Frequently Asked Questions About Clinical Psychology

Q: What is a Psychologist?

A:  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 the CPO may call himself or herself a Psychologist. In order to be registered as a Psychologist in Ontario, an individual must have completed a doctorate (Ph.D.) in psychology including extensive clinical training. He or she must then pass professional examinations, a minimum of 1500 hours (12 months) of post-doctoral supervised practice, 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. (Source: Ontario Psychological Association www.psych.on.ca )

Q: How do I know if I should be seeing a Psychologist?

A: 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
  • You are depressed
  • You suffer from phobias
  • You have an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-eating)
  • You are addicted to alcohol or other drugs
  • You have difficulty getting along with your partner, family, or co-workers
  • You are faced with a major life change
  • You are overwhelmed or "burned out" by workplace stress
  • You are having problems with parenting
  • 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

Your problem certainly does not have to be overwhelmingly serious in order for you to benefit from psychological help. Some individuals wish to explore who they are, some need help making a decision, and some need assistance in managing everyday life stress. Whatever your issue, you should feel free to discuss absolutely anything with me without fear of criticism or judgment. Delays in seeking help may cause you needless suffering and may cause your problem to become worse in the long run, if left untreated. (Source: Ontario Psychological Association www.psych.on.ca )

Q: How do I know if I'm seeing a licensed Psychologist?

A: Psychologists are registered and regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO). In Ontario, only a member of CPO may call himself or herself a Psychologist. The CPO maintains an up-to-date list of registered Psychologists in the province of Ontario at: http://www.cpo.on.ca/members-of-the-public/index

Note: There are many other kinds of "Counsellors" and "Therapists" who may or may not have training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health issues. When you choose a Psychologist, you can be assured that the professional has extensive formal training and supervision in their area of expertise, will adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional standards, and is governed and regulated by the College of Psychologists. (Source: Ontario Psychological Association www.psych.on.ca )

Q: What is the difference between Psychologists and Psychiatrists?

A: Psychologists and Psychiatrists have approximately the same number of years of formal training. The basic difference is the kind of training they have received. Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology and specialize in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of human emotion, thought, and behaviour. They have advanced training in psychotherapy and the science of behaviour change. Although they may have training in the use of medication to treat mental illness, in Ontario they are not licensed to prescribe medication. Psychologists are the only professionals qualified to use certain kinds of psychological tests to assess intelligence, emotional and behavioural problems, and neuropsychological dysfunction. Their fees are covered by private payment, extended medical plans, employee assistance programs, and through government agencies or other special programs. In Ontario, they are licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Psychiatrists have a degree in medicine like your family physician and then take specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems. They are able to prescribe medication and their fees are covered by OHIP. In Ontario, they are licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. (Source: Ontario Psychological Association www.psych.on.ca )

Q: Are Psychological services covered under OHIP?

A: Psychological services are not currently covered by OHIP, but are partially covered by extended health insurance plans (e.g., Great West Life, etc.). The coverage for each carrier is different so please check with your plan to se what coverage is available for Psychological services.

Q: What is CBT?

A: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a research based therapeutic intervention for treating a wide range of psychological difficulties. A central idea in this therapy is that your "perception" of an event powerfully affects your emotional, behavioral and physical response to it. CBT encourages exploration of your problem-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and the interconnections between them. It focuses on modifying problematic thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. In contrast to other traditional forms of psychotherapy, CBT is short-term, goal-directed, skill-building, structured, active, and oriented in the present.

Q: What is Motivational Interviewing?

A: Motivational interviewing is a research based therapeutic intervention for enhancing ones internal motivation to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence.