Counselling is expensive, but there are many options available

The questions about how to engage in therapy when money is in short supply are likely questions fielded by all counsellors and all counselling offices. There are a number of answers to this question and I will briefly outline the standard options for this community and more fully explain a recently available option.

At Pacific Therapy & Consulting Inc, some of the most frequent questions we are asked are, “Do you have a sliding scale for fees?” and “What can I do if I don’t have enough money for counselling?”

Although this question didn’t come to us via, I think it is as important as it is frequent, and will address it here.

Counselling is expensive. The BC Association for Clinical Counsellors (BCACC), the registering body for Registered Clinical Counsellors, recommends rates of $110 to $150 plus HST per 50-minute session. Currently, fees for counselling services in the Comox Valley run between $80 and $150 plus HST per session.

The questions about how to engage in therapy when money is in short supply are likely questions fielded by all counsellors and all counselling offices.

There are a number of answers to this question and I will briefly outline the standard options for this community and more fully explain a recently available option.

Many people have access to counselling services through their work benefits plan. Check to see if your plan includes EAP (Employee Assistance Plan) or EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Plan). If so, call the plan number to access a local counsellor. Depending on the plan, you may or may not be able to choose your counsellor.

There are free counselling services available through community agencies such as Comox Valley Transition Society, Comox Valley Family Services, Child and Youth Family Services, Ministry for Child and Family Development, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Military Family Resource Centre, and Courtenay Mental Health and Addictions.

These are first-rate services and are available to people based on specific criteria or issues. If you are not able to receive therapeutic assistance from these programs, there are still a few options.

If you are seeking therapy for coping in the aftermath of a crime, a motor vehicle accident, or a workplace accident, you may be eligible for funding from one of the following sources: Crime Victim Assistance Program, ICBC, or WorkSafe BC.

For many people, none of these options are available and private counselling is not affordable. Recently, the Learning Program began providing low-cost counselling.

The Learning Program was developed in recognition of the community need for low cost counselling and also the need to assist in the training of new counsellors. In this program, students working on a Master’s degree in counselling see clients under the supervision of one of the Registered Clinical Counsellors in practice at Pacific Therapy & Consulting Inc.

Counselling through The Learning Program is available to anyone who does not have access to an alternate source of funding and for whom paying regular counselling rates would make counselling impossible.

Student counsellors are able to deal with a wide range of issues with the following exceptions: substance use, family violence, and adult offenders. Couples’ counselling and family counselling may not be available.

The fee for therapy through the Learning Program is $30 (including HST) and is payable at the time of booking. In some circumstances, fees may be refunded to you following your session.

Like all therapy at Pacific Therapy & Consulting Inc, service provided in this program is performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the BCACC.

Confidentiality is an essential part of counselling and student practitioners adhere to the same limits of confidentiality as do Registered Clinical Counsellors.

Student counsellors are required to review their work with their immediate supervisor, however, clients’ identifying information is altered for supervision so that confidentiality is maintained.

Please call Pacific Therapy & Consulting Inc for more information.

If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Karen Turner. It appears every second Friday.


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