have been possible without such generous support for which Family Services is very grateful.