Virtual Counselling

Need to talk? Connect virtually for free with an Addictions Counsellor.

Young person in a virtual meeting with an Addictions Counsellor.

What Is Virtual Counselling?

Talk With an Addictions Counsellor.

Through Crossing Bridges, if you’re 12-24 years old, you can access free, confidential, one-to-one virtual counselling sessions with a professional and qualified counsellor in a way that works best for you – phone, online with video, online with voice only.

During virtual counselling sessions, you can ask questions or discuss your concerns about substance use, behavioural addictions, or the impacts of substance use on mental health.

How Do I Get Started?

What You Can Expect.

Your first meeting will be a 30-minute session with one of our counsellors. The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Describe what you’re experiencing, what concerns you have, and how we can help
  • Share some basic information about yourself with the counsellor
  • Learn what kind of supports and resources are available based on your needs
  • Decide if this is the right support for you

Virtual counselling is completely voluntary. If you decide you want to continue with counselling, the counsellor will talk to you about scheduling another session.

Young person booking a virtual counselling meeting on their cell phone.

What if I’m Not Ready to Talk to a Counsellor?

Learn About Other Strategies.

If you’re not ready to connect with an Addictions Counsellor, there are other ways you can help yourself.

Access Mobile Apps

If you’re interested in apps to help you address an addiction or substance use or to help you stay safe, check out the following apps:

Breaking Free – The Breaking Free Companion app is designed to be used with Breaking Free Online, a free, evidence-based recovery support program for alcohol and substance use for Ontarians aged 16 years and older. If you choose to access Breaking Free Online or the app, you can use the access code cmhatv21.

Find it on the App Store or Google Play

Be Safe – Created by mindyourmind, this app supports decision-making around seeking help in a crisis, including creating a safety plan, finding local addiction and mental health resources, and understanding options based on your needs.

Find it on the App Store or Google Play

Saying When – Created by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, use this app to track your drinking if you’re interested in quitting drinking or just cutting down.

Find it on the App Store or Google Play

I Am Sober app icon

I Am Sober – Use this app to help you track your sobriety, build new daily habits, and learn form others with similar experiences.

Find it on the App Store or Google Play

Attend the Youth Exploring Change Group

About the Group

Youth Exploring Change is an informational (non-sharing) group offered by CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services where you can learn more about substance use. Through this group, you can explore decisions about your current substance use, ways to reduce risk, and explore if you’re ready for change. You will also learn about options available to you (e.g. services, programs, and resources) when you are ready to make a change.

How Do I Access It?

  • Ask your Crossing Bridges Addictions Counsellor about the group
  • Call the intake line at 519-673-3242 ext. 222
  • Email

Practice Self Care

Take time to do things that help you feel better. Below are some suggestions for self-care practices you can do every day.

  • Move Your Body – Try going for a walk, stretching, or following an exercise video online.
  • Practice Gratitude – Take a few minutes each day to make a list of things you’re thankful for or try keeping a gratitude journal.
  • Stay Mindful – Practice being aware of physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings you’re experiencing as a way to stay present in the moment, or try a mindfulness meditation.
  • Take Deep Breaths – If you’re feeling stressed, try stopping for a moment to take 5-10 slow, deep breaths.
  • Message a Friend – Try messaging, calling, or talking with a friend or family member about how you’re feeling.
  • Get Creative – Express your thoughts and feelings through journaling, writing poetry, painting, drawing, photography, dancing, or playing music.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you’re 12-24 years old and are looking for support, strategies, or someone to talk to about your own addiction or substance use concerns, or are dealing with a family member with an addiction or substance use concern, you can connect virtually with one of our qualified Addictions Counsellors.

Please note Crossing Bridges does not provide virtual counselling to adults looking for support with their own addiction or substance use concerns. You can find information about addiction and substance use services for adults on our Information for Parents and Adult Supports page.

All virtual counselling provided through Crossing Bridges is free.

The number of counselling sessions you book with your Addictions Counsellor will be based on your goals and needs. You will work together with your counsellor to discuss your goals and create a plan that is tailored to you.

You will be connected with an Addictions Counsellor based on your needs, fit, and counsellor availability. All of our counsellors are qualified professionals who will customize your support plan based on your individual needs, strengths, and goals. You also have the option to access a different counsellor if you find your current counsellor is not a good fit for you.

The first session will be about 30 minutes. During this meeting, you can:

  • Describe what you’re experiencing, what concerns you have, and how we can help
  • Share some basic information about yourself with the counsellor
  • Learn what kind of supports and resources are available based on your needs
  • Ask questions you might have about addiction or substance use
  • Decide if this is the right support for you
  • Schedule a virtual counselling appointment if you wish to proceed

You can talk about any concerns or questions you have about:

  • Substance use (e.g. drugs, alcohol)
  • Behavioural addictions (e.g. gambling, gaming, technology use, Internet use, etc.)
  • Impacts of substance use or addiction on mental health (e.g. anxiety, depression, emotional well-being)

If there’s something else you’d like to talk about that we can’t help you with, we’ll make sure to connect you with the right person, which may include connecting you with other organizations.

All information you share when you book a meeting and any information you share with our Addictions Counsellors is safe and protected. Your counsellor will review confidentiality and limits of confidentiality with you in your first session. We also use secure virtual video conferencing services for virtual meetings and comply with regulations outlined in the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA).

You have the right to request to view the information contained in your file at anytime. Crossing Bridges staff are all expected to protect your information and will not release your information to a third party without your consent. You have the right to refuse to share information with third parties. However, there are some special situations where your information will not be kept completely confidential (e.g. if you are at significant risk of harm to yourself or others). Please see the Privacy Policy for more information.

Our Addictions Counsellors specialize in supporting young people with addiction and substance use, including addressing the impacts addiction and substance use can have on mental health.

We also know that addiction and substance use can affect other areas of a young person’s life (e.g. housing, work, school, basic needs, etc.) and will refer or connect you with the most appropriate supports and resources to address your needs.