Is a doctor’s referral required to see a Registered Psychologist?

We do not require a doctor’s referral to see your child and/or family. There are a minority of extended medical plans, however, that require clients to get a physician’s referral in order to claim benefits. We encourage clients to check their extended medical plans in case this applies to them.

What is the difference between a Registered Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
A Registered Psychologist has a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology and is trained to assess and treat mental health conditions. They are uniquely trained to use psychological tests to assess people’s competencies and difficulties and arrive at appropriate diagnoses. They treat mental health challenges using therapy and do not prescribe medication. Their work is regulated by the College of Psychologists of BC, which helps protect the public by ensuring that Registered Psychologists are adequately qualified and that they practice ethically and within their areas of competency. They are required to take continuing education courses every year to ensure that their knowledge and practice remains current. A referral is not required to see a Registered Psychologist and fees for service are paid for privately.

A Psychiatrist completes a medical degree (MD) and then a residency program in which they specialize in psychiatry (RCPSC-Psychiatry). They also assess mental health challenges and can prescribe medication as part of the treatment plan. Some psychiatrists also offer therapy but they do not perform psychoeducational assessments. Their work is regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, which protects the public and ensures that psychiatrists meet expected standards of practice and conduct. A referral is required to see a psychiatrist but fees are paid for by the Medical Services Plan. Psychiatrists and psychologists often work together as part of a multidisciplinary team.

What are your fees for service?
Our fees are set in accordance with the BC Psychological Association (BCPA) guidelines. At this time, our hourly rate is $240. Therapy is booked by the hour with 50 minutes of direct client contact and 10 minutes of preparation and documentation. Assessments vary in cost depending on the referral question and complexity. Please contact our office to obtain a more detailed estimate for the particular assessment your child needs.

Payment is due at the end of each session and can be paid via cash, cheque, or e-transfer. Once payment is complete, you will be given a receipt for services that you can submit for reimbursement if you have extended medical benefits. Providers vary in the amount of coverage they offer per year for Registered Psychologists so it is best to review your policy or contact your provider for this information ahead of time. The Medical Services Plan (MSP) does not cover psychological services.

Jordan’s Principle and some distributed learning schools can be billed directly.

What if I need to cancel or reschedule my appointment?
As it can take some time to fill therapy and assessment spots, we require a minimum of 48 hours notice to move/cancel a therapy appointment and 72 hours notice to move/cancel an assessment. This allows us sufficient time to schedule another family who is waiting to access our services. If appointments are cancelled with less notice than required (or appointments are missed altogether), clients will be billed the full rate for the time missed. We recognize that emergencies sometimes happen and will review these situations on an individual basis.
What if my child gets sick right before an appointment?
Sometimes children get sick a day or two before their scheduled appointment (or even the night before). In these situations, parents worry about canceling an appointment on short notice and being charged. Please contact us if your child becomes sick, as in most circumstances we would much prefer to reschedule than have a sick child come to the office. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, your child needs to be at their best in order to perform well during an assessment and to adequately engage in therapy. If your child is ill, they will not be at their best and this can affect the accuracy of your assessment results. Second, we see many children and families each week and do not want to pass illnesses around.
Do private autism assessments qualify for government funding?
Yes, our private assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) qualify for the same funding as those completed through the BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN). We follow the same standards and guidelines for the assessment of ASD that were established by BCAAN. The gold-standard measures for parent interview (Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised; ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – 2 (ADOS-2) are used. The primary differences between ASD assessments in the public vs. private system involve waiting time and cost. There is a significantly shorter waiting time when accessing a private assessment but families are responsible for covering the cost of the assessment (whereas it is covered by MSP when accessed through the public system). Note that families can often use extended medical benefits to help cover the assessment cost.
Should my child take medication on the day(s) of our assessment?
Yes, we prefer that children take their medication as usual when completing assessments. This helps us to ensure that other factors (e.g., difficulties with attention) do not significantly impact children’s performance and cloud assessment results.
What does “evidence-based” treatment mean and why should I choose it for my child?
Our psychologists are trained to provide evidence-based services to the clients that we serve. This means that the therapeutic approaches we use have been tested via well-designed research studies to ensure that they actually work. The empirically supported intervention for your child’s particular difficulty may be well established, which means it has the strongest research support for that condition. It is important to choose a therapist that uses empirically supported treatments so that you can feel confident that your time and money are being spent on a treatment that has a good chance of working. For more detail on this issue, please visit: www.effectivechildtherapy.org
How is my personal information kept confidential?
Your privacy is extremely important to us. We cannot share with anyone that you are a client in our clinic, and cannot release information about you unless you give us written permission to do so. In all health care settings, there are some limits to confidentiality that professionals have to follow. These include times when a specific individual may be in imminent danger and/or when required by the courts. We review these details together with clients before beginning any services.
How should we prepare for our child/teen’s assessment?
Many parents wonder what to tell their children about their upcoming assessments and how to prepare for their sessions. The following points are helpful in this regard:

  • We encourage parents to tell their children about the types of tasks and activities that they will be doing during their assessments. This is more helpful than referring to their assessments as “tests”, as this tends to make children feel anxious ahead of time. Consider explaining to children that they will meet a psychologist who will spend time doing activities with them and getting to know them. These activities might involve hands-on tasks such as building block designs and puzzles. They might also include word problems, picture puzzles, memory games, and academic tasks. Children are asked to simply try their best and there is no expectation that they will know the answers to all of the questions.
  • Your child will usually be seen over two or more visits. The time needed depends on a number of factors, such as the reason for the assessment, as well as your child’s age and tolerance for the activities. Your child’s energy, motivation, and level of effort are monitored closely. Breaks will be given as needed (e.g., snack, movement, and washroom breaks).
  • It is really important that your child has a good night’s sleep the night before the assessment. Please make sure they eat breakfast before arriving. You are welcome to bring healthy snacks for break times. Please note that we are a nut-free clinic as we have several clients with severe allergies. If your child will be at our office over lunch, please bring lunch with you or be prepared to buy lunch at a nearby restaurant.
  • If your child uses glasses, hearing aids or any other device, be sure to bring that device along to the assessment.
  • Please make sure to bring COPIES (not originals as we will need to keep them) of any prior assessment reports, doctor consultations, and school report cards to your child/teen’s assessment. For the report cards, the June summary report from each year that your child has attended school will be sufficient. If you do not have these report cards handy, your child’s school should be able to gather copies for you. Please leave the school plenty of time to collect and photocopy the report cards.
  • If your child is on any kind of medication, please see the prior question about taking medication on the day of the appointments.