Your First Counselling Session

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Scheduling Your First Counselling Session

Please contact us or complete our “Request Your First Counselling Session” form today to schedule your first counselling session with your therapist.  We always seek to schedule your first appointment with your therapist at your earliest convenience.  Please note that CFCS is not a walk-in counselling service and that your counselling session is by appointment only.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

In addition to answering any general questions you may have, we first ask you several screening questions to assess the best type of counselling service for you.  We then ask you for:

  • Your name and contact information;
  • Your preferred therapist (if you have one); and
  • A brief description of your counselling needs.  (Please note that if you do not feel comfortable discussing your private circumstances, you do not need to answer.)

Finally, we inquire about your typical availability throughout the week in order to schedule your first counselling session (with your preferred therapist, if you have one) at your earliest convenience.

Unfortunately, we cannot always immediately book your first counselling session with your preferred therapist – for example, if your availability differs from your preferred therapist‘s weekly appointment schedule or if your preferred therapist is currently at his or her full caseload.  We understand how disappointed you may feel if your preferred therapist is currently unavailable to you, and we can:

Preparing For Your First Counselling Session

Prior to your first counselling session, we ask that you:

Our Welcome to Cornerstone Family Counselling Services (CFCS) Brochure provides you with important information about counselling, protecting your privacy, appointment cancellations, and so on.  We also offer a hard-copy Welcome to Cornerstone Family Counselling Services (CFCS) Brochure to you during your first counselling session.

Our Client Personal Data Form asks you for your personal details, such as your name and contact information.  You may complete it at your convenience at home as a hard-copy print-out to bring with you to your first counselling session, or you may arrive at our office 15-20 minutes prior to your first appointment to complete our Client Personal Data Form in our waiting area.

Our Client Questionnaire Form helps you to reflect upon your counselling needs, preferences, and goals prior to meeting with your therapist.  You may complete it at your convenience at home as a hard-copy print-out to bring with you to your first counselling session, or you may arrive at our office 15-20 minutes prior to your first appointment to complete our Client Questionnaire Form in our waiting area.

During Your First Counselling Session

After reviewing your completed Client Personal Data Form and Client Questionnaire Form, your therapist greets you and invites you into his or her office for your first counselling session.  You and your therapist first need to complete a consent form that defines confidentiality and your right to privacy in counselling.

From that point onwards, you decide the pace and topics discussed during your first counselling session based upon your comfort level, personal needs, and counselling goals.  Although you may feel uncomfortable if you choose to disclose more difficult topics to your therapist, he or she is here to help you by listening to your story with acceptance and empathy.  The highest priorities for your therapist during your first counselling session include:

  • Establishing a trusting, supportive working relationship with you;
  • Gaining a clear understanding of your private situation; and
  • Assessing how he or she may offer real benefit to you through counselling.

You may observe that your therapist writes notes during your counselling session.  Note-taking helps your therapist to document your counselling sessions and to develop his or her treatment plan for you.

To conclude your first appointment, you and your therapist may agree upon an initial set of counselling goals for your counselling sessions.  Your therapist may also inform you of his or her therapy plan for you; the types of therapeutic methods that he or she believes may work best for you; and some additional resources that he or she recommends for you at home or within your community.  Finally, you and your therapist may strategize together about the number and frequency of counselling sessions you may require based upon your counselling needs and scheduling availability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

During your first counselling session, your therapist fully explains the principle of confidentiality and your right to privacy in counselling.  As a Registered Psychotherapist (RP), your therapist complies with specific confidentiality laws and regulations to protect your privacy.  Although your therapist may discuss your case (without personally identifying you) with his or her approved clinical supervisor for professional consultation purposes and to ensure the highest standard of ethical service delivery to you, he or she may not otherwise disclose – whether verbally, in writing, or electronically – your personal identity or case information without your written authorization.  Your therapist is also subject to several legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality.  (For more information about the legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality, please see What are the legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality?)

During your child’s first counselling session, your child’s therapist fully explains the principle of confidentiality and how it applies specifically to your child depending upon his or her age.  As a Registered Psychotherapist (RP), your child’s therapist complies with specific confidentiality laws and regulations to protect your child’s privacy.  Your child’s therapist may discuss your child’s case (without personally identifying your child) with his or her approved clinical supervisor for professional consultation purposes and to ensure the highest standard of ethical service delivery to your child.  Any other disclosure of your child’s personal identity or case information by your child’s therapist is based upon his or her age:

  • If your child is under 12 years of age, your child’s therapist may fully disclose his or her case information to you as a parent or legal guardian.  In addition, you may provide written authorization for your child’s therapist to otherwise disclose – whether verbally, in writing, or electronically – your child’s personal identity or case information.
  • If your child is aged 12 to 15, your child’s therapist may or may not disclose his or her case information to you as a parent or legal guardian.  In addition, either you or your child may provide written authorization for your child’s therapist to otherwise disclose – whether verbally, in writing, or electronically – your child’s personal identity or case information.
  • If your child is aged 16 or over, he or she is legally considered an adult for counselling purposes.  Therefore, your child’s therapist may not disclose his or her case information to you as a parent or legal guardian without your child’s written authorization.  In addition, only your child may provide written authorization for your child’s therapist to otherwise disclose – whether verbally, in writing, or electronically – your child’s personal identity or case information.

