Where are you located?
How do I make an appointment?
Do I need a referral from my physician?
Are services covered by OHIP?
What is a psychologist?
Why should I see a regulated health professional?
What is the difference between a psychologist or a psychiatrist?
Do psychologists prescribe medication?
How many sessions do people tend to see a psychologist for?
What are the benefits of therapy?
What does an initial session look like?
What is the policy for cancellations or missed sessions?
Where do you hold your sessions?
Where can I park?
How do you give back?
Is my health information private and secure?
What if I have an emergency situation?
What information can I access about a loved one’s care?
When a loved one is in distress, or is receiving care from a professional, it is understandable that you might want access to information that would help you to understand what your loved one is going through or how you might be helpful to them. However, in the context of the Canadian healthcare system, what a treating professional is allowed to share without the consent of their client is extremely limited. In most cases, psychologists are not permitted to share any information with the family members of their clients, except for circumstances where family members may be paying for their loved one’s treatment and then they are entitled to receive billing information regarding the name of the treating psychologist, and the dates, length and cost of sessions that have been attended or those that have been booked and unattended. The other extenuating circumstance would be in situations where a family member has been listed as an emergency contact person and a treating professional has reason to believe that your loved one may be a danger to themself or others.
While we understand that the lack of access to information can sometimes feel frustrating for family members, it is also important to note that the privacy and confidentiality of your loved one’s personal health information is of paramount concern for us. This is both because privacy and confidentiality are crucial components to ensuring that individuals can trust and feel safe in the therapeutic relationship that they have with their treating psychologist, and also because we are required to act in accordance with all legislation governing the handling of personal health information. The practice of psychology in Ontario is regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA), and as such, all the information that we obtain from and about your loved one in the course of their treatment is considered to be personal health information that is legislated under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA).
If you are feeling at a loss as to how to best support your loved one and you believe that it might be helpful to speak with their treating psychologist, then this is something that we would encourage you to speak with your loved one about. If this is something that your loved one agrees would be helpful for them, then we would be happy to facilitate a family meeting so that everyone can have a chance to meet together in order to answer any questions or address any concerns that you may have.
What happens if I want to share information about a loved one with their psychologist?
There are times when you may want to share important information with your loved one’s treating psychologist. Often this happens in contexts where you may be concerned that your loved one is not willing, or able, to accurately share relevant information about their experiences. Sometimes it may also be the case that you have access to information that your loved one does not. Wanting to share this information is understandable, and when done collaboratively with the individual(s) directly receiving care, can be indispensable to your loved one’s wellbeing. However, psychologists handle information received by clients and information received by other parties differently. We want to be as transparent as possible about what we do with that information and our rationale for doing so.
While there is legislation in place to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the personal health information of individuals who are receiving treatment within our practice, what this means is that we are not able to release any information about an individual without their express consent except for in extreme and limited circumstances. There are, however, no protections that prohibit the sharing of information that we receive about an individual with that individual. In fact, our policy at Laksman Doell is such that if a family member reaches out to provide information about a loved one, then this is something that we will most certainly share with their loved one at either the time of their next clinical contact or the earliest time that feels appropriate. This transparency is of crucial importance in maintaining the trust and safety of the therapeutic relationship that individuals have with their treating psychologist. We will not withhold information regarding contact from family members or what they share, but we will endeavor to share this information as sensitively as possible to protect the integrity of those important relationships.
When we receive contact from a family member or loved one, our policy is to not respond to that contact until we have first had a chance to speak to the individual about whom the information was provided. That way we can ensure that all of the individuals under our care are comfortable with the information that is being provided about them and their care. Should your loved one not wish for us to respond to your contact at all, then you may not receive a response at all (or if the information that you provided shared concerns about your loved one’s safety, then you may receive a generic response with a list of resources). Please rest assured though, that any time we receive information that might suggest that an individual is at risk, that their treating psychologist would assess this risk at the soonest possible clinical encounter.