FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1Are Psychological services covered by OHIP?
No, services offered by a psychologist are not covered by OHIP. However, our fees are reimbursed by extended health care insurance similar to physical therapy or dental services. Whatever is not reimbursed by your insurance company is claimable as a tax deduction on your income tax as a medical expense.

We work on a fee for service basis, and people typically pay as they go, at the end of each session, receiving a receipt suitable for submission to their insurance company. A personal cheque or cash is acceptable to all our psychologists and some accept payment by credit card or Interac.

You will find that, when you pay for your therapy after each session, debt is not built up and your therapy becomes a budgeted expense, like other weekly expenses such as groceries.
2How to book an appointment?
The first step is to call or email us to discuss setting up an initial intake appointment. You do not need a doctor’s referral to make an appointment. You can simply contact us by phone or email us to set up an initial appointment.
3I would like to get started, what happens next?
The first step is to contact us to learn about the fees and schedule your first appointment. During your first appointment your psychologist will ask you questions about your history and what prompted you to seek services. From there a treatment plan will be clearly laid out, which can vary depending on the presenting issues.
4Will the things I discuss in therapy be kept private?
Confidentiality is a respected part of psychology's code of ethics. Psychologists understand that for people to feel comfortable talking about private and revealing information, they need a safe place to talk about anything they'd like, without fear of that information leaving the room. They take your privacy very seriously. Laws are also in place to protect your privacy. They contain a privacy rule that creates national standards to protect individuals' medical records and personal health information, including information about psychotherapy and mental health. The Core Centre's privacy policy is designed to be a maximum level of protection. At your first visit, a psychologist should give you written information explaining privacy policies and how your personal information will be handled. This information will explain that in some cases, there are exceptions to the privacy rule, as described further below....
5When can a psychologist share my private information without my consent?
In some specific situations, psychologists can share information without the client's written consent. Common exceptions are:

Psychologists may disclose private information without consent in order to protect the patient or the public from serious harm — if, for example, a client discusses plans to attempt suicide or harm another person.

Psychologists are required to report ongoing domestic violence, abuse or neglect of children, the elderly or people with disabilities. (However, if an adult discloses that he or she was abused as a child, the psychologist typically isn't bound to report that abuse, unless there are other children continuing to be abused.)

Psychologists may release information if they receive a court order. That might happen if a person's mental health came into question during legal proceedings.
6Will insurance companies see my records?
Psychologists will share certain information about your diagnosis and treatment with the health insurance company or government program that is paying for your treatment so that the company or program can determine what care is covered. The health insurance company or program is also bound by Core Centre to keep that information confidential. However, if you choose to pay out of pocket for services, and you choose to not ask your insurance provider for reimbursement, your insurance may not be aware that you are seeing a psychologist.

Similarly, your psychologist may ask for your consent to share information, or discuss your care, with your other health care professionals to coordinate your care.
7Will my employer know I saw a psychotherapist if I use my company's insurance?
Employers don't receive information about the health services an employee receives, even if he or she uses company insurance.

Some companies offer employee assistance programs, which offer mental health services to employees. Usually, the company simply provides the service but doesn't receive information about how each employee uses it. However, if you have any questions about privacy and your organization's insurance, talk to a human resources representative for more details.
8I'm under 18. Will the psychologist tell my parents what we talk about?
Different states have different ages at which young people can seek mental health services without informing parents. In most cases, a parent is involved when a minor receives psychotherapy services. Psychologists want young people to feel comfortable sharing their feelings, and are careful to respect their privacy. Often, at the first psychotherapy visit, the child, parent and psychologist will sit down together to discuss ground rules for privacy. That way both parents and children know exactly what types of information the psychologist might share with parents, and what he or she will keep private. For example, it is common for parents to agree to be informed only if their minor child is engaged in risky activities.
9I'm older than 18, but still use my parents' insurance. What do I need to know about privacy?
Many college counseling centers don't require insurance. In those cases, students should be able to receive mental health services without their parents' knowledge, if they wish.

When a person receives services using medical insurance, the insurance company sends a statement called an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that explains which services were used and paid for. If you use your parents' insurance for psychotherapy services, your parents may receive an EOB that outlines the services you used. However, they will not be able to access your records or find out what you discussed during your sessions with a psychologist.
10What information can I share about my psychotherapy treatment?
Privacy is your right as a patient or client. If you choose to tell your friends or family that you're seeing a psychologist, you are free to do so. How much information you decide to share is up to you. Psychologists are ethically bound to protect your privacy regardless of what information you choose to share with others. For example, psychologists typically won't connect with clients on social media sites, even if the client initiated the request.

Sometimes, psychologists find it helpful to discuss your concerns or behaviors with other people in your life. A psychologist may want to interview your spouse to better understand what's going on in your home, for example. If a child is having trouble at school, the psychologist may want to interview the child's teachers. But whether you involve others is completely up to you. Psychologists generally can't contact anyone else without your written consent.

