Talk Shop

Reader's Digest Canada|June 2020

Talk Shop
Just when we needed it most, a Toronto storefront provides affordable, accessible therapy
Malcolm Johnston

Founder Kate Scowen designed Hard Feelings to feel welcoming.

FROM THE STREET, Hard Feelings looks more like an independent bookstore than a mental health centre. Shelves are lined with books on trauma, gender and sexuality, parenting and more. You can buy candles, notebooks, teas and mugs. But past the cheery receptionist wait three rooms reserved for counselling sessions.

Kate Scowen opened Hard Feelings in Toronto in 2017. Therapy in Canada can be prohibitively expensive for low income and gig economy workers and anyone else without workplace benefits. Scowen wanted to fill the gap by making a difference, not a profit.

Scowen wasn’t new to helping others. Over almost 30 years, she held various jobs assisting marginalized youth, and taught English to community work students at Toronto’s George Brown College. At age 49, after a lifetime of practical experience, she enrolled in the graduate social work program at University of Toronto. It was during her studies that she landed on a plan to open her own counselling centre.

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June 2020