A Consumer Guide
Prepared for clients of
Steele & Porret Psychologists Inc.
You come to us hoping that as a result of your contact with the therapist, the problems you are facing will be solved. We hope so too. Typically, individual psychotherapy can go a long way in resolving personal problems.
Therapists can assist clients to lessen extreme feelings (e.g. fear, depression, anger), reduce or eliminate disturbing behaviours (e.g. self-harm, addictions, abusive response to others), and to resolve relationship problems (e.g. marital tension, parenting problems).
The therapist is unlikely to have a quick solution to your problems – if there was one, you would have likely found it by now. The therapist will work with you to gradually uncover the solution that will be uniquely your own. This will take time. It will also take effort and willingness to change on your part.
Some problems cannot be completely eliminated, but can be managed and perspective can be gained on them. Your work with your therapist should help you to make decisions about important personal issues. You can expect to understand yourself and your situation better as a result of professional therapeutic help.
There are risks to individual therapy. Not everyone experiences these negative effects and you can work with your therapist to lessen them, if they do happen for you.
Often emotions emerge even more strongly when the exploration of them begins. You might be surprised by the intensity of feelings that you experience during therapy and in the hours and days before and after sessions. On a temporary basis you might experience worsened depression, anxiety, and nightmares. You might not be able to work efficiently in the hours after an appointment. Your therapist can assist you in managing these experiences and can work toward scheduling that is the least intrusive on the rest of your life.
As you share personal information with your therapist, there can be a strain on relationships with other important people in your life (e.g. an intimate partner). It is important to be open with your partner about your seeing a therapist, sharing with him/her what you are learning about yourself and how you are changing. Your intimate partner most likely will want to improve and will support your changes. Occasionally, however, what you learn about yourself and your relationships might put that other relationship in jeopardy. If your partner is suspicious, jealous, or abusive, you seeing a therapist may make those tendencies worse.
Occasionally, clients and therapists can develop strong emotional feelings between them. The proper identification and management of these feelings can actually contribute to your emotional growth and health. Ignoring these feelings, or their mismanagement, can create a severe crisis and further pain. Open discussion of those feelings can help a great deal. Remember, it is NEVER okay for there to be a sexual relationship between you and your therapist. Other additional roles between client and therapist (e.g. friendships, business relationships, employment relationships) can become problematic and need to be avoided if possible.
Be a wise consumer
You can lower your risks in therapy by being a wise consumer. Be choosey about who you allow to be your therapist – check credentials, ask who others have found to be trustworthy and helpful, ask other professionals about the therapist you are considering. If you don’t feel good about the assessment and guidance you are provided, be cautious. Talk to a close friend or family member about what is going on in your therapy.
Be open with your therapist about the risks identified in this booklet, talk about how your risks can be avoided and benefits maximized. If you have concerns about your therapy, get a second opinion. Your therapist should be willing to recommend other competent professionals for this purpose. You could also request your doctor to arrange one for you. If you arrange a second opinion, make it clear to the second professional what you are seeking.
Your therapist wants your therapy to succeed in accomplishing your personal goals. The risks mentioned here can be minimized or completely avoided, when both therapist and client are wise and careful.
Let’s work together to make therapy a good experience for you.
It is a big step in your life to begin psychotherapeutic treatment. You may wonder if it will really help. Having appropriate expectations about what psychotherapy can do will help you use your therapy effectively and not be disappointed along the way.
Psychotherapy can help in understanding yourself better, making and following through on healthy decisions, and overcoming distressing emotions. Psychotherapy is unlikely to change your circumstances. The changes that people make in their own behaviour as a result of psychotherapy can help them cope with circumstances in new and better ways. Your psychotherapy cannot change another person who is distressing you. However, your different perspective and resolution of intense feelings can make a difference in how you act and others may respond to your changes by changing their own behaviour toward you.
