Help is available!

Certified Professional Counsellor Emilee Provencher of Next Step Counselling is offering two half-priced sessions to first responders and people who were evacuated from their homes during recent wildfires.

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

The aftermath of wildfires throughout the area will pose large burdens on many people as they navigate their way through the devastation of losing homes and possessions.

A Grande Prairie business is reaching out to the affected people, offering a discount on online or in-person therapy sessions to help people work out their angst.

“I am a Certified Professional Counsellor and the owner of Next Step Counselling,” says Emilee Provencher, who explains she and her team recognize the increased need for assistance throughout Northern Alberta.

“We also have Shelby Marcoccia working with us and she is a Registered Social Worker (MSW) with training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).”

Although their home base is Grande Prairie, the women provide virtual counselling to clients across most of Canada. They also provide mobile counselling to areas in the Peace Region, with Sexsmith a regular stop every two weeks. Their intention is to add more communities in the future.

Provencher says the wildfires have increased the already high need for mental health help in Northern

“The fires are scary, they are traumatic to some, and our practice is in the unique position to offer support without requiring travel,” she explains.

“We also know that this is the season where a lot of industries in Northern Alberta get busy, I wanted to reach out to companies and show that there is a way that they can support their mental health, and the mental health of their employees without having to drive to the local counselling office,” she adds.

“Farmers can chat with us from their fields, those in the oilpatch from their trucks, parents can book after the kids’ bedtime, or kids and teens can get counselling from their room without affecting the schedule of the home.”

Provencher has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, and she is certified through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA). She and Marcoccia are able to support most clients.

Between the two, patients from five years old to adults can get assistance with their various concerns.

“Our goal is to support our clients in their goals and with tools to make life easier,” she explains.

“Because we offer virtual counselling, there is an opportunity to support clients where distance, life, childcare, work, and other situations make traditional counselling challenging,” says Provenchar.

As a result of the wildfires, the women decided to offer two half-priced sessions to all first responders, their immediate families, and anyone who has been evacuated from their homes. Cost for a session is regularly $140 for a 50-minute session, and both therapists are covered by some insurance companies. They offer a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment so potential clients can see how online or phone counselling works and meet them without a financial commitment.

“Making counselling available for people in more remote areas is something that I see great value in,” explains Provencher.

“It’s important to have someone in your life to talk through the hard stuff without judgement or an agenda and that is an important part of counselling. We are also able to give tools to help manage anxiety, depression, addiction, unhealthy patterns in life and past hurts.”

Provencher says she feels mental health support shouldn’t be restricted by location and that is what they are trying to help with at Next Step Counselling. She says for some people it may only require a handful of sessions to help process a specific session, while others may require a longer period to heal.

She explains for others counselling helps provide a regular check in to get help with management tools, healthy patterns, and boundaries.

“I like to think of life like a pressure cooker,” she says, adding that things happen that people often don’t know how to deal with.

“It goes in the pressure cooker, and the pressure builds and this process happens over and over until you explode or bury the pressure cooker in the yard and totally shut down. Either way people we love get hurt. Talking is a way to vent the pressure cooker. Talking with a counsellor is learning how to empty and clean the pressure cooker and eventually learn how to vent the pressure is ways that are not harmful to others.”

If you’re interested in seeking a therapy session, please contact Next Step Counselling at (780) 296-1360, through email at through Facebook or on their website at www.Next-step

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