Counselling is expensive. And that really sucks. In a perfect world, counselling services at Transformation Counselling and other clinics would be covered by OHIP. In the meantime, there are still lots of options in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge for people who can't afford standard counselling fees.

1. If you're a student at one of the universities in Waterloo, or an employee with benefits, you may actually be covered for counselling with an MSW/RSW and/or a psychologist. Check the extended health section of your benefits booklet to make sure.

2. If you're a first responder in Kitchener, Waterloo, or Cambridge, you're covered by the province for therapy related to PTSD, the symptoms of which include anger, insomnia, depression, addiction, flashbacks, anxiety, exaggerated startle response, and avoidance of things that remind you of the trauma. In order to qualify, you’ll need to be formally diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, then fill out a pretty painful amount of forms. Still, by the end of it, you get unlimited coverage for psychotherapy. Unfortunately, we can’t diagnose at Transformation Counselling, but check out Frontline Forward or the Breakwater Institute for help with this.

3. Many therapists will see a limited number of clients for a reduced fee. At any given time, our therapists each see two clients on their caseload for next to nothing, and other therapists with souls may have a similar practice.

4. If you're not covered by benefits and unable to find a therapist who works on a sliding scale, many agencies in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge - such as Carizon or Shalom - offer counselling on a sliding scale with Master's level counselling interns.

5. If you struggle with addiction, you qualify for free counselling through St. Mary's Hospital's Substance Use Program. Unfortunately, there is a waiting list. You may also want to check out Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which are excellent, free support groups with meetings every day in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.

6. If you've experienced a sexual assault at any point during your life, you qualify for free counselling through the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo in Kitchener or Cambridge. The only down-side is that there is a wait list.

7. If you're a recipient of OW or ODSP, you qualify for 8 free counselling sessions through several not-for-profit counselling agencies in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, such as Shalom and Carizon. There may be a wait list for service.

For more information on community resources, check out Reflection Counselling's awesome pages on crisis and distress lines and walk-in counselling services.