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What is counselling?
Counselling is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist, working toward the same goals. Your therapist's responsibility is to use his/her education, training and experience to answer questions posed in assessments and address your treatment needs and concerns. They apply all of their education, training and experience to�serve you in the most ethical and effective manner possible. Your responsibility as the client is to provide accurate information to the best of your knowledge and comfort level, attend scheduled sessions and actively participate in the recommended and agreed upon activities.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications that help their clients manage mental disorders. Psychiatrists not only provide direct care to patients - they often act as consultants to other health professionals, such as family doctors. A psychologist can hold a masters or doctoral degree in psychology. In Nova Scotia, the profession of psychology is regulated by the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP). A psychologist is trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling, and behaviour, as well as to help people overcome or manage these problems using non-medication treatments. Psychologists use psychotherapy, or 'talk therapy', which focuses on helping individuals to control and change their own behaviour and thinking patterns and to improve their coping skills.
How long is the typical therapy session?
A typical therapy session is 50 minutes long. This could change if additional assessments need to be performed. Any additional assessments will be discussed prior to the appointment. It is advisable to arrive a few minutes early for your first session in order to fill out any required forms.
What does an assessment involve?
A psychological assessment evaluates thinking, learning and behaviour. This may include an interview in which the psychologist asks questions about different areas of your life, to help guide you in describing your strengths, needs and concerns. Assessments may also include psychological tests to help gain similar information more quickly and accurately. Such tests often involve tasks that you have some familiarity with, such as answering true/false questions, answering questions in your head, completing rating scales, or performing certain tasks with your hands.
Your psychologist will discuss any assessments with you beforehand. For children, some testing includes pencil and paper tasks, puzzles, drawing and games. Assessments cover many skill areas, such as general intellectual level, language, memory and learning, problem solving, planning and organization, fine motor skills, visual spatial skills and academic skills (reading, math, spelling and writing). It also includes an examination of behaviour and emotions.
What topics might therapy cover?
Topics discussed in treatment can vary greatly from person to person and will depend on the concerns being addressed. Some specific examples include:
- Managing physical pain and illness
- Reducing stress and emotional distress
- Improving sleep
- Making vocational choices
- Adapting to life changes
- Dealing effectively with interpersonal conflict
- Facilitating personal growth
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions that are required to help resolve a specific issue depends on your individual needs. This will be discussed during your first appointment. Some clients may benefit from 2-3 sessions while others may require 10-12. The frequency of your sessions can also be discussed with your therapist. For example, some clients may find it beneficial to come in once a week, while others may find biweekly or monthly sufficient.
Is it worth it?
Although your psychologist will provide support, making personal changes can involve addressing unpleasant feelings and topics. Making such changes can be rewarding, significantly improving the quality of your life. Without treatment your concerns may resolve on their own, return periodically, stay the same, or even deteriorate. Your psychologist can give you more information about the risks and benefits involved in you receiving or not receiving psychological treatment and counselling. Your psychologist can also advise you on alternative methods for dealing with your concerns. In most circumstances, assessment and treatment are voluntary and you may refuse or withdraw at any time without prejudice. Your psychologist will inform you if any exceptions to this apply and, if so, advise you of your options.
Is client information confidential?
Reports on psychological assessment and treatment will be stored in secure files. All information pertaining to your situation will be kept confidential. There are, however, some limitations to confidentiality, including:
- Third party payers responsible for your care will be provided with relevant written and/or verbal feedback.
- If you pose an immediate and grave threat to your life and safety or to that of other individuals, confidentiality may be broken in order to prevent harm.
- If you become involved in a legal case, the judge has a right to subpoena information pertaining to your treatment.
- There are mandatory reporting laws for abuse of children and dependent adults.
Will I have to pay HST?
No, psychology services are tax-exempt.
Will I be charged if I miss a session?
We ask that you give us 24 hours notice if you need to cancel or change your appointment, this way we can fill the appointment time with someone from our waiting list. Of course, we realize that mistakes do happen and emergencies arise. We will waive the fee for one missed appointment. However, missing future appointments may lead to being charged a late cancellation fee.
How do you bill for services?
We accept cash or debit and require payment at the time of your appointment. We are unfortunately not able to provide direct billing at this time.
Will my insurance cover your services?
Many private insurance companies provide some coverage for psychological services. However, it is a good idea to review your policy with your insurance provider before your appointment.
Do you bill my insurance company directly?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide direct billing to insurance companies at this time.