FAQ

Emergency information

As our practice is not equipped to provide crisis intervention, if you are experiencing an emergency, please contact one of the crisis support resources below, or visit your nearest hospital emergency room.

Hamilton:
  • Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST): 905-972-8338 (Hamilton)
Halton:
  • Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST): 1-877-825-9011 (Halton)
Niagara Region please call one of the Niagara Distress Centre 24-hour crisis lines:
  • St. Catharines, Niagara Falls And Area – 905-688-3711
  • Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Area – 905-734-1212
  • Fort Erie and Area – 905-382-0689
  • Grimsby, West Lincoln – 905-563-6674
Ontario:

What can I expect at my first appointment?

We ask that you arrive about 10 minutes early for your initial appointment in order to register and fill out some intake forms.

When you arrive at one of our three offices, the staff will greet you and seat you in the waiting area by reception. If the receptionist is away from the front desk, please feel free to have a seat in the waiting area and someone will meet you at your scheduled appointment time.

Our offices in Burlington, St. Catharines, and Owen Sound are wheelchair accessible, professional, and discreet. Your privacy and comfort are a priority. If there is anything you need to know prior to arriving, please do not hesitate to contact us to ask.

What happens in a counselling or psychotherapy session?

Content of a session

In a counselling or psychotherapy session, you may be encouraged to talk about your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours related to events. Your therapist will likely ask questions, offer suggestions, and try to help you look at your thoughts, behaviours, and experiences from different angles or perspectives. Strategies may include homework assignments, such as writing down your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, experimenting with new behaviours, and practicing facing situations that you may have been avoiding.

You can go at your own pace. You are the one who determines what you are willing or not willing to do in therapy.

Length of sessions

Although a full hour is scheduled for you, the session lasts 50 minutes.  The remaining 10 minutes are used to complete session notes and prepare for your next session. Some sessions may be 75-90 minutes, depending on the nature of the session.

Frequency and duration of treatment

Depending on the individual, the frequency of sessions may range from once per week to once every few months. Your therapist will work with you to establish the frequency of sessions that will be best for you and your financial situation.

Generally, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and solution focused therapy (where you learn strategies to overcome a conflict or specific condition like depression) take a shorter period of time (6-12 sessions weekly) than longer-term insight-oriented psychotherapy. The duration of therapy may take a few sessions or several years, depending on the issues you are working on.

When does therapy end?

You have the right to stop therapy at any time. Normally you are the one who decides when therapy ends. This is usually when you and your therapist feel you have made satisfactory progress on your goals.

Some people decide to stop therapy suddenly when difficult issues come up. However, rather than just leaving suddenly, it is important to discuss these feelings with your therapist.

What happens in an assessment?

Interview

In the interview, your clinician will ask you lots of questions about your symptoms, difficulties, personal history, medical history, and treatment history.

Questionnaires

You may be asked to fill out multiple choice questionnaires that ask about symptoms, personality, and behaviour.

Cognitive testing

You might be asked to complete cognitive tests that assess your memory, attention, or problem solving skills. These may include solving visual puzzles, giving word definitions, or solving number problems, for example. Tests may be administered by an examiner or on a computer.

You will be invited to take breaks when you need, and  testing can be broken up over a few days if you are tired.

The report

A report will be written that contains your background information from an interview with you, an interview with someone who knows you well (with your permission), and review of previous medical documents. The report also contains observations of behaviour during assessment, test results, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.

With your consent, we can send the report to treatment providers involved in your care, or to your insurance company or lawyer if required. If this is a medical-legal assessment and you were referred by your lawyer, only your lawyer will receive a copy of the report. If this assessment is being funded by an insurance company, a copy of the report will go to the insurance company. You can refuse to answer any questions or end the assessment at any time.

We aim to make the assessment process as comfortable as possible for you. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about the assessment, or if there is anything you need to make the process more comfortable.

What are your fees?

FeesOur fees are set at (or below) the current rate suggested by the Ontario Psychological Association (current OPA suggested rate is $225/hour).

Fees can be paid by Visa, MasterCard, debit card, cheque, or cash. Clients pay at the end of each session.

Fees for clinically-related telephone calls, letters, and reports completed outside of treatment sessions are billed in 10 minute intervals for the time spent.

