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Our Philosophy

Child, Youth, and Family Counseling

NARSF Programs is informed in its administrative and clinical operation by a systems perspective that integrates trauma theory within a family therapy framework. Using Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) as a basis for understanding emotional processes within families allows for counsellors to understand presenting problems in the context of a multitude of factors that influence and shape family functioning from a multi-generational, multi-systemic perspective. Trauma-Informed theory allows for the counsellor to understand how early and/or ongoing chronic stress and experiences of trauma and neglect shape interpersonal and social development. Current research in the field of neuroscience and child trauma grounds us in understanding that stressful experiences prime the nervous system and shape neural pathways for relating and coping in the world. We understand attachment theory to be important to understanding the development of relational patterns and transmission of emotional processes. By integrating an understanding of trauma-informed theory and attachment theory into a systems approach, the counsellor is encouraged to formulate interventions from a basis that security and safety are essential elements for managing emotional regulation and chronic anxiety within the individual and the family with an understanding that engaging the whole person, including the body, is central to developing new neural pathways of regulation.

NARSF Programs is committed to a grounding in systems and trauma-informed theory informed by a Narrative approach; this provides a way of deconstructing a family’s presenting issues, believing clients have innate resources and supporting them to develop these, and enhance self regulation and empowering families to be active participants in their own life learning and functioning. A grounding in a narrative approach centres us in the perspective of client as expert, an understanding that clients make meaning according to their individual contexts and thus we are committed to a therapeutic process in which goals are client-identified and solutions are client-generated. Compelled by our commitment to upholding the dignity of clients, practice at NARSF Programs is informed by a feminist and Indigenous anti-oppressive lens which exerts staff to continue to work at self-examination and engage in dialogue on personal  biases, stereotypes, and systemic discrimination with the goal of evolving cultural safety and reducing barriers to service for persons served from minoritized groups (ie:  Indigenous, refugee/ immigrant, LGBTQ, disabled).

NARSF Programs views the family as the primary influence interacting with other social contexts in every aspect of a person’s development. The maintenance of strong, connected family relationships is viewed as a major determinant in achieving positive life outcomes and permanency of kinship ties. Counsellors draw on evidence-based learning from the humanities and sciences to supplement individual and family interventions for promoting wellness and functioning specifically attachment, developmental, life-cycle theories and emerging research in neuro-science and epigenetics.

Learning is the primary concept that shapes and guides all aspects of NARSF Programs activity. NARSF Programs views itself as a “learning system” in which clients, staff and program administrators are engaged in a process of learning and adapting to the different challenges and dilemmas that present themselves. Program counsellors guide and coach clients in a learning process that allows for a new way of understanding presenting problems and an opportunity to plan and implement new and more effective relationship strategies.

NARSF Program counselors are themselves engaged in a learning process that deepens their theoretical knowledge, improves their clinical practice, and builds personal and professional self-awareness. Program administration and clinical supervision is also engaged in the “learning system” through the provision of clinical support, training and supervision and through various mechanisms that track program outcomes and effectiveness that in turn inform strategic planning at the agency level.

NARSF Programs is a place of learning!

News, Tidbits and Updates

According to Statistics Canada, over the last 100 years, Canada has experienced many social, economic, legislative, and cultural changes. As a result, the family circumstances and living arrangements of Canadians have evolved substantially.

  • In 2016, close to 2 in 10 children aged 0 to 14 (19.2%) were part of a lone‑parent family, and 1 in 10 (9.8%) was part of a step family.
  • More than one in three (34.7%) young adults aged 20 to 34 were living with at least one parent in 2016, a share that has been increasing since 2001.
  • More young men than women live with their parents. In 2016, five men for every four women aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents, even though the proportion of young women living with their parents rose twice as quickly as that of men over the preceding 15 years.
  • In 1931, 12% of children were in lone-parent families, close to the proportion experienced in 1981 (13%). Most of these children lived with a widowed lone parent, meaning that a relatively large share of children at this time had experienced the death of a parent.
  • The baby-boom years (1946 to 1965) were characterized by a relatively large share of married-couple families and high fertility rates. In 1961, 94% of children in census families were living with married parents, the highest proportion observed over the past century.
  • In subsequent decades, the share of lone-parent families rose, from a low of 6% in 1961 to 15% in 1991 and to 22% in 2011. In contrast to the lone-parent families of the early 20th century, a larger proportion of these families were headed by women.