Many people have questions about working with a psychologist or the nature of psychological services. I have attempted to answer the most frequently asked questions below. If you have a question that is not listed here or would like more information, please do not hesitate to call me or send an email*.
*Please note that email communication is not secure and your confidentiality cannot be ensured.
What is a registered Psychologist?
Clinical psychologists in Ontario are mental health professionals who are registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. They have more mental health and psychotherapeutic training and experience than any other health profession. In order to be licensed to practice in Ontario, a psychologist must have completed a doctoral degree. This process takes approximately 9 years. During this time, he or she would have completed numerous hours of clinical training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of difficulties related to mental health. In addition, psychologists must complete a full-year internship prior to receiving their degree. In order to register with the College of Psychologists, applicants must complete two written and one oral examinations and complete a postdoctoral year of supervised practice. Once an applicant is registered with the college, he or she is legally allowed to use the term “psychologist.” This process ensures that members of the public are receiving services from professionals who uphold the strictest standards of practice and ethical conduct.
What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
Many people confuse the definition of psychologist with that of psychiatrist. Psychologists and psychiatrists have two different types of degrees. While both types of professionals work in the mental health field, psychologists have a Ph.D. in psychology, whereas psychiatrists have a doctorate in medicine. As a result, psychiatrists can prescribe medication while psychologists cannot. Practically speaking, psychologists primarily treat through “talk therapy” while psychiatrists are most likely to treat through medication management.
If I see a psychologist, does this mean that I’m crazy?
No! People work with clinical psychologists for a variety of reasons including to learn how to better manage stress, to relieve distressing emotional symptoms, to gain a better understanding of themselves or others in their life, and/or to improve relationships with others. Some people seek out the services of a clinical psychologist because they are struggling with a specific life crisis that they need help with, while others seek to improve an already happy life. Sometimes people feel ready to embark on a course of self-discovery or personal growth and feel that a psychologist can help to guide him or her in this endeavor. A psychologist can provide a confidential and safe place to vent feelings and thoughts. Whether you are coping with a long-term problem or find yourself in need of short-term crisis management, a psychologist may be able to help.
How long will therapy last?
Each session is usually 50 minutes. The number of sessions that you will have with a psychologist will vary based upon the type of difficulty that is being addressed, your willingness to address it, and the frequency of your sessions. Initially, most people meet with a psychologist once per week. However, the frequency of your visits may vary depending upon your needs and financial resources. You can usually set whatever frequency works best for you. When you first meet with me, we will work together to set specific goals for treatment and will agree upon a frequency for visits. We will also reassess your goals and duration and frequency of psychological treatment as needed.
What should I expect during the first visit?
It is not uncommon for clients to feel nervous about sharing personal information with a stranger. Most people say they were nervous before their first visit, but often felt very relieved by the end of the first meeting. My goal is to help you feel comfortable and safe and let you tell your story at your own pace. I will ask you lots of questions during our first meeting in order to get to you know you, but will also expect that you will only discuss what you feel comfortable telling me. The first few visits are also a good time for you to get to know me to see if you feel comfortable with me and confident that our alliance will meet your needs.
What is your approach to therapy?
I offer each client a safe and understanding environment in which to explore his or her feelings, concerns, and thoughts. I have extensive training in both psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioural modalities. This means that I can tailor treatment to your specific needs. Whether you are interested in short-term solution-focused treatment aimed at resolving a specific issue in your life, or are interested in longer-term insight-oriented therapy, I can work with you to make sure that my approach fits with your goals. If for any reason I feel that I am not able to offer you the most appropriate treatment for your particular concern, then I will provide you with a referral to someone better suited to meet your needs.
What if I don’t like therapy or don’t think that you’re right for me?
Choosing a clinical psychologist is an important part of the therapy process and finding the right “fit” is critical. Meeting with a psychologist for one or two sessions will give you the opportunity to determine whether that person is right for you. If you don’t feel that you’ve found a good “fit,” you have every right to try a different person. Clinical psychologists are trained to appreciate how important “fit” is and will understand if you feel that you would like to see someone else.