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What if I am dissatisfied with my therapist?

Psychotherapy can be difficult, distressing and frustrating for a lot of different reasons. If things are not changing in the direction that you would like and/or you feel that your therapist is not effectively helping you work towards specific goals, you may get frustrated and dissatisfied. If that happens, hopefully you feel comfortable enough in the relationship to speak with your clinician about your concerns. It is important to have a good fit and sometimes people just decide that they would be more comfortable speaking with someone else. Competent therapists should not be threatened by your concerns and should be open to this discussion. Good therapists know that they are not best fit for every person and problem. A discussion of your concerns could in fact lead to a better relationship and more effective psychotherapy.

However, it is also acceptable to switch psychotherapists. If you are working with CBT Associates, contact one of our two Clinical Directors and ask for a transfer to another clinician. The Clinical Director will encourage you to speak to your clinician to address your concerns. However, if you want to switch clinicians, the Clinical Director will arrange for you to be seen by another clinician at CBT Associates. With your written permission your file can be transferred to your new therapist, so that you do not have to re-invent the wheel and repeat the entire assessment process.

If you and/or your clinician are feeling stuck and not making progress in treatment as expected, consider getting a second opinion. A consultation with another psychologist who has expertise in your area can sometimes lead to helpful advice and direction. Often your clinician may have another expert to recommend for a second opinion. Good therapists know that they can sometimes get stuck and appreciate peer scrutiny. At CBT Associates, our size and scope of expertise allow us to provide excellent in-house consultation services.

Is my personal information private and secure

Privacy of personal information is an important principle at CBT Associates. We are committed to collecting, using, and disclosing personal information responsibly, and only to the extent necessary for the services we provide.

Our policy was formed to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Ontario Personal Information Act. Indeed, our policy to protect your privacy is more stringent than the legislation requires because of our psychologists’ ethical code.

What about confidentiality?

CBT Associates’ services are strictly confidential. The information you talk about with your therapist will be known only to you and your therapist. We do not release any information about you to anyone without your written permission, except as required by Ontario law.

Our policy regarding confidentiality is that no information we have about you (including all information contained in your clinical file) will be communicated directly or indirectly to any third party without your informed and written consent, except when we have the following legal obligations to release confidential information:

  • If your therapist believes that you pose an imminent danger to yourself or to someone else, he/she is required to contact the authorities – people who can intervene to help prevent harm to you or others, and any intended victims of harm.
  • If your therapist learns that you have been sexually or physically abused by another registered health provider (e.g., a physician, dentist, or psychologist), he/she is required to contact that person’s regulatory college and report what he/she knows; however, the therapist would not give your name without your permission.
  • If your therapist suspects or is informed that a child is at risk of being harmed in any way (e.g., through sexual or physical abuse or negligence), he/she must contact Child and Family Services and report all relevant information.
  • If your therapist suspects or is informed that an adult resident in a long-term care facility is at risk of being harmed in any way (e.g., through sexual or physical abuse, negligence), he/she must contact Child and Family Services and report all relevant information.
  • If the contents of your CBT Associates file are subpoenaed by a court of law, your therapist is required to release the file to the court.
  • If the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) requests access to CBT Associates’ files for the purposes of assuring quality of care, we are obligated to allow them that access. The CPO is bound by its own strict confidentiality rules.
What is personal information?

Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. It includes information that relates to:

  • Personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, home address, personal phone number, education and training, family circumstances)
  • Health (e.g., health history, health conditions, health services received
  • Activities and views (e.g., occupation/profession, ideas and concerns)

Personal information differs from business information (e.g., an individual’s business address and business phone number), which is not protected by privacy legislation.

Our main purposes for collecting personal information

For clients:

CBT Associates collects, uses, and discloses personal information only to provide psychological services to our clients. For example, we collect information about clients’health history (including their family history, physical condition and functioning) and social situation to help us assess their mental health needs, to advise them of their options, and then to provide the psychological services they choose.

Another important reason we collect personal information is to obtain a baseline and ongoing record of psychological functioning. That way, we can monitor treatment progress and identify changes that occur over time.

