FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

Do I Qualify To Use These Services?

If you feel you would benefit from the services of a therapist or mental health professional but are not in a financial position to pay standard fees, you qualify to use these services. You might be a student, unemployed, underemployed, struggling to support a family, between jobs, paying off debt, or for some other reason are not in a position to pay full therapist fees.

What Is The Rate For Sessions?

Each therapist on our site works independently in private practice and sets their own rates based on a number of factors. Practitioners who use a sliding scale offer a flexible rate that reflects the financial and situational needs of their client. 

Individual therapist rates are advertised transparently on each profile so that you can more easily find someone who suits your financial needs.  You can also use our search filters to sort by “fees”.

What Are Low-Cost Rates?

The low-cost rate is a rate well below industry standard that is provided by our practitioners to clients facing significant financial difficulty.  The Affordable Therapy Network sets this rate at $65 or less and the majority of practitioners listed with us offer a limited number of spots at this rate.

We sometimes have intern therapists who offer pro-bono therapy, some pay-what-you can options, and spots as low as $25/session.  Follow us on Instagram where we often post to let people know when these options become available.

Each practitioner’s low-cost spots do fill up from time to time.  If the person you want to work with does not have any low-cost spots available, they may accept you on a wait-list.  Please note that not all therapists offer wait-lists, so you might instead try reaching out to another person.

Some practitioners place limitations on the low-cost rate, such as a limit on how many sessions they can offer at this rate.  Please talk to them about their policy.

What Is A Sliding Scale?

Sliding scale rates are offered to clients who do not require the low-cost rate, but cannot easily access standard rates.  The rate is determined on an individual basis in consideration of your unique financial situation.

As a rough guideline, sliding scale rates often range anywhere between 65%-90% of a therapists regular rate. Talk to your practitioner to learn more about their fee structure. 

How Do I Know Which Practitioner to Choose?

When deciding who to choose, consider any areas of specialty that are relevant to your situation and needs.  You can use our search features to filter by community focus, issues, and modalities.  Choosing a therapist is subjective as we all have different needs.  The best way to find out if a therapist is a good fit for you is to book a free consultation with them and see how it feels.

Please also consider that our therapists and mental health practitioners come from wide variety of backgrounds and training – and this also includes interns and student therapists.  It’s important to ask your practitioner about their training and background to ensure their approach, style, and level of experience is the right fit for you. 

We often recommend doing at least two consultations before deciding who you will work with.  You can change practitioners at any time if you so choose. 

Who Do I Contact?

Browse through the list of therapists.  Once you find someone that you would like to contact, get in touch with them directly through the contact they have provided and set up a free consultation.  Most of our practitioners provide an email as well as a telephone number.  The majority also have a link to their website so you can learn more about their style of support and decide if they might be a good match for you.

Contacting Your Therapist/Practitioner

When you first contact your practitioner by phone or email, let them know that you found them through the Affordable Therapy Network.  Ask them if they are currently accepting reduced rate clients and what sliding scale rate they are able to offer.  You are free to reach out to a few different people in order to find the best fit for you.  It’s also a good idea to inquire about their location, hours of availability, as well as any accessibility needs you require.  If everything seems like a good fit, go ahead and book your first session.

What Will My First Session Be Like?

It’s perfectly normal to feel a little nervous going in to your first session.  Your practitioner will be sensitive to this fact and help you to feel as comfortable as possible.  Most first sessions begin with your practitioner sharing a little about themselves and their style of support.  They will also go over the legal and ethical rights you have as a client including confidentiality, and the legal limits thereof.  If you decide to proceed, they will ask you some questions and things will unfold naturally from there.

What If I Have An Issue With The Person I'm Working With?

You are always free to discontinue working with a therapist/practitioner or to find a new person  to work with if the one you are working with does not meet your expectations.  Due to the diverse needs of clients and the different varieties of training and experience that our practitioners have, this is a normal and relatively common occurrence.

