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  • Writer's picturewendymaekirk

What Is A Psychotherapist? Are They Regulated?

The back of a client, facing the front of a white therapist in a garden setting.

“and does my insurance cover this?”

This is a very good question, and one that many people do not know the answer to. Simplistically, a psychiatrist is an M.D., and has specialized in psychiatry, can diagnose mental illness and prescribe medicine; a psychologist has a Ph.D. and can diagnose and test and perform psychotherapy; a psychotherapist often has a Master’s Degree (I do), involving special training in performing psychotherapy, or some equivalent training. There are a number of ways to providing psychotherapy, so finding someone who does it in a way that works for you is sort of a matter of fit, more than anything.

After a lengthy wait, The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario was proclaimed on April 1, 2015. I am a member of the college and am authorized to use the title Registered Psychotherapist (RP). Now that we are registered as psychotherapists, there is some expectation that insurance companies will start to cover more of this work than they have been.

In the final analysis, it really depends on your insurance though. Some policies do cover psychotherapists, and some don’t. You will need to investigate that with your company’s policy provider. If they want a registration number, I have one, but there is no consistency, so I can’t tell you. Hopefully, this is changing.

In years gone by, everyone paid privately, and when I was going to psychotherapy in the early 1990’s, I was a single mother with two children, on Unemployment Insurance and working part-time, trying to prepare for graduate school. I was paying $ 60.00/hour, which was their lowest subsidized rate at that time. It was important enough for me to get the help that I needed, that I went, and paid what it cost. I often find that clients work harder at therapy if they have to pay for at least some of it themselves.

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