In some situations, we collect personal information to conduct an assessment to provide a professional opinion about an individual’s psychological functioning. With the client’s informed and written consent, that opinion would be reported to the appropriate person or agency (e.g., an insurance company, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the Children’s Aid Society, or rehabilitation companies).

It would be rare for us to collect or disclose personal information without a client’s expressed consent; however, this might occur in an emergency (in which case the client would be notified in writing as soon as possible) or if we believed that the client would consent if asked and it was impractical to obtain consent (e.g., if a family member passed a message on from our client and we had no reason to believe that the message was not genuine).

For members of the general public:

For members of the general public, our primary reasons for collecting personal information (e.g., contact phone numbers) are to make them aware of the range of psychological services available in our clinics and to direct them to the appropriate psychologist.

Additional reasons:

Like most organizations, we must also collect, use, and disclose information for several other reasons. The most common examples include to:

  • Invoice clients for unpaid services, process credit card payments, or collect unpaid accounts
  • Allow our regulatory body, the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO), to inspect our records and interview our psychologists (by law the CPO may do these things as part of its regulatory activities in the public interest following its own strict privacy obligations)
  • Disclose the cost of some services we provide to clients that will be covered by third parties (e.g., insurance companies, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Canadian Forces, or CUPE) to demonstrate a client’s entitlement to funding (e.g., through their Canadian Forces or First Nations identification). These third-party payers often have your consent or legislative authority to direct your private information to them.

Protecting personal information

CBT Associates understands the importance of protecting personal information. We have, therefore, taken the following steps:

  • Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked and restricted area.
  • Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked and restricted area at all times. Encryption and passwords are used on computers.
  • Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes by reputable couriers or Canada Post.
  • Electronic information is transmitted through a dedicated line only to people and agencies that have a privacy policy.
  • All CBT Associates personnel are trained to collect, use, and disclose personal information only as necessary to fulfill their duties according to our privacy policy.
  • If your psychologist becomes incapacitated or dies, your records are placed in the care of another psychologist for protection, not examination. If you were to see another psychologist, your records could be sent to her or him at your written request.

Limits to the protection of personal information

Limits to the protection of personal information include legally-mandated disclosure to the Children’s Aid Society and the College of Psychologists of Ontario, court orders to release information, search warrants for a file for a criminal or legal case, and subpoenas.

Retention and destruction of personal information

We retain personal information for some time to ensure we can answer any questions clients might have about the services provided and to ensure our accountability to external regulatory bodies.

We also provide ongoing services for many clients; in such cases, previous records are helpful. We retain our client information for a minimum of ten years after the last contact to enable us to supply these services. The College of Psychologists of Ontario also requires us to retain client records for ten years. For clients who are seen before the age of 18, records are retained for ten years following their 18th birthday.

We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is replaced or discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed. Personal information that is not part of a client’s permanent clinical file is shredded at the end of treatment before the file is archived.

If CBT Associates were sold, none of our client records would be transferred to or accessed by the new owners.

Your right to look at your personal information

With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see the personal information we hold about you. Often, all you have to do is ask. We will also help you understand any information that you do not understand (e.g., abbreviations or technical language).

Before providing you with such access, we will confirm your identity. We also reserve the right to charge a fee for such requests, and we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will inform you of the reason within 30 days of receiving your request.

If you believe that there is a mistake in your personal factual information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. We may ask you to provide documentation proving that our files are wrong. If we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree, we will nevertheless include in our file a brief statement from you on the point, and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.

If you have a privacy-related question

Our Information Officer is Dr. Peter Farvolden. He will address any questions you might have relating to our privacy policy and procedures. If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to our Information Officer. He will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, ensure that it is investigated promptly, and provide you with a written decision and reasons.

To get in touch with our Information Officer

Mail: CBT Associates, 85 Richmond Street West, Suite 900 Toronto, ON M5H 2C9
Telephone: 416-363-4228
E-mail: drfarvolden@cbtassociates.com

General Inquiries

For general inquiries regarding privacy issues, contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The Commissioner also acts as an ombudsman for privacy disputes. Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner as follows:

Mail: 112 Kent Street,Ottawa, ON K1A 1H3
Telephone: 613-995-8210 or 1-800-282-1376
Fax: 613-947-6850

You may also want to contact the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner for more information at 1-800-387-0073.

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