For a while now I have been telling you about therapies and at the end of each of my posts I have been saying: ”always find help from a qualified professional”. Today I want to tell you exactly what that means. Unfortunately, this information will only apply to those living in Alberta, each province has its own policies and you should inform yourself of what does it mean in your own province.
First things first: If you are looking for a good effective therapeutic process the first thing you do is to make sure you are working with a qualified professional (your safety should be a priority), and second is making sure you have a strong working alliance with them. The success of the therapeutic process is mainly based on your relationship with the therapist. Evidence shows that a strong working alliance with your therapist is a higher indicator of progress and change than their education level/type or the interventions they favour. A working alliance is a bond between the client and the therapist. Basically, how you get along, how understood you feel, is their approach to therapy in line with your goals and values, etc.)
In Alberta, and across Canada, the government has created measures and acts to ensure that the public is protected from unqualified professionals (individuals who have not received the appropriate training). The act is called the Health Professions Act (HPA). Under the HAP, professions need to form colleges; which are not schools but organizations that aim to safeguard the population. Each College is able to protect the clients’ or patients’ right to safe, competent and ethical health care by holding its regulated members accountable for their conduct and practice. When you seek help from a mental health professional, that professional should be qualified (education) and regulated (a member of a college), or in the process of being regulated. Most insurance or benefits companies will cover the services of professionals under the HPA.
There are three categories of mental health professionals qualified and regulated to offer therapy in Alberta (more details in this post). Within the Alberta HPA, two professions have already created colleges and professionals under these categories require registration, the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP) and the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW). Additionally, the Association of Counselling Therapist of Alberta (ACTA) is very close to the proclamation of the College of Counselling Therapist of Alberta (CCTA); which means that all counsellors practicing in our province should be regulated soon.
Counsellors: In Alberta qualified counsellors are
- Registered Counselling Therapists, Addictions Counsellors and Child and Youth Care Counsellors (i.e. registered under the CCTA/ACTA; CPCA-Canadian Professional Counsellor Association; etc.)
- Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC and CCC-Q)*: Counsellors certified under the CCPA (Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association). These professionals will soon have to register under the CCTA/ACTA
Psychologist: In Alberta qualified psychologists are:
- Registered psychologists under the CAP
- Provisional psychologists under the supervision of the registered psychologist
Social worker: In Alberta qualified social workers are:
- Registered social workers under the ACSW (Alberta College of Social Workers) and with a clinical
Additionally, you might receive therapy from a practicum student. Students under the supervision of a registered social worker or a registered psychologist are generally graduate students who are required to work directly with clients in therapy in order to complete their designation as a counsellor, social worker or psychologist.
*This category is not covered under the HPA. However, members are working under the Code of Ethics of the CCPA and most will eventually seek registration under the CCTA. These professionals might not be covered under your benefits. Before you engage in therapy, ask your mental health provider if they are under the supervision of another professional. You can also ask your insurance company if their services are covered before you attend the session.