Please see below for frequently asked questions that you may find helpful:
To access a psychologist, you can contact the HRPS Wellness Unit or go to the Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) website at www.psych.on.ca and use the “Find a Psychologist” function. A physician referral is not required to see a psychologist; you can contact the office of the psychologist you would like to see directly to schedule an appointment.
It is important that you choose a psychologist who is a good "fit" with you because this will make it easier to establish a relationship in which you feel comfortable sharing information. It’s often easier to form an impression of someone in person, and you can ask to meet with a psychologist to get acquainted. You might want to ask the psychologist about their training, qualifications, experience, and the types of therapy they provide.
If you start treatment and find it difficult or impossible to feel comfortable with your psychologist, you should feel free to find someone better suited to you. Psychologists know that "fit" is a very important consideration, and recognize that they won’t be the best choice for every patient.
On your first visit, the psychologist will ask you why you’ve sought out treatment and have you give some information about who you are and what you do, and some details about your personal history. This is known as a Diagnostic Interview, and the object is to get to know each other, and establish trust so you feel comfortable talking about what’s going on. The first visit may be an assessment which might include some psychological tests.
Psychological tests are typically questionnaires which help the psychologist gain a better understanding of any difficulties in thinking, feeling or behaviour. Your responses shed light on symptoms you may be experiencing, and their severity. Taken together with information provided during the interview, your responses on psychological tests help the psychologist arrive at an impression or diagnosis.
Once the psychologist has made a diagnosis, he or she will be able to determine the most appropriate psychotherapeutic treatment. There are many different treatment options available, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and each have been shown to be effective for specific issues. Your psychologist will be able to give you an idea of what the treatment process will entail, how frequently you should attend sessions, and how long you might expect treatment to last.
You will be an active participant in psychological treatment; helping to set goals to work towards, reporting on changes in symptom severity, and completing homework that may be assigned between sessions to further your progress. Your psychologist may have you repeat psychological tests to compare your responses to those at the onset of treatment to track improvement.
While psychotherapy may seem like simply talking, it can be difficult. You will need to commit yourself to working hard to achieve your goals, attend sessions regularly, and follow through on recommendations.
Psychologists do not currently prescribe medications, but their training includes an understanding of when medications may be helpful. Your psychologist may discuss adding a medication to help stabilize your mood or reduce symptoms in order for you to participate more fully in treatment, and can work collaboratively with your family physician to ensure that you are prescribed appropriate medication.
In Ontario, psychological services are only covered by OHIP if they are provided in a hospital, through a social agency or a community-based clinic that is publicly funded. Psychologists in private practice are not covered by OHIP, but accept payment by credit or debit card and provide a receipt that can be submitted to your extended health provider for reimbursement. If you pay out of pocket for psychological services, you can also choose to submit the receipts with your income taxes as a medical expense.
Halton Regional Police Service members and their dependents are covered for Psychological treatment by a registered Psychologist. Please contact us for full details on the plans coverage.
Psychiatrists, because they are physicians, are covered by OHIP. As a result, there are often long wait lists and many psychiatrists do not provide psychotherapy.
Confidentiality is key in the provision of psychological services. You will be asked to provide informed consent for the release of any personal information. If your psychologist is helping with a return to work, the sharing of personal information with your employer is not necessary. Recommendations for accommodations can be made without disclosing confidential information.
An exception to this is when the psychologist determines you are a danger to yourself or others. In this case, the psychologist has a legal obligation to report this information to the appropriate authorities.
If you become involved in a criminal or civil court proceeding, a judge can subpoena your psychologist’s file.