Aurora Family Therapy Centre was founded in 1972 as Interfaith Pastoral Institute housed within the Faculty of Theology at the University of Winnipeg. In 1993 the Centre’s name was changed to Interfaith Marriage and Family Institute. Yet another name change occurred in 2005 resulting in Aurora Family Therapy Centre Inc. In April 2016, Aurora and the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) Program separated into individual entities with the Faculty of Education assuming administrative responsibility for the MMFT Program.
In its 45 year history Aurora has been led by three Executive Directors: Dick Dearing, Marilyn Boyd, and for the past 7 years, John Smyth. Together with his staff and Board, John’s leadership has established responsiveness and commitment to the community, stability and resilience during times of change and crisis, and an innovation-orientation to guide the centre into its future.
For the first 30 years of Aurora’s (Interfaith’s) existence, the family therapy centre was the only operating program. Growing out of the principles of interfaith service (inclusivity, accessibility, service to those across all faiths, and cross-cultural work), Aurora began to diversify its services by offering programs through support from a number of external funders including Manitoba Family Services (Child & Family Services Project 9000), Manitoba Justice (Homicide Bereavement and Unresolved Loss), the Winnipeg Foundation and Thomas Sill Foundation (Horses Helping People), and First Nations Inuit Health Branch (therapy services for Indigenous communities). In 2007, recognizing the large gap in services that existed for marginalized immigrants and refugees within our community, Aurora began the Therapy Program for Immigrants and Refugees administered through the Province of Manitoba, and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (now IRCC). The funding for this program ended in 2014 and was resumed in 2016 through support from the United Way of Winnipeg as the Newcomer Therapy Program with time limited funding expiring March 31, 2018.
Aurora considers mental health services accessibility to be a global health equity issue. Keeping in line with our values and proposed strategic directions, Aurora is continuing to develop programming in the area of Newcomer Mental Health. In accordance with best practices as identified by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (2016 Bridging the Gap Report), which advocates for formal mental health services to be delivered in collaboration with community based agencies, Aurora believes that providing mental health services to Newcomer communities is a specialty that requires relationships of trust that supersede the stigma of mental health within the community. Further, we believe that working cross-culturally in a way that supports decolonization requires the service provider to undertake the responsibility of adapting to the world view of the participants, rather than continually expecting marginalized groups to abandon their own values and ways of being in order to privilege those of the dominant culture. This requires a major paradigm shift which Aurora has worked to accomplish and embrace through the provision of community-based programming in the Newcomer Community Development Program. These relationships – through our community discussion groups, recreational programming, and summer youth enhancement program – have created relationships of trust with communities and their leadership which have allowed access to some of the most marginalized and affected community members. This combination of community focus and trauma-informed care is responsible for the success of all of our programming and the positive participation we experience in mental health care with Newcomers.
Today Aurora is a progressive, non-profit family therapy centre that offers family therapy on a sliding scale; sees clients through services funded by Manitoba Department of Families and Department of Justice; provides community building groups for Newcomers to Canada; hosts a Psycho-Social Settlement Needs Assessment program for incoming refugees; provides summer youth programming for many newcomer communities; supports its own staff and other agencies through vicarious trauma and resilience programming; develops supportive relationships with community partners, and engages in advocacy for accessible community-based therapy services for all. Aurora is in the process of becoming a Centre of Excellence in providing cross cultural therapy from a systemic lens with a special focus on psychological trauma & recovery and community development.
The Aurora Family Therapy Centre is committed to providing systemic therapy to strengthen family relationships, individuals, and communities through cross-cultural and trauma-informed care.
Contribute to healthy families, healthy individuals, and healthy communities through respect, inclusivity, and integrity with our values.
Aurora Family Therapy Centre will be recognized as a Centre of Excellence in providing cross cultural therapy from a systemic lens with a special focus on psychological trauma & recovery and community development.
Inclusivity: welcoming those of all race, colour, ancestry, nationality or place of origin, ethnic background, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital and family status, source of income, political belief, physical or mental disability, or social disadvantage.
Holistic and Systemic Approaches: attending to all dimensions of the human condition, including intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, relational and social well-being.
Respect: Enacting relationships based on reciprocity and a fundamental understanding of dignity, self-determination, and human rights.
Adherence to: Professional standards, best practices and relevant codes of ethics.