helping people grow

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Arbour Counselling Office:


Tel  250.479.9912   Fax  250.704.0588

4277 Quadra St . Victoria . BC . V8X1L5

1.  I've never utilized counselling services before.  What should I expect?


2.  How often should I meet with my therapist?


3.  What kind of training have your therapists had?


4.  What do the letters behind your name mean?


5.  How do I get started?





1.  I've never utilized counselling services before.  What should I expect?

People use counselling services for a wide range of reasons to process a whole variety of issues, so we must emphasize that whatever you bring to your counselling sessions will be treated with honour and respect.  


You will experience a confidential conversation with a person who is outside of your situation.  It is part of our ethical code to do everything we can to provide a safe place for you to process, and confidentiality and objectivity are a big part of making your experience as productive as possible.


Your therapist is trained to listen well and will give open and honest feedback.  Our aim is to help you move toward health, not just say nice things to make you feel good.  We believe that as a human being you have inherent value, and we will always work to affirm, honour, and respect you; yet we will also challenge you by being open and honest about what we perceive of your situation.  


Your therapist will also be able to provide you with information and education about community resources and research on your topics of interest in mental health.  If we are not able to immediately provide you with specific information or materials, we will do all we can to research the topic and get back to you.


Typically, your counsellor will spend two to three 50-minute sessions to get to know you, obtain background and historical information, and learn about the areas of your main concerns.  This helps your therapist assess your needs, and depending on the themes, he or she may use various tools to collect as much information as possible about the issues particular to you.  Your therapist will then give you some feedback and recommendations, and together you will make a plan for discussing and processing relevant themes.  This may involve only a small number of additional sessions, or it may be that you decide to meet for many months with your therapist, or something in between.  The plan is tailored to your specific needs.  Generally, most find that they are able to make some helpful progress by meeting for 8 to 12 sessions.




2.  How often should I meet with my therapist?

The most common and recommended format for therapy is to meet on a weekly basis for the duration of the therapy.  This allows for maintaining the best continuity of themes throughout the process.


For some, however, meeting on a weekly basis is not feasible.  While it is possible to meet less often, keep in mind that bigger gaps between sessions tend to disrupt continuity.  The goal is to strike a balance of keeping active in your counselling process while also managing the feasibility of your time schedule and budget.  Your therapist can work with you to help determine the format that is best suited for your situation given all of the factors.


It is probably most helpful to initially plan on meeting for a block of five or six sessions with the idea of evaluating the direction after completing this block.  This approach is often more helpful than deciding week to week whether to make another appointment.  For many, an initial meeting with a counsellor is a much appreciated relief, so it can feel good.  But as you progress and identify themes to work on, it is natural that you may experience some discomfort.  By giving yourself a block of time to work on these concerns in therapy, you will be more likely to identify a broader picture of root issues, and subsequently be able to identify ways to begin to address them.




3.  What kind of training have your therapists had?

Each of our therapists has a masters degree in a field related to counselling or psychology.  In addition to this education, each therapist is a member of one or more professional associations which require at least two years of supervised experience and a base number of hours of face-to-face counselling experience.  Please click on the "Meet us" tag to learn about the training and experience of a specific Arbour therapist.


The BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) is one of the professional associations in British Columbia that regulates the profession of masters-level therapists by ensuring that its members meet educational, practical, and supervisory experience criteria.  Its members also sign an agreement that they adhere to the Scope of Practice, Code of Ethical Conduct, and Standards for Clinical Practice of the BCACC.  Registered members of the BCACC are known as Registered Clinical Counsellors.  For more information, visit the BCACC website:


Some therapists have specialized training in the area of marriage and family systems, a broad theoretical approach to treatment that attempts to understand people through the lense of the systems in which they operate and live.  The most basic human system is the family system, yet all humans are affected by, contribute to, and live within many larger systems as well.  The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is a professional association that regulates therapists with this type of training.  Five of Canada's provinces have a provincial association, as does British Columbia, with the BCAMFT.  Its registered members are known in Canada as Registered Marriage and Family Therapists.   For more information, visit the BCAMFT website at or  the North America parent association website at




4.  What do the letters behind your name mean?

The first set of letters behind our names indicate the highest educational degree obtained.  The possibilities in our field include:


  •  M.A.  --  Master of Arts, usually in clinical or counselling psychology

  •  M.C.  --  Master of Counselling

  •  M.Sc.  --  Master of Science

  •  M.S.W.  --  Master of Social Work

  •  M.T.S.C.  --  Master of Theological Studies/Counselling

  •  M.Ed.  --  Master of Education (often with a counselling emphasis)

  •  Ph.D.  --  Doctor of Philosophy in psychology

  •  Psy.D.  --  Doctor of Psychology

  •  M.D.  --  Medical Doctor (prescribe medications; all psychiatrists are M.D.s)


In addition to the educational degree, a second set of letters often appears which indicates registered membership with one or more professional associations.  In British Columbia, some examples include:


  •  RCC  --  Registered Clinical Counsellor

  •  RMFT  --  Registered Marriage and Family Therapist

  •  RSW  --  Registered Social Worker

  •  RPsych  --  Registered Psychologist




5.  How do I get started?

Simply call our office at (250) 479-9912 and press ‘0’ to speak to our receptionist, Sylvia.  Please leave a short message if you get our voicemail, and we will make every attempt to reach you promptly.  Sylvia will be able to help you determine which clinician will best suit your needs.  If you have been recommended to a particular therapist by someone you know, we will take some initial information, set up an appointment, and notify the therapist.  If you have any further questions, you may also leave a message directly in the therapist’s mailbox and you will receive a call back promptly.



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