May 2, 2016

EDMONTON – Catholic Social Services is starting a new counselling ministry for families and individuals.

Mercy Counselling, as the ministry is called, will open its doors to the public June 1 at the agency's former central office, 8815-99 St.

CEO Stephen Carattini described the new ministry as "a faith-informed counselling service where faith can be incorporated into the practice of psychotherapy."

It will offer counselling and mental health services that are consistent with Catholic teaching.

Dr. Theresa Zolner, a clinical researcher, author and psychologist, has been hired as director of the ministry. At least two other professional counsellors have also been hired.

The operation, which replaces Family Counselling Services, might cost at least $500,000 during the first year.

Carattini gave credit to the archdiocese's priests and deacons for suggesting the ministry.

"They articulated to us the need for individual and family counselling that is not only professional but is consistent with Catholic teaching, where the component of faith can be brought into the therapeutic setting."

People often go to priests and deacons for spiritual guidance and spiritual direction, but sometimes the issues go beyond their expertise.

"So we want to provide a service for them to be able to refer those individuals and families to us and we want them to be confident that their parishioners will be in good hands."

The objective of the ministry is to restore and strengthen individuals, families and parish communities.