Bonnie Mason & Associates Counselling Inc.

Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Therapy, Consultation, Support and Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions

General Practice

What are the clinic's hours of operation?

The clinic is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Often the office is open on most Statutory holidays.

What is your availability?

Depending on the therapist you will be seeing they all have different schedules. We encourage our clients to book their appointments a week or two in advance. The therapists will often suggest booking a few appointments to ensure you get the time that works best for you. Evenings are in the most demand, and you may need to come during the day until an evening slot becomes open.

Do I need a referral from my family doctor?

Many clients are referred to the practice by their family physician. A referral is not necessary in terms of financial coverage. It is often very helpful when your therapist works in consultation with your family doctor; we can discuss this in your first appointment.

Who can refer to the practice?

We receive many referrals from clients themselves who have researched what they are looking for in a qualified therapist. Many of our clients refer themselves as a result of word of mouth given the reputation of the practice. Other professionals such as: massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, teachers, principles, social workers and psychologists often refer to the practice.

Does the clinic have a cancellation policy?

Our policy is 24 hours notice to change or cancel a scheduled appointment. We do not accept messages or e-mails left on Saturday or Sunday for Monday appointments. We to request full payment for that appointment when notice is not provided. The reason the practice has this policy as most weeks clients are waiting to be seen and can be called and given the time if we are provided with the 24 hours notice. We appreciate things happen in people's lives and your therapist and you can discuss the reason you were unable to attend you scheduled appointment.

Will my extended healthcare cover your services?

There are many health plans in the province of British Columbia that cover the expense of counselling. We encourage all clients when they contact the practice to research what coverage they have before booking if they want to use their health plan. Depending on the therapist you will be seeing in the practice you will need to provide your health plan with the designation and registration number. This information can be located on the home bar under Associates. We provide receipts for each appointment with our registration numbers that you can submit to your plan for reimbursement.

Do you accept WCB/ICBC/RCMP/Criminal Injuries Program?

All the therapist in the practice are approved providers for the Crime Victim Assistance Program of British Columbia.

We accept referrals from WCB/ICBC it will depend on the therapist that you will be seeing. Bonnie is approved by both of these agencies.

Bonnie is the only therapist in the office that is a service provider for the RCMP, and is approved to provide Marriage and Family Therapy.

What form of payment method do you accept?

We accept cash, cheque, e-transfers and depending on the therapist, Visa. Your therapist will discuss method of payment with you during your phone intake. Receipts will be provided. Some clients who have no coverage may wish to only receive a final receipt at the time therapy is terminated.

Child Therapy, Family Therapy, Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

Childhood is a unique and special developmental stage where children learn about themselves, the world, and relationships through the world of play. Play therapy is a type of mental health or developmental intervention which is designed with the goal of assisting children to grow up as happy and well-adjusted adults. Play therapy involves learning to communicate what the child may have no words for yet, and allowing them a safe playroom to address their worries and hurts. As children mature their use of language becomes more sophisticated, but in childhood, they usually express themselves in their play. In play therapy, children are provided with specially chosen toys to enable them to say with toys what they have difficulty saying with words. The progress at times may involve the entire family.

Play therapy is a researched method of counselling children, play therapy has been found to be effective for children experiencing a wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Play therapy is also a wonderful way for children to heal from stressful and traumatic events.

“Play therapy can be described as an opportunity that is offered to the child to experience growth under the most favorable conditions. Since play is the natural medium for self-expression the child is given the opportunity to play out his/her accumulated feelings of frustration, insecurity, aggression, fear, bewilderment or confusion. By playing out these feelings we can bring them to the surface, get them in the open, face them, and learn to control or abandon them.” (V. Axline 1947)

How will play therapy help?

Children learn self control by making appropriate choices and decisions for themselves, which leads to healthy perceptions of themselves.

Children develop skills necessary for co-operation within relationships and develop empathy for others.

Children learn better ways of interacting with the adults and peers in their lives.

Children learn to correct their misunderstandings and develop better ways of dealing with difficult situations.

