What is a Registered Psychotherapist and how can they help me?
A Registered Psychotherapist is a licensed mental health practitioner that can provide assessment, treatment recommendations, and treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions. Registered Psychotherapists are not qualified or legally permitted to provide psychological diagnosis or prescribe medication. Psychotherapists are trained mental health professionals that can help you understand your suffering and introduce evidence-based techniques for making positive changes in your life.
If you want to learn more about the distinction between various mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, and psychotherapist, then check out our blog on the topic here.
What is psychotherapy anyways?
The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) defines psychotherapy as, "Primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being."
Psychotherapy is recognized as a controlled act in Ontario, which means that it can only be administered by a regulated health professional who is authorized to provide this type of care. Much like other health treatments, psychotherapy has benefits and potential drawbacks involved.
What are the benefits and potential drawbacks of psychotherapy?
Benefits of Psychotherapy:
- Improved life satisfaction
- Symptom management or reduced intensity, severity, and/or frequency of symptoms
- Clarity on inner conflict or life choices
- Skill development to help you better achieve your goals
- Improved communication in interpersonal relationships
- Improved sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-acceptance
- Positive change in a meaningful direction in your life
- Increased psychological flexibility (i.e. your ability to respond and adapt in healthy, effective, and flexible ways to difficult experiences)
Potential Drawbacks of Psychotherapy:
- Temporary increased intensity, severity, or frequency of symptoms. Sometimes it 'gets worse before it gets better'.
- This could be because you are confronting difficult thoughts or feelings that you got quite skilled at avoiding.
- What helps? We cannot change what we are not aware of, so talking about what's going on to improve self-awareness is step one.
- Insight that is upsetting or impacts your relationships.
- It's possible that you realize you might need to make important changes in your relationships for things to improve, such as boundary setting, communication, or even ending them, which can be very difficult.
- What helps? Discussing your concerns with your therapist, who can help you develop skills for acting opposite to fear, develop scripts for effective communication, and plan for dealing with difficult feelings.
- It is possible that it doesn't get better as expected.
- What helps? Speak to your therapist about your concern of slow or a lack of progress - they want to help! Any good therapist will be receptive to feedback and collaborate on treatment. Issues with progress could be due to a mismatch in treatment modalities, misunderstanding of therapy goals, or a poor fit in the therapeutic alliance.
Participating in therapy means entering a collaborative relationship with a mental health professional who possesses knowledge and expertise about the issues you want to work on. It can be helpful to remember that therapy is a process, not a light switch. Self-awareness gives you more options to take your life in a direction that is best suited for you.
What you can expect from working with one of our therapists
- Someone who cares.
- Someone who will meet you with warmth, compassion, and respect.
- Someone who has undergone and achieved the level of educational clinical experience required by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) to earn the title of a Registered Psychotherapist. Read more about the difference between professional mental health designations here.
- Someone who is equipped with knowledge and expertise on interpersonal, thinking and feeling related issues.
- Someone who will offer a safe space for opening up about what's on your mind, help you clarify your goals, and work with you to bridge the gap between where you're at and how'd you like to be going through life differently.
What a first session typically looks like
- Introductions between you and your therapist.
- Talking about your reasons for seeking therapy and your best hopes for what you want to get out of it.
- You could discuss a brief biopsychosocial history, including your support network, medications, past therapy, risk factors, and family history.
- Introduction and overview of your therapist's approach and how it can help.
- You may or may not receive a takeaway practice to do between sessions.
- The therapeutic alliance begins at the first point of contact.
Things to know about therapy
Therapy is typically considered short-term if it lasts between two to five months. Long-term therapy lasts more than six months and up to several years at varying frequencies. The best way to determine which approach suits you and your needs is by speaking with your therapist about your hopes for your time together and the issues you're currently dealing with. It's also possible that you begin with solution-focused or short-term therapy and end up developing a strong therapeutic rapport that allows a safe space to process various life events over many months or years. There is no one 'right' way to access therapy; there is only what is right for you.
