Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of things do people seek counselling for?

People seek counselling for a variety of reasons including feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, worried, sad, or angry.  People also seek out counselling to help change behaviours that are troubling them including addictive or disordered behaviours or behaviours that affect their relationships at home or at work.  Some people seek counselling because they have a life goal that has been eluding them and they are ready to explore their barriers.  Other people seek out counselling because they know they are going through a difficult time or facing a difficult decision and they desire a place to sort through their feelings and move forward in their life with intention and clear thinking.

How does counselling help?

When a counseling relationship is working well, clients experience new insights into their situations, clearer thinking, increased energy, better understanding of their feelings and needs, release of troubling emotions that have held them back or been confusing, and a greater sense of wholeness and peace within themselves.  Therapy is a process, and a working partnership develops between client and therapist.  Therapy is not always comfortable or straightforward as difficult emotions and ways of being often have to be sorted through in order for new energy and change to appear.  Clients should feel comfortable with their therapist and be able to ask about whatever is on their mind regarding the process.  In spite of the uncomfortable emotions experienced, clients I have worked with feel that the temporary pain of the working through process is well worth leaving behind the continual pain of living the way they had previously.

Is what I share confidential?

Yes.  All client-therapist conversations are private and confidential.  It is also confidential information that a person is meeting with a counselor.  As a licensed social worker, I follow the professional ethical standards of the National Association of Social Workers.  Only in rare exceptions when the safety of a client or other is at risk can disclosure of confidential client-therapist information take place.

What can I expect for the first session?

You can expect to talk about the concern(s) that brought you into counseling and also about your background and personal history.  You can share on a level that feels comfortable for you.  You can also expect to have some brief paperwork to fill out.

What’s the difference between a clinical 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.

What is 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.

Will my extended health provider cover session fees?

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.