Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the OPC Referral Network and finding a psychotherapist.

Why choose to go to therapy?

The ultimate goal of therapy is to improve quality of life and increase better overall functioning. Therapy can help clients address many mental health issues and psychological disorders. However, it is a common misconception is that something must be seriously ‘wrong’ with your mental health in order to benefit from therapy. People experiencing mental health concerns are certainly among those who can benefit from therapy, but many people at some point in their lives find therapy to be helpful. We can all use a safe place to share our experiences, receive support through our everyday struggles and challenges, and discover and deepen our sense of self and ability to be in intimate relationship.

How Much Does Psychotherapy Cost?

The OPC Referral Network offers appointments with experienced psychotherapists and also offers low cost psychotherapy provided by the program’s senior training associates. Our experienced OPC therapists can offer a fee on a sliding scale to make therapy more accessible to you.

The price of therapy varies from therapist to therapist and is something to be negotiated between you and your therapist. Most therapists will charge between $60-$120 a session, and some may charge as much as $150 or more per session. Many therapists work with a sliding scale fee, which means their fee will depend on your income level. Interns, or student therapists, will often charge between $25-$50 per session.  Many insurance plans now cover psychotherapy and you can inquire with your insurance company as to what kinds of psychotherapy services they cover.  Student therapists are generally not covered by insurance companies.

How long does therapy last?

Length of therapy can vary depending on your specific needs and circumstances. Some clients come to therapy with a specific issue or concern, and a brief solution-based therapy like CBT, lasting six to eight sessions, may be all that is needed. Other clients come to therapy to explore issues that run deeper and are not focussed on a single problem or symptom. They may choose to engage in therapy for several months or even years.  It is important to be aware that with all types of therapy, that the client determines the length of the treatment, not the therapist.

What can I expect from my first therapy session/initial interview?

In your first session, your therapist will spend some time getting to know you and the issues that brought you to therapy. They may use a formal interview model, or it can just look like a conversation. The therapist may ask questions about your presenting concerns, as well as your history and background. Most likely, you’ll find yourself talking about your personal history, current situation, symptoms or struggles, as well saying a bit about your relationships, your interests, your strengths, and your goals. Most importantly, in that first session, you will begin making a connection with your therapist. You should feel safe, listened to, and respected. Not all therapists are right for every person, so use your first session to assess whether the therapist you chose feels like a good match for your personality.

Is there anything I should bring or do to prepare for my first session?

The first session with a therapist is a wonderful opportunity to determine if the therapist feels like the right fit. The work of therapy occurs within a trusted relationship, so the fit between the therapist and the client is essential.  Feel free to ask any questions that you may have for the therapist.

It’s not a bad idea to reflect on the things that are bothering you and the issues you would like help with. You can even write some of these things down and bring it with you to your first appointment. You might include:

  • Issues in your family or other relationships
  • Symptoms like changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Anger, anxiety, irritability or troubling feelings
  • Thoughts that bother you

You should tell the therapist why you are there and what you would like to get from therapy. 

How do I choose the right psychotherapist for me?

Choosing a therapist is an important decision because you do not want to waste your time and money with a professional who isn’t meeting your needs. In the first session, its an opportunity to decide if the therapist feels like a good fit (i.e. you feel comfortable with the person and generally find them easy to talk with). If you decide that it is a good fit, remember you can always talk with your therapist at any time about what works and doesn’t work for you in the therapy.  

Here are ten questions to keep in mind:

  1. What does it feel like to sit with the therapist?
  2. Does their approach to therapy makes sense?
  3. Is the therapist sensitive and respectful to issues of diversity?
  4. Can the therapist clearly explain how they will address your presenting issues?
  5. Can your therapist accept feedback and admit mistakes?
  6. Does the therapist encourage your independence and listen to your viewpoint?
  7. Is the therapist familiar with your particular issues?
  8. Did they explain what is expected of you as the client and of them as the therapist?
  9. Does your therapist adhere to ethical principles i.e., safe boundaries, asking for your consent, maintaining confidentiality, not making any guarantees or promises to cure?
  10. Are they a registered/qualifying psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario?

What if I don’t like my therapist I am referred to?

The therapeutic relationship is key to successful therapy. If you are not comfortable with your therapist, then you can always choose to see someone else who is a better fit for you.  This is what the initial interview is for, but you are always able to terminate the therapy whenever you wish and find a new therapist.

Can a psychotherapist prescribe medication?

There are several kinds of professionals who can practice psychotherapy, such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors and nurses. Traditionally, the only psychotherapists who have been allowed to prescribe medication have been psychiatrists. Registered psychotherapists are not permitted to prescribe medication but can support the exploration of the use of medication and working with your family Dr. or psychiatrist.

Is what I share in my sessions confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of therapy. Knowing that you can say anything to your therapist and it will remain between you and the therapist helps you feel safe and builds trust. For this reason, all therapists are legally and ethically bound to keep their sessions confidential and not share with anyone else what was talked about. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if your therapist has reason to believe that you are a danger to yourself or others, then they must break that confidence in order to make sure that you (or others) are safe from harm. There may also be times when you (or your therapist) would like your therapist to consult with someone else about your treatment, such as your family doctor or psychiatrist. Your therapist must get your written permission for you to release personal health information about you to any other member of your health care alliance.

Can I bring other people to my sessions?

