Decided to start counselling?

So you have made the decision that you want to pursue counselling and find some healing and hope out of the hurt that you have experienced.  If you are like many people,  you want to know how much it will cost, and if there might be any help for that cost, you’re your extended health care benefits.  Unfortunately, counselling is not a standard health care benefit.

So as you set out on Google to find a counsellor that might be a good fit for you, where do you start?  With many different options and a variety of acronyms to compare, it may feel overwhelming.

One thing that you need to be aware of, is that not all people who call themselves counsellors in BC have had formal education or training in counselling and psychotherapy.  The types of counsellors that are typically covered by extended health care benefits are Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC), Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC), Masters of Social Workers (MSW), and Doctors of Psychology (Ph.D.).  Each of these organizations vets its members to ensure that they have had formal training and education.

How much will it cost?

The best place to start is to determine what kind of fees you can expect from counselling.  The fees for therapy in the Lower Mainland vary from $30-$200.  Notice the qualifications of the therapist that you are considering.  Counsellors associated with organizations like BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association, College of Psychologists, or the BC College of Social Workers have standards for education and training to maintain membership in good standing.

If you have extended health care benefits check the following:

1.  What type of counselling professional does your plan cover?

2.  What is your yearly maximum?  This can be listed in amounts such as $500 per year, or number of sessions that will be covered.

3.  How do you submit costs, and what information needs to be on the invoice/receipt?

Once you have this information and begin the process of finding a counsellor, be sure to provide the parameters you are working with during your first session.  Having clarity avoids some of the challenges you might face having to end therapy abruptly when your plan no longer covers the expenses.

How do I find a counsellor?

Once you have determined what is covered by your extended health care benefits, the next step is to find a counsellor that is a good fit for you.  It may be helpful to know that a lot of counsellors will offer a free phone call or a reduced rate for the first session.  Please take this time to ask any questions you might have about them, and how they approach counselling so you can get a sense of whether you feel their personality/style is a good fit for you.

If you find a counsellor that sounds good in their description, but they do not have any time available in the timeframe you are hoping for, ask them for a referral.  Quite often counsellors will refer to someone that works similarly to them.

So how do you find a counsellor?   Ask your friends!  Get some feedback on whether they’ve seen a counsellor, and what they liked or didn’t like about them.  You can do a Google search for counsellors in your area, and then take a look at their websites to see if they sound/look like someone you would like to open up to.

You can also search these websites:

We hope that this information has helped you as you begin your search for someone to help you heal your hurt and find hope.  Our Canvas counsellors are registered with the BCACC and/or the CCPA.  This means that we are Registered Clinical Counsellors and/or Canadian Certified Counsellors.

Tracey Dahl
Tracey Dahl
Registered clinical counsellor (RCC) at Canvas Counselling (