Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT DO THOSE LETTERS AT THE END OF A COUNSELLOR'S NAME MEAN?
This is a really important question that sparks a lot of confusion for anyone shopping around for a therapist. Sadly, in BC today, any one can call themselves a "counsellor" or "therapist" because they aren't legally protected terms here. So, before you commit to therapy with me or someone else, be sure to familiarize yourself with these definitions in order to determine which counsellor is the best fit for you! For a more comprehensive explanation, check out my blog post here.
Most therapists will positions their 'letters' like this:
Sebastian Wingfield, MA, CCC
Therapist Name, Education, Professional Association/College
In Canada, there are several educational routes to becoming a therapist, namely: Having a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctorate level of education.
A therapist with their Bachelor's Degree (BA, BSc, BSW) is typically suited for a style of short-term supportive listening, where the client is not processing traumatic experiences; but instead, is primarily needing a space to get from point A to B.
A therapist with their Master's Degree (MA, MSc, MSW) is typically more suited for both short-term and long-term counselling and psychotherapy and is equipped with the clinical skills necessary to conceptualize and treat a wide variety of presenting issues.
A therapist with their Doctorate Degree (PhD, PsyD, DCP) is typically more suited for clients with serious clinical diagnoses and will typically have greater familiarity with relevant clinical research to inform their practice.
Being certified, registered, or licensed with a professional association or college means that you are representing a standard of therapy where you are held accountable by an ethical code, supervision, and a system which encourages continual professional development. Oftentimes, you can usually correspond professional association/college to level of education. Furthermore, for those with extended health benefits, insurance companies will often provide coverage to clients seeking therapy depending on which professional association/college they belong to.
*As a caveat, these definitions are purposed to be general, and are not meant to "totally define" any therapist. Furthermore, these definitions are only applicable to therapists in BC.*
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "COUNSELLING" AND "PSYCHOTHERAPY?"
The process of therapy occurs on a wide spectrum, where counselling and psychotherapy represent two different ends of that spectrum. In my experience, I find that most of my work with clients contains an overlap of both counselling and psychotherapy. Although not all therapists acknowledge this distinction, knowing the difference between these two terms can really help in order to receive service that fits best with you. For a more comprehensive explanation, check out my blog post here.
Generally speaking, Counselling tends to refer to more short-term therapy, where issues are resolved at a conscious level. In counselling, your therapist might use a more cognitive-behavioural (CBT) approach that explores your thoughts and feelings in relation to your behavior. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, tends to refer to longer-term therapy, where problems may cause greater disruption in the lives of clients. In psychotherapy, your therapist might be interested in exploring your experiences with greater depth and might recommend various trauma-modalities in order to resolve presenting issues. This approach typically implies that the problem you might be experiencing is actually your body's attempt at solving a deeper issue from your previous experiences.
In other words, imagine that you are on an island and your goal is to swim to the shore. For different people, the water between you and your goal can make this process simple or complicated. In counselling, we are able to stay at the surface of the water while we move towards the goal. In psychotherapy, we have to dive underneath to see what obstacles might be in the way.
CAN YOU DO EMDR THERAPY?
EMDR, or Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is widely considered to be the "Gold-Standard" of trauma therapy; and in the vast sea of different modalities and interventions, EMDR has become an increasingly familiar term that the public has learned to trust. Having this said, I do not do EMDR, as I prefer using a different approach. A colleague of mine once gave me this analogy:
If trauma modalities were gardening tools, EMDR would be like using a rototiller, OEI would be like using a shovel, and Lifespan Integration would be like using a hand trowel.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
The number of sessions needed is quite dependent on the goals for each client. For issues that can be worked through in short-term counselling, you can generally expect 6-10 sessions. For more extensive psychotherapy, you can usually assume 6 months to a year. However, there is no right or wrong time frame to be in counselling and ultimately, you decide the length of time.
DO YOU ACCEPT EXTENDED HEALTH COVERAGE?
In short, the answer is yes. Since, I am a master's level clinician and certified under the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) as a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), I am one of many therapists who a private insurance provider will likely cover. However, this is something that you must ask your private insurance provider to be certain of. I do not provide any type of correspondence with an insurance provider for reasons related to confidentiality.