Many therapists will work directly with couples, families or groups. Aside from those specific types of therapy, when an individual is seeking therapy, they generally go alone.  In some cases, when that individual feels so anxious or so depressed that they cannot get to therapy without someone else, a therapist may agree to have both of them come initially.  Children will generally take their parents with them to therapy and the therapist and client will discuss the boundaries of that situation before commencing therapy.

Is there a minimum age to consent to therapy?

There is no minimum age for consent. Clients under 18 years of age can, if they are capable of understanding and appreciating the consequences of their decision, give consent. For minors, consent must be considered on a case- by-case basis in light of the young person’s capacity and applicable laws.  A client may be capable of giving consent for one intervention but not for another. For example, a 15-year-old client might be capable of consenting to group counselling about handling stresses at school, but not be capable of consenting to therapy for a major eating disorder. In each case, the psychotherapist must look at the maturity of the minor.  A client is not capable of giving consent when they do not understand the information provided, or when they do not appreciate the reasonably foreseeable consequences of the decision.

What is the difference between an student/qualifying therapist and a registered psychotherapist?

Student/qualifying therapists have not yet completed all the requirements to become registered psychotherapists. They may still be in school, or have graduated, but are working to meet all the requirements by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. They are often less experienced in providing psychotherapy, but experience is just one factor in a therapist’s ability to work successfully with clients. Every therapist, whether just starting out or close to retirement, has a unique life experience and set of personal qualities that they bring to the therapeutic relationship with the client. A student/qualifying therapist who connects with the client will work better than a registered psychotherapist with more experience but who doesn’t connect as well with the client. When choosing a therapist, you should first consider the person and the relationship, and not just the credentials.

What is a Psychotherapist and how does that differ from a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Social Worker, Doctor or Nurse?


Psychiatrists have a medical degree and five years of psychiatric training. They are licensed to prescribe medication, diagnose and may provide psychotherapy treatment. Their services are covered by OHIP. As medical doctors, they can best identify connections between psychiatric and physical health problems. However, some psychiatrists may tend more toward medication than psychotherapy in their practice due to their medical training.


Psychologists have at least nine years of university education. They also have at least one year of supervised practice. They are members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario. They are trained in doing assessments, making diagnoses and providing therapy. Psychologists fees are not covered by OHIP, and they cannot prescribe medication.

Registered Psychotherapists

Psychotherapy is primarily a talk-based therapy intended to help individuals improve their mental health and well-being. Psychotherapy occurs when the Registered Psychotherapist and client enter into a psychotherapeutic relationship where both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.

Psychotherapists have completed a program substantially equivalent to a masters level of training in psychotherapy and are a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.  They have at least 450 direct client contact hours and 100 hours of supervision before becoming fully registered.  Psychotherapists work with specific psychological symptoms and disorders, but do not diagnose or prescribe medication. Their services are currently not covered by OHIP but may be covered by private insurance policies.

Other Mental Health Care professionals

Professionals from a variety of other fields (e.g., doctors, social workers, nurses) may also provide psychotherapy. Depending on the field, their training may range from a diploma to a PhD. Social workers and nurses are particularly common in a psychiatric setting. They may also be more available than doctors/psychiatrists. Social workers are trained to focus on how a person’s social environment affects his or her health and may be more connected with social services and support networks. 

Is psychotherapy covered by OHIP or my health insurance?


At this time, psychotherapy is not covered by OHIP. Some insurance companies will cover sessions conducted by Registered Psychotherapists (RP).

OPC also offers low-cost psychotherapy provided by our training therapists in clinical supervision. Please note that these low-cost sessions are not covered by most insurance companies as training therapists do not have registration numbers.

Health Insurance Plan

Some insurance plans will cover Registered Psychotherapists. Insurance does not typically cover student or training therapists.  OPC offers low-cost therapy conducted by our senior training therapists to provide accessible therapy.

What can therapy help with?

Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Understand your mental health condition
  • Define and reach wellness goals
  • Work with fears or insecurities so that you do not feel as controlled by them
  • Cope with stress
  • Make sense of past traumatic experiences
  • Identify triggers that may worsen symptoms
  • Improve relationships with family and friends
  • Develop strategies for coping with crises
  • Understand why things bother you and what you can do about them
  • Address destructive habits such as drinking, using drugs, overspending or unhealthy sex. 

What are the major approaches of psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is based upon a wide and diverse range of techniques and approaches, for instance, CBT, psychodynamic, existential, feminist, psychoanalytic, and gestalt just to name a few. It can be done one-on-one or in groups.

In general, psychotherapy can be understood to fall under these broad categories:

  • Cognitive and Behavioural therapies
  • Experiential and Humanistic therapies
  • Psychodynamic therapies
  • Somatic therapies
  • Systemic and Collaborative therapies

More specifically, Psychodynamic THERAPY APPROACHES can be found in these broad categories.

  • Depth psychology
  • Addictions counseling
  • Grief counseling
  • Couples counseling
  • Art therapy
  • Family therapy, family counseling
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Post traumatic stress
  • Primal therapy, body work, bioenergetics, regression therapy, energy work
  • Music therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic health counseling
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Midlife retreat
  • Borderline personality therapy/counseling
  • Dissociative disorder psychotherapy/counseling
  • Dream analysis
  • Cultural and diversity therapy/counseling
  • Feminist therapy
  • Therapy for creative blocks
  • Elder care and elder counseling
  • Counseling and psychotherapy for persons with physical disabilities
  • Counseling and psychotherapy for work related challenges
  • Ecopsychology environmental and animal sensitives counseling and psychotherapy