Finding a Counsellor / Therapist

The first step is to decide on the type of counsellor you want. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, counsellors and some physicians all use the word "counselling" to describe their work. No one type of counsellor is best for everyone. Some will feel like a better fit than others.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with special training in counselling, and they usually need a referral from your doctor. Your doctor may also be a trained counsellor. Only psychiatrists and medical doctors can prescribe medications.

Psychologists are trained counsellors who are not medical doctors, so their fees are not usually covered by provincial plans, but many private insurance plans will pay all or part of their fees.

Social workers are also trained counsellors who are often associated with social service agencies, although some work independently. Private insurance plans may pay all or part of their fees.

Therapist and Counsellor are generic names that refer to someone who practices many different kinds of counselling. Very few private insurance plans will cover their fees. They may be trained in a particular kind of counselling, or may have developed expertise on their own.

Here are some other things to consider that might play a part in your decision:

When you've made some decisions, it's time to find some names. Check with your doctor. They may offer counselling themselves, or be able to refer you to a counsellor.

Once you have the names of a few counsellors, call them to let them know you would like to see them for an initial interview. These interviews should be free of charge. Don't hesitate to ask about fees over the phone, and whether she has a 'sliding scale'. (Psychiatrists' fees are covered by MSI, etc., but some may want you to pay for other tasks, such as writing letters or filling out forms).

Understanding the Client

When working with gays and lesbians, it is often important to know where your client is in terms of acceptance. If sexuality is a presenting issue, understanding the stages is even more important.There are six stages that many homosexuals go through when dealing with their own sexual orientation. These stages have been widely accepted by professionals and gay men and women alike. They include:

  1. Identity Awareness - The point when the child or adolescent begins to realize he or she has feelings that are different from others and different from what they have been taught.
  2. Identity Comparison - The individual begins to explore his or her feelings alone and to compare them to the beliefs of society, parents, and peers.
  3. Identity Tolerance - During this stage, the individual will often rebel against his or her feelings and attempt to deny them. After all, nobody wants to be gay in a straight world.
  4. Identity Acceptance - After realizing that sexuality is a part of who they are, they begin to embrace it, explore their feelings and desires, and start to find a place in the world where they are accepted and belong.
  5. Identity Pride - Often involves anger toward parents, society, religion, or other aspects of the world that tells them that they are bad, wrong, immoral, or mentally ill merely because their feelings are directed toward the same sex. They embrace the "homosexual lifestyle" and explore their newfound sexuality. It is during this stage that the gay or lesbian may start fighting against what society has taught them.
  6. Identity Synthesis - The final stage in which homosexuality becomes a part of who they are rather than the defining factor. Instead of being a gay man or lesbian, they begin to see themselves as parents, employees, leaders, teachers, supervisors, coaches, and volunteers who just happen to be gay. In the final stage, they are able to accept themselves more wholly rather than seeing their sexuality as separate from the rest of who they are.

Aside from issues arising from the first five stages above, treatment for homosexual clients should be no different from any other client. In terms of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, relationship concerns, stress, and sexual issues, homosexual clients present at about the same rate as their counterparts and treatment should not be any different. Research has, however, shown that depression is significantly higher among gay adolescents and that the suicide rate is double that of their straight counterparts. Suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety are also higher among those who have not accepted their sexuality or who struggle for acceptance with friends and family because of their sexual orientation.

Some local counsellors:

Also check the Yellow Pages for "Marriage, Family & Individual Counsellors"

This page is part of the HealthCategory