Do you work with children at your clinic?

Yes.

We have clinicians who provide counselling and psychotherapy to children and teens. We also have clinicians who provide mental health assessments, psychoeducational assessments, and neuropsychological assessments to children and teens.

Psychologist

Is my information kept private and confidential?

Yes, information you provide to the practice is confidential. No one outside of the practice can access your information without your consent. Verbal consent is needed to share information with other treatment providers involved in your care (like your family doctor). Written consent is needed to share your information with anyone not involved in your treatment (like a lawyer or insurance company). You may withdraw consent at any time.

There are times when confidentiality must be broken without your consent. These include:

  • If there is reason to believe that you are at serious and imminent risk of physically harming yourself or another person.
  • If there is reason to believe that a child is suffering from abuse and/or neglect.
  • If you tell us that you have been sexually abused by another regulated health professional (like a doctor).
  • A court has subpoenaed your records (a judge asks for your records for court).

Please note, that in the case of certain types of assessment (such as for insurance purposes or medical-legal purposes), there are a number of limits and qualifiers to confidentiality in the case of an assessment. You may withdraw consent at any time. However, once the report has been sent out with your permission, we cannot retract the report. If changes need to be made to the report after it has been sent out or finalized, we can only do so by writing an Addendum report (a letter that indicates a correction to a previous report).

We only collect personal health information that relates to your treatment or assessment. You have the right to access your records and will be provided with copies for a minimal fee. You have a right to ask questions about how your health information privacy is being handled.

For more information on privacy of your personal health care please see the Personal Health Information Privacy Act brochure in our waiting room, visit (www.ipc.on.ca), or speak to our Privacy Information Officer, Ms. Anita D’Alimonte.

What is your cancellation policy?

Please let the practice know as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you provide less than 24 hours’ notice (except if you are sick, your children are sick and require your care, or it is a snow storm for example), you will be charged the full fee for the session, as that space was held for you.

What is your social media policy?

Email

Email is typically used only for booking or modifying appointments at the practice. It is best not to email your therapist regarding clinical issues related to therapy sessions. There are a number of risks associated with email. The privacy and security of email communication cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are permanent. Even after deleting copies of the email, back-up copies may exist on a computer, with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), on a server in another country, or elsewhere in cyberspace. Also, emails become part of the therapy records and can be subpoenaed if your file is subpoenaed. Further, emails are not always sent and received instantly; messages can arrive several hours or days after they are sent. As a result, email is not an appropriate method for exchanging time-sensitive or clinically-sensitive information. If you choose to use email to communicate with your therapist, please be advised that your email will likely be seen by the therapist only when the therapist arrives at the office.

Telephone Sessions

Therapists at the practice may have a telephone session with a client, but only with those whom the therapist has met first for an in-person session.

Social Media Sites

Therapists at the practice may or may not have professional profiles through social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. To respect your confidentiality and mutual, respective privacy, therapists at the practice do not accept friend or contact requests from current or past clients on any social networking site.  Therapists at the practice do not follow any clients on Twitter nor does they read their clients’ blogs when they exist, unless the client requests to read something in the course of a therapy session for clinical purposes. The reason for this policy is that information gleaned outside of the session can create discomfort or confusion for the client. Also viewing the client’s online activities without the client’s consent and without a specific therapeutic purpose for it could create a negative impact on the therapeutic work. Clients can share any of their ideas and activities in discussion during sessions rather than indirectly through blogs and other social media forums.

Text Messaging

Therapists at the practice do not respond to text messaging from clients in part because of the general lack of security of such messages. Also, texts are not always read in a timely fashion. The best way to contact your therapist is by telephone during their scheduled office hours, between 9:30am and 5:00pm.

Remote Video Counselling

If, at any time, it appears that a client would benefit from more traditional (in-person) service provision, the psychologist or clinician is ethically-bound to take reasonable steps to secure an appropriate referral to a professional in the client’s region.

What are your other policies?

Environmental Sensitivities Policies:

We are a scent-reduced environment at both office locations. Scented products such as hair spray, perfume, and deodorant can trigger reactions such as respiratory distress and headaches. Staff and visitors are asked to use these products at a minimum when attending the office.

