Sometimes it’s hard to know when children need professional help. Some people get help when family members are not getting along. Others seek help when they find it hard to manage or parent their children. You might also consult a psychologist if your child:
Dr. Andres-Lemay provides psychological services for a variety of problems, for children (0 to 19 years) and their families. She is a trained and registered clinical psychologist, with Master’s and Doctoral degrees in clinical-developmental psychology. She is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (416) 961-8817 and a member of the Ontario Psychological Association. For a free referral service to psychologists in your area, and specific to your needs, you can call the Ontario Psychological Association Referral Service at (416) 961-0069.
Psychologists are a licensed profession, just as physicians are. Even the term “Psychologist” is protected by law, meaning that professionals can only call themselves psychologists if they have passed the written and oral examinations and educational criteria set by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. Psychologists are extensively trained in the assessment and treatment of human difficulties, and many have a specialized area of practice, e.g. children, mental health, abuse issues, family therapy, etc.
Ask for the pamphlet called “Personal Problems? A Psychologist Can Help” from the Ontario Psychological Association. This pamphlet outlines more about psychologist credentials, training, and licensing.
Psychologists and psychiatrists both undertake about the same number of years of education and training. Some of the training is similar (e.g. diagnosis) and some is quite different.
Psychologists have doctoral degrees in psychology and specialize in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of human emotion, thought and behaviour. They have advanced training in psychotherapy and the science of behaviour change. Although they may be trained in the use of medication to treat mental illness, in Ontario they are not as yet licensed to prescribe medications. Psychologists are the only professionals qualified to use certain kinds of psychological tests to assess intelligence as well as emotional and behavioural problems and neuropsychological dysfunction.
The fees of psychologists in Ontario are covered by private payment, extended medical plans, employee assistance programs, and/or government services and agencies or other special programs. They are licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. When you choose a psychologist, you can be assured that this professional has received extensive formal training and supervision in her or his area of expertise, will adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional standards, and is governed and regulated by the College of Psychologists.
Psychiatrists, like your family physician, have degrees in medicine which is quite different than degrees in psychology with additional specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. In Ontario, psychiatrists tend to focus on the biological aspects of mental health while psychologists tend to focus on the cognitive, emotional and behavioural. Psychiatrists are licensed by the Government to prescribe medication. The
practice of most psychiatrists in Ontario is focused on prescribing medications and consulting with family physicians, psychologists and other health professionals.
In fact, psychologists and psychiatrists are colleagues and often work closely together. In Ontario, the fees of psychiatrists are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Like psychologists, you can be assured that psychiatrists have received extensive formal training and supervision in her or his area of expertise and will adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional standards. Psychiatrists are governed and regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are regulated health professionals. Other mental and behavioural health professionals might not be regulated and might not be trained in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health issues.
Some psychologists are employed through hospitals, service agencies, and school boards. ROCK Reach Out Centre for Kids is an accredited children’s mental health agency in which Halton region residents can access psychological services free of charge. If you live outside Halton region, you will still have a local hospital from which you can request mental health services or referrals.
With most covered services, there is usually a wait for services.
Some individuals have extended medical coverage through their place of employment. Each of these insured coverage plans vary in what they cover, and some do or don’t cover psychological services, and those that do vary in the amount of coverage. Some require medical referrals and specific documentation.
You are responsible for inquiring about the terms of coverage, and letting your psychologist know what is required to gain coverage.
Depending on the problem, a psychological assessment usually begins with an initial intake interview, but may go beyond to include psychological tests or questionnaires, medical file review, collaboration or consultation with other care providers, school observation etc. Assessments could take as little as a couple of hours or take place over a number of days or weeks depending on complexity of the situation and the referral question.
A psychological assessment is not a case of “one size fits all.” Dr. Andres-Lemay’s training and experience will help guide the choice of questions and psychological tests to best understand the presenting issue. Different psychological tests and questionnaires are designed to explore specific aspects of human experience such as mood, personality characteristics, concentration and memory, anger, relationship problems, coping, parenting, and educational strengths and weaknesses, to name a few.
Once testing is complete, Dr. Andres-Lemay integrates the information gathered from interviews, tests and questionnaires, and available file information, to arrive at a conceptualization or diagnosis of the particular problem. Finally, Dr. Andres-Lemay will review the results of the assessment with you and discuss how to use the assessment to develop a treatment plan.
During treatment sessions, Dr. Andres-Lemay will help you gain a greater understanding of the problem and to solve or manage it better. Specifically, Dr. Andres-Lemay will help you to explore problem-related thoughts, feelings and behaviours as they relate to relationships, school, family, peers etc. During this process, you will be encouraged to develop your own set of goals and methods of successfully achieving these goals. There is more than one way to challenge a psychological problem. The choice of special procedures or techniques will depend on the available clinical research and best practices, on your nature and preferences, and on the problem itself.
A psychological treatment session typically lasts about 55 minutes but may vary depending on your needs, and the kind of activity being done. Psychological treatment may take place over a very short or a lengthy period of time, depending on your individual needs and preferences, evidence-based practices and the difficulties being addressed.
Similarly, psychological treatment may vary in approach. The most common forms of treatment provided at Oakville Chiropractic & Family Health include individual and family therapy. Dr. Andres-Lemay typically involves parents in the course of therapy with children and youth as parents play a key role in supporting their children and much of the therapeutic work happens outside of the therapy sessions.
Just like with a medical procedure, you are entitled to understand any risks and benefits of therapy.
Occasionally, therapy can elicit difficult or distressing emotions. At all times, you have the right not to discuss a topic, or to terminate the session or therapy. Therapists are responsible for trying to help you achieve change with the minimum distress possible.
Although there isn’t a guarantee of improvement for every situation, psychologists are trained to be scientists as well as therapists, and use therapies and techniques that have been researched and proven to be beneficial for most people. Short-term therapy is generally focused on change or stabilization in one or two areas that you define as your goal(s).
Longer-term therapy is usually for people who have long-standing or severe problems, often stemming from trauma or childhood difficulties, who want more extensive therapy to reach their goals of greater and stable mental health.
You must provide clear written consent for Dr. Andres-Lemay to discuss or release any information to anyone else, e.g. your child’s school.
Four exceptions to psychologist-client confidentiality exist, which by law the psychologist
must disclose information:
1. If you pose an imminent (immediate, serious) risk to yourself, e.g. you have a definite plan and intention of killing yourself that day or if you pose an imminent (immediate, serious) risk to someone else.
2. If you disclose that a child is being abused or is at risk of harm.
3. If you disclose that a health professional sexually abused or sexually harassed you.
4. If disclosure of therapy information is ordered by subpoena or court order. This is extremely rare and would only happen if you are involved in some legal/court charges or proceedings. Even if this occurs, the therapist can make a plea to the court not to release any information, in that it hurts public trust of therapist-client confidentiality.