Frequently Asked Questions About Counselling
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What’s the difference between a counsellor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist?
Broadly speaking, counsellors and psychologists do very similar work. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who then specialised in psychiatry. The psychiatrist is an expert on medication to treat emotional and psychological conditions.
In Canada there is currently no regulation of counsellors. This means that anyone who has taken any counselling courses can call themselves a counsellor. The B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors and the Canadian Counselling Association are working collaboratively with counselling associations within B.C. to persuade government to regulate the counselling profession. This would increase public safety by ensuring minimum levels of education, ethics and practice.
In the absence of legal regulation of counselling, your best choice of counsellor is one who is a member of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, the Canadian Counselling Association, or the Registry of Marriage and Family Therapists Canada. Membership in these organisations requires a minimum of a Master’s Degree in counselling, as well as clinical experience, and there are strict guidelines for professional behaviour.
Psychologists in B.C. are regulated by government, and a minimum of a PhD degree and clinical experience is required before a practitioner may call him or herself a psychologist. Psychologists’ fees are generally considerably higher than those of counsellors.
Who can be trained as a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC)?
Someone who has a Master's Degree in Counselling as well as Clinical experience, supervised practice, and who meets strict guidelines for professional ethical behaviour. See the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors website for more information.
Do I need a referral from my doctor?
No referral is needed in most cases. If you are eligible for coverage through ICBC, a doctor's note for counselling will be required.
How long does counselling take?
This depends on what you want to achieve. Generally, most clients require at least 8-12 sessions to develop lasting changes in their lives. However, counselling can take any number of sessions. It really depends on the concerns you are dealing with, how thorough you would like to be, your commitment to change, financial restraints, and a number of other factors. The number of sessions expected and expectations for therapy can be set at the first session or during a free consultation.
Will my extended health program cover the costs?
Possibly. Check the exact provisions of your program. Some extended health programs specify a fixed amount per year for counselling, such as a maximum amount of $500; some specify that coverage is provided only for psychologists or psychiatrists; others specify coverage for therapy sessions with a registered clinical counsellor. Click here for more information.
What are the fees?
Generally, each counselling session costs $120 plus 5% GST per 60 minute session. There are available packages to help reduce the cost of counselling. Click here for a breakdown of the fees charged and available options.
What is involved in counselling?
For most clients, the best place to start is to determine exactly what you’re most struggling with and how you would like it to change. Setting goals and working towards reaching these goals is the most common way to make progress in counselling. However, for some people, counselling is simply a place to talk to an unbiased person where they can receive professional support and coaching. How a session is structured depends on your preferences and what works best for you. It really depends on you and what you want to gain from counselling.