When choosing a psychologist, it is important that you find a qualified and licensed psychological provider. In Alberta however, psychologists are not the only professionals that provide mental health services. There are three different types of licensed mental health professionals that are bound by specific requirements to ensure their competency: psychologists, counsellors, or clinical social workers. A psychologist will be otherwise referred to as a R.Psych or a Registered Provisional Psychologist. A fully Registered Psychologist will have completed 1600 hours of supervised practice and will have passed two licensing exams. A Registered Provisional Psychologist is still in the process of meeting requirements for full licensing and is under the supervision of a fully Registered Psychologist with at least 5 years’ experience as a psychologist. 

If you pursue seeking a counsellor, it is important to ensure the counsellor you select has registration with a licensing body such as the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA). The designation the CCPA offers is called Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.). The CCPA is a federal accrediting body that does have specific requirements yearly to maintain your registration status. As of 2021, there is still currently no established college in Alberta that regulates counsellors, which means that there are many actively practicing counsellors that are not licensed to do so. A Registered Clinical Social Worker is different than a licensed Social Worker because the Clinical Designation requires further training and supervision specific to providing mental health counselling services. This profession is regulated through the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW).  To verify if your preferred mental health provider has active registration, you can contact the licensing body directly. 

Why Choose a Psychologist?

Psychologists have extensive training and their background in general science and behavioural and neurosciences helps them to conceptualize why people feel, think, or behave in a certain way. Unlike a certified counsellor or clinical social worker, psychologists have the ability and training to diagnose specific mental health conditions and are versed in the physiological aspects of your mental health, including an understanding of commonly prescribed medication for your mental health. Psychologists are well positioned to collaborate with your physician to come up with a well-rounded treatment option for your specific presenting concerns. 

Other Important Considerations 

Another highly important consideration when selecting a mental health provider is to ensure that you pick someone you feel a connection to. The connection you have with your provider will determine whether you continue with this treatment option. Research has established that the therapeutic relationship is one of the most significant factors in change outcomes. To determine if a psychologist is the right fit for you, we highly recommend requesting an initial consultation. During the consultation, you can ask questions specific to how the psychologist practices, how they may approach your work together, and you can get a sense for their personal qualities such as their values or cultural competency. If you identify with a specific cultural background, such as First Nations, Indigenous, Metis, Inuit, Non-Status, and/or as LGBTQ2S++ you may have specific questions surrounding the psychologist’s familiarity with this aspect of your identity to ensure that you will feel safe and comfortable. 

What Can a Psychologist Help With?

There are several reasons why a person may seek a psychologist’s help, including relationship difficulties, life transitions, challenging thoughts or emotions, substance use, general stress or anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain-related mental health issues, just to name a few examples. Reasons can be long-term like chronic depression or short-term like a recent breakup, so you can turn to a psychologist for various reasons. You may have experienced hardship in the past or endured a recent traumatic experience, both of which can be treated using various evidence-based psychological approaches. Clinical Psychologists can provide mental health diagnoses, informal or formal assessments, individual, couples, or family counselling, consultation, group therapy, workshops, and more. 

You do not need to be in crisis to seek support from a psychologist. Psychologists can assist you with personal growth, enhancing performance at school, work, or other life areas, and learning more about yourself and others. What’s most important is that you find one who specializes in the specific area for which you require help. The psychologist must have experience in that field to provide you with the right treatment. They must be competent in their field to offer high-quality therapy that is effective, which is why verifying their registration status is highly important. A psychologist must consider your circumstances, personal goals, unique values, and characteristics, and they must take the time to really understand you. 

How Do I Find a Psychologist?

You can ask family and friends for recommendations; however, it’s important to note that a psychologist who works well for one person may not have the same effect for you. Doctors may have recommendations for psychologists in your area or with expertise in your specific concerns. Most psychologists will also have several listings on various websites. We recommend reading their description of services across multiple platforms. Arranging a phone or video consultation, if they offer it, is a great way to get all of your questions answered!

Contact Choice Point Psychological

If you are looking for psychological services and you are in Alberta, Choice Point Psychological can help. We specialize in assessing for root causes to your mental health concerns. We believe that mental health status is determined by multiple factors including physiological, emotional, social, behavioural, intergenerational, systemic, and environmental factors. We will help you understand some of the contributing factors to your current mental health status. Additionally, we all carry a build-up of stress and trauma in our body, which exacerbates mental health no matter where you fall on the mental health continuum. We will assist you with strategies to release stress and trauma to promote your wellness. We do not offer quick fixes or “band aid” approaches. We instead work with you to address underlying patterns and concerns to improve resiliency when going through life’s inevitable ups and downs. We will customize our approach to your specific needs and concerns, so if you have any questions or need more information, contact us today.