What is the difference between counselling, therapy and psychotherapy?
Most often these terms are used interchangeably and refer to talking through your concerns or issues with a trained practitioner. If a distinction is made, it often refers to the duration of time a client is working with a therapist. For some, counselling refers to a shorter time frame while psychotherapy (or therapy) refers to a longer duration working on deeper issues. I use these terms interchangeably. Counselling or therapy often feels like a natural conversation, but actually has a different quality than most interactions with family or friends. Our exchange involves me actively listening without judgement and asking questions which can highlight themes and patterns for us to explore more deeply using various interventions that usually combine insight and skills to reduce the severity of the presenting concern.
What is the difference between a Registered Clinical Counsellor, a Registered Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
There is often confusion around the distinction between these three designations. In BC, a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) is licensed by the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors. RCCs hold at minimum a Masters degree in counselling psychology and meet the academic, clinical and supervision requirements set by the BCACC. They support clients through psychotherapy. Many extended health care plans cover the cost of RCC visits.
Registered Psychologists (R.Psych) in BC are licensed through the College of Psychologists of British Columbia. Registered Psychologists typically hold a Ph.D and many have ongoing research interests. They are able to diagnose mental health disorders, administer psychological tests and provide psychotherapy. Most health care plans cover the cost of R.Psych visits.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) who have specialized in the area psychiatry. They are licensed in BC with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. Psychiatrists are able to diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe medications to their patients to help control mental health symptoms. They also provide psychotherapy. A referral from your general practitioner is required to schedule an appointment with a Psychiatrist and the BC Medical Services Plan usually covers the cost of Psychiatrist visits.
Are your services private and confidential?
Confidentiality is a crucial component of the client/counsellor relationship. As a member of the BCACC, I am bound by their Code of Ethics and Standards of Clinical Practice. This requires that counsellors keep their client communication confidential. There are three exceptions to this rule: when there is clear risk of harm to yourself or others; when there is reason to believe that a child or vulnerable adult needs protection from abuse; and when a court-of-law issues a subpoena for records as part of legal proceedings. Before we begin counselling we will review together the Service Agreement & Informed Consent document and I will answer any questions you may have regarding confidentiality.
How many sessions will I need and how often will I be attending?
The duration and frequency of counselling varies for each client. Many clients find it beneficial to begin with weekly sessions. This allows for momentum to build and our relationship to develop. The duration of counselling will depend on the concerns that brought you to seek support. We will discuss estimated timeframes during our first few sessions and will track the progress toward your short-term and longer-term goals. I also like to build in set check-ins. At the 6 and 12 session marks we usually have a more formal review to evaluate progress, discuss any changes in goals and revisit the estimated timeframe for therapy. It is ultimately up to each client to decide how long they wish to pursue therapy and together we can discuss what pace and length seems appropriate given your goals.
What will happen during our first session?
I understand the courage it takes to book your first session. It is a big step and it is common for clients to feel nervous. I aim to provide a warm and welcoming environment to make you feel as comfortable as possible from our first introduction. During our first session we will review the Service Agreement & Informed Consent that will be sent to you prior to our meeting. We will review the Intake Form that you completed and I will ask questions to gain a better sense of what has brought you to counselling. And I welcome your questions as well. In this first session we will determine if we feel comfortable working together and if so, we may discuss initial frequency and possible duration of counselling. Many clients experience some relief after their first session – once they have had the opportunity to connect with a professional and begin to share their story.
Do I need a referral to see you?
No referrals are required. Please call me at 604.675.2000 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in scheduling a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation or setting up an appointment.