How do you know when you
should seek help?
All individuals, couples, and families
experience difficulties at some point in time. However, there are occasions
when the assistance of a qualified therapist can be exceptionally helpful.
Some signs of distress when the assistance of a therapist should be considered
feelings of dissatisfaction
with a child's behaviour and/or grades
fatigue or difficulty in sleeping
problems or concerns
in talking with your spouse, family members, friends or co-workers
of loneliness, moodiness, depression, sadness, failure, stress, or anxiety
with alcohol or drugs
need for tranquilizers, energizers, or sleeping aids
in setting or reaching goals
stress due to chronic illness
in which stress plays a major role
weight fluctuations, or irregular eating patterns
with anger, hostility or violence
difficulties (e.g., frequent job changes, problems with co-workers, poor
Is there a difference between a therapist
and a counsellor?
No. In general, these terms are used
What do therapists do?
They diagnose and treat mental and
emotional disorders, behavioural problems and relationship difficulties.
Therapists are typically interested in strengths, patterns, roles, rules,
goals, and stages of development. Depending upon their particular
qualifications and training, they may use: interviews, psychological tests,
rating scales, hypnosis, reading assignments, discussions, relaxation
exercises, homework assignments, reward systems, and many other techniques as
Who are qualified therapists?
The requirements for practice vary
somewhat across the different provinces and territories of this country. In
general, Canadian therapists have specialized training in counselling; one or
more graduate degrees; are licensed by a professional association to use a
professional title (such as: Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, etc.),
and subscribe to a professional code of ethics. Each of these professional
groups undergoes different training and has different skills to offer. With
all other things being equal, you should opt for the therapist with more
training and experience in treating concerns such as yours. (A doctoral degree
represents more training than a Master's degree which, in turn, represents
more training than a Bachelor's degree.) Increasingly, qualified therapists in
Canada are members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
(AAMFT) which requires that they possess at least a Master's degree, specific
training in marriage and family therapy, and have a minimum of two years of
supervised clinical practice. Do not hesitate to inquire about a
therapist's training and experience.
How often are sessions scheduled?
One session per week is very common.
However, in some situations, sessions are scheduled more frequently; and in
others less frequently.
How long do sessions last?
Generally, an introductory session tends
to be somewhat longer, but most therapy sessions last about one hour.
How long, on average, does therapy last?
The period of time that an individual,
couple or family remains in therapy tends to vary with the seriousness of the
problem, but most situations require six sessions or fewer.
What if my spouse or family members won't
Your spouse or other family members do
not always need to participate in therapy. However, uninterested family
members often do get involved in the therapy later, if there is
at least one motivated person attending.
How can I find a qualified therapist?
Many companies make counselling services
available to their employees through employee assistance programs (EAPs).
Qualified therapists are also listed in the Yellow Pages under: Psychologists,
Social Workers, Counselling and Social Service Agencies. Often times,
qualified therapists can be accessed at hospitals, colleges and universities.
In addition, you may ask for a referral from your family physician or for a
personal recommendation from a friend or colleague. You may also contact the
provincial or national association of one of the professional groups listed
above, and ask them for the names of several therapists who specialize in
concerns such as yours and who live in your community. Finally, there are a
number of directories of therapists available on the Internet.
Therapist Network, Find-A-Therapist
and the Therapist Locator
directories that include listings of therapists in Canada and the United
States. They allow you to "search" for therapists in your area who
have particular credentials and specialize in a particular area of practice.
Do I need a referral from my family
No, a referral from your physician is
generally not essential. However, if you are considering seeing a therapist,
do not hesitate to ask your physician for a referral; or for the name of a
therapist he/she would recommend.
What if I don't feel comfortable with my
Good therapists are very aware of the
importance of a good "fit" and will invite you to use the first
session to decide if you feel comfortable working with them. If, at any time,
you don't feel that you have a good fit, let your therapist know.
It is likely that he/she will be able to direct you to a more suitable
What does therapy cost and who pays for
Therapists' fees vary considerably
depending upon the professional training of the therapist, the area you are
living in, the therapist's expertise, etc. Fee guidelines are available for
each of the professions noted above from their respective professional
for the fee schedule recommended by the Psychologists' Association of
If you have an EAP benefit at your place
of employment, your employer will cover all or a portion of your costs. It is
important to find out the details of your coverage before securing services.
The services of some therapists, (e.g.
Psychiatrists) may be covered by your general (e.g. Alberta) Health Care
Insurance. Some funded agencies provide counselling services without passing
on any of the costs to you. In this province, the Probation Department, for
example, may fund counselling that is ordered by the court.
Many people now possess extended health
care insurance which will pay, in full or in part, for the services of a
therapist. Blue Cross, for example, requires that the therapist be a
Psychologist who is appropriately licensed (i.e., Registered or
Chartered). With most of
these programs it is necessary to pay the fees as you go and submit a receipt
to the insurance company to claim your benefit. Again, it is important to be
certain of the details before contracting services.
Some agencies use a "sliding
scale" which usually means that the portion of the total fee you pay is
determined by your income.
For more information or an
The Stepfamily Foundation of
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Phone: (403) 245-5744
The information contained on
this page is for the personal use of stepfamily members visiting this web site.
All other use, reproduction, distribution or storage of this work, in whole or
in part, by any and all means, without the express written permission of the
author, is strictly prohibited.
Stepfamily Foundation of