QUESTIONS ABOUT PSYCHOTHERAPY
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is the specific use of talk therapy to help clients work through psychological distress and treat mental health disorders. It can be (and sometimes encouraged) used with medication in the treatment of mental health disorders (such as depression and anxiety). Psychotherapy and counselling are terms that are often used interchangeably.
What is the difference between a psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist?
A psychotherapist holds a minimum of a Masters degree in psychology or a relevant field and offers talk therapy to help people in the treatment of mental disorders and psychological distress. A psychologist typically holds a doctorate degree in psychology who also offers talk therapy, and can also offer assessment & diagnosis of psychological disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health and mainly deal with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. As a group, psychotherapists and psychologists focus mainly on talk therapy.
What does therapy look like?
Typically, there is an initial discussion where the client identifies the focus of the work they wish to pursue and provides some relevant background information. From that, the client and therapist work together to determine the approach to be used, frequency, length of sessions, etc. Typically, hour-long individual sessions include 50 minutes of face-to-face time (with 10 minutes of administrative time) and 1.5 hour long couples sessions would be 75 minutes of face-to-face time (with 15 minutes of administrative time). I often encourage clients to come weekly at the beginning to build momentum and deeper engagement in the process.
With couples, I typically meet with couples together for the first session, and then one individual session with each partner (in the same week if possible) to connect better with each partner before resuming conjoint sessions in following weeks.
This would be what my office looks like.
How many sessions does therapy take?
The length of time for therapy can vary from weeks to years, largely depends on presenting issues and goals for therapy. Some clients are coming in to seek discernment and emotional processing for specific situations, others want to resolve longer-term issues. This is something that can be discussed in our initial meetings for therapy.
Can I take breaks in therapy?
Of course! I understand that costs (monetary and time) can be prohibitive, and it is common practice for clients to work with a therapist for a time and then take a break. There are often times that you may reach a point in therapy that you want a break. This can be for many reasons – third party coverage has run out and they need to postpone the work to when coverage resumes, to manage the costs of therapy, intermediate goals may have been reached and work can be done by client to consolidate what has been learned before taking next steps, and sometimes, life simply gets busy and are unable to attend for a period. Whatever the case, many clients start therapy and then take breaks over time when necessary. This can be discussed further when we meet.
MY APPROACH TO PSYCHOTHERAPY
What are emotions and why are they important?
Emotions are physiological responses to situations and they tell us what is important to us. They act as a guide to what we need or what and inform our actions. There are six fundamental emotional states: anger, sadness, fear, shame, joy and surprise. Each state inform us of different needs – for example, sadness tells us that our needs aren’t being met and anger tells us that our boundaries are being violated. There are also different layers of emotions – primary (or core emotions), and secondary (or reactive emotions). I will have more information about this in an upcoming blog post.
Therapy is an active and effective way of figuring out how to get core needs met once they are identified. Sometimes, core emotions are interrupted by secondary emotions, which often come up as a result of cultural / societal messages or upbringing. Our core emotions can also be influenced by past emotional injuries and traumas which often appear at inopportune times – these are also known as maladaptive emotions.
It is a mistake to attempt to ignore and suppress poignant emotions as a long term solution, as those emotions contain important information about ourselves and our needs. Often times, the presence of maladaptive emotions can signal to us aspects of present or past that need to be addressed and healed. Important core emotions don’t simply go away if unaddressed – if anything, they often come back more intensely and unpredictably. Attempts to avoid or suppress important core emotions are often at the core of our struggles and key in what maintains hurtful patterns in our lives.
What is Emotion-Focused Therapy?
As you do research on finding a therapist, you may find therapists offering many different approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Psychodynamic Therapy. Each approach emphasizes different aspects of human psychology and behaviour. Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) works experientially and directly with emotions with the idea that the best way to transform emotion is with emotion. The approach seeks to help clients with inner transformation and healing, and not just surface changes.
EFT is an empirically validated approach that is used to treat psychological and relational distress in both individual and couples. An emotion-focused therapist works with the underlying belief that emotions are fundamentally adaptive (healthy) and are an important source of information about our needs, but is often blocked by maladaptive or secondary emotions that can be caused by aspects of our upbringing and/or past or present emotional injuries. Emotion-focused therapists help clients identify and work through painful feelings to access core adaptive emotions. An important part of the therapeutic process is helping clients figure out ways to get their core needs met once they are identified.
EFT-C (Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples) incorporates principles of emotion-focused therapy with family systems theory. This approach helps couples establish greater emotional intimacy and trust by de-escalating conflict cycles and helping the couple communicate and respond more effectively to each other’s core needs. This is done by identifying and recognizing the role of secondary / maladaptive emotions in the problematic patterns in the relationship, and working through them to help each partner access and process core adaptive emotions and associated need. EFT-C pays close attention to aspects of attachment and identity in the treatment of relationship distress.
Does insurance / third party coverage cover costs of therapy? How does this work?
If clients have third party coverage, I encourage clients to ask the provider what is covered – this includes how much they cover per session, what credentials they cover, etc. My particular credentials are Registered Psychotherapist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist. I am also in supervised practice under a clinical psychologist, in case you need this option. If you need this, please inquire for more details.
Typically, clients pay for the session and I would provide a receipt. They then process their claim through their benefits provider and get reimbursed from their provider.
How much does therapy cost?
You will find that fees for psychotherapy can range from $100 per hour up to and exceeding $250 per hour. My fees (including HST) are as follows:
$140 per 1 hour session for individuals ($123.90 + HST)
$190 per 1.5 hour session for couples ($168.14 + HST)
I take payment by cash, cheque, credit card and e-transfer. I also offer therapy at reduced rates based on financial need on a case-by-case basis. Please let me know if you need this, and we can discuss options.
I have a 24 hour cancellation policy. If you are unable to cancel your appointment in accordance to the policy, you will be expected to pay full-fee for that session.
You identify yourself as a Christian – does religion and faith need to be part of the therapeutic process?
Like anything else in therapy, the degree to which religion and faith play a role in psychotherapy is up to the desires of my clients. The reason I include this information is for those who also identify themselves as Christian and wish to do therapy with someone of similar beliefs and values. I am open to seeing clients of all faith and religious backgrounds and will not push my views on my clients.