As children learn to be more expressive in play therapy, the adults in their life will be better able to understand and support them. Often parents misunderstand what their child is trying to communicate and at times these behaviors can be challenging.

How long are the appointments?

The initial intake session with parents is 60 minutes and the fee for therapy is expected. All follow up sessions with your child are also 60 minutes long. Parents are welcome to relax in the waiting room and have a cup of tea while their child is in with his/her therapist.

How long will therapy take?

The length of counselling or therapy cannot be determined on the phone or during the initial assessment session. Every child is unique in how they perceive themselves, the world, the problem and their internal strengths. Once the child begins therapy the process involves ongoing assessment towards the therapy goals. Parents will be informed of progress and consulted as to how many more sessions may be required. Some clients achieve their therapy goals in only a few sessions when addressing a specific parenting concern. However when children are referred for traumas such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse, it is likely therapy will be for a longer term. At times a child will achieve the level of healing necessary for their development stage, but may need to return at a later stage as the trauma will have different meaning. All clients of the practice are informed that they will always receive priority in the future when the request to return for further counselling.

What should I tell my child about play therapy?

During your initial parent session you will receive a handout on the basic principles of play therapy along with a handout to help you speak with your child before attending counselling. You are also welcome to request your counsellor e-mail or mail the forms prior to your first session. You may tell your child that he/she will be coming to be with Bonnie in a special playroom where there are lots of toys. If you child wants to know why he/she is going to the playroom, you may say something like, “when things are hard for you at home (or school) etc.), it helps to have a special place to play”.

Will I be involved in my child’s therapy?

The practice offers a combination of approaches given the highly competent professional team of child and family therapists. As family therapists we respect and appreciate the valuable role of being a parent and the need for parental involvement in your child's therapy. During play therapy, the child is seen alone with the trained therapist, which allows the child a special place to express themselves. During stressful events such as death of a loved one, separation or divorce it is common for a child to not express themselves to parents. In the case of a death of a parent the child may not want to upset the surviving parent during this difficult time. Children experiencing the adjustment of a separation or divorce often worry about pleasing both parents and find relief in the safety of the play room without their parents.

As trained Family Therapists we believe parents should not be excluded from the process as this tends to only increase parental anxiety. We realize parents have requested the process of child therapy due to worry and concern for their child. The first step in beginning the commitment to play therapy or family therapy involves the parents attending without their child. After 2 to 3 play therapy sessions we will provide another parent appointment were you will be updated on progress, and parenting suggestions. It is our goal to support and respect your relationship by providing you with a better understanding of your child. We believe that it is you that needs to be the source of continued encouragement and support long after therapy is over.

We will provide your child and yourselves with an understanding of confidentiality and the boundaries around counselling. Children need to understand that their sessions are respected and information shared with their parents will not include details. Parents will be kept updated on our observations, conclusions and recommendations on how to help their child. It is our belief that families are a system and much of our early learning occurs within the context of our family of origin. Whenever possible we encourage all family members to be involved in the therapy as the greatest healing and growth can occur in family therapy. When family therapy is suggested or requested all members are treated with great respect for their courage to want to change the unhealthy patterns in their family. Often family therapy when done by a trained "Family Therapist" can have amazing results and benefit the entire family.

Where can I get more information on play therapy?

Couples & Marriage Therapy

Why choose a Registered Marriage & Family Therapist?

As a client who is seeking relationship counselling it is important to understand all the different credentials that professionals have to offer. To become a Registered Marriage & Family Therapist involves years of specialized training and 200 hours of direct clinical supervision with an Approved Supervisor for AAMFT. Below is a brief explanation of the intense and in depth training and experience that (RMFT) are required to complete. To find more information on the Canadian site for (RMFT) please click here: www.bc.amft.ca.

