Frequently Asked Questions
ThinkWell Policies & Procedures
Nobody wants surprises when it comes to their mental health services. Review these frequently asked questions for everything you need to know about initiating services, payment, and our various policies. If we’ve forgotten anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions.
Do I need a referral?
No, you don’t need to be referred to ThinkWell CBT in order to access services. However, sometimes other professionals who know you, such as your family doctor, a previous mental health provider, or your lawyer, may have relevant information about you to share that could streamline the assessment and treatment planning process; in these cases, they are invited to complete the referral form found here. All new requests for services are prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of whether we are contacted by you directly or through a referral from another professional.
Do you offer crisis services?
At this time, ThinkWell CBT is unable to offer crisis services. Current clients who are experiencing elevated distress but who are not in immediate danger are welcome to contact us by telephone to see if there are any cancellations and same-day appointments available. However, if you require immediate help, please call 9-1-1, go to your nearest emergency department, or call a crisis line.
What are your fees?
The hourly fee for individual psychotherapy is $225, which is based on the recommended rates set by the Ontario Psychological Association. This hourly rate includes 50 minutes of face-to-face time and 10 minutes for your psychologist to document their service to you on your file.
Intake assessments and some treatment plans require 75-minute sessions, which have a fee of $335.
Fees for group services are lower than for individual psychotherapy, varying depending on the group content and size. These fees can be found on our Group Services page.
Psychodiagnostic assessments vary in price, but are offered at a set rate based on a screening of your specific needs. Additional information about this screening process and associated fees is available here.
New clients will have the opportunity to review our policies around fees in writing before their first appointment.
How do I pay for services?
Fees are due at the time of service and can be paid by cash, debit, cheque, credit card, or e-transfer. Psychological services in private practice settings across the province are not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). However, the Income Tax Act classifies psychologists as medical practitioners, meaning that you can claim any fees you pay for psychological services as medical expenses on your income tax return. Psychological services are also typically covered by extended health care benefits. We recommend that you review your policy before scheduling an appointment to clarify the amount of coverage you have and whether a physician referral is necessary to receive reimbursement. Although we are unable to directly bill your insurance company at this time, you will receive a receipt after each service that you can submit for reimbursement.
What’s your cancellation policy?
If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please do so at least 24 hours before your appointment to avoid being charged a late cancellation fee that is equal to 75% of your session fee. Appointments that are cancelled less than 2 hours before the session time or that are missed altogether are charged the complete session fee. Charges will only be waived if we are able to fill your spot on short notice and in exceptional circumstances. Please be aware that insurance companies typically do not cover the fees for late cancellations or missed sessions.
Will the information that I share with you remain confidential?
Information that you share with ThinkWell CBT is considered your personal health information. This information will remain confidential and will not be shared with a third party without your written, informed consent. The only exceptions to this confidentiality are in keeping with the following legal or ethical obligations to:
Protect a client who intends to end their life or cause serious bodily harm to themselves;
Protect a potential victim of a client’s imminent intent to inflict harm;
Protect a child from abuse or neglect by contacting the relevant child protection agency;
Protect a resident of a retirement home or long-term care facility who is suspected to have been (or might be) abused or neglected;
Report a regulated health professional who has behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner towards someone receiving their professional services;
Release a client’s file by Court Order during a legal proceeding; and
Provide the College of Psychologists of Ontario (bound by the same confidentiality standards) temporary access to client files to perform a random audit of the quality of psychological services provided.
You will have the opportunity to discuss these limits to confidentiality during your first appointment, and you can raise any additional questions at any point in time afterwards.
What if I have concerns about the quality of services received at ThinkWell CBT?
As a regular part of your CBT sessions, you will be asked for feedback on what went well and what you would like to change for next session; your input here will be invaluable for improving your therapy experience. By contributing in this manner, you’ll also become comfortable with raising any concerns in a timely manner so that they can be addressed before anything snowballs into a bigger issue.
Although we encourage speaking directly with your therapist about your concerns, another route that is always open to you is to contact the College of Psychologists of Ontario, which monitors and regulates the practice of psychology in Ontario. The College’s mandate is to protect the public interest by ensuring the delivery of competent, ethical, and professional services from qualified providers. Among its other responsibilities, the College investigates any complaints and addresses concerns about psychologists’ professional conduct or quality of service. You can contact the College at 416-961-8817/1-800-489-8388 or email@example.com to discuss the formal complaint or facilitated resolution processes. Additional information is also available at the College’s website.
