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Let's Talk About Maintaining Mental Health!

See below for some short and informative articles that can help you get the most out of life. Each month I'll be posting more tips on how to help you lead a fulfilling and well-balanced life!

Where to go for Psychotherapy? Public or Private?

If you’re undergoing a tough time and require mental health services, sometimes it might feel like getting the right help is more difficult than ever. It can be challenging and often overwhelming to try and find appropriate psychological help. Finding the right fit for you that is both available and within a budget can be difficult. There’s also the possibility that you do not have the budget for private psychological help and may need to go to the public sector. 

In Quebec, psychological help is offered through the public and private sector. The difference between private and public services is how to obtain those services, the cost of service, the wait times, length of treatment and the format of therapy. To access therapy through the public sector, you need to obtain a referral by your family doctor and to forward that referral to your local CLSC (psychosocial intake). To access therapy through the private sector, you simply need to find a therapist that has availability, no referrals are necessary. 


The public sector refers to any services provided by Quebec health care which includes hospitals, CLSCs, among others. To be seen in the public sector, you need to be referred by a doctor and take that referral to your local CLSC or psychiatric hospital. You may have to wait several months, if not years, before receiving any therapy. You may not be able to choose the format in which that therapy is provided (for instance, you may be referred to group therapy as opposed to individual therapy). You may not be able to decide how many sessions you see your therapist for (in CLSCs therapy is often limited to 10 sessions or less). Of course, the length of treatment and the format of therapy depends on the site, the type of psychiatric issue and the demand for these services. On the positive side, the therapy is covered under provincial healthcare with no cost to you. So if you are encountering distress but feel you can wait then this may be the correct decision for you.  


On the other hand, you can look into private psychotherapy. While you have to pay for therapy services, there are multiple benefits of private psychotherapy. First off, you decide who provides you with therapy. This means you get to decide who is the best fit for you. If at any point, you want to change therapists you can. You can also choose how you want to attend therapy. You can come in person or attend virtually either by phone or through online services which can allow you to choose the most convenient option. Many private therapists will offer services daytime but may also offer services in the evening or on weekends. If you have health insurance through work part of the session fee may be reimbursed by your insurance. This can help to offset the cost of services but may also limit you in terms of the number of sessions. However, since you are paying for the service, you are free to attend therapy for as long or as short as you feel is necessary. I have clients that continue to see me for years while others needed 3 or 4 sessions to attain their goals. To find out more about Reflections Psychology please check out our services page. You can also look for services on the website of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec as well as Psychology Today.


There is a large number of people for whom private psychotherapy services may seem out of reach. Some people may not have insurance coverage but may be able to afford to pay for some therapy services. Having access to psychotherapy at an affordable cost can be challenging to find. Having been practicing psychotherapy for several years, here’s what I’ve learned about where to get low cost psychotherapy services. 


Concordia University as well as Université de Montreal both have community clinics that offer low cost psychotherapy and neuropsychological testing. These services are often performed by students in their graduate programs. Students are supervised by qualified and licensed psychologists so you know you are going to receive the most up to date evidenced based practices by young practitioners. Often you can receive services at a fraction of the cost of what you might pay privately. However, these clinics can often fill up quickly and often decide which clients they will take early on in the semester so you may want to aim to contact them in July, August and September. 


Many clinics within Montreal offer stages to students that are within the final stages of their graduate studies or even post graduate opportunities. In these instances clinics may offer therapy services at reduced rates for students completing their graduate studies. For instance, we have therapists within Reflections Psychology who are offering psychotherapy services at a reduced rate. These individuals receive supervision to ensure that they are providing the most current, evidenced based treatments.

Joelle Jobin, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Accessing psychotherapy chart
A summary of the different ways you can access a mental health provider

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