What is the difference between a psychologist and a counsellor?
The terms psychologist, counsellor, and therapist are often used interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same thing. The title 'Registered Psychologist' represents a professional designation that is issued through the College of Alberta Psychologists. In Alberta, this designation requires a minimum of a Masters Degree in a counselling related field, in addition to the completion of a 1600 hour internship and multiple examinations. The title 'Provisionally Registered Psychologist' refers to someone in the process of completing the registration requirements, usually meaning they are completing the internship hours and are under the supervision of a Registered Psychologist.
The designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.) is issued through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and represents a practitioner that has completed a minimum of a Masters Degree and some supervised counselling experience. The certification requirements aren't quite as rigorous as those required for by the College of Alberta Psychologists, but they nonetheless ensure a minimum standard of education, training, and experience, which is important in ensuring quality services. Please note that some insurance providers will not reimburse for services provided by a C.C.C.
The terms counsellor, therapist, and psychotherapist are not protected titles, meaning that anyone can claim to provide these services without adequate training or authorization of a regulating body. Regulation provided by the College of Alberta Psychologists or the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association is essential for the protection of the public. While they can't promise the quality of each practitioner, they do present an important gateway that guarantees a minimum of training and ability.
How does therapy work?
Psychological therapy varies depending on the personalities of the therapist and patient, and the particular problems being brought forward. Psychologists may draw from a variety of therapeutic modalities, techniques, and approaches to best serve your particular needs. Effective therapy involves active client effort, which requires dynamic participation in the session and working on things at home.
Are there risks to therapy?
Psychotherapy has many benefits, as well as potential risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, and helplessness. Some of these feelings may continue after the session. You may also experience the resurfacing of memories or experiences, which can cause disturbance. The psychologist will work with you to ensure your emotional safety and will respect your limits. As difficult as the process can be, the benefits of therapy are great and include personal growth, improved relationships, reduced anxiety & stress, improvement in functioning and wellbeing, and at times, solutions to specific problems.
Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money, and energy. As well, the therapeutic relationship is a significant factor in healing and growth. With these factors in mind, it is imperative that you feel comfortable working with your psychologist and that you trust in their abilities. If you have any questions about procedures, please bring these questions forward so that your psychologist can work with you to either better understand the methods or to adjust the approach to better fit your needs. If doubt in your psychologist persists, we will be happy to refer you to another psychologist.
How much does it cost?
That depends on what service you are getting. For individual therapy, the Psychological Association of Alberta has a recommended rate of $200/session. Transcend's fees are in accordance with this, though individual therapists within Transcend may vary slightly. Please contact your individual therapist for more information.
Psychological services are not covered through Alberta Health Care Benefit, however, they are often reclaimable through private insurance or employee health benefits.
Because we understand that the cost can be prohibitive, we do offer a limited number of reduced rate sessions for clients that demonstrate significant financial need. As Registered Psychologists, our services are usually covered by extended health care coverage and many employers offer benefit packages that include resources for psychological treatment.
Please contact us for information about pricing for other services, such as assessments, workshops, and group therapy.
How many sessions should I expect?
There are several ways to approach treatment. Short-term therapy (4-10 sessions) is solution-focused and is designed to address one specific problem. This may be beneficial for clients with time/financial restrictions; however, because our challenges are often interrelated, it can be hard to work on them in isolation of each other. As such, short-term therapy may be less effective overall.
It may be helpful to think of your mental health like a patch of grass. If you mow over the weeds, your lawn will temporarily look nice. However, if the roots are still there, the weeds will continue to grow back. Longer-term therapy (10-30 sessions) provides opportunity for broader healing and growth, by attending to our problems from different angles and effectively pulling the weed out from the root. Just as roots have branches and offshoots, so do your challenges. As such, you may find yourself spending time talking about things that seem unrelated to your purpose of seeking treatment, but be assured it is relevant.
The course of therapy varies for everyone. Generally speaking, the first two sessions are used for evaluation of needs and relationship building purposes. By the end of the evaluation stage, the psychologist will be able to offer more specific information about the treatment plan and course of treatment.
How long is a session?
Individual and couples therapy sessions are around 50minutes long. Extended sessions are available and the fee will be prorated. For group therapy, you can expect 1.5-2 hours/per meeting.
How often am I supposed to come in?
While not always possible, the preference is to meet weekly. This is particularly helpful in the early stages of therapy, as it allows for momentum to build. As therapy progresses, it is common for clients transition into bi-weekly or monthly treatment.
What should I expect during a first session?
You can expect a casual conversation. The first session is to learn a little bit about you and to establish a relationship. While there will be some questions, it is not an interrogation or formal assessment, so feel free to relax.
Though we encourage you to think about what you want to talk about and to clarify your treatment goals before coming in, therapy is an exploratory process so don't be surprised if we veer off course for a bit.
Tell me about confidentiality.
In general, law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a therapist, and therefore information about your work will only be released with your written permission. There are three possible exceptions:
If there is reason to believe that you are a harm or risk to yourself or others (suicidal or homicidal), the psychologist is required to take protective action.
If there is suspicion or report of ongoing abuse or neglect to a child or dependent adult, the psychologist is required to report the concern.
If a court of law subpoenas the content of your file or calls for testimony in court.
Please be assured that in the event confidentiality needs to be breached, every effort will be made to discuss it with you prior to taking any action. If action is required, in the case of risk of harm to self or others, action may include calling the police or emergency response teams or notifying personal supports and family. In most legal proceedings, the client has the right to prevent a psychologist from providing information about treatment.
It is important to note that if a psychologist seeks consultation with another professional, every effort is made to avoid revealing identifying information about the client. As well, the consultant is legally bound to keep information confidential. If you don’t object, these consultations may be done without your knowledge, unless it is important for the clinical work.
What happens to my files?
The laws and standards governing the profession require that psychologists keep treatment records. The information contained with in client files includes all paperwork completed by the client, as well as case notes. Case notes vary for each therapist, but generally include basic information about what has been discussed during each session and may include treatment planning and conceptualization notes. By law, the client files are required to be maintained for a minimum of ten years, at which time they are destroyed. Files are stored in a secure and confidential manner.
What if I need to cancel an appointment?
Due to the high demand of our services and the limited availability of appointments, Transcend employs a strict cancellation policy and requires a minimum of 24 hours notice if you aren't able to make the scheduled time. This allows us time to offer the appointment to someone on our waitlist. Cancellations made with less than 24 hours notice will be subject to a cancellation fee (up to the full price of a session).