Getting in touch
If you think counselling is the right path for you, one of the first things to do is make an appointment. True North Psychological Services has three locations to best suit your needs. If you would like to see a psychologist, you do not need a referral from a family doctor - you can call to make an appointment yourself. However, we also accept psychologist referrals from doctors, hospitals, and other health services. If you would like to see Dr. Johnston for a psychiatric consultation, you do need a referral; the referral will be sent to our office and then you will receive a phone call to make an appointment.
Please be aware that MSI does not cover the costs of seeing a Psychologist or Registered Counselling Therapist in Nova Scotia, but MSI does cover the costs of seeing a psychiatrist. If you have health insurance (i.e. Maritime Life, Blue Cross), psychologist appointments may be fully or partially reimbursable. We are pleased to accept direct billing, but it depends upon your insurance provider. If you are covered by insurance, but your provider does not accept direct billing, then you can submit your paid receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement. Each therapy session is $170 for an hour. If you cannot make it to your first or any appointment, please call the office at least 24 hours prior to the appointment - otherwise you may be billed.
Coming to the clinic
For your first visit, be prepared to bring your health card and insurance information. When you come to the front desk of the office, the secretary will give you a form to review and fill out. These forms are called consent forms. It is to gather personal information like demographics, medications, and health conditions. The main purpose of a consent form is to confirm that the patient understands and agrees to what may happen in a therapy session, and that all information is confidential unless someone is in danger. The therapist will review the consent form before seeing you.
The session itself
There are two types of session you may be attending:
Psychiatric Session: During your first visit to Dr. Johnston you will be seen first by his assistant, who will ask you various questions about your current concern or condition, any previous steps you have taken, and other personal questions. This may include a brief scale or questionnaire. After the assistant relays this information to Dr. Johnston, you will meet with him directly. While the assistant is very sensitive to patient confidentiality, patients who are uncomfortable speaking with the assistant are not required to do so.
After reviewing your situation, Dr. Johnston would discuss with you the steps forward to benefit your mental health. This could include a medication adjustment, adding a new medication, and/or a referral to counselling. Dr. Johnston is a firm believer in the importance of counselling. However, as a psychiatrist his responsibility is to provide a focused assessment and treatment plan from a medical perspective, and to refer patients to his talented team of therapists for counselling.
Psychology Session: In your first therapy session, your therapist would ask questions about you and your life. You would be asked why you sought therapy - which issues brought you here, This can lead into deeper issues and a discussion of your personal history and current situation. Throughout your sessions, it could feel challenging to talk about difficult situations and experiences. However, the therapist is there to help guide you through these issues and create strategies to deal with emotions. At times you could feel frustrated, upset, even angry, but that can be part of the process.
Therapy is not a quick fix; it is a process, and it may not be a smooth ride to recovery. It is a team effort between you and the therapist. Be open and honest about how you feel. If you are not sure of something, ask questions. Therapists are here to help - the more information you provide, the more guidance they can offer.