Therapy FAQ

(Excerpted from the Toronto Therapy Network Website)
How does Psychotherapy work?
The mechanics usually involve two people, the therapist and the client, meeting at a pre-arranged time in a private setting and talking about issues important to the client.

The special nature of this confidential dialogue allows beneficial change to occur.

Will my Therapist give me advice and tell me what to do?
The short answer is probably not. The therapist is there to help you understand the issues in your life and strengthen your capacity to make your own decisions.

Psychodynamic therapists believe that their clients do best by working out their own decisions and they see psychotherapy as a process in which each of us assumes more and more individual responsibility for their life choices.

Generally, the need to ask for advice means that we have not yet understood something about ourselves; once we do, we are free to decide.

What if I am on prescribed medication, or considering it?
If you are on medication or considering it, discuss this with your medical practitioner and with your therapist. The quality of the communication you have with your therapist is the foundation for the success of psychodynamic therapy.

Medication may influence how well you are able to express your current concerns. They affect people differently, and making sure that you have the one(s) that are optimum for you is important.

This is a very personal choice, and involves making sure your therapist, and prescribing medical practitioner, understand your current challenges and expectations, should you choose to have psychotherapy and medication.

How long does it take?
This deserves a multi-part answer.

First, therapy can be compared to learning a new language. In this case, the language is one that reflects who we are as special and unique individuals.

We can choose how much of that language to speak, and also how well to speak it. The better we can speak our own language, the better we can relate to others in the world.

Second, depending on our facility in learning such a new language, each of us progresses at our own rate. It is simply not possible to speed up or slow down the rate of therapy, because it is always being controlled by our inner mind.

Third, sometimes people find themselves drawn to therapy as their life-circumstances alter. Things come up that may require just a few weeks of work, after which one returns to live in the ordinary way. At other times there may be significant issues that are not so readily resolved.

How old do I have to be?
In Ontario, you can start therapy on your own without needing the consent or knowledge of your parents once you are 12 years old, according to the Child and Family Services Act.

How often should I do Therapy?
Most people find they get excellent progress with a single meeting a week. Depending on the therapist and the kinds of work being done, that meeting (often called a session) takes 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

Some people find that it is useful to begin by coming for a session twice a week for the first couple of months in order to get things moving quickly.

Others prefer to book three sessions a week and find that such a rhythm works best for them.

You should discuss such matters with your chosen therapist.

What about credentials?
The therapists on this site have been trained in a broad range of psychodynamic technique for several years. Each has done considerable personal preparation as a psychotherapist through individual and group process work as well as through lectures, reading, supervision and continuing professional education.

What about experience?
Each member of this site has been in practice for several years, and is familiar with a wide range of human experience as a therapist.

What about life-experience?
Each of our members has done, or is still doing, other work in addition to psychotherapy.

We strongly believe that this gives our members a special appreciation and understanding of ordinary reality and keeps us all grounded in the ordinary facts of living.

What about insurance?
All our therapists are in private practice as non-medical specialists. They have all been trained outside the formal medical system.

This form of psychotherapy is not insured by the OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). Medical doctors do not have our kind of training and often refer to us for the sake of their own clients.

Some private insurance companies will cover some forms of psychotherapy but you will have to find this out by referring to your own insurer.

Do Therapists carry practice insurance?
Professional therapists who care about their clients do carry liability insurance to protect their own clients against damages.

All members of this site must carry professional liability insurance as a condition of membership on the site.

What about fees?
Fees are set on an individual basis by each psychotherapist. Most of the therapists use a sliding scale. Feel free to ask about fees when you contact a therapist who interests you.

How do I know if I have chosen the right Therapist?
The main purpose of this site is to help you make a good choice. Please read the member profiles and all the supporting materials and consider who feels right for you.

We all have private, individual email addresses, and we will answer your messages promptly. Ask the questions which matter to you. You may want to ask about the therapist’s experience with similar issues, their preferred style, their fee range, their hours and location.

Then set up an initial meeting with the therapist who seem right for you. It’s OK to ask more than one person for a free consultation, by the way.

