Seeking support for your mental health is a brave and important step on the path toward improved well-being. However, understanding what psychotherapy services are covered can feel overwhelming — especially during difficult times.

Luckily, various options exist in Ontario, making psychotherapy more affordable and more accessible to those who need it. In this article, we take a closer look at psychotherapy insurance coverage in Ontario and how you can access the care and support you require.

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, often called “talk therapy,” often involves one-on-one sessions with a psychotherapist. However, it can also take place in a group setting. This type of therapy includes exploring thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, developing healthy coping strategies, and promoting positive changes in an individual’s life — all within a non-judgmental and supportive environment.

Different Types Of Psychotherapy

Surprisingly, psychotherapy is a generalized term used to describe various types of mental health therapies. It encompasses any “talking therapy” conducted with a qualified therapist.

Different types of psychotherapy include (but are not limited to):

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours to improve emotional well-being and coping skills.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): DBT, a form of CBT, emphasizes the development of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills to help individuals manage intense emotions and improve relationships.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): IPT is a time-limited treatment that concentrates on improving interpersonal relationships and social functioning by addressing current life challenges and interpersonal conflicts.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: Psychodynamic therapy explores unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motivations rooted in early life experiences to gain insight into current patterns of behaviour and promote self-awareness and personal growth.
  • Behavioural Therapy: Behavioural therapy focuses on modifying observable behaviours through various techniques. This type of therapy is based on the idea the behaviours are learned, meaning they can be changed.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a psychotherapy that helps individuals process and integrate traumatic memories via guided eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation). It can help reduce the emotional distress associated with past traumatic experiences.
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS): This is a therapeutic approach that addresses multiple sub-personalities or “parts” within the human mind. It emphasizes understanding and resolving the inner conflicts between these parts and bringing them together to achieve harmony.

It’s worth noting that psychotherapy isn’t inclusive of the types described above. There are various options, meaning you can feel empowered with finding a type of therapy that works best for you and your situation.

Current Psychotherapy Coverage In Ontario

Finances can be a stressful topic for many individuals. When it comes to seeking out mental health help, this can be a critical barrier that prevents someone from getting the care they need. So, what are your options?

Below, we explore public funding, such as OHIP, private insurance, and paying out of pocket.

Public Funding

Public funding includes provincial, or municipal programs that help cover the costs of mental health care expenses. Typically, this is only an option at certain clinics, centers, or with certain providers that are publicly funded. Examples include hospitals, schools, publicly funded clinics, and publicly funded agencies.

Additionally, you may need a referral from your family doctor to access such services or to determine the right type of care suitable for you and your situation. Yet, Ontario Health also indicates that “self-referral” is an option.

Is Psychotherapy Covered By OHIP?

Private clinics are not covered by OHIP. However, publicly-funded facilities, as mentioned above, are OHIP-eligible. Before committing to any appointment, ensure you know your financial and coverage options.

Private Insurance

Many individuals in Ontario have access to psychotherapy coverage through their (or their spouse’s) employer-provided or privately purchased health insurance plans. These plans often include a certain number of sessions or a specific dollar amount allocated for mental health services per year.

Yet, it’s essential to check with your insurance provider to understand the details of your coverage, such as the types of professionals or services covered, any required referrals, and potential out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays or deductibles.

Out Of Pocket

Another option is to pay for psychotherapy out of pocket, particularly for those without insurance coverage or who have exhausted their benefits. Therapists’ fees can vary depending on their qualifications, experience, and location, with hourly ranges from approximately $150 — $250 (please check with the clinic to confirm). You can ask your accountant if the therapy or program you are seeking is eligible, for a Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) on your taxes.

Some clinics also offer sliding-scale fees based on income or provide reduced rates for more junior therapists, making therapy more accessible for those with financial constraints.

Tips on Accessing Care

What else should you know? Here are a few last tips to help you navigate the financial side of mental health care:

  • Check (and double-check) your insurance coverage: Review your insurance plan’s details or contact your provider to understand your mental health benefits, including the number of covered sessions, types of professionals or services covered, and any required referrals or out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Explore Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), take advantage of the free, confidential short-term counselling sessions. This can help address immediate concerns or provide referrals for longer-term care.
    Consider community health centers and clinics: Look for local community health centers, university training clinics, or non-profit organizations that offer low-cost or sliding-scale psychotherapy services.
  • Prioritize your mental health: Remember that investing in your mental well-being is essential for your overall quality of life. Consider adjusting your budget to accommodate psychotherapy as a vital aspect of your self-care and overall health.
  • Be persistent and patient: Finding the right therapist and navigating the mental healthcare system can take time. Be prepared to encounter waitlists, but continue advocating for yourself and seeking out the support you need.

At Bhatia Psychology Group, we’re here to help you navigate mental health challenges and life’s hurdles. If you’re seeking compassionate care, our team is here to help. Contact us today for more information.

FAQs

What types of mental health professionals have their services covered by OHIP?

In Ontario, many mental health care providers, including registered psychologists, registered social workers, and registered psychotherapists, offer their services at no cost to clients when working within government-funded settings such as hospitals, clinics, agencies, or employee assistance programs.

Does OHIP cover therapy from a private practice psychologist or psychotherapist?

A private practice psychologist or psychotherapist is not covered under OHIP. OHIP will only cover publicly-funded options, such as publicly-funded hospitals, clinics, schools, and agencies.

How can I access psychotherapy faster than OHIP-covered options?

Paying out-of-pocket or using private insurance benefits can help you get care faster and are associated with significantly reduced wait times compared to publicly funded options.

Does OHIP cover online or virtual therapy?

This depends on the provider. If the provider is a publicly funded therapist or psychotherapist, then OHIP will cover their online and virtual therapy services.

What if I can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for therapy?

For those who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for therapy, there are options. You can inquire with local therapists regarding low-fee or sliding scale options. Alternatively, you can also opt for publicly funded options; this requires looking up the available facilities in your local area.

References
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies
https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/psychotherapy
https://www.ontariohealth.ca/getting-health-care/mental-health-addictions/depression-anxiety-ontario-structured-psychotherapy#:~:text=Register%20or%20Get%20a%20Referral&text=If%20you%20are%20interested%20in,refer%E2%80%9D)%20for%20the%20program.

 

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