Getting Started

Psychotherapy and counselling provide an opportunity for change, growth and healing. Working together will provide an opportunity to focus on your strengths, in a safe environment, while building on a foundation of warmth and empathy.

In the process of change, there may also be anxiety, distress or fear. It’s natural to feel this way when attempting something new. One of the goals of therapy is to support you through this process.

Maybe you already have an idea of where you need help. Or maybe things just aren’t working for you, and you’re not sure why. Therapy can provide hope by: helping you gain a better understanding of what’s happening, teaching you ways to overcome or manage symptoms, and exploring root causes.

Through compassionate, creative and appropriate therapeutic models, NorthStar Counselling Services supports children, youth and adults in reaching their goals so they can thrive at home, school or work.

Please call or email for your free 15-minute consultation today!

How do I know that we could work well together?

The short answer is, you don’t. Please take time to explore this website and feel free to visit my Psychology Today profile or Facebook page. You can also book a free 15-minute, no-strings attached consultation with me.

What to expect

Prior to our first session, I’ll ask you to complete an intake questionnaire. This is to help me understand your situation and how I can best support and guide you in achieving your therapeutic goals.

I’ll do my best to understand your concerns. I’ll listen non- judgmentally and provide an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and trust that, together, we’ll find better solutions to the challenges in your life.

What we discuss will be kept confidential, with a few exceptions. As with most things in life, there’s no guarantee concerning the benefit of therapy. Change is difficult and, therefore, you may experience distress and or uncertainty. You’re not alone and will be supported through the process.

Sessions are usually 50-minutes long and therapy will continue only as long as you desire and it’s beneficial. Longer sessions are also available. Book a free 15-minute, no-strings attached consultation with me.

How many therapy sessions will I require?

There is no minimum or maximum number of sessions* you should attend, as therapy is very personal.

It is recommended that you come for at least four to six sessions, as this is what it generally takes to build a therapeutic relationship and begin seeing positive outcomes from therapy. If you come regularly, we will periodically review your progress to make sure you are benefiting from our time together and determine if there is anything we may improve.

*Please note that the maximum number of sessions may also be determined by your EAP/EFAP/insurance healthcare plan.

What about confidentiality

Our sessions will be private and confidential, with the following potential exceptions:

  • If I believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger of physical harm.
  • When disclosure is required by law, as in suspicion of child abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional, under the age of 16), abuse of other vulnerable persons (i.e., the elderly or disabled persons), by court order, or a search warrant.
  • Your service provider (EAP/EFAP/insurance company) may require documentation regarding your sessions. The details required vary, depending on the provider.
  • In order to serve you better, it may be necessary to consult with a professional colleague. In this case, generic issues would be discussed, without any identifying information.
  • If you would like me to relate information regarding your sessions to someone else (i.e., doctor, psychiatrist, teacher), all parties must sign a release of information and this will be done.
  • In a situation such as my unexpected death or prolonged illness, you may be contacted by a representative who is acting on my behalf. This representative will be obliged to ensure confidentiality as I do, and will provide you with an appropriate referral.

With children and youth, there may be times when it would be helpful for the parents/legal guardian to be informed of particular issues. I would then work with the child/youth to see how this would best be addressed. As much as possible, themes would be discussed, rather than specifics.

What are the differences between mental health services?

Although psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry and spiritual care may overlap in some areas, there are some important distinctions among each profession and what they can offer.

“The practice of psychotherapy is the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances by psychotherapeutic means, delivered through a therapeutic relationship based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.” See Psychotherapy Act, 2007, Section 3.

Psychotherapists tend to offer the most diverse range of therapies. They may also offer individual, family, or group sessions. In Ontario, psychotherapists must be registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.

A licensed psychologist has a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology and studies how people think, feel and behave from a scientific viewpoint. They tend to focus more on testing, assessments, and research. For example, if you have a developmental disorder, learning problem, or brain injury, they can provide coping strategies. A psychologist often works with a psychiatrist. They may or may not counsel clients.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication and may or may not counsel clients. They work with people on both a biological and psychological level.

Counselling focuses on giving advice, encouragement and instruction; and providing information that may or may not include psychotherapeutic interventions.

Spiritual counselling integrates religion or faith-based beliefs with psycho-social care and guidance. Spiritual direction occurs between two people, with the director facilitating the examination of the directee’s relationship with God in daily life. The goal is to help another draw closer to God, rather than resolve specific problems. Content is determined by what the directee brings to the session. Accompaniment on the spiritual journey may include: supportive listening, encouragement, suggestions, ideas, readings, and prayers.

Why shouldn't I just take medication?

Medication can be effective and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy. Medication treats symptoms, but can’t solve all issues on its own. Our work together is designed to explore the root of the issue and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.