Getting to See a Psychologist

by Dr. Linda Johnston, Clinical Psychologist

For those who decide to see a psychologist, most employment benefit plans pay at least part of the cost of seeing a psychologist. Check your benefit plan. If you are hesitant to mention seeing a psychologist to your Human Resources or Benefit Plan contact person, ask about “paramedical” coverage and what is available. You will very likely be told about either a total dollar amount allocated to all paramedical services such as chiropractors, psychologists and physiotherapists. If psychologists are not mentioned, ask for a complete list of all the paramedical services covered. Occasionally, plans specify certain individual amounts for the individual services but this seems to be unusual these days. While you are asking, inquire about making claims and ask for the form, if required, and the address where you are to send your receipt. Also ask about what period of time the dollar amount covers (most are the calendar year, so, for example, $1000 for each January 1 to December 31; or, for federal government employees, from April 1st to March 31st). Additionally, some plans pay the total amount of each receipt whereas others pay a portion (for example 80%) of the receipt. If you are self-employed, you may have paramedical services covered in your individual medical insurance plan; call the insurance company and ask. If you are under 25 years old and still a student, you may be covered by your parents’ benefit plans. And in the case in which you have no coverage at all, you will have to pay the psychologist out of your own pocket; in this case check with Revenue Canada to see if you may be able to claim the costs as a medical expense. As professionals, psychologists try to make their services affordable to their community members. Rates in Toronto tend to be closer to the recommended Ontario rates whereas if you inquire farther out from Toronto, rates are reduced. You will likely find that rates vary from city to city for these among other reasons. Of course, finding a psychologist with whom you feel you can comfortably relate is a very high consideration (and will be the topic of a future blog J).