Common questions about psychological services:

Please call our office at (902) 492-2546 to ask questions, or email


Following are some questions to ask a psychologist who is providing services.  Click for our answers to them.


What is a Health Service Psychologist?

A health psychologist is a professional trained to assess, diagnose and treat a range of emotional, behavioural, cognitive and relationship problems. A health psychologist works with individuals and couples to help them better understand their problems and find ways to resolve them. At gmPsychologists, our professional staff members are registered psychologists.

What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

A psychologist has post-graduate training (a doctoral or masters degree) in assessing, diagnosing and treating a range of emotional, behavioural, cognitive and relationship problems. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed a residency in psychiatry. A psychiatrist is trained in the medical management of psychiatric disorders. This usually involves prescription of medication.

Do I Need a Referral From a Physician to See a Psychologist?

No medical referral is required by us.

Your insurance company may require a physician’s referral to reimburse for your psychological services. For more information, please see Insurance.

Your physician may fax your referral to gmPsychologists at (902) 423-3469. A short note that says, “Please see this patient for counselling,” meets the requirements of insurance companies

Where Are Psychologists Available?

1. In private practice:
Genest MacGillivray Psychologists is a private practice. Other private practices may be found by using the Yellow Pages for Psychologists or visit our Find a Therapist Page for listings of psychologists and therapists in Canada and the US.

2. In hospitals and community mental health centres:

  • In Halifax, see telephone directory under Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Mental Health Services.
  • In Bedford, Dartmouth, Sackville, see telephone directory under Nova Scotia Hospital, Mental Health Services
  • for addictions, see Blue pages in telephone directory under Provincial Government, Drug Dependency Services

Unfortunately, there are often lengthy waiting lists for these public services. Clients frequently find it helpful to use private practitioners while waiting to be seen at public clinics. Please call us for more information at 492-2546 or email

Who Pays for Therapy?

Private or Group Insurance
Most people have extended health care plans (such as Blue Cross, Sun Life, or Maritime Medical) either through their employers or privately; and virtually all these plans cover at least part of the cost of the services of a Registered Psychologist. Ask your benefits officer or insurance carrier for details. For more information about how to find out about your insurance coverage, please see Insurance.

Self-Paid Services
Clients may pay directly for psychological services.

Fees of a Registered Psychologist are deductible as a medical expense for income tax purposes but it is important to be aware that the fees of unregulated providers are not tax deductible.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Many companies offer some assistance through their Human Resources departments. You may be able to see a psychologist or counsellor at your place of work. Contact your supervisor or Human Resources department for information. Many companies refer clients who are seeking help to psychologists in private practice and cover at least part of the costs for the services.

Government Funded Services are available in Hospitals and Community Mental Health Centres
Services are provided through government funding and are usually available without user fees. Unfortunately, there are wait times of several months for many mental health services and, generally only people in acute crisis are able to be accommodated.

What Happens in Psychotherapy?

  • While all clinical practices and clinicians differ, there are basic principles of counselling and therapy in psychology. For more detail about counselling and therapy offered at Genest MacGillivray Psychologists, please follow the link to Services.
  • The first session is usually a consultation, which does not commit you to working with the psychologist. The therapist’s goals are to understand the issues that led you to make an appointment and to collect whatever background information may be helpful to working together. Your goals may include finding out whether this particular therapist is likely to be helpful and what direction counselling and therapy would take.
  • The first session should help you to determine whether you will feel comfortable working with the therapist. You should feel that you can trust and respect him or her and that he or she is understanding of you. The therapist will also decide whether he or she is a good match for you. At times, a therapist may refer you to another therapist who may have different expertise or be able to work better with you.
  • After the initial, assessment stage, the rest of counselling or therapy is focussed on helping you understand and solve current problems, or helping you deal with your situation better. This may involve work toward changing emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.
  • The goals of counselling and therapy depend upon the concerns that lead you to seek help. The therapist will help you work toward these. The work of counselling and therapy differs, depending upon your particular goals, but in any case, it involves work on your part as well as the therapist.

How are Psychologists Regulated?

