1. How long is each session and how often do I need to come?
A typical session is 1 hour. For maximum effectiveness, I recommend coming regularly once a week, or at least every two weeks. Often sessions will be scheduled weekly to start, then taper off to every two weeks. We can work together to determine what approach will work best for you.
2. Typically how many sessions are needed before I will feel better?
This depends largely on what brings a person to counselling and how motivated they are to make changes. This is something that can be determined in the initial consultation. In general, the more complicated the situation, the more sessions will be required.
3. How will I know when I am “fixed”?
The word “fixed” implies something is broken, which is not a philosophy I subscribe to when it comes to people. I see the process of counselling as helping people develop more useful strategies for leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. It’s not that their original strategies are “bad” or “broken”, since they probably worked for a very long time. Rather, they are no longer useful.
It is completely up to the client to decide if they have gotten what they need from counselling, and I check in regularly to ensure we are on the right track.
4. What is a sliding scale and how does it work?
I recognize that counselling can be cost prohibitive for some people, especially if their insurance doesn’t cover it. Because of this, I offer a limited number of spaces for clients to pay what they can afford, within the range of $80-$120/ session.
5. Are you covered by most benefit plans and do you do direct billing?
Here in Canada there is still great variability and inconsistency between insurance companies when it comes to covering mental health services. The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association is working hard to change this. In the meantime, it is best for you to check with your insurance company first to determine if you are covered. Because of these inconsistencies, I can only offer direct billing to some insurance providers.
6. If we do a video counselling session, how does that work?
Video counselling sessions work much like in-person ones, with the exception that it is up to the client to provide themselves with a safe and secure space in which to hold it. Their space also needs to be free of distractions, such as phones, pets, children, etc.
Once an appointment is scheduled, the client will receive an email with instructions on how to download the video platform. It is important to do this with plenty of time before the scheduled session, in case of glitches or the need for technical support.
The initial email will also contain intake and consent forms which should be completed and returned to me at least 24 hours before the first session.
7. Can I have someone else in the room with me (such as a parent/partner/child) during a video session?
If the relationship with that person is part of the reason you are seeking counselling and that person has also signed the consent and intake forms, then yes, they may be in the room with you. I do not offer counselling for children or families so it is not recommended to have children present.
8. How do I know that the video site we will use is safe?
The video platform I use, On Call Health, was developed for use by different types of health practitioners and as such, is PHIPA compliant. In other words, it meets the provincial regulations for privacy protection.
9. Can we have a phone meeting instead of video?
Initial consultations can be done on the phone, but only on rare occasion do I offer phone counselling sessions. Although some counsellors offer phone sessions, I find that lack of face-to- face communication hinders the process.
10. Sometimes I see counsellors taking notes. What are they for and what do you do with them?
Counsellors take notes to help them stay organized and to track progress. This ensures sessions run smoothly and time is not wasted on rehashing things that have been covered already. Counsellors’ methods of note-taking and their contents vary greatly. I keep my notes as brief as possible, in order to protect my clients’ privacy. I also keep them stored in a locked file cabinet, in a locked office. Clients may have access to their notes at any time, upon request.
11. How can I best prepare for a session?
For the initial session, it is useful for you to have one or two clear goals you’d like to work toward. If you’re unsure, we can figure it out together. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what we want, and sometimes we just don’t know. Counselling can help pinpoint where focus is needed.
For later sessions, it is most beneficial for you to have completed your homework. If you haven’t, then it may be helpful to ask yourself “why?”. It may indicate that it wasn’t an assignment that was well-suited to you, or that there are barriers that need to be examined. We often glean as much information from what wasn’t done as from what was.
12. Is there any work that I would have to do between sessions?
Yes. The process of change requires work between sessions; however, the type of work varies greatly depending on established goals. Also keep in mind that homework is individually tailored to suit a client’s needs, preferences and abilities.
13. Can you connect me with others that have used your services?
In order to protect client confidentiality, I am unable to connect you with others who have used my services. I can, however, connect you with other professionals who know me and my work.
14. Would you ever talk about my case/situation with others?
Canadian Certified Counsellors follow a strict code of ethics, especially concerning client confidentiality. At the first session, I go over client confidentiality in detail to ensure clients understand their rights and the limits to confidentiality. Very briefly, client information remains confidential unless the counsellor has concerns about imminent danger to the client or others, or unless the counsellor’s records are subpoenaed for a court case. In some situations, I may want to consult with another professional in order to provide the best service to a client. If so, I would never use a client’s name or any other identifying information (such as place of work, where they live, etc.). If it were ever necessary to identify a client for a consultation, I would ask for the client’s written permission first.