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What is Psychotherapy?

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Psychotherapy is the practice of talk-based therapies to enhance mental health and well-being. Other common terms that you may be familiar with are counselling, mental health counselling, or simply therapy.

Psychotherapy is primarily carried out by Registered Psychotherapists or other professionals that are allowed to practice the controlled act of psychotherapy such as: psychologists, social workers, nurses, and doctors. Those who are not registered with a governing body in the above categories are not allowed to call themselves psychotherapists or provide psychotherapy services; in such instances, you would see the terms “counselling” and “therapy” used.

When you seek out the services of a Registered Psychotherapist, you can expect to receive ethical, competent quality care that is largely focused on the therapeutic relationship (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), n.d.). Psychotherapy is also largely conducted using evidence-based therapeutic modalities which you will not find with all forms of therapy.

An evidence-based therapy (EBT) is one that has been shown effective in “peer-reviewed scientific experiments”. Some common examples of EBTs are: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. With psychotherapy and the use of EBTs, you can expect increased quality of treatment and increased accountability.

Some key things to expect from working with a Registered Psychotherapist:

  • Ensure that the client’s well-being is at the forefront of the relationship.

  • Work with client(s) to gather relevant information that will support the formulation of a plan for psychotherapy.

  • Continuously evaluate outcomes of each session and the impact on overall treatment goal(s).

  • Practice safe and effective use of self throughout the psychotherapeutic process; and adhere to the standards of practice for the profession.


  • What is the cost of seeing a psychotherapist?

    • Psychotherapists set their fees based on experience and demographics. Fees range anywhere up to $300.00+ and are increased on a 1-2 year basis with 6 months' notice

    • Our fees are $135.00 + HST per hour.

  • Is psychotherapy covered under my extended health benefits?

    • Psychotherapy is covered by most insurance companies. You will need to contact your provider and ask about your unique insurance plan to ensure that you have coverage for not only psychotherapy but for a “psychotherapist” as you may have coverage for a “social worker” or “psychologist”.

  • How long is a session with a psychotherapist?

    • Sessions are typically scheduled for 50-60 minutes. Half-hour appointments are also offered depending on the client's needs.

  • How often do I see my psychotherapist & how long will I need their care?

    • The frequency of sessions is something that will be collaborated on between you and your psychotherapist within the intake session

    • The usual recommended session schedule is weekly or bi-weekly depending on the client’s individual needs. Monthly sessions are more for maintenance or check-ins.

    • Duration of time spent in psychotherapy will be an ongoing process that is readdressed throughout.

  • What kinds of things can my psychotherapist help me with?

    • Mental health conditions

    • Define & reach wellness goals

    • Work with fears & insecurities

    • Cope with stress

    • Make sense of past traumatic experiences

    • Improve relationships with family & friends

    • Develop strategies for coping with crises

    • Understanding triggers & learning to cope with them

    • Addressing destructive habits

    • There is NOT a one size fits all method when it comes to finding the best therapist-client relationship; do not be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get someone that fits your needs and personality.

  • What kind of things can I expect to do with a psychotherapist?

    • Psychotherapy is a talk-based therapy. They are trained in modalities such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

    • Your experience in therapy will be unique to your needs and a treatment plan will be developed between you and your psychotherapist within the first few sessions.

  • What does the schooling entail for a psychotherapist?

    • Psychologists must obtain a university degree & a master’s or PhD degree. To be registered with the college they need to pass a registration exam and complete a minimum of 450 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of clinical supervision

    • In Ontario, your psychotherapist must be registered with their associated College, such as The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, College of Nurses of Ontario, College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, College of Psychologists of Ontario, Ontario College of Social Workers, and Social Service Workers.

  • What’s the difference between a psychotherapist, psychologist & psychiatrist?

    • Psychiatrists have a medical degree & are licensed to prescribe medication & diagnose.

    • Psychologists are trained in the assessment, treatment, and prevention of behavioural and mental conditions. They diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions as well as psychotic, neurotic, and personality disorders and dysfunctions.

    • Registered psychotherapists primarily use talk-based therapy. These individuals have completed master’s training in psychotherapy & are a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario

  • Can my psychotherapist prescribe me medication?

    • No, typically a registered psychotherapist cannot prescribe medication unless they are a psychiatrist or doctor.

    • Psychotherapists can make referrals or recommendations to clients if they are in need or interested in receiving medical support.


Meghan Walker MA, RP



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