Is counselling covered by MSP?

What's the deal with mental health and MSP?

*This information is out of date. View the latest update current to April 2022 here.*

Counselling is an unregulated profession in the province of British Columbia. Read this blog to learn about how counselling is covered by Medical Services Premium (MSP).

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Mental Health and MSP Coverage

You might be wondering if counselling is covered and paid for by MSP. Currently most mental health services provided by a counsellor without a hospital referral are NOT covered by MSP.

Therefore, individuals who see a counsellor must pay out of pocket. This can present challenges like finding accessible and affordable counselling services. Many low cost and no-cost counselling services are provided by graduate students who are supervised by an experienced professional. This is a fantastic way to get the support you need. At the same time, your counsellor will change over time as internships end and new internships begin.

Psychotherapy is not covered by MSP unless you have been referred through a hospital program or mental health team. For example you can be referred to a psychiatric group or specialized treatment program. This may include individual therapy and often includes participation in a group therapy program.

What Regulation Means for the Public

There's currently no provincial registry, provincial standards, or system to enforce standards and codes of conduct for mental health professionals in BC. This means that anyone can claim they are an "interventionist," "coach" or "counsellor." Unfortunately, in some circumstance this can result in clients being taken advantage of.

While counselling is unregulated in BC, professional licensing bodies exist that have rigorous standards and codes of conduct. How can you make sure your counsellor is a licensed professional? Ask your therapist what their qualifications are and research the letters that follow after their name.

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.

The BC government recognizes the impact of mental health on overall health and wellbeing, so what advocacy is happening?

Advocacy for Mental Health: FACT BC

FACT BC is an organization that is focused on regulating counselling in BC. For 2 decades, FACT BC has been pursuing the development of a College of Counselling Therapists for British Columbians.

FACT BC's advocacy is not calling for new legislation. This new legistlation simply requires minister approval. The professional regulation of counselling could potentially open the doors to have counselling covered by MSP.

Every profession needs objective oversight. A College of Counselling Therapists would do this at no cost to the public and in service of the public. This way you could be certain that your counsellor is a registered and regulated professional.

What's Next?

You can read more about FACT BC and their advocacy efforts at

Public mental health resources in BC:

HealthLink BC
Canadian Mental Health Association

Learn how you can benefit from counselling.

Book your counselling session or consultation today.