Guide to Finding a Therapist

Click here to print this pageClick here to print this page

Psychotherapy or counselling is a therapeutic partnership between someone experiencing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other types of mental illness and a mental health professional. It is a contractual agreement between the therapist and the client for the purposes of supporting the client through a problem solving and healing process.

The psychotherapist/counsellor brings knowledge and skill to the therapeutic relationship. The primary role of the counsellor is to provide support and guidance in the important work that you are doing.

Remember, that the therapist is actually working for you. The work that you do together is best done as a team. Before you begin make sure that you know what you are looking for. Some key issues to keep in mind:

  • How much can I afford to pay?
  • How long do I want to be in therapy?
  • Do I want therapy that is interactive?
  • Do I want therapy that is more analytical and less interactive?
  • Is the therapist's office in a location that I feel comfortable with?
  • How often do I want to see the therapist?

You can also ask your potential therapist some questions.  All therapists should be willing to answer them. If they won't, move on! There are people who claim to be therapists but who do not have credentials or
professional memberships.When you are making your first exploratory phone calls, ask these questions:

  • What's your education?
  • What's your professional/clinical training?
  • Do you have experience in treating mood disorders?
  • Are you a member of a professional association or college?
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • Do you have experience with my specific problem?
  • What are your fees?
  • How long do you think that it will take?
  • Can we work as a team to set the goals for my therapy?
  • Do you have a waiting list?

Make sure that you write down the responses in order to review them later. As you ask the questions check how you feel about the responses. Your 'gut' feelings about the person on the other end of the phone shouldn't be ignored. Pay attention to the 'ease' or 'dis-ease' that you feel as you go through your checklist. One option is to rank your gut feeling from 1-5.

1-I felt really uncomfortable with this one.
2- I felt moderately comfortable with this one.
3- I felt comfortable with this one. 
4- I felt very comfortable with this one. 
5- This is the one for me.

 

Once you have ranked your gut feeling, review the other answers to make sure that the therapist is a fit. Now you can make an appointment. You will know that the therapist that you have chosen is the right one within the first two to three sessions.

Some questions to ask yourself after the first couple of sessions include:

  • Am I beginning to trust this therapist?
  • Does the therapist seem to understand me?
  • Do I feel at ease with the therapist even though it's a difficult situation?
  • Are the fees okay?
  • Is the location good?
  • Do I feel comfortable in the therapist's office?
  • Can the therapist accommodate my schedule needs?
  • Do I feel that we make a good team?
  • Do I feel heard?
  • Do I feel supported?

Make sure that you feel comfortable. Remember, this is an important and courageous step that you have taken and you need to be on the journey with someone that you know you can count on.

If you don't feel that you and the therapist are a good fit, let him/her know. Some problems can be resolved but sometimes it's just a matter of mismatched personality. This is no one's fault but will require you to find a different counsellor.

If you do need to find a new therapist, ask your current therapist to help you by providing some names of other therapists. He/she should be able to accommodate this request.

How much will this cost me?

  • OHIP covers psychiatrists and medical doctors
  • Psychologists and clinical social workers aren't covered by OHIP but are often covered by private or company insurance policies
  • Fees for psychologists or clinical social workers can range from as low as $0.00 per hour at public
    agencies up to $160+ per hour. Some therapists have a sliding fee scale.

Where can I start to look for a therapist?

Traditional

College of Physicians and Surgeons ......... 416-967-2600
toll free .............................................................. 1-800-268-7096
website: ..............................................................http://www.cpso.on.ca


G.P. Psychotherapy Association ...................http://.www.gppaonline.ca
Their services are covered by OHIP.  GP Psychotherapists require a referral from
your family doctor, a physician at a walk-in clinic or a local health centre.

 

Ontario Association of Social Workers ......(416) 923-4848
website: ............................................................http://www.oasw.org

 

Ontario Psychological Association .............(416) 961-0069 
toll free ............................................................. 1-800-268-0069
website...............................................................http://opajoomla.knowledge4you.ca/

Psychotherapy Referral Service of Toronto
website...............................................................http://prstoronto.com