September 23, 2011

What We Do


VAST provides trauma recovery services and a Healing Community, with either group support or individual counselling. VAST wellness support services are provided at no cost, for individuals or families in need. VAST services are used by those who have experienced forced migration trauma, political violence, armed conflict, and persecution on the basis of their religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or political opinions. Usually VAST will refer out to one of our partners for individuals dealing with an active addiction, or for couples therapy, or family therapy (although we may be available to work with all members of the family).
VAST is funded to be able to serve individuals who are:
1. Refugee Claimants: those who apply for refugee status in Canada (Asylum Seekers).
2. Government Assisted Refugees: those who got refugee status overseas and arrive in Canada as Permanent Residents (we provide services usually up to three years)
3. Blended Visa Office Referred Program: a mix of private and government sponsorship  
4. Temporary Foreign Workers (Migrant Workers)
5. Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and Humanitarian & Compassionate visas
6. International students If they are identified as a survivors of torture
7. Privately Sponsored Refugees: those who a private group/agency/church sponsor (some fees may apply)
8. Survivors of Torture: Individuals who have faced violence that meets the definition within the United Nations Convention Against Torture (1987).*
*Although VAST works with survivors who have suffered violence in other countries, we do recognize that Canada has also been a perpetrator of violence that meets the UN definition, particularly against the Indigenous peoples of this land, inflicted via the education, child welfare, criminal justice, and healthcare systems. VAST recognizes that while these survivors also have a Right to Rehabilitation, there are very strong local Indigenous organizations who are holding space for, and guiding this work, including the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS), and the Metro Vancouver Indigenous Services Society (MVISS).
VAST Groups (all are online, write us for more information)
  1. Getting Through It: Refugee claimants Only – every Wednesday 10-12
  2. Now What?: for GARs/PSR/BVORP/H&C/PRRA – every Monday 12-1:30
  3. Move & Relax: for Everyone – Daily, 4:30-5:15pm
  4. Familias Latinas: Spanish speaking Parents & Children, Thursdays 10-12, monthly
  5. Healing through the Arts in Community: for Everyone – time TBC
  6. Survivor Advocates: for aspiring civic leaders – every Monday 6:30-8:30
  7. VAST Outdoors: using the healing power of nature – TBC starting April 15th
  8. Psychosocial Support for Arabic Speakers: Thursdays 12:30-1:30
  9. Beyond Borders & Binaries: for trans-identified newcomers – Wednesdays 6:30-8:30 monthly
  10. VAST Youth Healing: for ages 14-25 – time TBC

Our services are aligned with four categories

We support refugee mental health through counselling, documentation, education, and referrals.


We provide documentation of evidence of psychological trauma for the refugee claim process. We work with our clients (and their lawyers) to document symptoms of psychological trauma to support their refugee claim.


We provide trauma-focused psychological counseling for refugees in one-on-one and group settings. We use psycho-education, emotion self-regulation, and information sharing to prepare our clients for the short-term refugee claim and long-term settlement processes.


We provide referrals to health, housing, and settlement services. We work with our community partners in the health and social services sectors to create a network to support our clients’ basic needs.


We provide training and professional development workshops on refugee mental health for health and social service providers, and students of allied health programs. We work on local and national committees to advance the rights of refugees and access to mental health services.