My Journey becoming a Psychologist - How I found what I love
It has been quite the journey for me to reach where I am today, and begins in high school:
Throughout grades 9 to 11 I did not even expect to continue my education; tuition seemed beyond reach of my minimum wage, and the rigorous academic work intimidating. A teacher intervened: sitting me down, telling me that she knew that I had much more potential than the work I was submitting "Miss D" convinced me to apply myself, and apply for the available grants and scholarships.
Lesson 1: One person’s entire future can be changed by the intervention of another
In my first year at Lakehead University, scholarships and awards in hand, I was again impacted by an incredible professor. My first year psychology professor clearly cared about the discipline of psychology, and made her lessons have significance and meaning in boldly sharing personal stories related to the topics. I changed my major, still anticipating a career in law, with a better understanding of people.
Lesson 2: Do what you do with passion
In completing my third year of studies, writing the LSAT, and applying to various law schools in Canada I was crushed upon receiving rejection after rejection letter. I returned to what I knew, added the required courses and undertook a final year to obtain an Honours B.A., major in psychology, unsure of what I was going to do with it. I decided to run for presidency of the student's union, and also received an e-mail looking for applicants to work in Alabama. Losing the election coupled with the list of law school rejection letters, I agreed to take on a position far away.
Lesson 3: In spite of failures, persevere
My work with Three Springs Inc. was both the most difficult, and the most rewarding experience of my life. Admittedly, there were points on the job and living away from all family and friends that I was sure I was going to quit, give up, and return to Ontario. Many times the group of 10-12 kids would revolt, argue, fight, or simply shut down. However I can clearly remember several moments of really connecting with a youth, and seeing a shift from hopelessness, despair, anger or depression, to feelings of accomplishment, hope, excitement, and connectedness. It was after experiencing this that I decided to dedicate my life to counselling, and I returned to Canada to further my education.
Lesson 4: Counselling is my passion
While enrolled in Yorkville University and completing my M.A. in counselling psychology, I obtained employment in the addictions field with the Ontario Addictions Treatment Centre (OATC). As a clinical case manager I had the opportunity to apply my Master’s level education in trying to aid clients dealing with opiate dependence and other concurrent disorders and issues, including poverty, homelessness, grief/loss, mental health concerns and relationship conflict. The job was difficult, and at times working in addictions seemed an uphill battle, however I again remember many instances of truly connecting with clients, and seeing the important shift from hopelessness to considering a new and meaningful future, beyond the grasps of addiction.
Lesson 5: No one is beyond help
After completing my M.A., I became determined to undertake what was only a passing thought in my undergraduate: to become a psychologist. In searching for registration as a provisional psychologist, I found employment with the Thorpe Recovery Centre (TRC) in Lloydminster, Alberta. I transitioned through several positions including detox/transition counsellor, assessor, neurotherapist, and finally clinical psychologist. It was through the staff at TRC that I began to understand addiction from those not just living with it, but striving in spite of it. Many counsellors and other staff had amazing stories of battling with addictions of all types for years prior to finding recovery, and passing that message on to others now.
Finally, this brings me to my most recent placement: the business CS Counselling Services was registered June 4th, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta. I hope to utilize the experiences above and provide for others struggling in life with any variety of difficulties what I have experienced first-hand: both compassion, and strength.
*Thanks for reading through this lengthy bio; any comments are welcomed!
CS Counselling Services
How Do I Pay?
CS Counselling Services accepts payment by any major Credit Card (including Amex), Cheque, E-Transfer and Cash. Payment is expected at time of services.
Chris is an approved FNIB (First Nations Inuit Health Benefits) provider, and does offer direct billing for clients with status and a treaty number.
Chris is an approved provider to Blue Cross, however direct billing is not available at this time.
Fees and Financial Considerations:My fees are those recommended by the Psychologist Association of Alberta (PAA), at $180 per 50 minute hour of individual or couple therapy. Please be aware that in addition to the hour I spend with you, I am also working for you at other times at no additional charges. In specific circumstances there may be additional charges: if I need to do a significant amount of paperwork on your behalf outside of session, there will be a charge of $90 per hour. If your therapy is provided in an alternative format (skype, go2meeting, phone, facetime) I will normally charge the standard rate above, but will arrange fees in consultation with you to reach an agreement which is fair. Generally phone contact with clients (calls or texts) is not charged, unless scheduled as a replacement for face-to-face therapy. As my time for returning phone calls is limited, I will keep phone contact brief unless specific arrangements have been made for a longer call. I endeavor to return all phone calls within 1 day. If I must prepare assessments for court I will charge fees as recommended by PAA: $1200 per half day for expert witness testimony; I will charge half this amount if appearing as a witness of fact ($600 per half day).
Q: What if I cannot afford to pay? A: Please discuss your financial difficulties with me as soon as they arise. I make fair and feasible arrangements for those experiencing financial difficulties. When I provide services at reduced fees, those clients are being subsidized by my other clients. To be fair to everyone it is important I am sure of legitimate need. If your financial situation suddenly changes (e.g. job loss), this would seem a time when you especially can use my support, and I am not insensitive to this.
Q: What about insurance? A: Many private insurance companies will assist you with all or part of my fee, usually up to a limit per year. It is up to you to determine your company’s policies and process for reimbursement and limits. Generally I will expect you pay the full fee at the time services are rendered, and you will submit the receipts I issue you. Some insurers will require a letter of referral from a doctor; obtaining that letter is your responsibility.
Q: Can I put session fees “on account”? A: As outstanding bills can quickly accumulate and become burdensome, I ask all clients make payment at the time services are provided, by either cash or cheque. Please Note: The second purpose of my requesting payment per session is to eliminate the potential need of using collection agencies to recover any outstanding bills. I do not use collection agencies, as doing so would be a violation of client privacy.
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