If you have specific concerns about confidentiality or what information a psychologist is legally required to disclose, discuss it with your psychologist. He or she will be happy to help you understand your rights.
11What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
While there is considerable overlap between the services offered by Psychologists and Psychiatrists, there are some differences in training and services.

Similarities

Both Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy and counselling services.
Both Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists are trained to diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions plus psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and dysfunctions. Both professionals are granted the right to make such diagnoses by law while other health care providers cannot.
Both Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists help people maintain and enhance their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning.

Differences

Psychologists have earned a doctoral level degree (Ph.D., Psy.D., or D.Ed.) in Psychology, after having obtained a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in Psychology.
This amounts to at least nine years of university education and training in psychology. Psychiatrists have a general medical degree first (4 years at the undergraduate level) and then advanced training in psychiatry (usually 4 years residency after the M.D. degree).
Psychologists can do psychological testing with well-researched tests. Psychiatrists typically do not do psychological testing.
Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, while in Ontario, Psychologists cannot.
Psychologists are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario while Psychiatrists are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
12What is a Psychologist?
The scientific study of behaviour, feelings, motives and thinking is the basis of psychology. Psychologists also study the biological and physiological bases of behaviour because of the interdependence of mind and body. The job of the psychologist is to apply this knowledge to help people solve personal problems or to enable a group – a family, a school or a corporation – to function better. As a field of study, psychology is a science. As a practice, it is a profession. While there are several branches of applied psychology, the core training of these professionals is much the same.

To become a psychologist in Ontario, an individual must earn a doctoral degree in Psychology, which means a minimum of nine years of intensive academic training in a university program recognized by the College of Psychologists. The psychology candidate is expected to be knowledgeable in the biological, mental, emotional and social bases of human behaviour. The candidate must also be proficient in research design and methodology, statistical analysis, scientific and professional ethics and standards, and their particular area of special interest (for example, clinical, educational or organizational psychology).

Upon completion of the doctoral degree, the new graduate takes an additional year of supervised training and is evaluated by written and oral exams much like the articling lawyer or interning physician.
13What is a Clinical Psychologist?
Clinical psychology is concerned with identifying and treating problems which adults and children have both within themselves and with other people. These conflicts can involve emotions, thinking, learning , as well as social and sexual problems. A psychologist practicing in the area of clinical psychology can provide diagnostic, therapeutic and counselling services to an individual, a family or a group sharing similar problems. The word “clinical”, used to describe the psychologist, does not mean that he or she works in a clinic. It means that he or she has skills to work directly to help people who have the type of problems mentioned above. “Clinical” distinguishes these psychologists from research psychologists, educational psychologists, organizational psychologists and so on.

The psychologist helps people achieve changes in lifestyle or habits that can correct health problems and result in more productive living – such as overcoming alcohol and drug addiction, controlling fears, alleviating depression, reducing anxiety and stress, overcoming feelings of low self-esteem and so on. Psychologists sometimes work with patients with physical problems such as persistent headaches, chronic pain, hypertension and ulcers, sometimes in conjunction with medical treatment.

Psychologists are trained to apply a wide range of methods to assess the clients’ needs for treatment and to develop programs of therapy. Psychologists tailor the treatment to the needs of the clients. Psychologists have been in the forefront in developing new and better treatment procedures and have an ethical responsibility to continue their education and maintain their competence. In Ontario only health care providers registered and regulated by the College of Psychologists can call themselves psychologists. Thus, clients are assured of high standards of practice and health care delivery when they consult a clinical psychologist.
14What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychotherapist?
Most clinical Psychologists do psychotherapy but a general psychotherapist is not the same as a Psychologist. Psychologists are regulated by the College of Psychologists. Soon, those with much less education and training will be able to be regulated by the newly established College of Psychotherapists. They will not be Psychologists and cannot use the restricted title of Psychologist. Psychologists have the legal right to use the title “doctor” while psychotherapists cannot. Also, clinical Psychologists are authorized in law to diagnose mental disorders while psychotherapists are not.

The entry requirements for someone to become registered with the College of Psychotherapists are much lower than the requirements for becoming a Psychologist. As discussed elsewhere on this website, psychologists must have three degrees in psychology, including a Ph.D., Psy.D. or D.Ed. These doctoral degrees are the highest awarded by universities and represent many years of scholarly and clinical work and training (a minimum of 10 years of university). Psychologists have been regulated in Ontario since 1960. In 1993, the Regulated Health Professions Act came into force, regulating and licensing psychologists and many other health care providers, such as physicians, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and so on.

More recently, the College of Psychotherapists Act of 2007 was passed in order to regulate other psychotherapists and counsellors who did not meet the highly demanding entry criteria that were established for psychologists. At this time, no one is yet regulated as simply a Psychotherapist. This is because the Transitional Council for the College has only recently begun to undertake the very complicated job of determining what the admission standards for the College of Psychotherapists (regulatory body) will be and what standards of care and regulations will govern those who are admitted to this College. What is known at this time is that this College will eventually govern a very widely diverse group of mental health providers who were not eligible for the Colleges which license the others who do psychotherapy.

