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Cost of Therapy

Navigating the mental health system in Ontario is hard enough. Then its a whole other things figuring out costs and coverage.

This page is dedicated to try to demystify some of your options.

Who pays for therapy?

OHIP - Does not cover talk therapy (vs drug therapy) so independent practitioners who are Registered Social Workers, Registered Psychotherapists, and Psychologists. Exceptions to this rule are if your doctor refers you to a psychiatrist (some offer talk therapy, though many can focus more exclusively on drug therapy) or if your doctor is part of a clinic that is a family health team, there are sometimes counsellors on that team who are covered by OHIP. Talking to your doctor, if you are comfortable to do so, is a great start.

Insurance - This is individual for each insurance company. Sometimes an insurer will have specific therapists, other times they will cover partial or total fees. Check if your insurance company covers therapy with a social worker. Key word to look for include "paramedical" in insurance packages. You can also often call to check coverage.

Student insurance - If you are a student at a University or College, you will often have paid into their insurance program (unless you opted out, which some people do if they are on their parent's insurance). Search for your school name online, plus "insurance". When you find a link to the plan itself, it is usually under "paramedical" or you can do a search for therapist or social worker.

(Note: The links below may change more regularly than I can keep up)

-Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)

-George Brown College Domestic or International students

-University of Toronto

-Western University

-McMaster University

Free or Fee?

Free - There are a number of free resources for counselling and mental health support. Some jobs will have something called an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) that is available to employees at no charge. Schools will often have a counselling department or mental health portals that can offer free support as well. If those aren't available for you, or if you have tried those things and they haven't helped, other free options are:

-Bounce Back Ontario - Online CBT

-Mind Beacon - Online CBT

-AbilitiCBT - Online CBT

-Ontario Caregiver Organization

-Drop in Counselling (list put together by camh)

-Family Service Toronto

-Sherbourne Health Centre (for underhoused, newcomer, and LGBTQ+ populations)

So with all these free options, why pay a fee?

There are a number of advantages to a paid vs free service

-No fixed term. Sessions are as many or as few as needed, and on a timeline that works for you. 

-Building an ongoing relationship. You aren't going to get shifted between counsellors and departments without your consent.

-Choice. You don't have to settle for whoever you get. You choose exactly the therapist that you connect with, and can switch on your terms.

-Specialization. Depending on the agency, counsellors may have to be a jack of all trades in order to accommodate a wide array of clients.

-Therapist burnout. The number and frequency of clients that therapists have to see in many settings that offer free counselling can sometimes start to impact how responsive they can be with their clients. 

-Waitlists: Waitlist times can be very long for many free services, especially ones offering more than a single session. Sometimes, even for drop-ins you may be spending a good chunk of your day waiting.

Its up to you how many of these factors affect you. I know that finances can be a major barrier to accessing services, and in those cases I hope that the free services can offer some support.

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