Counselling and MSP
Counselling is still an unregulated profession in the province of British Columbia. Read this blog to learn the latest updates about how counselling is covered by Medical Services Premium (MSP).
MSP Counselling Coverage
Current to April 2022, MSP does not cover private counselling services. Individuals, couples, and families who work with a counsellor pay out of pocket and can be reimbursed through extended insurance.
Low cost counselling is available through select counselling clinics. These services should be provided by supervised graduate students who are training in an accredited counselling program.
Psychotherapy is only covered by the government when you have been referred through a hospital psychiatric program or mental health team. This is often after hospitalization for psychiatric reasons.
The government and government affiliated agencies provide free programs and mental health mobile apps. BounceBackBC.ca is a free online program for BC residents that includes a one-on-one coaching component for managing mood. Other free resources include: WellnessTogether.ca, REACH Medical Clinic, DIVERSECity Community Resources Society , Moving Forward Family Services, Deltassist Family and Community Services, and Family Services of the North Shore. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides free mental health resources online. AnxietyCanada.com has a free mobile app, MindShift CBT and an extensive library of free resources on their webpages.
More resources are available on the Government of BC website on the virtual mental health supports page under the Mental Health & Substance Use page.
Why You Should Care About Counselling Regulation
Because there is no provincial registry, provincial standards, or system to enforce standards and codes of conduct for mental health professionals in BC, anyone can claim they are an "interventionist," "coach" or "counsellor." We have seen examples in the news of how clients can be taken advantage of or psychologically harmed by supposed mental health professionals who are not trained or associated with a regulatory body.
The professional licensing body in BC for mental health counsellors has rigorous standards and codes of conduct. Ask your therapist what their qualifications are and research the letters that follow after their name to make sure they are legitimate.
As a reminder, an RCC is a Registered Clinical Counsellor licensed with the BCACC (British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors). A CCC is a Canadian Certified Counsellor registered with the CCPA (Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Assocation). These are the most prestigious and recognized regulatory associations for counsellors in BC.
Advocating for Government Regulation
The BCACC is seeking to have counsellors included among professionals considered under the new Health Professionals Act (HPA). Their primary goal right now is to seek regulation of BCACC members under this act to better protect the public from people who use the title of counsellor but whom have not received the same credentialed training. Regulation of existing BCACC counsellors under the HPA would provide increased protection and more transparency to the general public.
The BCACC is currently in consultation with existing health regulatory colleges in BC (e.g., the College of Psychologists), past members of the Regulatory Modernization steering committee, and government officials who are engaged in regulation to learn about how BCACC standards can reflect the standards under the HPA. It is believed that the process of regulating counsellors under the HPA could take 2-4 years.
You can learn more about the BCACC and Registered Clinical Counsellors at BCACC.ca.
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Canadian Mental Health Association CMHA.ca
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