Summary of Therapy Timeframes
*Note: These details are approximate and subject to individual differences depending on what is collaborated upon between you and your therapist.
|Who could benefit
|What it entails
|Single Session Therapy (SST)
|1 session (60-90 minutes)
|People with little or mild symptoms of a mental health condition; People who have limited resources to access therapy regularly due to lack of time or financial constraints. It could also be a useful starting place for people who are looking to 'dip their toe' into therapy.
|Focus on your strengths and skills - Support identifying strategies and practices to apply now. - Modalities drawn from CBT and SFBT. - Psychoeducation - Takeaway self-directed learning (i.e., handouts, worksheets, mindfulness practice).
|Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
|2-5 sessions (50-60 minutes)
|People looking for future-focused, goal-oriented, and solution-oriented time with a mental health professional. The focus is on solutions and strengths rather than problems. It can be helpful for those with limited resources to attend therapy longer term or those whose mental health interferes very little with their lives.
|Principles from positive psychology - Positive emotion eliciting - Motivational interviewing - Behaviour change strategies - Psychoeducation - Takeaway self-directed learning (i.e., handouts, worksheets, mindfulness practice)
|8-12 sessions (50 minutes)
|People looking for deeper insight and understanding of their presenting issues, who might also want to learn skills for managing these issues and building a better life. This is an appropriate time frame for people seeking help for relationship difficulties or mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety/depression.
|Opportunity to build a strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist - Modalities drawn from CBT, ACT, MI, and humanistic approaches - Experiential skill building in-session and assigned practices between sessions - Setting goals and developing action plans for those goals - Psychoeducation
|12+ sessions (50 minutes)
|People who have difficulties regulating their emotions; People with moderate to severe symptoms of a mental health condition; People who have experienced trauma or been diagnosed with a mood or personality disorder. Many psychological disorders are concurrent with each other. People suffering from such presenting issues could benefit from a secure attachment with their therapist to help better understand the nature of their symptoms, build trust, gain clarity in how they'd like to navigate life, and develop skills to help bridge the gap. Certain psychological disorders are pervasive and longstanding in nature, and therefore, might require a long term commitment to see lasting behavioural change.
|More time to learn from a strong therapeutic alliance and secure attachment with your therapist - A biopsychosocial history to gain insight and understanding its influences to current behaviours and tendencies - Experiential skill building in-session and assigned practices between sessions - Setting goals and working with your therapist to achieve them - Modalities drawn from CBT, psychodynamic, humanistic approaches, EFT, and ACT - Psychoeducation
- Effectiveness. Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for issues related to mental health.
- Accessible. Accommodates those living in rural or remote areas, people living with disabilities that prevent them from leaving the home, and eliminates transportation barriers.
- Convenience. No need to schedule time for a commute.
- Cost Effective. Eliminates cost of parking and transportation.
- Coverage. Some insurance companies may not cover it. We encourage you to check with yours.
- Confidentiality and Privacy. Although we use encrypted, HIPAA-compliant software and abide by telehealth guidelines, communicating over the Internet entails a greater risk for security breach compared to in-person. It also means possible Internet connectivity issues.
- Distractions. Possibilities for disruption depending on your living circumstances and others in the home.
- Trust and Body Language. Some people may prefer viewing the entire body language of their therapist for more effective communication.
- Severe mental health or psychiatric concerns. A more appropriate and accommodating option for people that may need crisis intervention that is better supported with in-person care.
- Participation. It is an opportunity to engage in an activity outside of your home.
- Time consuming. Ensuring commute time may be challenging for busy schedules.
- Expenses. Possible parking and transportation fees.
All virtual sessions are conducted using secure, HIPAA-compliant software. Research has shown that psychotherapy offered through telehealth is an effective solution for mental health treatment. The efficacy of either option depends on individual preference and comfort level.