Best Couples Therapists and Counsellors in Toronto

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Frequently asked therapy questions

What are the different designations of therapists and counsellors?

There are dozens of professional titles used by therapists across the country. Therapist titles (like psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, psychotherapist, counselling therapist) are regulated by law (in that case they’re licensed and overseen by a governing body called a college), or they are self-governed by their own associations (such as the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors overseeing the designation of “Registered Clinical Counsellor” in British Columbia). 

When professional titles are governed, it means they must meet certain education and training requirements by law and/or their associations. There are also specialties (music therapist, life coach) that, on their own, wouldn’t fall under these requirements. It’s useful to become familiar with the regulated therapist titles in your region to inform your choice of therapist. 

There are four main types of therapists in Ontario that are regulated by law: psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and social workers. To see a psychiatrist, you typically need a doctor’s referral. The other three—and more—are available for booking on First Session. 

Psychologists in Toronto will have a PhD-level education (psychology associates will have a master’s degree). They may focus on working in academia, or they might work in the field providing counselling therapy. Both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are able to make mental health diagnoses (not all therapists can do this) and provide treatment. 

Psychotherapists in Toronto are regulated by provincial law. Psychotherapy, counselling therapy and similar terms fall under the category of “talk therapy”—they will work with you on behavioural and emotional issues using both verbal and non-verbal communication techniques. 

To register with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) as a fully Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Ontario, practitioners must complete exams and a number of direct client and supervised hours. Until all of the RP requirements are complete, members of the CRPO can use the titles of Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) or RP (Qualifying). They may be available at a lower cost per session. If your insurance covers Registered Psychotherapists, in most cases an RP (Qualifying) will also be covered. See below for more information on therapy pricing. 

It’s a common misconception that social workers in Toronto are only available in hospital or community settings. However, they are therapists; they can and do work in private practice as well—meaning you can book therapy sessions directly with a social worker, including on First Session. Registered Social Workers (RSW) will have at-minimum a master’s degree. The experience of working with a social worker for therapy will be very similar to other practitioners, like psychotherapists. In Ontario, Registered Social Workers can call themselves psychotherapists in certain contexts.

By comparison, a Registered Social Service Worker (RSSW) in Ontario will hold a social service worker diploma from a recognized college, and they tend to work delivering social programs and community services.

You can book therapy appointments on First Session with social workers, psychotherapists or psychologists in Toronto.

What are therapy insurance coverage and payment options?

“How much does therapy cost?” is one of the first questions many ask when they’re considering seeing a therapist. 

You can expect therapy to cost anywhere from $50 to $300+ per session. Costs are typically affected by the therapist’s level of education and specialization. For example, new counsellors or therapists may charge around $50 per session. Psychologists hold a PhD, so you expect them to charge closer to the $200 to $350 range. In some cases, psychologists will offer reduced cost counselling for as little as $150 per session.

If you’re in Toronto, the only therapy covered by provincial healthcare plans (OHIP) is a visit to a psychiatrist via a doctor’s referral, a family doctor who also provides psychotherapy services, or a therapist working in a medical or public health setting. The provincial government does, however, have a resources page available with a number of affordable and accessible mental health care options.

If you have therapy coverage by workplace insurance benefits your out-of-pocket costs can be significantly reduced. Typically, workplace benefits will allow for visits to a certain type of licensed therapist (psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker) and will cover a percentage of each session up to a maximum amount. Check your benefits booklet carefully to ensure you know the kind of therapist you’re looking for and how much you can spend. If you’re unsure about the information or how to file claims, get in touch with your provider.

There are also affordable and sliding scale therapy options offered by some (not all) therapists. Therapists might offer a certain number of sessions each month to those who are experiencing financial hardship. Always feel free to ask if there is availability.

How can therapists and counsellors treat mental health issues?

Techniques and methods for treatment are known as modalities. 

Some of the most commonly searched modalities fall into a category of ”talk therapy” like CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy). There are also more body-focused therapies like somatic therapy or EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing).

Let’s dive into those four modalities.

CBT therapy is a popular category of talk therapy and you’ll likely see many therapists list it as a modality on First Session. CBT is about our thought, emotion and behaviour connections. During CBT, a therapist will help people through cycles of distorted thinking, and they’ll help reveal how our thoughts affect our emotional wellbeing and our behaviours. CBT typically occurs over a set number of appointments, often involving some journaling or “homework” between sessions.

There are also therapists who offer DBT therapy, a subset of CBT. The D in DBT stands for “dialectical,” which means two opposing things exist at once—I’m struggling and I’m working on getting better. DBT draws people away from all-or-nothing thinking that can prompt intense negative emotional responses. DBT is often used for people who are engaging in self destructive behaviour, and treatment often has a group therapy component. 

Therapists who offer somatic therapy help people recognize how stress, trauma or other mental health challenges are affecting them physically, then how to learn to calm the nervous system for greater mental wellbeing. We all have a natural fight, flight, or freeze response. The problem is that sometimes, under prolonged cycles of stress, we can get stuck in these phases. That means our bodies stay in a state of stress response when there is no actual danger present, and this can eventually lead to real psychological and physical ailments. 

EMDR therapy is one form of somatic therapy. EMDR was originally developed to treat PTSD because it’s specifically used to help with symptoms—conscious or unconscious—associated with traumatic memories. Therapists will guide a person through recalling a memory while their eyes follow a pen or finger (or another object) in specific motions and movements. This method theoretically creates new neurological pathways in the brain to process memories in new ways. 

Does OHIP cover couples counselling?

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) typically does not cover couples counselling as it's generally considered a private therapy service. However, there may be exceptions or alternative funding options available. Inquire with your workplace insurance benefits.

How much does couples counselling cost in Toronto?

The cost of couples counselling in Toronto can vary widely based on factors like the therapist's experience, location, and session length. Typically, prices range from $100 to $250 per hour. First Session offers a variety of pricing options to suit different budgets and also provides information on therapists who offer sliding scale fees. 

What is the success rate of couples therapy?

The success rate of couples therapy varies, but many couples experience significant improvements in their relationships. Success depends on factors like the couple's commitment to the process, the nature of their issues, and the therapist's expertise. First Session features therapists skilled in various techniques proven to enhance relationship dynamics.

Why won't my partner go to couples therapy?

Hesitation towards couples therapy can stem from various reasons like fear of vulnerability, concern about being blamed, or misconceptions about therapy. It's important to communicate openly about these concerns. Bringing up counselling with your partner can be a sensitive and challenging task. First Session offers resources to help partners understand the benefits of therapy and how it can positively impact the relationship. Individual counselling can be an effective way to learn the tools to navigate a challenging time with your partner. 

What are the main differences between sex therapy and couples therapy?

Sex therapy focuses specifically on sexual issues and concerns, such as sexual dysfunction, intimacy problems, and sexual desires. It often involves addressing psychological, physical, and emotional aspects of sexual health. In contrast, couples therapy addresses broader relationship issues like communication, trust, and conflict resolution, which may not necessarily be centered on sexual matters. Some therapists may offer both and one of the questions you can ask during your initial consultation to assess fit with your therapist.

Can sex therapy be a part of couples therapy?

Yes, sex therapy can be integrated into couples therapy if sexual issues are a significant part of the relationship's challenges. Some couples therapists are also trained in sex therapy, allowing them to address both relationship and sexual issues comprehensively. First Session helps couples find therapists who can blend these approaches effectively. 

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