What’s your social media and digital communication policy?
ThinkWell CBT uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share general mental health information and information about our services that may be of interest to the public. You are welcome to follow these accounts, but do so at your own discretion given that following us would become public information and compromise your privacy. For these same privacy reasons, we do not accept any requests to follow or “friend” current or former clients. Interactions with clients through social media can also blur the boundaries in the therapeutic relationship, thereby compromising the therapeutic process. Similarly, your therapist will not search for your online activities in any forum without your consent and without a specific identified clinical purpose. If there is any aspect of your social media presence that you would like your therapist to see, please bring it up to your therapist in a session. Please do not message us through any social media platform because these platforms are not secure.
If you find ThinkWell CBT mentioned on any forum site, please be aware that we have not added our practice to such sites, and we are not seeking testimonials, ratings, or endorsements. Please consider that posting to such sites can compromise your confidentiality. As well, ThinkWell CBT does not monitor these sites, so please contact us directly if you would like to discuss your experience with us.
Please do not send information about your mental health or other matters related to your therapy sessions through email. Such communication is not secure and could be read by administrators of our respective internet service providers. There is also no commitment on our part that your email will be read in a timely manner, and we will not respond to your email about clinical matters in writing. The best way to contact us with any time-sensitive information is by telephone. Also, please note that any emails exchanged will become part of your clinical record and are subject to our regular limits of confidentiality.
Navigating the Mental Health System
Navigating the mental health system can be a challenge. Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions to learn all the background information and terminology you need to decide which mental health services are right for you.
What does it mean to be a regulated health professional? Why should I pay more to see a mental health provider who's regulated?
Regulated health professionals in Ontario are members of professional colleges that have the responsibility to protect the public by (a) setting rigorous standards to enter the various health professions, such as the minimum education, training, and competence required to call yourself a psychologist, social worker, and so on; (b) prescribing standards, guidelines, and ethical principles that the health professional must adhere to while registered with the College; (c) ensuring that professionals participate in quality assurance activities to update and improve their knowledge and skill; and (d) investigating and disciplining any complaints that the public may have about the behaviour of a regulated professional.
Regulated professionals that provide mental health services in Ontario include those registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the College of Nurses of Ontario, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, and the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. These various Colleges, in essence, hold regulated providers accountable for the services they provide. In comparison, there’s no means of ensuring quality of care and accountability if you receive care from a mental health service provider who’s not registered with one of the above Colleges. All regulated professionals are required to show you their registration certificate upon request, and you are able to review their registration status on the respective College website.
What is psychotherapy? Is it the same thing as counselling and therapy?
Psychotherapy, in the broad sense, refers to the various activities and discussions that take place in a therapeutic relationship between a mental health professional and a client with the goal of improving the client’s mental well-being. These wellness goals of psychotherapy could include helping individuals process grief and loss, adjust to stressful life events, achieve valued goals, or prevent a mental illness from developing. Some psychotherapy goes beyond promoting wellness in that it’s used to treat serious mental disorders that are causing significant impairment in some aspect of the client’s functioning, such as their decision-making, behaviour, communication, or relationships. In Ontario, this branch of psychotherapy that treats mental disorders is considered a “controlled act,” meaning that only certain healthcare professionals are authorized to practise it. This restriction is in place to protect the public because, when someone tries to treat an underlying mental illness that is already causing serious impairment, more harm than good can be done if the psychotherapeutic techniques are applied incorrectly by someone who does not have the necessary training. The only professionals who are authorized to provide the controlled act of psychotherapy in Ontario are psychologists, physicians (including psychiatrists), social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, and registered psychotherapists.
In contrast, the terms therapy and counselling are not regulated, meaning that anyone can call themselves a therapist or a counsellor, regardless of their level of training. As a result, these terms are harder to define. Counselling can be thought of as overlapping with psychotherapy in that it too is a talk-based service intended to promote wellness. However, the counselling term typically refers more narrowly to the provision of information, advice, or encouragement to help a client cope with a specific dilemma or navigate a certain area of life, such as in career or vocational counselling, financial counselling, addictions counselling, or spiritual counselling. Counsellors do not perform the controlled act of psychotherapy of treating mental illness, although people with mental illness who attend counselling may learn to cope with their symptoms more effectively. Therapy is a broader term than psychotherapy or counselling because it includes any activity that is meant to have a health benefit, including a range of medical interventions (such as chemotherapy or pharmacotherapy), holistic practices (such as aromatherapy or Reiki), or lifestyle activities (such as horticultural therapy or animal-assisted therapy). However, used as a standalone term, therapy most typically refers to some combination of psychotherapy and counselling.
