Is counselling covered by MSP?

What's the deal with mental health and MSP?

*Read my update April 2022 blog here.*

Counselling is an unregulated profession in the province of British Columbia. This blog covers counselling and Medical Services Premium (MSP).

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Mental Health and MSP Coverage

If you're here it's because you're 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.

That means that individuals who see a counsellor have to pay out of pocket. This can of course present challenges like finding accessible and affordable counselling services.

Low Cost Counselling

Some counselling practices offer low cost counselling in the form of reduced rate, sliding scale or intern services.

Contact me to join my reduced rate caseload

Many low cost and no-cost counselling services are provided by graduate interning students who are supervised by an experienced professional. This can be an affordable way to get the support you need. However, 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 may be referred to a psychiatric group or specialized treatment program. This can include individual therapy and often includes group therapy programs.

Anyone Can Say I'm a Therapist... What?!

There's currently no provincial registry for counsellors in British Columbia. This means there are no provincial standards nor a system to enforce standards and codes of conduct for mental health professionals in BC. That's right, anyone can hang their shingle and claim to be an interventionist, coach or counsellor. In some circumstances, 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. Most licensing bodies will have a search tool to verify that your therapist is really licensed. (Check the BCACC website to see what I mean.)

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.

What's next?

The BC government recognizes the impact of mental health on overall health and wellbeing, so what changes and advocacy are taking place?

Tax Free Therapy
Read the 2020 recommendations to modernize B.C.’s health regulatory framework

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.

Public mental health resources in BC:

HealthLink BC
Anxiety Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association

Learn how you can benefit from counselling.

Book your counselling session or consultation today.