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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Wong

What exactly is clinical counselling or psychotherapy?


Psychotherapy is primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being. Registered Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families in individual and group settings. Psychotherapy occurs when the Registered Psychotherapist (RP) and client enter into a psychotherapeutic relationship where both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.


As health care professionals, psychotherapists work in a wide range of settings. Settings include: private practice, hospitals, clinics, care facilities, rehabilitation centres/programs, employee assistance programs, universities, and more.


A psychotherapy client should be able to observe the following key elements over the course of their work with an RP Registered Psychotherapist:


  • a conversation about the benefits, risks and expected outcome(s) of the psychotherapy and the opportunity to give their informed consent

  • a clearly communicated, mutually agreed upon goal or plan for the psychotherapy

  • each therapy session has a clear beginning and a clear end where problems or concerns are presented and discussed and outcomes are explored

  • the Registered Psychotherapist demonstrates the appropriate use of boundaries to create a safe and confidential environment

  • These important elements are part of the effective client-therapist psychotherapeutic relationship that is the foundation of psychotherapy. 


Through this relationship, RPs are expected to:

  • ensure that the client’s well-being is at the forefront of the relationship;

  • work with the client(s) to gather relevant information that will support the formulation of a plan for psychotherapy;

  • continuously evaluate outcomes of each session and the impact on overall treatment goal(s);

  • practise safe and effective use of self throughout the psychotherapeutic process; and

  • adhere to the standards of practice for the profession.


Registered Psychotherapists will be competent to use a treatment approach or modality that is part of one or more of the categories of prescribed therapies, which include:

  • Cognitive and Behavioural therapies

  • Experiential and Humanistic therapies

  • Psychodynamic therapies

  • Somatic therapies

  • Systemic and Collaborative therapies

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