During the first meeting you will probably be able to decide if the therapist you are talking with is right for you.You may want to ask for another meeting, or to undertake some paid sessions to get the feel of the process and the therapist. The consultation interview is a mutual dialogue in which each of you will be getting a sense of the other; the therapist wants to be sure he or she is able to help you with your issues.

Each of us is committed to helping you make an appropriate choice, so feel free to discuss this. It may be that somebody else is better to work with you, and you can ask for the therapist’s thoughts on this topic as well.

All the therapists on this site are interested in how it feels for you to be doing therapy with them, so please feel free to discuss this important matter with your therapist at any time.

Where can Psychotherapy apply in my life?
Psychotherapy can be beneficial for any aspect of your life that feels unsatisfactory. It can help improve relationships, heighten one’s self-esteem, and provide help in healing traumatic events. This applies to past as well as present events.

Unresolved events of the past hold us back from being fully aware and effective in the present, and may distort our image of the future. You know if an incident is unresolved if the memory of it brings up uncomfortable feelings of loss, pain, anger, fear and core anxiety.

What if I don’t have any really traumatic events in my past?
Psychotherapy is not only for those of us who are already aware that they have experienced traumas.

If you find yourself having difficulty in dealing with your present life, your past is very likely exerting its influence on you in ways that you are not yet able to recognize.

Psychotherapy enables us to see the hidden psychological dynamics of our past and present life. Once we are able to see our dynamics, we can alter the grip they have on our life, and make better choices for a future that is no longer just a repeat of the past.

What if I get stuck?
The whole point of psychotherapy is to empower people with the skills that they need to move on and move forward, not only externally in their lives, if that is their wish, but also within themselves.

This means they are no longer stuck in an emotional state. They may remember traumatic events in their lives without re-experiencing the same pain. They also have the power to respond to situations with a fluidity and acceptance that they have never before experienced.

Why would I seek out Therapy if my life were not in crisis?
Sometimes, it is most difficult to sense who we are and what our function is in the world when things are going along as usual. In fact, things may even be going well externally, but we may experience an inability to appreciate the fullness of life.

Conversely, some individuals cannot feel any sense of their place in the world unless their life is in a state of flux.

Both scenarios reflect an inner sense of discomfort.

If you are dissatisfied with your life in some way that you feel powerless to change, be it a relationship, past events, or your life prospects, then psychotherapy can probably help you to develop the skills that you are missing.

What does the Therapist actually do?
Primarily, the therapist helps you the way a guide does when you go to a part of the country you have not visited before. The therapist has already made such a journey, and knows about what to expect and how to handle it.

Because a competent therapist has made the journey before you have, and with many others, he or she can keep you on track in your journey, and will see features of your personal landscape that are worth appreciating.

The therapist will be able to provide the tools and techniques that will help you to move through your emotional issues and arrive at a better understanding of your life and its possibilities.

What is the difference between Psychotherapy, Psychology & Psychiatry?
Psychotherapy is an interactive relationship between a trained/registered psychotherapist and a client to provide tools to help them cope with life issues.

Psychology is the in depth study of the mind and understanding various forms of behaviour. It focuses on all aspects of human experience from brain analysis to societal standards and values.

Psychiatry is a physician (M.D.) who is licensed in treating mental disorders using the DSM Manual of Diagnostic Criteria. They and some other physicians are the only mental health professionals who may diagnose and simultaneously prescribe medications to patients. Psychiatrists are covered by OHIP and can prescribe medication unlike most Psychologists and Psychotherapists.

Overview: Psychotherapy is not covered by OHIP unless it is performed by a trained medical doctor. Most psychotherapists are trained to understand the DSM manual of Diagnostic Assessments but are not licensed to administer testing and diagnosing of disorders. Only Psychologists and Psychiatrists are licensed to cover these diagnoses. Psychologists are M.A. or PhD trained, Psychiatrists are M.D. and Psychotherapists may or may not have Masters Level training. Psychotherapy is not legislated in Ontario at present. However, with the introduction of Bill 171, the College of Psychotherapists, a new health regulatory college, is currently under development in Ontario and expected to open in 2013.


Looking for other Resources?