Substance Misuse Counselling

Watari’s Community Addictions Counselling Team (CACT) works with individuals, couples, and families in the Strathcona/ Downtown Eastside area and surrounding communities around issues related to problem substance misuse. We provide free confidential counselling, education, referrals, and other preventative programs. Referrals to the program can come from anyone including: family, social workers, MEIA workers and self. The counselling team is committed to serving people from a harm reduction philosophy.

Open Monday to Friday, the counselling team will assist the people we support in identifying the areas of their lives that are working and those that are a struggle.

We recognize that substance use is often connected to other issues such as: poverty, abuse, isolation, or mental illness. So whether it’s your struggle or that of a loved one, Watari’s highly trained and compassionate counsellors can bridge you with new options, choices, and opportunities. Our team of counsellors come with different backgrounds and approaches, allowing us to find a match for anyone walking through our doors.

Indigenous Talking Circle

Every Friday at 12pm, John hosts an Indigenous Talking Circle for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people, and their families.

Culture as therapy is practiced in this group. Through this group we have opportunities to do many things including make drums, smudge, and harvest medicines.

Food and beverages are also provided.

For more information or to join call John at:


or email him at: john@watari.ca 

“Quê hương là vàng hoa bí

Là hồng tím giậu mồng tơi

Là đỏ đôi bờ dâm bụt

Màu hoa sen trắng tinh khôi

Quê hương mỗi người chỉ một

Như là chỉ một mẹ thôi

Quê hương có ai không nhớ”

This group is for Vietnamese people in the community. Although running a little differently due to COVID-19, the group meets to socialize with other members of the community. Together we share culturally appropriate food, socialize, and celebrate Vietnamese Tết.

For more information, or to join please call Veronica at 604-356-0424 or email her at: veronica@watari.ca

The Storytelling Group for adults, takes place every Thursday at 10:30am at Watari or via Zoom. Each week features a new story with a new message. After reading the story to the group, we all discuss things such as: what we got from the story, what it makes us think about, and what it means to us.

It’s a group counselling session with a fairytale twist!

For more information, or to join call:


or email Amen at: amen@watari.ca

Story Telling

We offer art therapy as an alternative to traditional counselling. While it is offered to everyone, priority is given to youth under the age of 24.

Art therapy is a proven method of counselling. It engages all the senses to relax the nervous system. It helps people in many ways including: reducing anxiety and agitation, psychosocial support, behavioral issues, decreasing loneliness and social isolation, and allowing you to feel more in control. As well, using imagery, colours, and shapes, allow thoughts and feelings to be expressed that would otherwise be hard to articulate.

Prior art experience is not necessary. 

For more information call Brynne at:


or email: brynne@watari.ca

Art Therapy

The Process:

Everyone must have an intake appointment with our Intake/ Substance Misuse Counsellor: Heather Scarff, on their first visit to Watari. Intakes take approximately 30-45 minutes. When the intake is completed, Heather will connect you with the counsellor that has been assigned to you. Sometimes there is a waitlist, however we do our absolute best to support you as soon as possible!

For more information or to see a counsellor, please call us at:


or email: heather@watari.ca to set up an intake meeting

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