What is “evidence-based practice” anyways?
Put simply, evidence-based practice refers to healthcare delivery that is explicitly guided by an integration of the best available research and the clinician’s understanding of the client’s personal characteristics and preferences. In other words, evidence-based practices include approaches that have been proven to be effective in research and that have been tailored to individual clients’ unique needs. Clinicians who use evidence-based practice will save you time, money, and energy because they’ll have the expertise to avoid approaches that are of questionable effectiveness or that are potentially harmful.
What’s the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and social worker?
If you’re unsure of the differences between these professions, you’re not alone, and to be fair, there are some similarities between them. Importantly, they are all regulated by a professional college to ensure a minimum level of qualifications and standard of care, and they are all authorized to provide the controlled act of psychotherapy. However, there are some key differences.
Psychotherapists have the narrowest scope of practice. They’re required to have completed a program of education and training in psychotherapy (typically a Master’s degree involving at least 360 hours), as well as at least 1000 hours of experience providing psychotherapy under the supervision of another regulated psychotherapist with at least 5 years’ experience. Psychotherapists do not diagnose mental illnesses or prescribe medication.
Social workers can have either a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work. Their training prepares them to help individuals, groups, or communities by recognizing the broader social and economic factors that contribute to well-being, such as their access to education, food, housing, education, and healthcare; their freedom from discrimination and violence; and their broader sense of social inclusion. Given this focus on the social context, many social workers provide information, resources, and advocacy-based counselling services to assist people in navigating the system to gain access to various health and social services. Although social workers are authorized to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy, they are not required to have the necessary training in psychotherapy to provide this service as soon as they enter the profession. In other words, after becoming registered, social workers are responsible for assessing themselves to determine whether they are competent to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy. Typically, social workers will assess themselves as competent to provide psychotherapy if they have received additional formal training in psychotherapy, as well as 2-3 years of supervision while providing psychotherapy. Social workers do not diagnose mental illnesses or prescribe medication.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who completed a five-year post-graduate residency program in psychiatry after completing the requirements to become a physician. Psychiatrists assess and diagnose mental illnesses, and their medical background uniquely allows them to prescribe medication to treat mental illness. Although psychiatrists are authorized to provide psychotherapy, like social workers, not all have received extensive training and supervision in psychotherapy. In Ontario, psychiatrists’ services are publically funded through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), meaning that you do not pay directly for psychiatric services, even if you see one in a private practice setting. However, typically you must be referred to a psychiatrist’s specialized services by a physician, and wait times can be quite lengthy. As a result of their training backgrounds and the wait times for their services, most psychiatrists provide relatively little psychotherapy and instead focus their practice on the prescription of medication to treat mental illness.
Psychologists in Ontario have completed 4 to 6 years of graduate school to earn a doctoral degree. During this training, they receive extensive training in the assessment of mental illnesses using interviews, questionnaires, and standardized testing; the theory and strategies involved in various approaches to psychotherapy; and the statistics and research methods that are used to advance the profession’s understanding of clinical issues. This training also includes completing various practica, where psychologists-to-be work in different mental health settings to provide assessment and psychotherapy under the supervision of registered psychologists. They are also required to complete their own original research project. Finally, psychologists are required to complete a 1-year pre-doctoral residency involving full-time clinical practice under supervision, as well as another year of supervised practice after their graduation. Given the amount of formal training and supervision that psychologists have in assessment, psychotherapy, and research, psychologists’ services are more consistently covered by extended health plans than those of social workers or psychotherapists. Psychologists do not prescribe medication.
To help you compare the qualifications and scopes of practice of the different mental health professionals in Ontario, check out this comparison chart made available by the Ontario Psychological Association.
How do I know if a certain therapist is right for me?
