Frequently Asked Questions
What is a registered clinical counsellor?
The term “counsellor” is somewhat generic. Technically, anyone can claim to be a counsellor. Registered clinical counsellors (RCC), however, stand out in that they are highly educated and have met the clinical competence and professional requirements of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). As well, they voluntarily practise according to the BCACC ethical code of conduct and standards of practice.
A Registered Clinical Counsellor has a minimum of a Master’s Degree in a relevant field. Most have additional training or experience in their area of practice. They also have completed the necessary clinical supervision that BCACC requires.
In addition to education and experience, registered clinical counsellors are accountable to BCACC. They subscribe to the BCACC code of ethics and standards of practice, which includes a clean criminal record check. In the event of a complaint by a client, they are subject to possible investigation and discipline by the BCACC.
For more information, please visit www.bc-counsellors.org
How do I know if I need professional help?
Often it is difficult to acknowledge that you have a problem and make the decision to get outside help from a qualified professional. And yet millions of people do take that step every year. If you are experiencing any of the following problems and they are not getting better in spite of your efforts and help from friends and family, consider seeing a registered clinical counsellor.
- You are overwhelmed by a sense of sadness and helplessness.
- You are a victim of crime, abuse, or other violence.
- You worry excessively.
- Day-to-day activities and work-related responsibilities are difficult to complete.
- Your actions are harmful to yourself and others.
- Workplace stress is burning you out.
- You are having problems with family relations.
- You have suffered or witnessed a traumatic incident.
- You or members of your family are experiencing major life changes.
- Your children are having problems at school.
This isn’t a comprehensive list. Remember that problems do not have to be life-threatening for you to see a clinical counsellor. Sometimes talking to someone who is not directly involved, non-judgemental, a good listener, and qualified to help can make a world of difference. [/cq_vc_accordion_item][cq_vc_accordion_item accordiontitle=”How do I choose a clinical counsellor that is right for me?”]Assuming that a counsellor is competent to deal with your problems and has the proper credentials, it’s all about finding the right fit. You’re both going to have to work together, and so you must be comfortable and at ease in that relationship. There must be a rapport.
Many clinical counsellors offer potential patients a short, free, introductory no-obligation consultation for the purpose of getting to know each other. You can describe your problems and ask lots of questions and they can listen, answer your questions, ask you questions, and decide if they have the expertise to help you. Hopefully you’ll both get a good feel for each other on that first visit and decide if you wish to work together.
Ask lots of questions on your first visit. These can include:
- What kind of training and accreditation do you have?
- How long have you been practising?
- What experience do you have with problems like mine?
- What approach would you take with my problems?
- How long will it take before I begin to see results?
- What happens if you feel I need medication?
- How often will we meet?
- Do you have any complaints filed against you?
- What are your views about religious faith, abortion, sexual orientation, etc.?
- How much does each session cost, and what are the terms of payment?
I’ve heard it said that as a patient, I have certain rights. What exactly does that mean when I’m seeing a registered clinical counsellor?
Generally speaking, when seeking or receiving therapy, you have the following rights.
- To choose the counsellor and treatment that best suits your needs
- To “informed consent” — the right to consent to therapy with a full understanding of your rights and the risks involved.
- To be treated with respect and dignity.
- To receive treatment that is unique to your needs.
- To ask questions at any time about the counsellor’s training and credentials, the approach being taken, or any other concern.
- To refuse suggestions made by a counsellor, end treatment at any time, and or ask to be referred to another counsellor.
- To take any unresolved complaints to the B.C Association of Clinical Counsellors www.bc-counsellors.org
How confidential are my therapy sessions?
- The policy of my practice is as follows.Subject to certain specific exceptions discussed below, all information that you may share with me is confidential, and no information will be released to any third party without your explicit written consent. However, there are specific and limited exceptions to this confidentiality, most notably:
- When there is a clear risk of substantial harm to yourself, me, or any other person, in which case I am ethically bound to take necessary steps to prevent the harm, including disclosing confidential information to the appropriate authorities.
- When there is reason to believe that a child needs protection, such as where a child has been or is likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally harmed, abused, or exploited, in which case I am legally bound to report the matter to appropriate authorities.
- When an insurance company is involved, they may require that I complete a report. I will review and discuss it with you before submission.
- When the law requires the release of confidential information by me. For example, the Courts subpoena your file, or I am asked to testify in court. I will ask you to sign a waiver from all responsibilities for such releases.
If there are any issues regarding confidentiality (e.g., if the services are to be part of a group or joint session, or the services are being paid for by a third party), I will clarify them before providing services.
As concerns Couples and Family Therapy, your right to confidentially is partially waived. This is because from a therapeutic point of view, it is not advisable for me and one partner or family member to withhold confidential information from the other partner or family members involved.
This does not mean that all information will be automatically shared. Yet, it is important to note:
- A culture of secrecy disrupts the effectiveness of the Family or Couples therapy
- Therapy is most effective when group members (couples or family members) communicate openly with one another in order to process and resolve personal and interpersonal issues.
So, you will be voluntarily waiving your right to confidentiality with other family members participating in the counselling sessions.
What are the benefits and risks associated with therapy?
Research shows that counselling usually benefits people who undertake it. It often leads to better relationships, a resolution of problems, a significant reduction in feelings of distress, and overall improved health. However, no guarantees can be made as to how the therapy process will benefit you personally.
Along with the benefits come some risks. Counselling sessions may elicit uncomfortable thoughts and emotions such as sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, loneliness, or helplessness. It may also lead to the recall of troubling memories. You may be asked to disclose private experiences, or to relive painful events that brought you to treatment. Difficulties may arise with family members and loved ones. In cases where your information is available to others (family, medical doctors, insurance companies, or lawyers), it may be troubling to know that personal areas of your life are disclosed. Despite the best efforts of everyone, therapy may not work out well.
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