Do I need counselling? Why?

Many clients seek counselling during times of major life transitions, when life circumstances or relationships are no longer satisfying, or just when they feel that they could use a little extra support navigating that bump in the road.  Sometimes people want to learn how to best handle stress, making difficult decisions, managing feelings of emotional distress such as depression and anxiety, or coping with their own or someone else addictions.    Some other people seek counselling as a part of their ongoing personal care regime and view counselling as a way to achieve personal growth and maintain health and wellness.   Whatever the reason you are seeking counselling I am available to provide fresh perspective on your difficult problems and point you towards a solution.

Why consult a Social Worker for counselling?

Social workers are the largest group of practicing counsellors and psychotherapists in North America. Social workers assist individuals, families and communities to resolve problems that affect their day-to-day lives. People see social workers when they are going through a difficult period in their personal, family and work life.  Social workers help identify and understand the source of stress or difficulty, help people develop coping skills and find effective solutions to their problems, assist people in finding needed resources, and offer counselling and therapy.

Because Canada Revenue Agency recognizes Social Work as a health profession, the clinical counselling services of Registered Social Workers are HST EXEMPT. In addition to RSWs, only Psychiatrists and Registered Psychologists qualify for this exemption.

Social Work is a legislated profession governed by a regulatory body, the BC College of Social Workers, and all RSWs must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

What is counselling like?

Each session is unique and caters to the individual and their specific concerns and therapeutic goals.  There may be times during counselling when you are asked to do “homework” or take certain actions outside of our sessions.  An example of this would be keeping a journal to track feelings and behaviours or reading a relevant book.   It is valuable to your therapeutic process when you take an active role in your recovery and healing journey.

What are the some of benefits of counselling?

  • Experience comfort, compassion, support, and validation
  • Gain deeper awareness and insight into yourself and others
  • Become more equipped to make healthy decisions that empower you
  • Learn tools and strategies that help you cope better in times of stress
  • Better communication and functioning in personal and professional relationships
  • Discover different perspectives, and find a clear direction during times of change
  • Manage anger, grief, anxiety, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improve your self-esteem and boost self-confidence
  • Change old behaviour patterns and develop new ones
  • Safely explore unresolved childhood issues

What the risks to counselling?

  • Temporary emotional upset due to close exploration of difficult topics
  • Emotional or physical fatigue immediately after a session. It may help to schedule some time after a session to process what was discussed.
  • Changes in relationship patterns with those close to you, which may need a time of adjustment before things improve

What should I look for in a counsellor?

  • Graduate level education from an accredited university or college
  • Registration and/or certification with a professional association to ensure adherence to a professional code of ethics
  • Experience in the specific type of counselling/issues that you are interested in
  • Participation in ongoing professional development (i.e., workshops, training, supervision)
  • A sense that the counsellor has a style and personality that you feel comfortable with
  • Membership in professional organizations that provide in-depth education and training

How can I get to know if you are right for me?

I offer a half hour phone consultation.   The initial phone consultation is designed to help you determine if you are ready for counselling and together we can decide if I am the right fit for you.   If I feel that you would be better served in another therapeutic setting I would be happy to provide you with information on other resources.  I realize that the decision to pursue counselling can be difficult for some people and I want you to know that I am there to answer any questions that may assist you in making this decision easier.

What should I expect in the first session?

Individual counselling sessions are 55 minutes in length.  During the first session we will spend time getting to know each other.   I will want to know more about the issues that bring you to counselling, some information about your history, and more about what is you are most hoping to gain from our work together.  I review with you the office policies and limits to confidentiality and will ask you to sign a consent form.  Once we have done this, together we will identify some goals and develop a plan for future counselling sessions.

How many sessions will I need?

Counselling can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term when we are addressing more complex issues.  Most clients have anywhere from 4 to 20 sessions, depending on what you are working on.  You may prefer a more in-depth exploration of your issues and attend counselling for a longer period of time or you may gain satisfaction after a few sessions using a brief solution focus approach.   Once the initial set of counselling sessions are complete, you may want to return at a later date for an occasional check-in session or to begin counseling again with an entirely different focus or topic of discussion.  I am here to assist you in a manner and format that is comfortable for you.

How often will I be expected to come in for sessions?

You can decide what feels right for you, but most clients come once every week or two weeks in the beginning.   You may find that gradually sessions are tapered off until they are no longer required. Whether you choose to come in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, attending sessions on a consistent basis provides the best therapeutic results because it keeps you on track and motivated.

Do I need a referral?

You do not need a referral for counselling however many doctors or other community agencies do refer their clients to me.  If you are working with another health care professional I may request permission to consult with them in order to provide you with the best care possible.  I would only do so with your written permission.

What is the cost of counselling?

My fee for individual counselling is $110.00 for a fifty-five minute hour.  Couple’s counselling is $130.00 for one hour.  Groups Rate will vary.

Fees are due at the start of each session and are payable by cash or cheque however Visa and MasterCard will be accepted soon.

Is counselling covered by my health care plan?

BC’s provincial health care plan (MSP) does not cover the cost of counselling.  However, many extended health care plans such as Blue Cross, may reimburse you for the services of a Graduate level Social Worker [MSW].  If you have coverage, you will be required to pay for the counselling session and then submit your receipt to your extended healthcare plan for reimbursement.  Please check your coverage carefully by asking the following questions:

  • Do I have mental health insurance or other health spending benefits that cover services provided by an MSW or a registered social worker [RSW]?
  • How many sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
  • What is the coverage amount per session?
  • How much coverage has already been used for the year?

Is everything I say confidential?

Confidentiality is an essential component when building safety in a therapeutic relationship.  Social Workers and counsellors are professionally and ethically obligated to keep client information confidential and require written consent to release information to others including family physicians.  There are three conditions under which confidentiality may be breached, and these include:

  • Social Worker receives court order or subpoena to disclose confidential information
  • Information is disclosed by the client pertaining to the suspected abuse or neglect of a child, dependent adult, or elder
  • Information is disclosed by the client pertaining to an imminent threat of serious harm to the client or an identified other

While the circumstances above are rare, it is important that clients fully understand the limits to confidentiality before engaging in the therapeutic process.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment please call or email me at info@nullkimberlysparks.ca.   Let me know your preferred date and time and I will do my best to accommodate you.  You will then be sent an email to confirm your appointment. You may also leave a confidential voicemail.  Please note that I do not have a receptionist, but every effort will be made to return your call as soon as possible.   Advance booking of appointments is available if you wish to reserve a preferred date or time.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

Your appointment time is reserved specially for you.  Missed appointments or appointments cancelled without sufficient notice have the potential to be troublesome and to challenge the therapeutic relationship.   To protect that relationship, my policy concerning missed appointments is adhered to without exception.  24 hours cancellation notice is required or a cancellation fee equivalent to the full session amount will be charged and will need to be paid before you start your next session.  You can cancel your appointment by email or by calling and leaving me a message.