  • RMFT's are highly trained Mental Health Professionals who have completed over 1000 hours of therapy with individuals, families and couples while under the supervision of an Approved Supervisor.
  • RMFT’s advanced training is post graduate training in couple and family therapy.
  • RMFT's adhere to the AAMFT Code of Ethics that outlines responsibilities to clients, the profession and the community.
  • RMFT's are trained to honour diversity in ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, spirituality and socio-economic status.
  • RMFT's are trained in family systems approaches to therapy, where all members of a family are unique and special; we encourage people to keep life's most precious relationships resilient and strong.
  • RMFT's help people explore their relationships with themselves, and with spouses, partners, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, grandparents along with all other important relationships.
  • RMFT's practice goal focused and solution-focused therapy that includes a well planned treatment plan unique to each couple, family or individual.

Will you always see us together?

I would prefer to begin therapy with both parties to assess issues and set goals together. If one partner has an issue that is impacting the relationship and wants to be seen separately it will depend on the situation and comfort of their partner. In some cases it may be more appropriate for that person to be seen by another therapist in the office. I am clear the therapy is for the relationship and everything we work on is for the goal of improving the relationship. Depending on the referring issues I may request to see each individual once separately to complete a full assessment of the issues, and all information will be addressed in a couples session. Again every situation and couple and their experience of each other is different which why RMFT's have such sophisticated training.

What if my partner can't or won't join me in couples counselling?

Often in relationships one person may be content with the state of the relationship while the other person is unsatisfied with the lack of connection and intimacy. If a partner is not open to the concept of counselling, it is still beneficial for an individual to attend and explore what they may do differently to get their needs met within the relationship. If your partner begins to see positive changes in your approach towards them, it may encourage them to join you at a later time.

What if we are undecided about staying in the relationship?

Couples seek relationship therapy at many different stages; sometimes it has been years of conflict and loneliness that brings them to counselling. Most couples have years of investment in their relationship and want it to work, they just do not have the skills. Many couples believe it is because "we just don't communicate”. Couples will learn how to identify the relationship that they yearn for and begin to make steps towards that loving relationship. There are couples who during the process of therapy come to accept that they are just not willing to make the commitment to the necessary changes. When couples decide that it is best to uncouple we change the focus of therapy as needed.

Do you have experience with same sex relationships?

Registered Marriage & Family Therapist are trained in couples and family therapy taking into consideration all forms of relationships. I have worked with same sex couples for relationship therapy and family therapy.

Do you work with couples where there has been an affair?

Couples often seek therapy due to the disclosure or discovery of an affair. Other times during the process of therapy it is disclosed by an individual that they have or are having an affair. This is a painful time for a couple and they need to feel comfortable and safe with a highly trained therapist, as both parties need support.

Do you recommend a separation or divorce?

It is not our role as Marriage & Family Therapists to direct our clients in decision making. It is our role to assist couples in exploring what is best for both of them and their families, the decision to separate is always up to the couple.

Do you offer counselling to couples considering marriage?

The practice offers pre-marriage or pre-living together therapy for couples wanting to learn the necessary skills for an enriched relationship. During this process couples will explore their family of origin and what they have learned about relationships. This allows couples to have a deeper understanding of why their partner may behave in certain ways. They will learn about the models of relationships, communication, warning signs of problems, how to manage differences, and healthy ways of resolving conflict.

How often will we meet?

It will depend on your schedule and the schedule of your therapist. At times this may also depend on what couples can manage financially if they do not have extended benefits. Marriage and Family Therapists practice efficient and short term therapy. Goals will be established within the first session and your therapist will move in a direction to address all the issues you need help with.

How long is the session?

It is often very helpful to have 1.5 hours for the first few sessions, and then the decision is between you and your therapist. At times couples may wait several weeks to get their first session and need childcare while attending so they want to make the best use of the their time.

What is your wait list and how soon can you see us?

The wait-list for each therapist within the practice is different and is always changing. It will also depend on your schedule and availability, as evening appointments are limited. Many clients pre-book the evenings they want weeks and at times months in advance. Once you make contact with the practice you will be informed of the wait-list and given choices of which therapist may be the best fit for your needs.

 

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