Referrals in Counselling


When confronted with a crisis situation it’s important to be have the knowledge to tackle a crisis but also to have appropriate referrals for the client. In some roles, like that of 911 Operator, dispatching of police, fire and ambulance will be the sole “referral”, and while police or Victims Services may provide some referrals, the majority of the time this falls on to social services workers they come in contact with.

On services like Distress Centre Durham’s 24-hour helpline, referrals make up a small portion of our calls (between 5 and 10% each year), and more than half of these are to the local Mobile Crisis Team. On the Online Text and Chat Service (ONTX), the numbers are even smaller. Not all crisis roles will involve referrals but it good to be aware of them for times when client needs fall outside the boundaries of the service provided by your own agency.

Making Good Referrals

  • Initiate referrals or option exploration only when the client requests it or agency limits and boundaries (e.g. time limits, in-person vs. telephone service) require it
  • Obtain a copy of the United Way Blue Book, access to the website/211 phone number for situations where referrals fall outside of your scope of knowledge
  • Ensure that any referral list is regularly updated to ensure individuals have correct contact information
  • If possible, conduct tours or bring in speakers from your most popular referrals so that you can confidently describe the intake and service delivery
  • Set a date for when the client will access the referrals and then follow up (if this is allowed as part of your agency procedures) to see if they were able to. If not – explore why. Long wait list? Bureaucracy? Client not sure how?
  • Review referral data regularly (at least on once a year) to determine what unmet needs exist in your community

Durham Region Referrals

The following are referrals that are regularly referred within Durham Region. These referrals should meet the Course Learning Outcome for CRIS 1342 “Describe and discuss various crises and suggest agency referrals.” All the below issues may be handled by Distress Centre Durham helpline workers or Online Text and Chat Responders, in addition to the specific external agencies listed.

These organizations are in no way comprehensive – there are many situations not covered here (e.g. motor vehicle accidents, issues involving children, pregnancy, relationships and so on) but this is a good start. 211 is your friend!

Addiction Referrals in Durham Region

  • Pinewood Centre – Pinewood is a full-service addiction treatment facility. They provide detox and withdrawal management, in addition to addictions counselling on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Counselling and Mental Health Referrals in Durham Region

  • Catholic Family Services of Durham Region – Catholic Family Services provides counselling (both on a walk-in basis and scheduled appointments) on a geared-to-income basis for a range of mental health issues. They provide service in both English and French and specialize in trauma but work with a wide variety of clients.
  • Durham Region Family Services – The Region of Durham also provides counselling with a team of trained counsellors.
  • Durham Mental Health Services – Durham Mental Health Services provides case management, counselling and emergency support (including Mobile Crisis and residential crisis beds) within Durham Region.

Financial and Employment Crisis Referrals in Durham Region

  • Community Development Council Durham (CDCD) – CDCD has programs for some areas of financial need like winter heating costs and housing stability.
  • John Howard of Durham Region – John Howard provides employment-based supports as well as counselling in the areas of anger management and intimate partner violence.
  • Ontario Works – For individuals who are in need of immediate assistance, Ontario Works can provide direct cash benefits to unemployed or underemployed individuals to help them pay their bills and remain homed and fed.

Homelessness Referrals in Durham Region

  • Bethesda House – Bethesda House is a shelter for women fleeing abuse located in Bowmanville.
  • Cornerstone Community Association – Cornerstone is the only men’s shelter in Durham Region. They provide transitional housing, and a residential shelter. Cornerstone will take single men over 16 years of age, single men with young children and couples with children. It is located in Oshawa.
  • Denise House – Denise House is a shelter for women feeling abuse located in Oshawa.
  • DYHSS (Durham Youth Housing and Support Services) – Also known as Joanne’s House, this is the only youth shelter in Durham Region, for youth 16 to 24, located in Ajax. Youth below 16 are required to be housed with Children’s Aid Society.
  • Herizon House – Herizon House is a shelter for women feeling abuse located in Ajax.
  • Muslim Welfare Home – The Muslim Welfare Home is a shelter for homeless women, whether or not they are fleeing abuse. It is located in Whitby.

Legal Referrals in Durham Region

  • Durham Community Legal Clinic – The Durham Community Legal Clinic provides general legal support to low-income individuals in the Durham Region who are in need of legal advice.
  • Durham Family Court Clinic – The Durham Family Court Clinic helps youth and families who have come into contact with the criminal justice system by providing assessment, counselling and support groups.
  • Luke’s Place – Luke’s Place provides women with emotional support and practical advice as they navigate the Family Court system with a trained advocate. For men as well as women who are survivors of intimate partner violence, Luke’s Place provides an adovcate that may accompany you to Court.

Physical and Sexual Health Referrals in Durham Region

  • Brain Injury Association of Durham – For those individuals who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, the Brain Injury Association provides peer support and support groups.
  • Durham Sexual Health Clinic – The sexual health clinic provides confidential and anonymous STI screening, contraception and referrals.
  • Oshawa Community Health Centre – The Oshawa Community Health Centre provides a full spectrum of physical and mental health services including general medicine, counselling, nutrition and other supports in one location.

Sexual Assault and Domestic (Intimate Partner) Violence Referrals in Durham Region

  • Durham Rape Crisis CentreFor women who have been victims/survivors of sexual assault, the Durham Rape Crisis Centre provides 24/7 emotional support and crisis intervention.
  • Lakeridge Health Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Care Centre (DVSACC)For men or women who have experienced recent intimate partner violence or sexual violence (ideally within the previous 72 hours) you can be examined by a nurse for signs of injury, which can be documented without getting the police involved. This can help if you later decide to pursue a case against the person who injured you.
  • Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse – Run by the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, this toll-free service provides men access to information and referral. Like most lines of this nature run by the province (ConexOntario, the Mental Health and Addictions Helplines), I don’t believe they provide emotional support. This is a glaring absence

Sudden Loss or Grief Referrals in Durham Region

  • Bereaved Families of Ontario – Bereaved Families of Ontario has a Durham chapter that provides peer support through telephone, support groups and one-on-one sessions. Their programs tend to be focused on parents grieving the loss of their children but they provide other groups as needed.
  • Distress Centre Durham – Distress Centre provides two 8-week support groups, one for survivors of suicide (who have lost someone in their life to suicide) and a homicide survivor group, in addition to weekly “call outs” with a peer support survivor who has completed training. The Suicide Survivor group runs approximately 4 times a year while the homicide group runs once every 1-2 years based on availability.
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) – The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network provides support for women and men grieving the loss of a child, either during pregnancy (through miscarriage, illness, abortion, etc.) or in infancy.
  • VON Durham Hospice – Durham Hospice provides both palliative care support (resources for individuals with less than a year to live) and bereavement support (for those who have lost someone close to them.) Bereavement services are provided one-on-one in a peer support model, with groups available for teens/children, adults grieving the loss of their mothers and general grief support groups.
Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2016), "Referrals in Counselling," retrieved on December 9, 2022 from

One thought on “Referrals in Counselling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.