Psychology, as a scientific discipline, has developed a body of knowledge regarding human behaviour and experience. Psychotherapy is an application of this knowledge to help individuals in distress or with life functioning difficulties. Psychotherapists provide assistance to their clients which is consistent with that basis of scientific knowledge, true to proven traditions of practice and up-to-date in the use of effective methodologies.
Your psychotherapist will provide assistance that is uniquely tailored to your needs. To do so, your psychotherapist will gather comprehensive information about your difficulties and consider a wide variety of treatment techniques. Effective treatment choice arises out of an honest and open collaboration between you and your psychotherapist.
Many factors contribute to a successful outcome for you. The most important of these is the relationship between you and your psychotherapist. Your psychotherapy will have the best outcome if there is a relationship of understanding, trust, respect, and hope. Feel free to ask questions so that you can be confident in the therapy that you are receiving.
Unlike other aspects of healthcare, a reliance on the newest methodologies of treatment is not critical for good outcomes. Current research is identifying methods which are most generally effective for particular types of problems and populations of clients. Much of accepted psychotherapeutic treatment is still outside the validation by scientific research. Your psychotherapist is trained in the traditions of good practice, with a variety of general treatment models and specific techniques. Your psychotherapist will bring the best she has to offer to your unique situation. If your psychotherapist believes that you could be better helped by a different psychotherapist using a different treatment approach this will be discussed with you and a referral will be made.
Staff of the practice may be involved with some clients in a different role, that of independent assessor. Assessments are completed to assist other professionals in understanding the needs of clients and making decisions within their own area of responsibility. Psychotherapists avoid the overlap of assessment and treatment roles in their work with individual clients.
Associates in this practice pledge to provide services that meet the highest standards of care. Your problems will be approached in ways that are unique to your needs and the specific training and skills of your psychotherapist. You can expect a relationship with your psychotherapist that provides you with the dignity and hope that will lead to a good outcome.
Our fee for one-hour session is based on the Recommended Fee Schedule as determined by the Psychologists Association of Alberta. These fees are our compensation for years of training and professional development. They have been established at a level to provide an income similar to others of equivalent qualifications practicing in the human services field. Please understand that in addition to the hour we spend with you, we are also working for you at other times without additional charges (see below).
Is the fee covered by Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan?
No. We receive no fees or grants from any government health care plan.
Are there ever additional charges?
Only in exceptional circumstances. If your session goes over significantly over an hour, and we inform you as it is occurring that there will be additional charges. Your therapist will discuss the additional charges with you.
If we need to do a significant amount of paper work on your behalf outside of the session, the hourly rate applies. We will inform you before undertaking the additional service that there will be a separate charge.
If your therapy is provided in an alternate format (such as online or phone), charges will be established in consultation with you to ensure that the therapist’s time is compensated.
What services are offered without charge?
Generally, reasonable phone contact with clients is not charged (such arranging appointments). As our time for returning calls is limited, we will appreciate phone contact being brief unless specific arrangements are made for a longer call. We endeavor to return all calls within the day.
What if I cannot afford to pay?
Please discuss your financial difficulties with us as soon as you are aware of them. We will discuss other therapy options with you (e.g. government agencies), and help make a referral.
What about insurance?
Private insurance companies will likely assist with your fee, if you have appropriate coverage. It is up to you to determine from your company the process required by them to cover your fee. Generally, you will pay the full amount directly and submit your receipts to the insurer for reimbursement. Some insurers require a letter of referral to the therapist from a doctor. Obtaining that letter is your responsibility. We can direct bill Veterans Affairs, RCMP, Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP), Green Shield Canada, Medavie Blue Cross. If your insurer makes partial payments such as with ASEBP you are responsible to pay the balance at the time of each session.
Additional charges for assistance with legal matters
The preparation of letters or reports for lawyers will be charged or attendance at Court will be charged according to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta fee guidelines.
These policies are intended to be fair and compassionate toward our clientele. We hope you will find them to be so. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know.