We at Core Centre are firmly committed to providing you with the best care possible and we believe that Psychologists represent the gold standard of psychotherapy. It is also true that the long established profession of scientific clinical psychology has led the way in developing the evidence-based approaches to psychotherapy that are used around the world and by diverse practitioners. We pride ourselves on being in the mainstream of modern, research supported psychotherapy services.
15My psychologist mentioned she/he is in supervised practice. What is supervised practice?
The process to become registered as a Psychologist in the province of Ontario involves several steps. To begin, an application is made to the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the regulatory agency. Applicants must show that they have completed a doctoral degree in psychology and must also demonstrate that they have provided a minimum number of hours of psychological service. For someone involved in clinical or counseling psychology, they must also have completed an internship in which they offered clinical services in an accredited program at a hospital or clinic. The College of Psychologists reviews the application and, if all the necessary conditions have been met, offers a certificate for supervised practice. Thus, it is typical for therapists to have accumulated at least 5 years of clinical experience prior to receiving the certificate for supervised practice.

The certificate of supervised practice stipulates that the applicant must work under the supervision of one or more Psychologists. While doing so, the applicant accumulates a required number of hours of service provision and writes two comprehensive exams to ensure a broad and thorough understanding of the field of psychology and the laws, ethics and standards of care for the profession. When all of this is completed, the College of Psychologists invites the applicant to an oral exam in which he/she is interviewed by a panel of Psychologists. If successful, the applicant then becomes fully registered with the College and need no longer use the term supervised practice. This process is similar to the articling year of work and examinations to become a lawyer, or the licensing requirements required for specialty training in medicine.
16Who needs a Psychologist?
For some people, seeing a clinically trained psychologist may be embarrassing, an admission of failure in coping with life’s problems. In fact, the services provided by psychologists can be seen simply as an important part of complete health care.

Psychologists see people who have a wide range of problems. Some people consult psychologists when they simply have an important decision to make and need an objective and private sounding board.

Other people suffer from diagnostic psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress reaction. A psychological disorder may be indicated by any of the following: severe mental turmoil and extreme mood changes, loss of contact with reality, insomnia and loss of appetite, feeling of guilt, sexual dysfunction, isolation, withdrawal and irritability, rage, violence, suicidal feelings, self-defeating behaviour and so on.

Some people experience difficulties when they go through transitions such as marriage breakdown, job loss, retirement, parenthood, accidents, serious illness, bereavement and others. The ability to cope varies from person to person and within a person depending on the number and severity of stressors.

Psychologists are trained to recognize the possibility of physical bases to clients’ difficulties. They work within their range of competence and with the resources of the community to provide quality health care. Psychologists will ensure that the client seeks medical attention and also will refer the client to other social services when they are important to the resolution of the problem. In Ontario, only health care providers registered and regulated by the College of Psychologists can call themselves psychologists. Thus, clients are assured of high standards of practice and health care delivery when they consult a psychologist.
17Why should I pay more to see a Psychologist?
Why should I pay more to see a psychologist when I can pay less and see a psychiatrist covered by OHIP or a “Counsellor” or “Social Worker” who is not covered by OHIP but charges less per session? There are a number of very important reasons why you may want to see a psychologist rather than a less expensive or “free” therapist.

Clinical psychologists have more mental health and psychotherapeutic training and experience than any other health professional.

Clinical psychologists have studied at a university for a minimum of 9 years to earn a doctoral degree in psychology and the work placement experience. After obtaining their doctorate, psychologists must complete a postdoctoral year of supervised experience, write two sets of examinations and pass oral examinations.

Psychologists are regulated and licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario, which has the power to discipline, fine and revoke the licence of psychologists who have not performed their job competently and hurt a client. As a result, the proficiency level and honour of the profession of psychology is ensured and protects you when you seek help.

Only therapists registered with the College of Psychologists can use the title “psychologist” and the terms “psychology” and “psychological” (as in, for example, a “psychological report”.) Therefore, when you see a psychologist, you can be assured that he or she is an exceptionally well trained, well experienced, and well regulated health care professional.

You also have recourse to a higher authority, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, if you are unhappy with the behaviour of the psychologist. There is no recourse with counsellors and other therapists unregulated by law. This is why insurance companies will reimburse you for our psychologists’ fees but will not reimburse you for the fees of an unregulated provider.

Many people do not want to see a psychiatrist because they do not want a medical approach to their problems. Many (but not all) psychiatrists are very biomedical and believe that moods are the result of biochemical imbalances that should mainly be treated by pills. This is like saying your tension headache always requires an aspirin and couldn’t be cured by relaxation, a massage or some problem solving.

We at Core Centre, stay within our area of competence and work with the other health care professionals relevant to our clients problems. Clients are given full opportunity to work on their problems without medication, but if medication is indicated, we refer appropriately and the client can see us for psychotherapy while also seeing a psychiatrist or family physician for prescription and monitoring of medication.

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