Below, you’ll find a list of the most common questions that new clients have about counselling. Click on the question to view the answer and if you have a question that isn’t listed here, please contact us.
At CHATT Inc., your privacy and confidentiality is of utmost importance to us. No one will be informed of your therapy unless you direct us to do so. If your counsellor thinks couples or family therapy might be helpful for you, it is up to you to speak to your family member(s) about the idea of them coming in with you. If your counsellor suggests a medical intervention, such as adding or changing medications, then we would encourage you to speak directly to your doctor about the recommendations being suggested if you are comfortable doing so. Occasionally, a therapist might ask to speak directly to your doctor or your doctor might ask to speak directly with your therapist to better collaborate on your care. In these cases, you would be asked for your permission in advance and you would need to sign a consent form before any letters could be written or discussions could be allowed. If your doctor is recommending that you try CHATT, and has spoken to you about sending us a referral and you’ve agreed, we might also let your doctor know if we were able to reach you or not, but we would provide no further details without your permission. We likewise need your signature if you request any letters for your benefit provider or for court, etc.
Taking medication for mental or emotional health issues is a personal choice. If you prefer not to take medication, counselling can be an effective alternative choice for symptom management. If you and your doctor are considering medication, then speaking to a counsellor may alleviate any concerns you may have about taking medication. Sometimes, a counsellor may advise you that you might wish to speak to your doctor about medication in order to relieve some of your symptoms.
Most counselling sessions are forty-five minutes to one hour. However, the first visit may be longer (one and a half to two hours) if there is more than one family member attending the session or if the counsellor needs to collect a lot of background information to fully appreciate your life and your particular situation. At any time during the counselling process, the client and the therapist may discuss that a particular session should be longer than an hour.
If you are unsure how to advocate for a loved one with a suspected mental illness, emotional issue or addiction who refuses to seek help, you can contact us for advice. While we cannot trick, force or persuade others into counselling, there are specific strategic recommendations on how you communicate with your loved one that can help. In addition, when a person you love is suffering from an addiction or mental illness, your own mental health can be at risk. These issues can put an additional strain on otherwise healthy relationships. Family, friends, and partners play a crucial role in the recovery process as they learn when to step in, when to step back and how to survive the pain of loving a person who is constantly struggling.
You may be experiencing feelings of anger, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, grief, sadness, guilt, fear or hopelessness. Accepting what you have control of and what you do not is also important. Learning to care of yourself and your needs also is an important piece and provides a caregiver or loved one with the strength and resiliency to continue support or withdraw support in their loved one’s best interest. We can also provide information to link you with other people going through similar struggles to your own for support and information on services tailored to the needs of your loved one.
CHATT Inc. is a private practice which operates on a fee-for-service basis at each appointment. However, there are some options for full or partial funding which you may not know about. Please see the Payment Options page for a full list of options.
Once you decide to seek counselling with CHATT Inc., you will be matched with the counsellor who best suits your needs. When you call in or drop by, our front desk staff will ask you a few simple questions about the reasons why you are seeking counselling. Our office staff is familiar with all of our counsellors’ areas of strength and competence and you will then be matched with a suitable counsellor and offered the earliest appointment. You may also request a therapist of your choice or change therapists at any time.
The terms “Counsellor” or “Therapist” usually refer to a person who has a Master’s degree or higher and is registered with a provincial or national Counselling Association. Counsellors/therapists are able to collect the information needed to make recommendations for psychological diagnoses and medications; however they require a psychologist or medical doctor to confirm a diagnosis or prescribe medications. The counselling therapists at CHATT Inc. work with our supervising psychologists to ensure the highest standard of care and our counsellors are accountable to both their supervising psychologists and to either the College of Psychologists or the College of Social Workers.
A Psychologist holds a Doctorate degree in psychology and is registered with, and accountable to, a provincial College of Psychologists. A psychologist often performs all the functions of a Counsellor/Therapist but can also perform the protected act of communicating a diagnosis. Psychologists are not only involved in counselling but are often also very involved in research, assessments, publishing scholarly articles, teaching and supervising others in their field.
