Unfortunately, unjustified stigma around mental illness still exists, and thus a common misconception is that you have to be “crazy” or on the verge a serious mental breakdown to see a therapist.
We have yet to meet a “crazy” client! The people we see in our practice are successful professionals, incredible parents and some of the most self-motivated individuals we have met. This is hardly a surprise to us as people who seek counselling during challenging times in their lives are committed to self-development and learning new coping skills; most of all, they have the strength to be vulnerable.
As such, counselling is useful when you want extra support during major life transitions and challenges, when you are in emotional distress, and, of course, counselling can also be a part of your self-care routine, preventative maintenance or a way to achieve personal growth and maintain health and wellness.
What are the benefits of seeing a counsellor?
We like to think of counselling as emotional self-care, and these are some of the benefits we see most often:
deeper awareness of and insight into self and others
strengthened coping skills
improved interpersonal relationships
enhanced ability to express emotions and explore situations, relationships, behaviours, thoughts or feelings that may be causing difficulty
reliable comfort and support during a crisis or a challenging time
What are the risks of counselling?
Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness and helplessness. Approaching feelings or thoughts that you have tried not to think about for a long time may be painful. Making changes in your beliefs or behaviour can be scary and sometimes disruptive to your current relationships. It is important that you consider carefully whether the risks involved with change are worth the benefits.
How many sessions will I need?
Generally speaking, length of therapy varies depending on the client’s needs and circumstances. However, the specific number of sessions will be up to you and what you hope to achieve through our work together. There is absolutely no pressure to keep coming for a specific amount of time. At our first session, we will ask you questions to help us understand you, your history, current symptoms and most importantly what you hope to achieve through counselling. Once we set up a plan and goals for therapy, we will have a general sense as to how many sessions may be needed. Having said that, as a client, you can decide at any time what works best for you as therapy is a collaborative process.
Are the counselling sessions completely confidential?
Everything that we discuss in counselling is completely confidential unless:
you indicate to us in the session that you may be a danger to yourself or others
you disclose abuse of a vulnerable person such as a child
our records are subpoenaed by a court order
you give us written consent to speak to a third party such as another health care professional
We will make every reasonable effort to discuss these circumstances with you prior to the involvement of other professionals.
Will my extended health care insurance cover the cost of counselling?
Every plan is different. Contact your plan provider before booking an appointment to ensure coverage. Many extended health care plans (e.g., Sunlife, Blue Cross, ManuLife, Great West Life) will reimburse you for counselling with a registered clinical counsellor. If you have extended coverage, you will be required to first pay for the counselling session and then submit your receipt to your extended health care plan for reimbursement.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist, clinical counsellor and a psychologist?
Psychiatrists have a degree in medicine similar to your family physician, followed by specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, emotional disorders, and behavioral problems. They often prescribe medication as treatment. Their fees are covered by the Medical Services Plan, but there can be long waiting lists to be seen on referral.
The distinction between a counsellor and a psychologist is mainly academic. Both registered clinical counsellors and registered psychologists hold graduate degrees from recognized educational institutions. A registered psychologist has generally completed a doctorate degree and university research. A registered clinical counsellor holds a master’s degree but not all thesis work is research-based. Counsellors and psychologists often have the same training in a range of therapies, such as TIR and CBT.
I’m new to this! What can I expect?
We want the counselling experience to be as comfortable and interactive as possible. To do that, we feel that demystifying the process might help set you at ease before you even step foot in my counselling studio.
When you first contact us, we will do our best to return your call (or email) by the next business day. Then we will set up an appointment time, and you are welcome to ask any questions or voice concerns you may have about the whole process.
During the first few minutes of your first session, we will ask you to read and sign two forms: the Informed Consent form, which outlines your rights as a client and my legal and ethical boundaries as a counsellor, and the Fees & Financial Agreement Form, which outlines costs, methods of payment and the 24-hour cancellation policy. Once general business is taken care of, the time is yours to talk and discuss what has been going on for you and how that has been affecting your life. By the end of the session, we will have outlined some therapeutic goals with you, as well as what to expect in our sessions when addressing the types of concerns you are struggling with. Finally, we will be asking you for some feedback about the session and give you an opportunity to ask questions and to clarify anything that was discussed.