Frequently Asked Questions

What is counselling/psychotherapy and is it helpful?

The terms counselling and psychotherapy generally both refer to a collaborative relationship between a client and a mental health professional. Within the context of a therapeutic relationship, mental health professionals may facilitate the client's self awareness/understanding, promote change and growth, and help clients to improve their personal and interpersonal functioning.Research supports the contention that counselling/psychotherapy is helpful to people. On average, people with emotional or interpersonal problems who have counselling/psychotherapy do better than those who don't. The amount of improvement clients experience depends on the person, the type of therapy, the length of therapy, and the type of problem.

Who pays for psychological services?

Private psychological services are not covered by Alberta Health, but for many people the cost of accessing psychological services can be offset through employee benefits or additional insurance coverage. The Psychologists' Association of Alberta 2018 recommended fee schedule is $200.00 per hour for individual and couples counselling. The treatment "hour" is usually 50 minutes allowing 10 minutes from each hour for after-session notes and other services. At the end of each session clients are issued a receipt for psychological counselling services that may be used to obtain reimbursement from employee benefits or insurance company.

How many sessions will I need?

How many sessions you will require is dependant upon the complexity, severity and duration of the problem with which you are presenting as well as your personal motivation for dealing with these difficulties. For some issues people can experience significant improvement in only a few sessions. You and your Psychologist will work together to estimate how many sessions you will require. However, ultimately, it is your decision as to how many sessions you need.

How should I choose a Psychologist?

Researchers who study the effectiveness of psychotherapy have suggested that one of the most important factors in successful therapy is the quality of the therapeutic relationship and level of connection clients feel they have with their therapists. As such, choosing a Psychologist with whom you feel comfortable is of utmost importance. Some clients will find it quite easy to determine whether or not they are a good "fit" with a particular professional. For other clients, assessing this may take a little longer. Trusting your feelings is a good way to assess "fit". It is important that clients feel their therapist listens to them, communicates their understanding and provides treatment that makes intuitive sense to the client.


Ask about their educational/training background.

In the province of Alberta, anyone who identifies themselves as a "Psychologist" must register with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP) which regulates the practice of psychology in this province. Although all people who identify Psychologists have met minimum standards for practice as determined by CAP, there is significant variation among Psychologists in terms of their educational backgrounds and graduate degrees. The highest graduate level of training is a doctoral degree from a university program that is accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association and the completion of an accredited internship program.

Inquire about their areas of practice and expertise.

Many Psychologists will be familiar with treating a variety of client difficulties. Some however, may have particular expertise and/or training to deal with the issues that have brought you to them. It may be helpful for you to ask the following questions: 1. How much experience do you have treating clients with my type of problem(s)? 2. Do you have any specialized training in dealing with my type of problem(s)? 3. What approaches have been shown to help people dealing with my type of problem(s)? 4. What success have you had treating clients with my type of problem(s)?

What is the difference between a Psychologist and Psychiatrist?

Psychologists are mental health professionals who assess, diagnose and treat problems in the way people think, feel and behave. In order to hold the title of "Psychologist", an individual must register with the College of Alberta Psychologists. The College of Alberta Psychologists regulates the practice of psychology in Alberta and ensures that all individuals registering as Psychologists meet minimum standards for professional practice. In the province of Alberta, the minimum level of training for Psychologists is a masters degree. Psychologists who use the term "Dr." have completed a doctoral degree and can have upwards 10 years of university training in their discipline.

Psychiatrists are physicians who have specialized in treating mental illness and mental health issues. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication to patients who may require them and they may also provide psychotherapy services to patients to assist them with their difficulties.