Legality and legislations 

Support Worker Therapist
Mandatory Reporter for vulnerable population Mandatory Reporter for vulnerable population
Criminal Record Check Criminal Record Check
Optional Professional licensure and training
Optional Professional Insurance
Agency-based Supervision and Ethical Guidelines
Optional Strict rules around client privileges and confidentiality
May have more physical contact with clients Strict rules and guidelines around physical contact

From the consumer’s perspective, the therapist offers higher quality therapeutic services and client safety is provided systemically.

Scope of Service

Support Worker Therapist
Support the client in daily functions and tasks Provide therapeutic services within the scope of their professional practice
Implement therapy programming Case Management and Treatment Planning
Recreational access and experience
Enhance client care through specialist consultation and support Enhance client care through professional development
More intimate access to the client’s life Therapeutic experience is “bracketed” and the client controls the level of disclosure and access


Cherish Differences

Therapeutic Support Worker Therapist
Prioritize therapeutic-relationship Prioritize therapeutic-relationship
Open communication about client issues within agency and approved specialists Strict rules around confidentiality and client-privileges
Decolonize, de-stigmatize, de-shaming helping giving Decolonize, de-stigmatize, de-shaming therapy
Advocate for the client Advocate for the client
Provide service that directly improves the client’s ease of living Provide service that facilitates exploration and growth towards a better quality of life
Consultant/specialist/Agency oriented competency and responsibility Competency and responsibility as defined by the licensure guideline
Reduced exposure to vicarious trauma High exposure to vicarious trauma
Agency support in customer management Customer management is confidential


Ease of Living vs. Quality of Life

We need both

Normal Kunc emphasizes the distinction between ease of living—minimizing physical struggle in daily tasks—and quality of life, which encompasses personal experiences, relationships, fun, and contributions to the community. He argues that society often mistakenly equates ease of living with quality of life, overlooking the fact that meaningful life experiences often do not correlate with one’s level of functioning.

However, from experience, we can consult and counsel all day but it would not make a difference if the client is experiencing the negative impact from social determinants of health.  Our support workers are the “boots on the ground” to provide social, logistical, and emotional support for our clients who are “in the hole”.  Technically, the provincially funded social worker is supposed to do this job but they are so underfunded and stretched, that this is not possible.  This is where our support workers step in.  We get in the hole with our clients and we stay there with them.  If our client is circling the drain, we want to be proactive about offering support before they fall into the whole.

Decolonialize Approach to Wellness

If we were to truly decolonize therapy, then the informal and more intimate context of support work would be the ideal setting for healing and processing. However, there is a sacredness that is the therapeutic relationship between a client and counsellor that we need to cherish and protect.  

Lexxus, one of our counsellors, has found the beautiful middle ground between a support worker and a counsellor and provides a unique service appreciated by the most marginalized clients we have.  So thinking outside of the box is always a good idea.