If an issue arises you can either address your practitioner directly or seek assistance from the governing body that they belong to.  If your practitioner does not belong to a regulatory body or association, you will need to address your concerns with them directly.

The practitioners listed with us work independently and as a listing directory we are not affiliated with them in any way.  We are not able to offer any guidance beyond the suggestion that you reach out to that practitioners regulatory body or address them directly to resolve your concerns.

Understanding Credentials

The landscape of Regulation in Canada is evolving and each province has it’s own regulatory standards.  As such, the definitions below are subject to change.  Click here to learn more.

* Always ask your practitioner about their credentials, training, and experience to evaluate if they are a good fit for you.

In our listing you will find three different categories of credentialing: 

Licensed Practitioners
Licensed Practitioners are governed by their respective Provincial Colleges ensuring that they meet the rigorous standards required to work competently and safely with the public.  Membership with a College lets you know that this therapist is accountable to their College’s standards and that their practice meets their standards and requirements. 
 
Licensed Practitioners are regulatedRegulatory Colleges exist to protect the public and you can seek assistance from these Colleges should any issues arise with your therapist.
 
Pre-Licensed Practioners
Pre-Licensed Practitioners may be completing their training to become registered in their Province, practice under supervision, or limit their practice to work that falls outside the scope of regulated acts within their Province.
 
Pre-Licensed Practitioners are not regulated. If any issues arise with your practitioner you will need to address them directly.  Talk to them to ensure their training and experience meets your needs.
 
Certified Practitioners
If a practitioner on our listing is labeled as a Certified Practitioner, this usually means that they work outside of a regulated scope of practice or in a Province that currently does not require a license to practice Counselling or Psychotherapy (unregulated), but that they do hold certification(s) in their area of practice.  Ask your practitioner about their credentials and training to ensure their experience meets your needs.
 
Certified Practitioners are generally not regulated.  Certified Practitioners, however, may have completed training that is equivalent to those of regulated practitioners and often belong to other relevant associations or overseeing organizations.  If any issues arise with your practitioner you will need to address them directly.  In some cases they may belong to an association that can assist you.
 

More About Credentials - Definitions

Here is some clarification around some of the designations you will see on the site.

As you will see below, credentials can be a bit confusing and aren’t always the best measure of whether a therapist/practitioner will be a good fit for you.  Please talk to them about their style, approach, and experience to make this determination.

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying), or RP (Qualifying)

When a student has completed at least 90% of their coursework (academic, classroom portion) they can become registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).  These newly registered members gain the RP (Qualifying) status.  In some cases, but not all, this is before beginning their work with clients.

The experience level of therapists in the RP (Qualifying) category can vary greatly (anywhere from 0 – 450+ hours of direct work with clients).  Always ask your therapist about their experience to ensure a good fit.

Therapists who hold the RP (Qualifying) status are regulated by the CRPO, licensed to perform the “controlled act of psychotherapy”(we go over what this is further down), and practice under supervision.  After they complete 450 hours of supervised practice, they can then apply to become a full RP (Registered Psychotherapist).

Registered Psychotherapist, or RP
Therapists who hold the full Registered Psychotherapist status have completed at least 450 hours of client work.  Their supervision requirements are reduced until they reach 1000 hours, when they can then apply to become fully independent RP’s.  RP’s are regulated by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).
MSW, BSW, RSW
MSW stands for Masters of Social Work, BSW stands for Bachelor of Social Work, and RSW stands for Registered Social Worker. 
 
Registered Social Workers belong to and are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW), which is another regulatory body which grants members license to practice the controlled act of psychotherapy.
 
Membership with the OCSWSSW is based on meeting certain education requirements (Diploma, BA, or Masters program).  These programs generally include a significant practicum component. 
RSSW
RSSW stands for Registered Social Service Worker.
 
RSSW’s have completed a diploma in Social Service Work (or it’s equivalent) and are licensed by the OCSWSSW to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy.  They are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
 
The education required to receive an SSW is less extensive than it is to receive a BSW or MSW, and includes a practicum component. 
 
