Finding the right therapist

How can I be sure a therapist is qualified?

Ask your therapist for details of their qualifications and to explain what they mean.

If you reside in a province where the profession of counselling/psychotherapy is regulated, ask the therapist for evidence of membership with the provincial regulatory college. It is also good practice for a therapist to be a member of a credible professional body such as the  Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

All CCPA members are bound by the CCPA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which sets standards for safe, caring and ethical therapeutic practice in Canada.

Check with your therapist that they are a member of a credible professional body.

If you’re unsure about a therapist’s qualifications, you can also contact their professional body to verify their professional standing.

How can I find a therapist who speaks my language?

Some practitioners are multilingual. If you would prefer to communicate in a language other than English or French, then do ask your therapist if this is possible, or use Finding a Canadian Certified Counsellor to search for a therapist with your preferred language.

What if I am not happy with the therapist when we meet?

During the initial assessment or first session, be prepared to trust your instincts because your relationship with the therapist is at the heart of the process. If you are unsure about the therapist, seek another one. Having confidence in your therapist is very important and will enable you to get the best out of the process. Always remember it is you who is the customer. If no therapist seems suitable, it may be time to consider whether you would like to proceed or not.

What is the difference between a counsellor or psychotherapist with a CCPA membership vs. a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) designation?

Many people who are searching for a counsellor or psychotherapist, see websites, business cards, social media, brochures and print advertisements indicating that a counsellor or psychotherapist has a “CCC” designation after their name. “CCC” is an abbreviation of Canadian Certified Counsellor. It indicates that this person’s qualifications to practice have been thoroughly reviewed by CCPA and the individual has met the national standard of practice with CCPA.

Only counsellors and psychotherapists who are certified by CCPA are permitted to use the title “Canadian Certified Counsellor” and/or the acronym, “CCC.” You should expect to see an official certificate from CCPA displayed at their place of work.

It is important to know that certification with CCPA is different from membership with CCPA. Membership in CCPA is open to anyone interested in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. Certification represents confirmation of a member’s qualification to practice.

Obtaining the status of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) through the CCPA includes recognition of professional preparation, meeting of continuing education requirements, and adherence to a formal code of ethics and standards of practice. As a self-regulating body, CCPA provides advice, resources, and discipline for certified members related to matters of professional conduct.

If you are unsure about a counsellor or psychotherapist’s qualifications and you would like to verify their professional standing as a CCC with CCPA, you may check to see if they are listed under Find a Canadian Certified Counsellor on the CCPA website (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/en/). You may also feel free to contact us via email or telephone at 1.877.765.5565.

What should I ask when I contact a therapist for the first time?

Ask about the time, place, cost and duration of meetings plus any charges for cancelled appointments and holidays. You may also wish to enquire about the counsellor or psychotherapist’s professional membership, experience and training. During this time you will develop  an idea of what is involved and you will be able to decide if this is a person with whom you can work. It is important to be clear about what you want and what the practitioner is able to offer.

Is there a counsellor or psychotherapist for my situation?

Therapists practise in all walks of life and all parts of society, helping people in a range of settings, from private offices and clinics to educational institutions and  business workplaces. Therapists are trained to deal with a diverse range of situations including helping people with: mental health concerns, anxiety and bereavement issues, relationship difficulties, educational dilemmas, sexual and racial issues, child abuse and trauma, as well as personal problem solving and career planning.

Where can I find a therapist?

Seeking a therapist on this site enables you to search for a therapist in your area.

Accessing therapy also provides information on alternative ways to access therapy.

Always enquire whether a potential therapist is a member of CCPA or another professional body.

The therapy process

How do therapists work?

Therapists usually work in face-to-face settings, employing a range of techniques to suit your circumstances. However therapy can also be delivered over the telephone or online via e-mail or ‘live’ discussion.

Why are there different approaches to therapy?

Different therapies have different styles. For instance, in cognitive behavioural therapy there will be ’homework’ to do. In bereavement therapy, there would be a lot of emphasis on supporting you through some difficult emotions. A psychodynamic counsellor would look at your past while another type of therapist might focus solely on your life in the present day. Some therapies concentrate on the future. Some are more spiritual – and so on.

Will a therapist see me right away?

Every effort will be made to see you at a time that is convenient for you. However, sometimes a high demand for therapy can mean there will be a waiting list.

Do I have to lie on a couch?

There are many different, valid ways of undertaking therapy. In most cases, though not always, you would be offered a seat.

General questions

What should I expect from therapy?

You should expect one or a series of confidential appointments of up to an hour in length in a suitable professional setting.

The process should also provide you with the opportunity to:

  • make sense of your individual circumstances
  • have contact with a therapist who will help identify the choices for change
  • feel supported during the process of change
  • reach a point where you are better equipped to cope with the future

Is counselling and psychotherapy confidential?

Everything you discuss is confidential between you and the counsellor or psychotherapist. There can be certain legal exceptions and the practitioner should clarify this with you prior to the establishment of any agreed contract for working.

You may have specific queries about confidentiality depending on the format of the therapy. For example, with online counselling, you may wish to ask the following questions to your therapist:

  • Are the notes from therapy protected by passwords and encrypted?
  • Are printouts held in a secure cabinet?
  • What happens when there are technical problems?

Should my therapist carry liability insurance?

Professional liability insurance is not currently a legal requirement in all provinces and territories. However, a number of professional associations, including the CCPA, strongly recommend that therapists have appropriate insurance coverage.

Examples of insurance policies which a therapist might have are: professional liability, and if their office is in a home rather than an office space, Commercial General Liability. It is suggested that you check that your therapist has appropriate and adequate insurance in place before engaging their services. If you are unsure, then you should consult an insurance professional or a legal expert for further guidance.

Insurance policies are not only intended to protect the therapist but to offer peace of mind to you that if something should go wrong, there are funds in place to compensate you in such an event.

Will I get hooked on therapy?

The goal of any counselling or psychotherapy treatment is your increased self-awareness, skill acquisition and independence. During therapy, you may notice some feelings of reliance upon the therapist from time to time. Although this is a normal reaction it can, at times, feel worrying. Let your therapist know if you are experiencing these types of feelings. A professional therapist knows exactly how to address these concerns and will genuinely be interested in helping you make progress independently.

How can I get therapy for a family member or friend?

Usually this isn’t possible. A person cannot be ’sent’ for counselling or psychotherapy by a friend or family member. The person must wish to use the service and make the approach themselves. By all means, find out the names of therapists with them or on their behalf but do encourage a direct approach by the person who needs the help if at all possible.

What is supervision?

CCPA recommends that therapists acquire supervision.  Supervision is a form of consultative support in which the counsellor or psychotherapist confidentially discusses his/her work with at least one other professional. However, the counsellor or psychotherapist avoids giving identifying information about a client whenever possible, and a supervisor is bound by rules of confidentiality.  So, in practice, there should be no likelihood of any breach of trust during the supervision process.

Where can I find out more?

What is therapy? provides more detailed information about certain aspects of therapy.

However, if you are unable to find the information that you’re looking for, please contact CCPA with your query 1-877-765-5565.