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Questions & Answers

What is a registered social worker?
A registered social worker is a regulated health professional who completed a master’s degree in social work and met criteria for membership in the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers that provides an easy venue for the public to voice any concerns that might arise about the conduct of its members. Qualified social workers are allowed to engage in practice of psychotherapy.

What is psychotherapy and what does a title of psychotherapist mean?
According to Regulated Health Professions Act, 1999, psychotherapy is defined as treatment through means of psychotherapy technique of serious disorder of thought, cognition, memory, emotional regulation, perception or memory that may seriously impair the person’s judgement, insight, behavior, communication or social functioning. The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) has been proclaimed in existence in April 2015 to regulate the provision of psychotherapy and protect the public from non-effective or potentially disruptive interventions. At this point, the use of the title of psychotherapist has been restricted to the members of CRPO but members of Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO), the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), and the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) are permitted to engage in practice of psychotherapy. Once the all the provision of the Psychotherapy Act, 2007, come into effect, the qualified members of the above-mentioned colleges will be allowed to use the title of psychotherapist.

What is a cognitive behaviour therapist?
Let’s start by stating the obvious: cognitive behaviour therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy. A cognitive behaviour therapist is a regulated health professional (i.e., member of OCSWSSW, COTO, CPSO, CNO and CPO) who possesses extensive knowledge and experience in provision of cognitive behaviour therapy. Ontario has no provisions for regulation of this title but Canadian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies and Academy of Cognitive Therapy both act as training and quality assurance organizations that maintain publicly accessible listing of their credentialed members. Unfortunately some therapists claim to do cognitive behaviour therapy without having the requisite skill set.

What is the difference between a social worker, psychologist and a psychiatrist?
All three, a registered social worker, registered psychologist and a psychiatrist are regulated health professionals. Social workers can provide specialized psychotherapy but cannot offer diagnostic clarification or prescribe medications. Psychologists offer specialized psychotherapy as well as diagnostic clarification. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental disorders. Most of the psychiatric treatment is through medication management although a few psychiatrists also offer psychotherapeutic interventions.

How is the extent of insurance coverage decided and what to do about it?
The extended benefit plan with the insurance company lists the set services that are covered by your insurance and types of health professionals for whose services you can be reimbursed. In some cases, a person can be covered for counselling or psychotherapy by a psychologist but not a social worker. Sometimes the reverse is true, so please read the fine print. Unfortunately the insurance coverage does not identify specific types of therapy or make provisions for training that your therapist might have.  

I provide all my clients with receipts and will sign and complete the necessary forms during the appointments. If needed, I will provide you with a detailed treatment plan that you can submit to your insurance company as having such plans is part of sound clinical practice. However I need you to do the majority of the leg work as otherwise I would have to increase the cost of sessions to offset for the time spent on dealing with insurance companies and away from clinical work. To make the process easier for yourself, you can complete this form and send it to your insurance company before booking your appointment.

So, how to choose the right therapist?
Effectiveness of therapy depends equally on the skill set of your therapist and the therapeutic relationship.

To make a decision, you might have to ask yourself a number of questions:
How comfortable do you feel with your prospective therapist?

Can your prospective therapist describe to you what to expect in therapy and offer a plan of action after having conducted the initial assessment? You should feel free to ask questions about the possible course of therapy and the goals that you hope to accomplish.

Does your prospective therapist have a necessary set of specialized skills to deal with problems that you are facing?

Do you need a clarification of psychiatric diagnosis? If you do, you should see a psychiatrist or a psychologist and not a social worker.

Does your prospective therapist practice a form of psychotherapy that you are looking for?

My own approach falls under the umbrella of cognitive behaviour therapy. If you choose to work with me, we will start with an assessment to arrive at a working model of how your current difficulties are maintained, came into being and what possible interventions can help us break the stuck cycle. If your circumstances are a close match for an existing CBT protocol (e.g., panic, social phobia), we will follow those guidelines as closely as possible. If we are dealing with a multilayered complex situation, we will use our working model to sequence the interventions in as optimal manner as possible and mix strategies from classic CBT, acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), Mindfulness based CBT, dialectical behaviour therapy and any other new refinements within the family of cognitive behavioural interventions.

If you are looking for a different form of psychotherapy, I simply lack the expertise to provide it.

Can you afford it?

This is actually an important consideration. CBT can be very specific, time limited and augmented through a vast number of available self-help materials which can contain the cost of treatment.  I offer a sliding scale from a regular appointment fee of $120.00 to a reduced rate of $100.00.

If you depend on your insurance coverage, please check your extended benefit plan. There are quite a few of CBT therapists in GTA and if your insurance will not pay for psychotherapy or counselling by a registered social worker, you can find a qualified therapist in the listings maintained by the Canadian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies and by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.  Please remember that psychotherapy in private practice is not covered by OHIP unless it is provided by a psychiatrist.