Your child’s therapist is also subject to several legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality.  (For more information about the legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality, please see What are the legal and regulatory limits to confidentiality?)

Your therapist is required by law and/or professional regulations to discuss your therapy and/or disclose your client record without your written authorization under the following circumstances:

  1. If you indicate in any way that you represent a risk of harm to yourself or others, your therapist must call upon other professionals to assist in supporting safety;
  2. If your therapist is served with a subpoena, he or she is legally required to release your client record to the court and/or to testify about your therapy in court proceedings as necessary;
  3. If your therapist learns of the physical, sexual, or serious emotional abuse (which may include neglect and/or exposure to violence within the family) of a child under the age of 16, he or she must notify the Children’s Aid Society;
  4. If you inform your therapist of an abuse committed by another regulated health professional, your therapist may need to report this to the governing body of that professional; and
  5. If you disclose to your therapist that you were abused as a child and your childhood abuser may represent a danger to children now, your therapist may need to notify the Children’s Aid Society.

Your therapist documents your counselling sessions within your client record (which is stored in both hard-copy and electronic format) for record-keeping purposes.  Your client record is the legal property of Cornerstone Family Counselling Services (CFCS) and we must retain your client record for at least 10 years following your last counselling session with your therapist.  We protect the security and privacy of your client record in the following three ways:

  • Administratively – All of our staff members sign confidentiality agreements and may only access your client record on a need-to-know basis;
  • Physically – Your hard-copy client record is stored inside a locked filing cabinet within a locked file room; and
  • Electronically – Your electronic client record is saved within an encrypted and password-protected online database with 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) data security protocols.

If you wish to access your (or your child’s) client record, we first need you to contact us and make arrangements to document your request for a copy of your (or your child’s) client record in writing.  We then follow a different release procedure depending upon the type of counselling service that you (or your child) received from us – that is, Personal Counselling for Adults, Personal Counselling for Children/Youth, Couple Counselling, or Family Counselling.  Please contact us for additional information.

The Length of Your Counselling Session

Typically, your counselling session is approximately 60 minutes in length.  You and your therapist meet for 50 minutes, and your therapist utilizes the remaining 10 minutes to document your counselling session within your client record.

If your child participates in our Personal Counselling for Children/Youth or Family Counselling services, you or your child’s therapist may feel that a 30-minute or 45-minute counselling session is more appropriate for your child based upon his or her age and developmental stage.  If so, we reduce your child’s counselling session fee accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

At CFCS, we understand that there may be times when you need to cancel a session.  You will not be charged for the session if you contact us prior to 12:00 noon the day before your appointment. After 12:00 noon the day before your appointment, you will be charged 50% of your session fee.  Cancelling the day of your appointment or if you fail to show up for your scheduled appointment, you will be charged 100% of your session fee.

 

Your Counselling Session Fee

Our standard fee is $120.00 per counselling session. As a registered non-profit charitable counselling center, we do not charge HST with your counselling session fee.  Payment is due prior to your counselling session.  We accept cash, cheque, Debit, MasterCard, and Visa as methods of payment.  If you wish to pay by cheque, please address it to “Cornerstone Family Counselling Services” or simply “Cornerstone Counselling.”

We issue you with a receipt that includes the name and Registered Psychotherapist (RP) license number of your therapist.  Please retain all of your receipts, as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recognizes counselling with a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Ontario as a medical expense that is eligible for a tax credit.  To determine whether your counselling with us is also covered through your private health insurance plan, please submit copies of your receipts to your benefits provider.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Your counselling with us is not covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).  OHIP may cover counselling with your family doctor or with a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or social worker employed at a publicly-funded institution (such as a hospital or a social services agency).  Please speak with your family doctor about accessing counselling services covered under OHIP.

Please inquire with your private health benefits provider to learn if your private health insurance plan covers counselling sessions with a Registered Psychotherapist (RP), a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), or a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist (RMFT).  If your private health benefits provider covers your counselling, they need to know the name and licensed credentials of your therapist.  This information is included upon all of your receipts; it is also available through your therapist’s profile page.  Please note that it is your responsibility to submit copies of your receipts to your private health benefits provider.

Please retain all of your receipts from us, as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers counselling sessions with a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Ontario to be a medical expense that you can claim through your income tax and benefits return.  For more information about how to claim your counselling sessions as an eligible medical expense, please inquire with CRA or refer to the CRA publication RC4065 Medical Expenses – 2015.

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