Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society

About Us

FAQs

General

What is the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society?
Assist provides support and resources to Alberta lawyers, articling students, law students and their families dealing with personal issues and seeking proactive mental health education and strategies.

Our mission is to enhance the immediate and long-term well-being of Alberta lawyers, articling students, law students and their dependent families through confidential and non-judgment psychological assistance, peer support, education and community.

Please see Programs to learn about how we do this.

Can you provide me with a lawyer or legal advice?
No, we cannot and do not provide referrals to lawyers or legal advice. Please contact the Law Society of Alberta for information about its lawyer referral service: https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/public/lawyer-referral/lawyer-referral-request/

How is Assist funded?
Assist receives a portion of its annual operating costs through the Law Society of Alberta’s third-party funding program. We rely on donations from the Canadian Bar Association—Alberta, other bar associations, law firms and individuals for the balance of our operating funds. See Support Us.

Professional Counselling

Help—I am in crisis!
If you are experiencing a crisis during the business day (8am to 4pm Monday to Friday), please call us at 1-877-498-6898 and tell the intake staff that you are in crisis so that you can speak to a counsellor over the telephone right away. If you get a voice mail between those hours, please leave a message. All in-person counselling appointments are at the counsellor's office. Please provide at least 24 hours' notice of cancellation.

If you experience a crisis after hours, please call us at 1-877-498-6898 and follow the prompts to be connected to a counsellor who is handling crisis calls.

Remember that you can also call the Distress Centre in Calgary at 403-266-HELP (4357) or the Distress Line in Edmonton at 780-482-HELP (4357) or 911.

How do I book an appointment with a counsellor?
Please call our counselling services office at 1-877-498-6898 between 8am and 4pm on weekdays.

Intake staff answer these calls but occasionally are engaging with other callers or clients in the office and the call goes to voicemail. If that happens, please know that the voicemail is confidential. Please leave your name and telephone number. We do not return calls to people who do not leave voicemail messages.

Can I book an appointment via email?
Our intake staff need to speak with you to gather information relevant for matching you with the right counsellor so you must request your initial appointment by telephone.

Can I see a counsellor outside of normal business hours?
Many of our counsellors offer evening or weekend appointments. Please let the intake coordinator know that you require this kind of appointment.

How much do I pay for counselling appointments?
Assist will pay for you and eligible members of your family to each have 4 professional counselling sessions per person per issue per year. These sessions are completely free to you - there is no co-pay or other financial transaction between you and the counsellor.

Sometimes a lawyer, student or family member will choose to see a counsellor for additional sessions at their own cost. These sessions are outside of Assist’s program and you pay the counsellor for each appointment.

What type of qualifications do Assist’s counsellors have?
All of our counsellors are registered psychologists or registered social workers with either a Masters’ degree or a Ph.D. They are members of the College of Alberta Psychologists, or the Alberta College of Social Workers, regulated professions with their own codes of conduct and confidentiality obligations. Assist’s counsellors have an average of 10 years of experience in a variety of clinical settings.

Who finds out if I access counselling through Assist?
Assist’s services are confidential. You book your appointment through our counselling service office, which is staffed by our psychological services provider, Forbes Psychological Services, and you are assigned a four-digit identification code. The only information that Assist staff see is a monthly invoice that discloses appointments using these four-digit codes. We do not know the identities of the individuals represented by this code.

Personal information about individuals accessing counselling services is not provided to Assist or the Law Society of Alberta. Assist reports to its stakeholders using aggregated data and trends in program usage but as we do not have personal information about individuals, no individual information is shared.

Assist's counsellors are members of regulated professions with confidentiality obligations similar to those of lawyers. Please speak to your counsellor if you would like information about confidentiality.

What should I expect when I call 1-877-498-6898?
Your call will be answered by intake staff at Forbes Psychological Services Ltd. who will ask you questions necessary for them to assign the right counsellor to you. You may be asked the general nature of the issues you are experiencing.

The intake staff have been trained in confidentiality.

What does “per issue per year” mean?
It means that we recognize that sometimes people are dealing with more than one issue in a year in which they receive counselling. For example, if you are seeing one of the counsellors for workplace stress issues, you would be entitled to four free sessions per year for that issue, and if another issue arises, like a family issue, you would also be entitled to four free counselling sessions that same year in respect of that new issue.

What if I have to cancel an appointment?
Please give 24 hours’ notice of cancellation wherever possible—call us at 1-877-498-6896.

If you miss an appointment without cancelling, the missed appointment may count as one of the four free sessions to which you are entitled during that year for the issue for which you sought counselling.

Can I see a therapist of my own choice and get reimbursed by Assist?
Unfortunately, our program does not work that way; however, the counsellors in our network of providers have an average of ten years of experience in a variety of clinical settings so you can be confident that they are qualified to assist you.

Peer Support

How do I access peer support?

Please call the Assist office at 1-877-737-5508 between 8am and 4:30pm on weekdays to start the peer support matching process. If talking to us during these hours doesn’t work for you, you can email us to set up a time that works for you. Please email program-manager@lawyersassist.ca.

Is Peer Support Confidential?

Yes. Peer support volunteers are trained in Assist’s confidentiality protocols and, as members of the Law Society of Alberta, are subject to the Code of Conduct. See Confidentiality for more information.

How do I become a Peer Support volunteer?
We are always pleased to welcome new Peer Support volunteers to our team! Please complete the application form or call us at 1-877-737-5508.

We will review your application and contact your references to learn about you and how you fit our program. If your application is approved, we will invite you to a peer support training session, which is a 5 hour session held on a Saturday.

What are Red Mug Coffee Circles?
Red Mug Coffee Circles are opportunities for young lawyers and articling students to drop in and have coffee with a senior lawyer to talk about career issues. Watch our social media for dates, locations and a photo of the volunteer—he or she will be drinking coffee out of a red mug and will buy you a coffee or other beverage while you chat.

During the COVID-19 physical distancing phases, Red Mug Coffee Circles meet online on Mondays at noon. Please email program-manager@lawyersassist.ca if you would like to participate.

Can anyone go to Red Mug Coffee Circles?
While Red Mug Coffee Circles were created as an easy way for junior lawyers and articling students to meet peer support volunteers to discuss issues they are facing when they may not feel comfortable making a telephone call to our office during business hours, our peer support volunteers want to help all members of our profession.

What if the Red Mug Coffee Circle volunteer is busy with someone else?
We try to have another volunteer in that location in case that happens. Look around for another person with a red mug or call the Assist office at 1-877-537-5508.

Education and Awareness

How do I request an Assist speaker for an event?
Please call us at 1-877-737-5508 or email us at program-manager@lawyersassist.ca

Community

I have an idea for a great group that would provide support to lawyers and students in Alberta who are dealing with a particular issue. Can Assist help me?

Please call us at 1-877-737-5508 to discuss your idea for a group and how it would function. If it fits with Assist’s mandate and priorities, we can help you with organization and communications.