Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I’m confused by the many different terms used to identify mental health professionals. It’s quite confusing. What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a counselor, and a therapist?


A. ‘Therapist’ is a generic term referring in general to a health professional. Someone calling themselves a therapist may or may not have sufficient or relevant education, training, experience. ‘Counsellor’ refers to a mental health professional who provides support and guidance to clients and who usually has appropriate training and education. A counsellor is usually not qualified to administer psychological assessments or to offer psychological interventions. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in working with psychiatric issues and can provide pharmaceutical support. A psychologist is a mental health professional who has specialized in psychology, has attained at least a Master’s degree in psychology, and has successfully completed required supervised training as well as licensing exams (both oral and written).

Pychologists are qualified to administer psychological assessments and to offer psychological interventions. As well, they may have as many years of education/training as medical doctors and psychiatrists, but generally do not offer pharmaceutical support.

Q. Are my sessions confidential?

A. All sessions with a psychologist are confidential. This means that I will not share any information that you disclose in these sessions to third parties without your consent. However, there are three (3) exceptions to this rule. The circumstances in which I must break that confidentiality are:

  • if you are at imminent risk of harming yourself or someone else;
  • if you disclose current child abuse or neglect; or,
  • if you are involved in a Court case in which the judge subpoenas your client file.

In keeping with the guidelines in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the College of Alberta Psychologists, I participate in professional peer supervision/consultation but without using personal identifiers (e.g., name, address, place of work, etc.) of clients. Thus, client anonymity and confidentiality are preserved and clients gain the benefit from the combined wisdom of a team of mental health professionals. Members of this peer supervision or consultation team are also Registered Psychologists who are bound by the same ethical codes regarding confidentiality as I am. For additional information see the College of Alberta Psychologists website at www.cap.ab.ca.

In addition, all of my assessment materials and results and therapy session notes are kept in a locked filing cabinet and I am the only person who can access them.

Q. What is the cost for your services and is it covered under Alberta Health Care?


A. I use the Fee Schedule recommended by the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta as a guideline for setting fees for services. You can access this fee schedule on the Psychologists’ Association website at www.psychologistsassociation.ab.ca.

The fee also includes my time on your behalf in terms of record keeping and preparation. Fees for psychological services are not covered by Alberta Health Care. Receipts for fees paid will be issued at the end of your session and these can be submitted for full or partial coverage through most extended health care benefits insurance programs (e.g., Blue Cross, Great West, Manulife, etc.) or employee assistance programs.

Q. What methods of payment do you accept?

A. Payment is required at the end of each session. I accept cash or personal cheques and debit or credit cards (extra charge for credit cards).

Q. Do you see children, adolescents, adults, or couples?

A. I currently see individuals, 18 years of age and older, in my general practice. In terms of sex therapy, I see both individuals and couples.

Q. How long are the sessions?

A. The sessions are usually 50 minutes in length however, some sessions may go longer at times, especially if experiential processing work is in progress. Fees for extended sessions may be set for 15 minute intervals.

Q. Do you have any evening or weekend appointments?

A. My last appointment of any day is from 4 to 4:50 pm. Some Saturday appointments are available.

Q. How many sessions will be needed?

A. The length of psychological assessment or therapy depends on the complexity of the issue you bring to therapy. As well, your motivation to make changes and the ‘fit’ between you and your mental health professional can also impact the course of therapy.

Q. How often should I attend therapy?

A. Sessions will be booked at intervals most appropriate to your clinical needs as well as time and financial considerations.

Q. What happens if I have to miss an appointment?

A. Please call with at least twenty-four (24) hours advance notice to cancel or re-schedule an appointment. As the appointment time has been especially reserved for you, missed appointments or late cancellations mean that others are not able to use that appointment time. Unless due to sudden illness, accident, or childcare problems, missed appointments without adequate (24-hour) notice will result in a full-fee charge.

Q. Does sex therapy require any nudity during therapy sessions?

A. There is no nudity, physical examination, or any overt sexual behaviour in the office during the course of the assessment and treatment of client sexual concerns. Ethical and professionally recognized procedures are used to address sexual issues. (Also see Sex Therapy under Services)

Q. What should I do if I have an emergency?

A. If you have a life-threatening situation, call 911. If you have a mental health emergency, please be aware that my business telephone number is to an answering service. As I can not pick up my phone messages on a regular basis, an immediate response is not possible.

Instead, please call the Distress Centre (403-266-1605) or go to psychiatric emergency services at one of the city hospitals.

Q. As a client, what rights do I have?

A. Yes, clients do have rights. For example, clients have the right to:

  • have their information kept confidential;
  • know all about the therapist’s experience and training;
  • discuss their therapy with anyone they choose;
  • know all about the terms of their therapy (e.g., cost, appointment times, cancellation policy);
  • have any procedure or method explained before it is used;
  • ask the therapist anything about their therapy;
  • see the information about them in the therapists’ files, or have it shared with another professional at their request;
  • report inappropriate or illegal behaviour by a therapist;
  • refuse any test, evaluation, or therapy/intervention of any kind; or,
  • ask the therapist for a referral to someone who might be a better match for them.
  • Q. As a client, do I have any responsibilities?

    A. Yes, clients do have responsibilities when coming for counselling and therapy. Although our sessions are crucial in addressing your concerns, much of the work in therapy happens between sessions. Therapy is a collaborative effort. Whether it be reflecting on what you discovered about yourself in session or carrying out the homework exercises offered, you can help yourself meet your desired goals or hopes for therapy. In this, your commitment to your own growth and healing is paramount.

    Q. Are there risks to getting therapy?

    A. Psychotherapy does involve some risks. Clients sometimes experience uncomfortable emotions (e.g., sadness, anger, fear, guilt, anxiety). It is important to remember that these feelings are normal and are an important part of the therapy process. Psychotherapy is focused on facilitating change according to the hopes the client has for therapy. Any change, even good change, can affect a person’s established lifestyles and relationships. Sometimes clients may meet with some resistance from other people in their lives as a result of the changes they make.

    Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.
    (Matthew Arnold, 1852)