We are not a peanut-free environment.

Anti-Harassment Policy:

Brookside Psychologists is committed to providing a work environment in which all staff members and clients are treated with respect and dignity. Workplace harassment will not be tolerated from any person in the workplace [including clients, other employers, other professionals, supervisors, staff members, and members of the public].

Diversity Policy:

The purpose of this policy is to foster a work culture at our practice that is characterized by:

  • Humanistic values that emphasize health, wellness and the whole person.
  • Respect for the diversity of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, abilities, religion and sexual orientation, which is demonstrated by inclusive practices and policies in relation to service and staffing.
  • Open, responsive and respectful communication with all staff, clients, families, other treatment providers, and community members in an environment of trust.
  • The provision of client-centred care.
  • A caring, respectful environment that offers physical and emotional safety.

Our office is a place where human rights and diversity are respected. We understand that each client, employee, and clinical consultant is unique and presents with complex identifies in terms of ancestry, age, family status, physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status, religion/faith, language ability, immigration/refugee status, country of origin, sex, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation.

We recognize Aboriginal communities as having distinct and special histories, experiences, and needs. We have a commitment and desire to work with Aboriginal communities in a manner that demonstrates the principles of respect, inclusion, accountability and equity.

The Practice is committed to delivering psychological and psychotherapy services in ways that are effective, fair, inclusive, respectful and culturally competent.

This work environment will be free from stigma, prejudice, discrimination, harassment and marginalization for all stakeholders, including clients, consumer/survivors, family members, staff, supervisee or clinicians, volunteers and community partners.

LGBTTIQ+ Positive Space Policy:

As an LGBTTIQ+ Positive Space, Brookside Psychologists is committed to creating an environment that is open and welcoming, as well as equitable and accessible, to persons of all sexual and gender diversities, as clients/patients, clinicians, and staff members. We are committed to providing ongoing education to staff and clinicians regarding the issues around sexual and gender diversity, human rights, and resources.

At our office you can expect provision of mental health services with staff trained to address trauma and stress due to the intersections of homophobia, heterosexism and transphobia. Staff at Brookside Psychologists have completed at least introductory training in LGBTQ health matters through Rainbow Health Ontario. About half of our clinicians have graduate-level or advanced training and experiencing in working with LGBTQ populations. You will receive supportive and LGBTQ-positive services from all clinicians and staff at the practice. You can expect adherence to professional codes of conduct with all staff. The practice has policies in place that explicitly support LGBTQ individuals and commit to creating safer spaces with zero tolerance for harassment.

Providing Goods & Services to Ontarians with Disabilities Policy:

Brookside Psychologists always strives  to respect the dignity and independence of Ontarians with disabilities. We are also committed to giving clients with disabilities the same opportunity to access and benefit from our services, in the same place and in a similar manner as others do. This policy aims to ensure that staff, volunteers, and all others who deal with members on our behalf, are properly trained in the provision of accessible customer service.

People with disabilities may use their personal assistive devices when accessing our services and facilities.

We will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that consider their disability.

We welcome people with disabilities and their service animals and support persons. Service animals and support persons are allowed on the parts of our premises that are open to the public. For service animals, the owner of the service animal is responsible for maintaining control over the service animal at all times. Further, the owner is responsible for any damages caused by the service animal. Service animals for disabilities other than vision disabilities are not required to be officially certified in order to qualify as service animals for the purposes of human rights or accessibility legislation.

Brookside Psychologists welcomes feedback on how we provide accessible customer service. Client and staff feedback will help us identify barriers and respond to concerns.

Referrals

New clients can be self-referred or referred by a professional. Feel free to contact us to ask about services for yourself or someone else.

To submit a referral, please complete our contact form.

Do you have parking facilities?

Yes.parking

Free parking is available in front and around each of our offices in Burlington & St. Catharines.

How do I provide feedback to Brookside Psychologists?

contactBrookside Psychologists welcomes feedback on how we provide customer service. Client and staff feedback helps us identify barriers and respond to concerns.

Clients who wish to provide feedback on the way Brookside Psychologists provides goods, services or facilities can provide feedback by contacting either the practice director, Dr. Miller, or the office manager, Ms. Anita D’Alimonte, at any of the following: