What is a psychologist?
A psychologist is a licensed practitioner who has extensive university-level training in the assessment and treatment of psychological difficulties. Psychologists are trained to provide counselling and psychotherapy, which are effective methods of helping people better understand themselves, reduce their psychological pain, improve their relationships with others, become more productive in their lives, and increase their feelings of happiness and well-being. Psychologists are experts in psychological processes, and provide scientifically- based therapeutic interventions in order to help people make positive changes in their lives.
What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychotherapist?
In Quebec, only certain licensed professionals are legally allowed to practice psychotherapy, since psychotherapy is a regulated act. The Order of Psychologists of Quebec (OPQ) determines who is (and is not) allowed to provide psychotherapy. The OPQ has determined that both Psychologists and Psychotherapists are qualified to provide psychotherapy.
Psychologists typically have an Undergraduate degree in psychology (3-4 years), a Master’s degree (1-2 years), and a PhD (4-6 years). Prior to 2006, a PhD was not required to become licensed as a psychologist.
Psychotherapists must have a professional license (e.g., Nurse, Social Worker, Counsellor) with extensive training in psychotherapy. They must also have a permit to practice psychotherapy, issued to them by the Order of Psychologists of Quebec (OPQ).
Please check with your insurance company to see if they cover services provided by a Psychologist or a Psychotherapist.
How do I know if I need therapy?
If you are feeling stuck, not quite satisfied with how your life is going, are in a crisis, or simply want to focus on personal growth, therapy may be right for you. You do not need a psychological diagnosis to benefit from counselling or psychotherapy. Therapy can help you to understand yourself better, to see things in a new way, and to discover new ways of interacting with others. Therapy may also be beneficial to you if you are experiencing emotional suffering, if you are not able to accomplish things like you used to be able to, or if other people that you trust have expressed concerns about how you are doing. Finally, therapy may be for you if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder such as depression, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.
How many sessions are needed?
- How long have you had the problem?
- How many goals do you want to achieve?
- How complex are the goals?
- What resources and sources of support are available to help you reach your goals?
- How motivated are you to work towards your goals during the therapy sessions, and also between therapy sessions?
Therapy can have ups and downs, and some sessions can feel more useful than others. The important thing is to feel like overall, you are moving in the right direction. It is kind of like planting seeds in garden. If you check the garden every 15 minutes, you may not notice that many changes. However, over time, you should start to notice some meaningful changes taking place.
What happens during the individual therapy sessions?
Pre-therapy: Intake paperwork
If you would like to get a head start and save some time before the first session, you may wish to click here to download our intake and consent form. Parents of child and adolescent clients may also wish to download and complete the Parent’s Intake Form. These forms can be printed, completed by hand, and brought with you to your first appointment. If you do not have access to a printer, please arrive to the clinic a ½ hour in advance of your appointment and ask the secretary for the intake forms. Please note that the secretaries are on duty from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. If your appointment is outside of these hours, this option will not be available to you.
During the first session, your therapist will go over the intake form(s) with you to make sure that all the information has been properly understood. If you prefer not to fill in the paperwork beforehand, your therapist will assist you to complete the intake and consent form during your first appointment.
Phase 1: Assessment and Treatment Planning
During the first few sessions, you and your psychologist will begin to get to know one another. Your reasons for seeking consultation and your expectations for therapy will be discussed. Your psychologist will provide you with emotional support, and will ask you some questions in order to understand the difficulties you are experiencing in your life. A treatment plan that fits with your values and the context of your life will be developed. This plan will be designed specifically for you and will include your goals for therapy, and a list of strategies to help you reach these goals.
Phase 2: Intervention
You and your psychologists will work together on the treatment plan developed during phase 1. This plan may be revised if needed as therapy progresses. The length of phase varies according to your needs.
Phase 3: Termination and Relapse Prevention
During the final few sessions of therapy, your progress in therapy will be reviewed, and a toolbox of strategies will be created to help you maintain your treatment gains. The purpose of the toolbox is to remind you how you were able to cope effectively with difficulties during therapy, so that you can use these same tools again in the future to help prevent problems from returning, or to be more effective at coping with problems if they return.
How long are the therapy sessions?
