What is a Therapist?
Although making the decision to attend therapy is the first step, trying to then decide what type of professional to contact can be confusing. With several different professional designations to choose from, many people question what the differences are between them and what type of professional will suit their needs best. Let’s try and clarify some of that confusion here!
Therapist or Counsellor:
The terms therapist and counsellor are often used interchangeably. A therapist will often have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in one of several varying disciplines. Commonly found disciplines include but aren’t limited to: social work(MSW), psychology (MA of PhD), spiritual care (MDiv) and counselling (MA). Therapists often engage clients in varying forms of talk therapy, with a focus on helping client’s identify unhealthy patterns and change worthy behaviours while working to improve overall satisfaction and quality of life.
Psychologists assess, diagnosis and provide treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Psychologists are able to conduct diagnostic testing and assessments, in addition to having the capability to diagnosis psychiatric conditions.
Clinical psychologists work largely in health and social service settings including hospitals, health centers, community mental health teams and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). They often work as part of a team with other health professionals and practitioners. They may work in private practice and provide counselling and psychological services.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. Their main focus is diagnosing mental illness and prescribing medication. They do not typically provide counselling.
Psychiatrists work in a variety of settings, including private practices, clinics, general and psychiatric hospitals, community agencies, courts and prisons and many other places.
What should I look for in a therapist?
This is a great question to consider! Counselling can be a sacred place, where your most personal thoughts and the things that you might not ever say out loud again are shared, which is why ensuring you find a therapist you are comfortable with is important. In fact, research suggests that the relationship between a client and their therapist is a large contributing factor to successful therapy.
Finding the right fit can be a different process for everyone, what works for someone else might not work for you so don’t be afraid to ask potential therapists questions before settling on who you want to see. With that being said, here are few questions to consider while making your choice:
- What credentials and training does the therapist have?
- Do they have any specializations that may apply to your needs more specifically?
- Do you feel more comfortable with a male or female therapist?
- Is there a specific amount of experience you would like your therapist to have?
- How full is the therapist’s schedule?
- How often would you like to see them and can they accommodate that?
- Do you feel comfortable with them?
- Do they seem like someone you could potentially build a trusting relationship with?
- Do they attend counselling themselves?
- Do they do their own work?
Take advantage of a free consultation with Samantha to ensure that all of your questions are answered before making your choice.
How long does counselling take?
The length of counselling can vary greatly depending on a number of different factors. Together, you and Samantha will discuss your specific goals and establish a timeline for therapy. Sometimes issues you are facing will be resolved in a shorter amount of time, somewhere between six to twelve sessions, while others require longer-term, more in-depth work.
What outcomes can therapy provide me?
When you take steps to improve a difficult situation, change unhealthy patterns and embrace learning new skills you begin a journey of healing, growth and empowerment towards a more positive and fulfilled life for yourself.
Some of the possible outcomes from therapy include:
• Developing new ways of relating to self and others
• Strengthened relationships
• Improved communication
• Better self-esteem
• Improved problem-solving
• New conflict resolution skills
• Modifying unhealthy behaviour and long-standing patterns
• Gaining insight into personal patterns and behaviour
• Enhanced social skills
• Improving ways to manage anger,depression and moods
• Better stress management
• Better adjustment to illness and new life circumstances
• Graceful movement through the grieving process
• Strengthened parenting
• Improved family stability
• New knowledge and coping skills
• Increased quality of life
How much does counselling cost?
Rates vary depending on the length of time scheduled and fall within the range of pricing found in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.Sessions with Samantha are $140 for 50 minutes, and $200 for 80 minutes. If you're covered by benefits, you will most likely be covered to see Samantha. Check your benefits package for coverage to see an MSW and/or RSW.
Are you services covered by my benefits?
Most Employee and Family Assistance Plans (EFAP) or Employee Benefit Plans cover counselling/therapy with a Registered Social Worker (RSW),which means that counselling with Samantha will be covered. In addition, students at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo are covered by their student benefits to see Samantha for counselling.
However, because insurance companies and policies vary, it is recommended you check your benefits package to ensure you are covered to see an MSW and/or RSW. It may also be beneficial to check what the allowable coverage is per year.
At each of your sessions, you will be provided with a receipt that includes all the information about your therapist, the service provided, and the amount paid. You can submit this receipt to your insurance company for re-imbursement. If you have no coverage, the receipts are still useful for income tax use.
Are you services tax-deductible?
Counselling services provided by a Registered Social Worker (RSW) can be claimed as a medical expense when filing your income tax return, which means that Registered Social Workers are now authorized medical practitioners for the purposes of claiming medical expenses.
Can you provide a diagnosis or medication?
In Ontario, only medical doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists can make a mental health diagnosis. Of these professionals, doctors and psychiatrists are covered by OHIP and can prescribe medication. If you have questions about a diagnosis or starting and/or changing medication begin with asking your family doctor or visiting a walk-in clinic.
What is your cancellation policy?
It is common practice for mental health professionals to require anywhere from 24-48 hour notice for clients to cancel a scheduled appointment. Samantha understands that circumstances can change unexpectedly and in attempt to be flexible to client’s needs, requests only 24 hours notice when you must cancel or reschedule an appointment. If you are unable to provide at least 24 hours notice when you cancel, you will be charged the full fee for your session unless Samantha is able to fill the appointment with another client. You should note that insurance companies do not typically reimburse for missed appointments.
Samantha understands that emergencies and extenuating circumstances happen and in those situations the fee will be waived. Please contact Samantha as soon as possible if there is a change needed in regards to your appointment.
How does confidentiality work?
Therapists are bound by a professional code of ethics to maintain the privacy of their clients. This means that your personal and private information and what you share in session will be held in the strictest of confidence. Information about your work with your therapist is not shared with anyone else without your written consent. Even the fact that you are attending counselling will remain confidential. If you happen to see Samantha in the community, she will not greet you unless you greet her first.
There arevery clear understandable exceptions to this rule:
- When you give written, informed, signed consent for the information in your clinical record to be communicated to another person, for example your doctor or lawyer.
- When you are clearly at risk of hurting yourself or others, as in suicide or assault.The police would be called.
- If you disclose that a child has been abused or neglected including: a) if domestic violence has occurred and there is a child in the home and/or b) If there is a possibility of your own childhood abuser still being a risk to other children now. In these cases the therapist is obligated to report to the Family and Children Services of Waterloo Region.
- If you disclose abuse by a regulated health care professional such as a psychologist,nurse, dentist or doctor. In these circumstances therapists are obligated to report to the police and any relevant professional college.
- If your therapist is mandated by a court order to do so.
The rules of confidentiality will be discussed in your first session during which you are encouraged to ask any questions concerning these exceptions.
When appropriate, Samantha may consult with other mental health professionals and engage in clinical supervision in order to provide you with the best possible service. When discussing aspects of your case in supervision or consultation, every effort will be made to exclude information that could identify you in order to protect your privacy.