*We only list RSSW’s who have completed additional training, hold relevant certificates in counselling or psychotherapy, or who work under the supervision of a Regulated Professional.
Intern Therapist / Student Therapist

The interns and students listed with us come from a wide variety of educational institutions across Canada.  Some schools require a formal internship, while others have their students practice independently or through their school clinic (under supervision) once they have completed a significant portion of their training.

Those in a formal internship usually identify as “Intern Therapist”, while those in student clinics or working independently, usually identify as “Student Therapist” or “Therapist in Training”.
 
All students and interns are supervised by regulated practitioners.
 
Some students/interns are beginner therapists, while others come with significant experience in counselling or support work.  As always, we invite you to ask your practitioner about their experience and background to determine if they will be a fit for you.
 
 

This list is a work in progress and there are other designations you will see across the site.  Please feel free to ask your practitioner about their credentials and they will be happy to elaborate.

Note –  The landscape of Regulation in Canada is evolving and each province has it’s own regulatory standards that are often subject to change.  As new regulatory bodies and standards emerge and shift, so might these definitions.  As such, we can’t guarantee accuracy and encourage you to do your own research.

 

Do You Verify Credentials?

Yes.

It’s important to us that we only list qualified professionals and you can review our verification processes below.

* In all cases it is your responsibility to personally verify your practitioner and we recommend that you inquire about their training and background to ensure their experience meets your needs.

Regulated Practitioners (Licensed)

All Licensed Practitioners are verified at their time of listing.  Licensed Practitioners belong to a Regulatory College with a publicly available register.  We check to ensure that they are members in good standing with their College when they list with us.  If you have any concerns you should check the public register of the College that your therapist belongs to.

Student Therapists, Intern Therapists (Pre-Licensed/Licensed)

We verify that all therapists in training are working under the supervision of a Regulated Practitioner at their time of listing.  We ensure that their supervisor belongs to a Regulatory College.

* Please note that a therapist might still be in training AND be a Licensed Practitioner.  There are varying levels of licensing which is why it’s always important to ask your practitioner about their experience to ensure it meets your needs.

Counsellors & Other Practitioners (Pre-Licensed/Certified)

Our listed Counsellors and Practitioners (including coaches, hypnotherapists, holistic practitioners) come from a variety of backgrounds and experience.  We verify that they hold certifications, diplomas, or degrees in their area of practice. There is no publicly available register to verify these practitioners so instead we review their experience and training.

 

What Is The "Controlled Act of Psychotherapy"?

Psychotherapy & The Controlled Act

The “controlled act of psychotherapy” is defined as follows:

“Treating, by means of psychotherapy technique, delivered through a therapeutic relationship, an individual’s serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory that may seriously impair the individual’s judgement, insight, behaviour, communication or social functioning.”  (https://www.crpo.ca/controlled-act-of-psychotherapy/)”

The “controlled act” (applicable in Ontario) can only be performed by someone who is registered with one of six regulatory colleges.  Further, only members of these colleges are legally allowed to call themselves “Psychotherapist”.

There are several forms of therapy that are not controlled (read below), but the “controlled act” itself can be performed by members of following Colleges:

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, College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.

Coaching, Counselling, & Other Forms Of Support

Not all forms of therapy and counselling fall under Ontario’s “controlled act”.  Many Counsellors, Coaches, Holistic Practitioners, among others, legally practice a form of care that does not fall into this category.  These practitioners either do not utilize psychotherapy techniques in their work (they may instead use coaching, counselling, or other specialized skills), or they do not work with clients considered to have a serious disorder that may seriously impair their day to day functioning.

From the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario:

“Some psychotherapy tools and techniques are in the public domain, meaning anyone can provide them”. (https://www.crpo.ca/concerns-about-unregulated-individuals/)

If you are concerned about a practitioner you believe to be working outside their scope of practice, you can contact the CRPO for support.