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Child & Youth Counsellors

Who we are

Child and Youth Counsellors (CYC) are a unique group of professionals that have a long history of supporting young people and their families in managing complex needs. We develop and implement a wide range of prevention, intervention and treatment strategies to foster positive change and healthy development.

We apply principles of relational practice with young people while respecting their unique culture and diversity. We promote a strength-based approach that focuses on encouraging a young person’s strengths in overcoming their struggles.

We work in many settings within health care and the community such as hospitals, residential programs, school-based programs, shelters, youth detention and many more. We do individual and family counselling, and create and implement programs that respond to identified needs of young people.

We run groups, provide assessments and crisis prevention or intervention strategies. We foster and utilize therapeutic environments to maximize learning and growth for young people. We focus on social skills, strengths-building, emotional growth and development, and overall functioning in the context of the family and social environment.

CYCs have a three-year college diploma in Child and Youth Work, graduating with 1500 hours of field work. Many have degrees in Child and Youth Care, and some have advanced degrees in fields such as education, criminology, and psychology. Many have Master’s level education.

How we support patients and families at SickKids

There are five areas within Psychiatry and Adolescent Medicine that utilize Child and Youth Counsellors. Two are based on the inpatient unit and three are outpatient.

The Inpatient Unit supports individuals during a mental health crisis and individuals struggling with eating disorders.

The role of the CYC working with individuals on the unit can vary depending on patient assignment. CYCs provide a unique perspective as they work with multi-disciplinary teams on assessments, care planning and treatment. We assist in the psychotherapeutic interventions and ensure that safety measures to protect young people, families and staff are in place.

We advocate for the needs of the young people experiencing crisis, and their families. We also develop and implement structured and unstructured programs. We provide daily care and support of young people and their families on the unit and work to develop improved communication and coping strategies to use after leaving the hospital.

The unit also provides a CYC in a milieu therapist (MT) role supporting the eating disorder program. Their role is to act as part of the multi-disciplinary team to consult with children and families, and to provide support around treatment. The MT takes the lead role in developing programming for the milieu. As part of a multi-disciplinary team the main function of the MT is to develop, coordinate and implement both structured and unstructured treatment interventions.

The Psychiatry Day Hospital program CYCs work within a multidisciplinary team. The program provides direct service and care to young people and families. We complete psychosocial assessments for psychiatry program referrals and actively participate in the triage and intake process. We develop individualized treatment care plans, and create and facilitate therapeutic and psycho-educational programming for young people and families. We also provide individual and group counselling including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) therapy, and transitional coordination for patients returning to home, school or into the community.

Within the Day Hospital Program, CYCs work alongside a multidisciplinary team and are always available to the young people. A CYC will partner with each young person coming into the program as their primary worker. In collaboration with other members of the team, we will provide individual support to the young person and assist in development of realistic and self-directed goals.

The CYC will meet with the young person on a weekly or as-needed basis to discuss goals and other areas of significance. In addition, we participate in the various functions of the Day Hospital including: participation in team meetings with the young person and family’s identified support team, therapeutic and recreational group co-leadership, planning and facilitation of food desensitization group with input from the clinical dietitian, meal support, and classroom support. We will work alongside the young person and family during their journey providing support for challenges each step of the way.

This is a program for young people coping with issues related to substance use/abuse. The CYC works alongside a multidisciplinary team to implement the harm reduction model of care for young people individually and within groups. We assist with the school program and facilitate/co-facilitate therapeutic groups. We provide support to the young person and their caregivers in assisting with the development of treatment goals. We work with the young people to acknowledge success and strategies to support their efforts as they transition to the community.

Student placements

Practicum opportunities may exist in any of the following areas: Inpatient Psychiatry and Eating Disorders Program; Psychiatry Day Hospital Program; Eating Disorders Day Hospital Program. Placement spots are limited and vary from semester to semester.

Potential Semester Placements

September to December; September to April; January to April; May to August

Potential Interview Schedule

  • September will be interviewed for in June: resumes should be submitted no later than the second week of May
  • January will be interviewed for in November: resumes should be submitted no later than the second week of October
  • May will be interviewed for in March: resumes should be submitted no later than the second week of February

Student Roles and Responsibilities

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • attend family therapy sessions and team meetings
  • observe group treatment
  • meal supervision
  • bathroom precautions
  • milieu supervision
  • group and therapeutic activity creation and facilitation
  • observe individual therapy
  • documentation

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • classroom coverage
  • milieu supervision including outings within the community
  • group and therapeutic activity creation and facilitation
  • attend family meetings and weekly rounds
  • documentation

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • meal supervision
  • classroom coverage
  • milieu coverage
  • attend family meetings
  • observe group treatment
  • bathroom precautions
  • documentation

Student placement eligibility requirements and application process

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a student placement at SickKids you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be registered in a Child and Youth Care program.
  • You must be going into your final year placement.
  • You must be a member of the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care (OACYC).

How to apply

To apply for a student placement, submit your resume and cover letter by email to:

Denise Halliday, CYC Placement Coordinator


We will review resumes and contact students that meet requirements for an interview. Only successful applicants will be contacted.

If you are invited for an interview, come prepared to the interview with two professional references (one must be a previous placement) and one therapeutic coping skills activity planned for presentation.

We will ensure interviews are completed and successful applicants are notified at least one and a half months prior to the placement start date.

Successful applicants will be required to provide a current vulnerable sector check, current TB test, proof of immunization.

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