Are you ready to start working with a therapist? That’s a powerful choice to make, and the beginning of a journey that can have surprising rewards. However, deciding to go to therapy is just the first step. For many people, the process of finding the right therapist feels overwhelming and confusing.
It’s true that there are a number of factors to consider when picking a therapist, but it’s not an impossible task. Let us walk you through some of the things to consider in finding the right therapist.
Should You Have Sessions Online or in Person?
This first choice is probably the most straightforward one. Which option do you prefer? Which one works best for your life? Whether you feel drawn to the convenience of online counselling or think you’ll feel more comfortable working face-to-face, this choice rests entirely on what you want to do.
The good news is that research has repeatedly shown that online therapy is as effective as in-person sessions. So don’t worry about making the “right” choice. Pick the one that appeals to you, and remember that you can also change your mind if you need to.
What Kind of Therapist Do You Need?
There are many different kinds of mental health professionals, and each has different areas of expertise. Here’s a link that spells out the differences between psychotherapists, social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
But the main thing you need to know is who can provide the kind of mental health services you’re looking for. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication, which can be a helpful part of mental health treatment. Psychologists, on the other hand, have advanced degrees and are able to administer psychological tests and make diagnoses of mental health conditions.
Although both of these professionals can provide important services on your mental health journey, they typically don’t provide ongoing talk therapy. Their focus can be specialized on testing, diagnosis, as well as medical treatment.
For talk therapy, most people work with a registered social worker or psychotherapist. These mental health professionals focus on talk therapy and other counselling services.
Do These Services Cover My Insurance?
If a doctor refers you to a psychologist for diagnostic testing, or a psychiatrist for a prescription, then that visit should be covered by OHIP. However, private insurance may or may not cover talk therapy with a psychotherapist or social worker.
When finding the right therapist, it’s important to find out what coverage your insurance provides and the qualifications they require for therapists. Speak to your insurance provider for clarification on these questions; It’s important to understand what your insurance covers, so you can find a therapist that matches your plan.
Can They Meet Your Needs?
One very important detail to consider is whether a therapist provides the type of care you’re looking for. For example, if you’re dealing with complex issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or disordered eating, it’s important to find someone who is equipped to work with you. Each therapist has their own areas of expertise, and it’s much more effective to work with someone whose skills align with your needs.
If you want to pursue a specific therapeutic approach, that’s another question to ask when finding the right therapist. You may want to try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Have they been trained in that approach? Do they have experience with it? The right therapist for you should be equipped to give you the support you’re looking for.
Is Therapy Free in Ontario?
If you don’t have insurance coverage for therapy, there are some free and low-cost services you can try.
BounceBack is a free, online, guided, self-help program for people 15 years old and up to help people deal with mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression.
Another option is ConnexOntario, which provides free, confidential information online about services that are available for people with substance use disorder, gambling problems, and other mental health issues.
Distress and Crisis Ontario also has non-profit centres in a number of different communities and offer a range of mental health services.
Unfortunately, free or low-cost mental health services may have a long waiting list. You may also find that you’re working with care providers who are still in training. You can still get high-quality care in these situations, but the process may be a little more complicated than you expect.
Does OHIP Cover It?
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is the government-run insurance plan for Ontario. Unfortunately, the program covers limited mental health care services. In general, it does not cover therapists who work in private practice. However, mental health care is covered if it’s part of a medical or hospital visit.
An appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist can sometimes be covered if you are referred by a doctor. However, that visit is most likely to be to seek a diagnosis or prescription for medication, not for therapy.
OHIP covers some government-funded hospitals and clinics. There are also services such as the Canadian Mental Health Association that meet certain health needs. Click on this link for more information about available services that OHIP covers.
Finding the Right Therapist
It doesn’t matter if all the other details are in place if you don’t “click” with your therapist. Therapy is a vulnerable process, and it’s very important that you feel a connection with the person you’re working with. You should be able to trust them and be confident that they’re listening to you. These tips can help you make sure you find a good fit.
Trillium Counselling is Here for You
If you’re ready to start working with the right therapist, we invite you to take a look at what we have to offer at Trillium Counselling. Here are our therapists’ bios, so you can see who would be a good match for you. If you would like more information or would like to make an appointment, please contact us today.