Frequently asked questions

What is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is a professional trained in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health issues.  Psychologists are registered and regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO).  In Ontario, only a member of CPO may call himself/herself a psychologist.  In order to be registered as a psychologist in Ontario, an individual must have completed a graduate degree (currently a doctorate) as well as a one-year supervised internship.  He or she must then pass professional examinations, and agree to follow an ethical code and standards of professional practice as defined in the Health Professions Act legislated by the Province of Ontario.

Should I be seeing a Psychologist?

Many people, at some time in their life, need professional help with their personal problems.  The role of a psychologist is to help you find solutions to the problems and challenges you may be facing at home, school, or work.  It is often difficult to recognize when help is needed.  Listed below are some of the reasons why people see a psychologist.  If you or someone you care about is experiencing problems such as these, think about consulting a psychologist.

  • You are chronically anxious, depressed, or suicidal
  • You suffer from phobias
  • You have difficulty getting along with your partner, family, or co-workers
  • You are having problems with parenting
  • You are overwhelmed or “burned out” by workplace stress
  • You suspect you have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, and need an assessment
  • You are faced with a major life change
  • You are faced with a career change and need vocational advice and assessment
  • You suffer from chronic pain and chronic illness
  • You have been a victim of abuse or violence
  • You have been involved in a traumatic incident, such as a life-threatening accident
  • You have had a brain injury and have been unable to fully recover
  • You or someone you love has become chronically ill or disabled
  • You are suffering from a complicated grief reaction
  • You are addicted to alcohol or other drugs, or to compulsive gambling
  • You have an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-eating)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the reasons why a person might consult a psychologist.  If you simply feel like you need someone to talk to, either to unburden yourself, to develop healthy strategies, or to provide support not available from other people in your life, a psychologist may be able to help you.  Your problem does not have to be overwhelmingly serious to benefit from psychological help.  Delays in seeking help may cause you needless suffering and may cause your problem to become worse in the long run, if untreated.

Is what I tell a Psychologist confidential?

In most circumstances, information obtained in the context of the patient/Psychologist relationship is strictly confidential, as required by the College of Psychologists of Ontario.  The patient files are typically not made available to a third party without the patient’s signed consent permitting the release of information.  The rare exceptions to confidentiality as required by law are discussed in the initial consultation.

Are Psychologists covered by OHIP?

Psychologists in private practice are not covered by OHIP, however,

  • Services provided by a registered Psychologist are covered, in varying degree, by most extended health care plans either through your employer or purchased by you.  You should consult with your extended health provider or look in their benefits booklet to see what coverage you might have.

Do I need a referral from my Family Physician to see a Psychologist?

It is not necessary to obtain a referral to see a Psychologist.  However, most extended health care plans and other third-party insurers require the inclusion of a Physician’s referral when submitting a claim for a Psychologist’s fees.

What does a Psychoeducational Assessment involve?

A full psychoeducational assessment is conducted in approximately 3 or 4 two-hour sessions, and is preceded by a one-hour consultation session in which a patient history is obtained.  The skills and abilities that are typically assessed include cognitive functioning, academic achievement, memory and learning, neuropsychological processing, and attention/concentration.  An extensive written report is provided and discussed in detail during a one-hour follow-up session.

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