General questions about psychology, psychologists, and my services.

Basically, individual psychotherapy is one-on-one talk therapy. It is a process of exploration and discovery in which through open, candid communication with a professional therapist over the course of regular meetings, you can come to:

  • gain a deeper understanding of yourself
  • reduce emotional distress such as feelings of sadness, fear or anger
  • alleviate psychological symptoms (e.g., depression or anxiety) that interfere with
  • your life or that cause you distress
  • build healthy ways of coping with difficulties and stressors
  • improve your self-esteem and self-confidence
  • develop improved communication skills and more satisfying and meaningful relationships
  • experience greater well-being within and greater personal control in your life
  • attain personal goals
  • ultimately live in a more effective and fulfilling manner

I believe that the foundation of psychotherapy lies in the warm and supportive relationship I build with a client; a relationship that allows my client to feel safe to explore what is troubling him or her. Psychotherapy can give you an opportunity to gain broader and deeper perspectives into your current life circumstances and the choices you’ve made throughout your life. This increased awareness and self-understanding can allow you to make more productive and healthier choices in the future.

When you come in, I will ask you about what brings you here, and if you aren’t sure, we can start with that. It’s okay to talk about whatever is on your mind. I am interested in hearing as much about your ‘story’ as you are able and willing to share. We will talk for about 45-75 minutes with the focus being your feelings and what has happened to bring you to this point. This will include your current situation, as well as your history. Before we wrap up our first appointment, we will take some time to get clarity on goals; that is, what you want to change or be different at the end of this process. I will give you feedback on the ways, and areas of specific focus, that I think will help us get you there. Then we will make a plan around when next, and maybe even how regularly, we will continue to meet.

Over time (in ongoing sessions), as you talk, I will ask questions and offer reflections to help you explore more deeply and make greater sense of your situation. In doing so, hopefully you will gain not only greater self understanding, but also skills to manage your difficulties more effectively and the means to achieve meaningful changes within yourself.

A Psychologist has extensive training in mental health and is a Member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario. Typically, a Registered Clinical Psychologist has completed both a Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology and supervised clinical internships as part of his or her training. This training can take upwards of 12 years to complete. A Psychologist has also passed rigorous licensure requirements, including written and oral exams, with the College. Generally speaking, Psychologists utilize psychological approaches (e.g., skills training, cognitive and emotional interventions, insight-oriented exploration) in the context of “talk therapy” with their clients to help them in dealing with their areas of concern.

A Psychiatrist is a Physician, (a medical doctor) who has undergone additional training (a residency) to become a specialist in mental health diagnosis and treatment. Psychiatrists, by their training, tend to focus on medical (disease) models of illness and treatment and often rely on medication as a first-line strategy to manage symptoms.

Mental health concerns are common; they affect individuals from all walks of life, at all income levels, and at all ages. Some individuals experience difficulties after disruptive life events (e.g., relationship breakdown, job layoff or business failure, accident or serious illness, the death of a loved one, traumatic experiences, and so on) or prolonged life stressors. Other people struggle seemingly more or less life-long with feelings of depression, anxiety, or diminished self-esteem.

Services provided by mental health professionals are an integral part of person’s complete health care. In my opinion, the decision to seek help to prevent or overcome psychological or emotional difficulties is a sign of personal courage, inner strength, and wish and striving for optimal overall health.

All kinds of problematic feelings and personal difficulties can be good reasons to go to therapy. Whatever your situation, you have probably tried to correct or overcome it many times and have not been able. This, in and of itself, may be adding to your emotional suffering from a sense of futility and self-blame. When the feelings or thoughts you have cannot be understood and used productively as signals or good information for you, but instead lead you into unhealthy behaviour patterns, or even inaction or inept action, then seeking therapy makes sense.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or signs listed below, and they are severe and/or chronic enough to interfere with your ability to function well, then it may be time to seek help from a professional:

  • feelings of depression, helplessness, hopelessness
  • anxiety, fears, excessive worrying, or things seeming out of control
  • decreased energy, enthusiasm, or pleasure around things that used to be satisfying
  • pain that is hard to tolerate
  • poor self-esteem
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • disturbing or upsetting memories
  • emotional “numbness” or diminished contact with friends or family members
  • suicidal thoughts
  • excessive self-blame or guilt
  • changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • crying easily and more often
  • decreased tolerance for stresses that were formerly managed reasonably well
  • excessive or chronic anger or irritability directed towards others
  • co-workers or loved ones telling you that your personality seems to have “changed”
  • drug or alcohol problems
  • increased or repeated arguments with family members
  • relationship problems
  • problems at work

Therapy is an individual process and so it can be difficult to make firm predictions around how long it will take a person to feel better. The focus and goals of therapy also impact the length of optimal treatment. However, most individuals experience significant improvement in their symptoms, coping skills, and functioning within 8-12 sessions. For some people this is sufficient. Other clients choose to engage in longer-term explorations in order to work through broader, multiple, or longer-standing concerns.

I respect your right to privacy and confidentiality. Information in your clinical file will not be communicated, directly or indirectly, to a third party without your informed and written consent.

There are, however, some legal and ethical exceptions to this rule, which may limit your right to privacy and confidentiality. All Psychologists may be required to break confidentiality to:

  • inform the Children’s Aid Society when there is a suspicion of a child being at risk or in need of protection due to neglect, or physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • release a client’s file if court ordered to do so
  • inform an appropriate family member, health care professional, or police if necessary of a client’s intention to end his or her own life
  • inform a potential victim of violence of a client’s intention to harm
  • report a regulated health practitioner who has had a sexual relationship with a client
  • provide access to the clinical records to the College of Psychologists of Ontario as legally required

You do not need a referral from a doctor to initiate assessment or treatment with a Psychologist. You are welcome to contact me directly to set up an appointment.

However, a referral for treatment may be required by your insurance carrier. Various plans differ, so I encourage you to check with your coverage provider regarding claim procedures prior to your first appointment.

The Ontario Psychological Association sets fee guidelines on a yearly basis for professional psychological services. My fee for services is set at a rate that is lower than this recommendation. Please contact me for information about my current billing rates.

Payment is accepted at the time of service by cash or personal cheque. Credit card and debit payments are unfortunately not available at this time. I will provide you with a receipt so you can collect eligible extended health benefits and/or claim your medical expenses for a deduction on your income tax.

Psychological treatment provided by a Registered Psychologist is not covered by OHIP. However, many individuals have private or employer extended health plans which may cover psychological services to various extents. Usually these plans require that you see a Registered Psychologist.

PRIVACY ADVISEMENT  It is important for you to be aware that it is difficult to ensure privacy when sending or receiving emails. Emails can be intercepted, forwarded, circulated, stored or even changed without the knowledge or permission of either the sender or recipient and copies of an email may continue to exist even after reasonable efforts to delete the email have been made. Email may also carry computer viruses that may damage computer data or software or disclose your information against your wishes.