“We know what we are, but not what we may be”
Ophelia, Hamlet

What can I expect from my first appointment?

To start, we will review some forms, and I will get a background on what is bringing you in and what you’re looking to get out of therapy. I will get a bit of history regarding what is bringing you into session, as well as some overall personal history to help me understand you and your situation better. The first session is an opportunity for us to figure out if my services will be a good fit for you. If you decide you want to continue with therapy with me, we will then set some goals for our time together. These goals can be evaluated and adapted over time if we agree there is a need. We will also discuss frequency of sessions. If we decide we are not a good fit for each other, we can discuss referral options.

Why choose a psychologist?

There are a variety of mental health professionals working in the Ottawa area who can provide psychotherapy, including psychologists, psychological associates, social workers, and registered psychotherapists. Any of these providers may be a good fit for your needs. Psychologists have extensive knowledge and experience with assessing, diagnosing and treating various mental health concerns. We have knowledge of and training in the factors that contribute to mental illness and overall well-being, as well as the various interventions to help manage mental health concerns and improve overall wellness. To use the title “Psychologist,” you need to have a doctoral degree (Psy.D., Ph.D., or Ed.D.) in Psychology from an accredited university program; additionally, you must pass various licensing exams and complete one year of supervised practice before practicing autonomously. In order to practice as a Psychologist in Ontario, you must be approved by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO). The CPO is a regulatory body that protects the public by ensuring that the members of the college are properly trained and adhere to the ethical standards of the profession. As such, we adhere to a code of conduct and regulatory standards designed to maintain confidentiality and protect the public. Psychologists are deemed health care practitioners, as per the Regulated Health Professional Act, and, as such, clients of psychologists are protected by the provisions in the Act. For further information regarding the CPO, please check the College’s website: www.cpo.on.ca

Can you prescribe medication?

In Canada, Clinical Psychologists are not allowed to prescribe medications (although there are certain jurisdictions in the United States where Clinical Psychologists with additional training can prescribe medication). When medications are required to support treatment and recovery from psychological concerns, a medical doctor, such as a family physician or psychiatrist, can provide this support. If you have concerns about discussing medications with your family doctor, we can discuss these concerns and how best to advocate for yourself in session.

Can you speak with my family physician?

With your consent, I am happy to consult with your family physician. I will require your permission before speaking with your family doctor. I often collaborate with family physicians in order to ensure a high level of care for my clients. I can also collaborate with occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and other health care providers, with your consent.

Are your services covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)?

OHIP does not cover the services of psychologists in private practice settings; however, many extended health providers will cover a portion of services. Many extended health plans require a referral from a medical doctor before approving reimbursement for individual psychotherapy. You can consult your health care plan to learn what services are covered and what is required for reimbursement.

How long is a session?

I generally aim for the 50-minute hour, but, depending on the session, we may end earlier or run a little longer. This variation allows us to ensure we have adequate time to address your concerns in a given session, so that you do not feel rushed, as well as ensuring that we do not introduce topics later in session without adequate time to appropriately cover them. Out of respect for my other clients, if our sessions are routinely running over time, we may need to discuss how to manage our time in session more effectively.

How does payment work?

Payment is due at the end of each session. I accept payment through cash, cheque or e-transfer. The College of Psychologists of Ontario sets guidelines regarding fees for services, and my fees are in line with these guidelines. I am also able to provide reduced rates given appropriate circumstances. You can contact me via email or phone to inquire further about my rates.

How do privacy and confidentiality work?

By law, I cannot share information disclosed in session without your consent, except for specific situations. These situations are known as the limits to confidentiality. These limits are designed to protect your safety and the safety of others. If I suspect that you are at imminent risk of harm to yourself or to someone else, if I suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, or that another regulated health care professional has engaged in sexual abuse, I am legally required to report this information to the appropriate authorities (i.e. the police, Children’s Aid Society, or professional regulatory bodies). In addition to these limits, the court may subpoena a psychologist’s files. Finally, The College of Psychologists of Ontario may examine a psychologist’s files due to a complaint investigation or as part of the continuing education and regulation process. In situations where the College investigates a psychologist’s files, the information in the client record is protected by strict confidentiality conditions.

In regards to youth, there is no specific age for consent to medical services in Ontario; youths must demonstrate the capacity to understand the nature of their concerns and the potential benefits and consequences of the services being offered. Youths who “understand and appreciate” the nature of services, benefits, risks, and their health concerns are able to consent or withhold consent for psychological services. Those who are able to consent to treatment are able to consent to disclose of information from their psychological file and have a choice as to what information is shared with their parents. In our first session, I discuss with my adolescent clients what information we will share with their parents to have an agreed-to understanding moving forward. The above listed limits to confidentiality also apply to youths.