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor (OHIP based) who specializes in treating illnesses of the mind. Most psychiatrists work in hospital settings and often prescribe medications, whereas a psychologist or counsellor/therapist cannot prescribe medications. Psychiatrists are often, but not always, less involved with counselling therapy and more involved in assessments, report writing, diagnosing, prescribing, and sometimes research, publishing scholarly articles, teaching and supervising others.
A Life Coach may or may not have a certificate or diploma in Life Coaching. Life Coaches have varying credentials and varying levels of skill. They do not require any specialized training when they are non-certified. Therapists all perform the duties of a Life Coach, but also offer more comprehensive care for the whole person, including symptom and relationship management.
In the field of psychology, essentially all these terms are the same and their use depends on the practitioner who is providing the service. At CHATT Inc., we use the widely accepted terms counselling/counsellor and therapy/therapist. The terms psychotherapy/psychotherapist are controlled and can only be used when referring to a Registered Psychotherapist (RP).
When you establish your expectations and set concise goals early on in treatment, then you and your counsellor are able to track your progress and ensure your satisfaction. The CHATT Inc. counsellors are skilled in both short-term and long-term counselling approaches. The more goals you have or the more severe or deep-rooted your emotional issues are, the more time counselling might take but generally it can take from several months to several years.
Counselling works best when the therapist and the client agree on specific goals early on in the counselling process and share an understanding of how long progress might take. It is usually recommended that therapy take place once a week at the beginning and move to every other week and then monthly or less as your goals are being met. Of course, if you are going through a particularly difficult time or you feel unsafe, you may choose to be seen more frequently.
Counselling can help you:
- Experience a greater awareness, esteem, understanding and appreciation of yourself or others
- Learn why you think and feel the way that you do
- Learn how to change negative patterns into positive ones in order to experience increased joy and confidence and in your life
- Improve your ability to act in healthy ways as an individual and/or within your relationships
- Increase your confidence in order to make life-changing decisions
Counselling therapy, or counselling for short, helps individuals, couples and families deal with mental, emotional, and life issues by providing a safe and confidential space to explore these issues, improve relationships, and advance toward personal goals. The main objective of counselling therapy is to give you the opportunity to reflect on yourself using the relationship with the therapist as a mirror and support. You will gain new perspectives and learn how to make healthier decisions and move towards positive change.
At CHATT Inc., our therapists use a number of counselling approaches. The most common technique we use is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, which is a research-based and clinically proven psychological treatment. With over 50 years of history backing up its effectiveness, CBT has been shown to reduce the need for medication and otherwise solve most mental health concerns very effectively. CBT is an effective means for treating some of the most commonly occurring counselling issues such as anxiety and depression. The basic idea behind CBT, is that people with anxiety and depression have anxious and/or depressed thoughts that make them feel worse. When people feel badly about themselves, or their future, they often act in ways that reinforce these thoughts. At the core of CBT is the idea that if you can change the way you think and behave, then you can change the way you feel. A CBT-trained therapist helps you to observe and monitor your thoughts and reactions, teaches you to use logic to test your negative thought patterns, and provides you with alternative ways of thinking and doing. A CBT therapist will also help you with problem-solving.
For example, a person who has trouble throwing things out might think of themselves as “useless or foolish” for being so stuck. They may worry about the impact that their inability to let go of “things” has on their loved ones, or how it influences their future. They might not be able to deal with the anxiety or depression that comes with the inability to “let things go” or the worry that they might be a “hoarder”. The CBT therapist monitors the client’s thoughts and feelings and identifies the emotional obstacles of “letting go”. The therapist can then help the person work through their sense of attachment and their fear of loss, and eventually begin the work of really letting go of clutter. Once a person is able to “let go” of their possessions on an emotional level, the therapist can offer practical advice on the process of sorting and tossing. A CBT therapist would also help with making the task seem more manageable and to set it up in order for the client to experience success as the job moves along. Lastly, by evaluating progress, identifying obstacles, and reviewing the thoughts that can help or get in the way, a CBT Therapist can coach a person through to ultimate success. In the end, the client changes the way she/he thinks and behaves which leads them to change the way they feel about themselves.