Frequently Asked Questions
What is counselling? What is psychotherapy?
Counselling provides a space and opportunity for you to explore behaviours, relationships, feelings, and thoughts, that are causing you difficulty in your life. It is also a legitimate source of support during a crisis or difficult time. A clinical counsellor helps you bring a greater sense of self-awareness, resulting in an improved relationship with yourself and others. The ultimate goal of counselling is to help you improve your mental, emotional, and physical health.
The terms ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ are often used interchangeably to refer to talk therapy, although there are some differences. The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PCFA) provides a good explanation:
“Although Counselling and Psychotherapy overlap considerably, there are also recognized differences. While the work of Counsellors and Psychotherapists with clients may be of considerable depth, the focus of Counselling is more likely to be on specific problems, changes in life adjustments and fostering clients’ wellbeing. Psychotherapy is more concerned with the restructuring of the personality or self and the development of insight.”
What’s the difference between a counsellor, psychologist, and psychiatrist?
In British Columbia, the main difference between Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Registered Psychologists (RPsych) is the highest university degree achieved, and the scope of practice of each profession. Both designations require a minimum of a Master’s degree, and both designations are bound to a strict code of ethics through their respective regulatory bodies.
RPsychs in BC have obtained a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) in psychology, during which time they have learned more about research methods, and have typically dedicated significant time to conducting their own research. RPsychs have also undergone extensive training in psychometrics, and are qualified to conduct assessments and provide formal diagnoses. Both RCCs and RPsychs are equally qualified to provide counselling and psychotherapy services.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) with a specialization in psychiatry; they are licensed to prescribe medication as well as perform assessments. Psychiatrists work in a variety of settings – commonly in acute inpatient and outpatient care at hospitals or clinics, as well as residential treatment centres and fee-for-service practices.
How confidential are sessions?
Everything that is discussed in your sessions is confidential and will not be communicated to anyone without your knowledge and written consent. By law, there are just a few exceptions to this strict confidentiality:
- when there is an imminent risk of you harming yourself or others
- when there is suspicion or disclosure of abuse/neglect of a child
- when client records are subpoenaed by court order
All reasonable efforts will be made to discuss these circumstances with you prior to the involvement of other professionals.
How many sessions will it take?
This really depends on what brings you into therapy. For example, if you are seeking counselling for help with stress management or basic coping strategies, you may only need a few sessions. If you are dealing with more complex issues that have been long-standing, it may take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Often people will come for sessions more regularly at the beginning, then when they find some relief from their difficulties they may come in once in a while for some extra support.
I’ve gone to therapy before and it didn’t help. Can you guarantee that it will work this time?
Having an unpleasant or unsuccessful experience in therapy can be discouraging, we understand. Although we cannot guarantee success, our therapists will do everything they can to understand why you didn’t find your previous experience helpful and to make sure that a more suitable mode of therapy is utilized this time. At ARC we do not take your commitment to therapy for granted. We know that it’s an investment of your time, energy, and money, and your success and healing in therapy is our top priority.
What are your fees and how do I pay?
Fees are based on the type of session (e.g. individual therapy or couples therapy) and the length of the session. Payment is collected at the beginning of each session in the form of a debit/credit card, cash, or cheque. Many clients prefer to authorize us to charge their credit card automatically so that they do not have to worry about payment beyond the first session.
For detailed information on fees and coverage please visit the FEES page.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require 24 hours notice for cancellation/rescheduling of appointments, otherwise, the full session fee will be charged. This applies to missed sessions also. Please note that this policy is based on fairness to you, your therapist, and other clients needing appointments. We appreciate your understanding.
Can you provide me with a letter for school/ work/ travel?
Yes; if you are a current client, reports and letters are provided at the discretion of your therapist, billed at their respective hourly rate. However, we cannot ethically provide letters to new clients who have not been under our care for some time. When our therapists sign their names on a document, they must be able to stand by and support what they have written with adequate evidence. We kindly ask that you respect our therapists’ professional and ethical obligations, and do not insist that they put themselves in a compromising situation for the purpose of providing a letter. We thank you for your understanding.
I’m still unsure about starting therapy. What should I do?
Beginning therapy can sometimes be an uncomfortable process. From finding the right counsellor to sharing intimate aspects of your life with someone you’ve never met, it takes courage to book your first session. That’s why we do everything we can to make the process smoother and simpler so that you can get the help you need. Offering you a free consultation to meet your therapist before starting is one way in which we aim to do this.
Your consultation is an opportunity for you to bring up any specific questions you may have about the counselling process, and any concerns you may have about beginning therapy. It is also an opportunity for your therapist to explain what to expect during therapy, and how he/she may work with you.
I sent in a consult request but never heard back. What gives!
Although we aim to respond to all consult requests within 48 hours, sometimes mistakes or technical errors happen. This could mean a communication from you not reaching us, or a communication from us not reaching you.
Some legitimate reasons for this include:
- a technical glitch with the form button;
- our email security blocking a legitimate message;
- your server’s email filtering or spam settings;
- our answering service failing to dispatch a message (if phone);
- simple human error
Ultimately, technology is still imperfect – and so are we! While all of these scenarios are extremely rare, we certainly own that mistakes happen. We ask that you accept our sincerest apologies in advance.
If you submitted a request or enquiry and have not heard back from us within a week, please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and/ or call 604 828 9508 to leave a message with our answering service.
We’re not ignoring you, we promise!