Sessions last approximately 45-50 minutes and typically occur on a weekly basis. If you are in distress you can be seen more frequently as needed (e.g., twice a week), or if things are going more-or-less fine or if finances are an issue, you can be seen less often (e.g., every 2 weeks or once a month). However, a once-a-week format is most typical because it allows for enough time between the sessions for you to work on whatever was discussed in the session, but not so much time that the next session is spent updating the therapist on a lot of things that have happened between the sessions.
What about Payment?
Payment is due at the start of every session by cash, debit, or credit card. Paying at the start of the session allows the remainder of the time to be spent on the therapy, so that the session can end on time (at ten minutes to the hour). This policy helps to keep the entire therapy process within the allotted time frame so that all clients can be seen on time.
Most insurance companies cover psychological services provided by a psychologist, or services provided by therapists supervised by a psychologist. Please check with your insurance company to verify your particular coverage. All of our psychologists are licensed with the Order of Psychologists of Quebec (OPQ). Any unclaimed fees provided by a licensed psychologist may be claimed as medical expenses on your yearly income tax returns.
Kindly provide us with 48-hours’ notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment to avoid being charged for the missed session. When you schedule a session, time has been set aside especially for you. If you need to cancel, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance so that the spot can be made available to others who may be waiting for an appointment. However, we understand that emergencies and unexpected illness can happen. If you need to cancel an appointment for these reasons, you will not be charged for providing less than 24 hours’ notice.
Many people are used to spending significant amounts of money on trips, pets, cars, and televisions, but they are not used to the idea of investing money into their own well-being. Therapy is an investment that requires not only your time, energy, and emotions, but also a financial commitment. Although therapy can appear expensive in the short-term, it can save you many costs in the long-term. For example, not seeking help can cost you continued emotional suffering; financial costs associated with taking medications, loss of productivity at working including needing to take sick days and missing opportunities for promotion; costs to your health associated with binge eating, smoking, drinking, or taking drugs to reduce stress; missed opportunities for developing supportive and intimate relationships with others such as romantic partners, friends, family members, and co-workers. Fortunately, the sooner that you make this investment, the longer you will have to enjoy its benefits.
How do I get the most out of my therapy sessions?
In order to make the most of your investment, you may wish to think about some specific goals that you would like to achieve in therapy. During the sessions, a flexible plan can be made to help you achieve these goals. The goals may change as therapy progresses, but it can be useful to start with some sense of what you would like to achieve. Working towards goals requires time and effort both in-session, and especially between sessions. Therapy can help you to plan activities to work on between therapy sessions. You may wish to keep all of your therapy handouts in a binder or notebook so that you can easily refer to them during the week.
Is what I say in therapy confidential?
Psychologists are required to document their services. Files may include items such as: personal information, progress notes, and evaluations. This material is kept strictly confidential. Confidentiality is a key principal upon which the practice of psychotherapy is based. No information about you can be released to a third party your without your prior written consent, or verbal consent in the case of an emergency. Exemptions to professional secrecy, where disclosure is required, may include: (1) you are under 14 years of age, and your parents/legal guardians want access to your file, (2) risk of imminent danger, such as suicide, death, risk of running away, or serious bodily harm to an identifiable person or group, (3) suspected or known abuse or neglect of a child or older adult, (4) unsafe operation of a motor vehicle, (5) requests ordered by a court of law or the Order of Therapists of Quebec, or (6) access is required by other personnel (e.g., administrative staff) to carry out their professional duties, (7) limits related to technology such as email or Skype. Therapists must, as soon as the interest of their client so requires, receive supervision, consult another therapist, a member of another professional order, or another competent person. Disclosure of identifying information will be minimized, and your name will not be released without your consent.
I’m not sure if I like therapy. What should I do?
Therapy can be hard work. If you have any concerns about the process of therapy, please mention your concerns to your psychologist as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that you receive the best care possible, even if this involves referring you to another resource. The goal of Blake Psychology is to help you in the way that you need to be helped, by a person who is qualified to do so.
What if I’m still not sure if therapy is right for me?
Attending therapy is completely voluntary. You are welcome to book an appointment to see if there is a connection between yourself and your psychologist, and to give therapy a chance to see what it can do for you. If you find that therapy is not right for you, you are free to discontinue treatment at any time, or to request a referral to another source of help. If you have any additional questions, please contact us by phone or email and someone will be happy to assist you.
Do you think a loved one could benefit from reading this?
Click the box below to copy the URL and share it using your favorite method (Email, Facebook Messenger, SMS, etc).