Before starting therapy, it can be helpful to find out whether the therapist you’re considering is a regulated health professional, how much experience they have working with people who have similar difficulties as you, what they see as the active ingredients in their therapeutic approach, and what evidence there is that their approach to therapy works for problems like the ones you’re experiencing. At ThinkWell CBT, we have tried to take as much of the guesswork out of starting therapy as possible by laying out everything you could want to know about our approach on our website. We encourage you to read through the information we’ve provided about CBT, what to expect in your first appointment, and the rest of these FAQs. You are also invited to take advantage of your free consultation to get any of your remaining questions answered.
That said, nothing will help you know whether a therapist is right for you like that first few sessions. That’s where you’ll get to find out whether a service is as advertised, how well your feedback from one session is integrated into the next, and how much of what you’re doing in your therapy sessions is translating into improvements in your quality of life between sessions. You’ll also get a feel for whether your therapist’s personal style—the stuff that’s harder to describe on a website but just shows up in the room—works for you. The great news is that at ThinkWell CBT, we’ll be just as focused on the quality of our therapeutic relationship as you will be because we know how important the relationship is for positive treatment outcomes. If for whatever reason you find that ThinkWell CBT isn’t a good fit for you, keep in mind that you can take a copy of the information we keep on your file with you to another mental health professional, which means you’ll be able to keep building from where you left off with your new therapist.
Is now the time to make an investment in therapy?
Although the decision of when to seek therapy is highly personal, now may be the time to seek professional help if you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing more frequent or distressing thoughts or emotions that aren’t subsiding on their own and that are starting to interfere with your quality of life. But you don’t have to be at your lowest to benefit from therapy. For example, you might choose to invest in therapy sooner to prevent a problem from developing or worsening. Alternatively, you might decide that now is the time for therapy when you’re fairly satisfied in life but want some dedicated time to work towards a meaningful goal that would further improve your wellness. These types of preventative, early intervention, and health promotion measures can mean that fewer sessions are needed to achieve your goals.
To benefit most from CBT, you’ll want to be able to commit to spending regular time between sessions carrying out the action plans you set with your therapist. That said, it’s quite normal for your motivation to fluctuate over the course of therapy, so your therapist will be ready to help you work through any motivational barriers that arise so that you can keep progressing towards your goals.
Should I participate in individual or group services?
In general, research comparing individual and group therapy suggests that both formats are similarly effective for a range of presenting issues. However, there are other factors to consider to guide your decision. Individual therapy affords greater flexibility because treatment plans and schedules can be revised in an ongoing fashion to accommodate new needs, goals, or priorities that arise unexpectedly. Group services, in contrast, have pre-established agendas that generally can’t be tailored to an individual’s changing needs, and the predetermined schedule means that there’s usually no way for a client to make up the material if they miss a session. Some people find that this additional structure in group services is to their advantage because the group agenda carries them forward in building new skills despite any life events that may otherwise create detours in individual treatment, and the fixed schedule has a way of ensuring that they don’t find reasons to postpone their next session.
The time and financial commitments for group and individual services also differ. Individual sessions tend to be shorter than group sessions—usually 50 minutes as compared to 1.5 to 3 hours—because your session time doesn’t include hearing about how other clients are applying or responding to the material. Despite being longer, group sessions are less expensive than individual sessions because the costs are shared across the clients. The specific cost savings of group services depends on the type of group and number of participants in the group. Fees for ThinkWell CBT’s groups are available here.
The advantages and disadvantages of group dynamics may also influence your choice. Many people feel more self-conscious in a group, sometimes to the point that they find themselves unwilling to share the amount of personal information in group sessions that would be necessary to benefit from services. These people may prefer to meet individually to reduce the barriers to engaging actively with the material and therapeutic process. On the flip side, many people who are initially hesitant to participate in a group find that hearing about how other people have struggled with or worked through similar problems can help to decrease any shame they may be experiencing and provide a sense of hope for the changes they can achieve. The group context can also offer new ideas and perspectives that you wouldn’t hear in the individualized format. For example, other group members might ask questions you didn’t know you had yet, they might offer creative solutions to barriers you’re encountering, or they might have helpful ways to think about something the therapist said to make it ‘click’ for you.
A final consideration is the availability of individual versus group services at different times. Depending on your needs and when you seek services, there may be a difference in how long you have to wait to begin individual versus group services. Although we strive to keep this website updated on service availability, please contact us for the most accurate information about any waitlists.