  • In Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology regulates the profession under the Psychologists Act of Nova Scotia. To become registered in the province, individuals must possess a doctoral or master’s degree that is approved by the Board, have specified, supervised work experience, and have passed both a written and oral examination.
  • By law, ONLY individuals who qualify and are approved by the Board may use the designation, “Psychologist”.
  • Note: Unlike “Psychologist”, which is governed by law, designations such as “Therapist” or “Counsellor” are not regulated by law and may therefore be used by anyone. No particular qualifications are required and no governing body is responsible for ensuring ethical standards such as confidentiality or appropriate training.

How is Privacy Protected?

I. Psychologists must ensure their clients’ privacy and confidentiality.

  • All psychologists are required to maintain all information in confidence. They must not reveal any information you provide to anyone else without your permission.
  • Unless you give permission, in writing, family members, employers, physicians, or other individuals will not even be told even whether you are a client.
  • At Genest MacGillivray Psychologists, we take additional steps to protect your privacy.

II. There are exceptions to confidentiality for all health professionals.

  • If you are a danger to yourself or others, your psychologist may be obliged to take action to prevent harm.
  • If you reveal information that leads the psychologist to believe that a child or elderly person may be subject to ongoing risk of abuse, all professionals are obliged by law to inform authorities.
  • If a court subpoenas your psychologist’s records or testimony, he or she must comply. Courts very rarely, however, ask professionals to violate therapeutic confidentiality.

Are you a registered psychologist?

All therapists in our practice are registered with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology.

What kind of experience do you have helping people with my problems?

GM Psychologists have been offering a wide range of services to individuals, businesses and institutions since 1982. Personnel in our practice offer their services only in areas in which they have a great deal of education and experience. With your cooperation, Ms. Genest will assess your needs and offer you the services of a therapist who is best suited to help you with your problem. Please see our gmPeople page for more information.

What will happen during our sessions?

Our Practice Manager welcomes calls from people seeking information about whether psychology can help, and she or her assistant will help you determine whether the psychologists on our staff are the best ones to serve your needs.

In our practice, the first session’s focus is on understanding the nature of your difficulties and collecting the history that is relevant. During this first session, the therapist will also discuss treatment alternatives that may be helpful and answer your questions.

If you come to us as a couple, the general approach is for your psychologist to speak with both of you together, asking what brought you to counselling or therapy. He or she may then talk with each of you privately, collecting more information about your situation. Toward the end of the session, the psychologist may summarize the information and discuss goals and ways of working together toward them. Each psychologist has a slightly different approach and no couple is the same as any other so this description is a general one.

What happens in subsequent sessions partly depends upon your particular issues and problems. In most instances, work with couples includes assisting them with communication skills and strategies, and developing more constructive ways to resolve conflicts. Couples usually have particular conflicts that they wish to resolve, in addition to developing new strategies for resolving any issues they may face in the future.

Read more about this in Therapy with Couples, where Dr. Myles Genest describes in some detail his own approach to couples’ counselling.

How long is a counselling or therapy session?

With individual clients, most of our psychologists prefer to meet for 1.5 hours at the first session and then 1 hour, usually once a week, after that.

With couples, the initial appointment varies from 1 to 2 hours, depending upon the approach of the particular psychologist. Subsequent sessions also vary from 1 to 1.5 hours, usually once per week, again depending upon the psychologist and the needs of the couple.

The clinical hour is 50 minutes. During the final ten minutes, the therapist updates the client file, makes any calls or does paperwork necessary for the client, and ensures the privacy by ushering him or her from the office before the next client arrives.

What is your policy about privacy and sharing information?

Psychologists have strict ethical guidelines for protecting privacy and confidentiality. For more information about this, please see how privacy is protected.

At gmPsychologists, our procedures and consulting rooms have been designed to protect your privacy. We have soundproofed office doors and use sound screens so that you cannot be overheard. Our psychologists have separate waiting areas and we use staggered schedules so that some clients arrive on the hour and others on the quarter hour. We also schedule ten minutes between your departure and the arrival of the next client.

What are your fees, and how do I pay them?

For more information on fees and options, please visit our Fees page.

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