When the COVID-19 pandemic hit so did a whole new level of anxiety I didn’t know I had. My days oscillated between my fear of contracting the virus and my fear of running out of toilet paper. Both concerning.

As a standup comedian, it was distressing to watch the industry that I love fall apart. Not to mention the devastating news of people around the world dying each day. The compounding effect of this emotional weight was very real and I was grateful to have an established relationship with a therapist.

For many Canadian artists, a consistent paycheque can be hard to come by and self care often gets placed on the back burner. Therapy has been an essential and life changing part of my personal growth. However, finding an affordable therapist can be a daunting task.

So, where do you begin?

My experience finding a therapist felt like going on a series of first dates. The type of intimacy you experience with a therapist can often mirror what you look for in a partner.

When starting therapy it’s important to manage your expectations. It can take time to untangle a life’s worth of personal information so patience is crucial. When I started therapy I wanted homework and progress reports. I’m obsessed with being validated (yes, we are working on this), I see a psychotherapist and she doesn’t operate that way.

Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy used to treat a wide range of mental health issues. If all goes well, this can be a long term relationship.

When I met my therapist, she explained our sessions would be much like putting together a puzzle: she collects information and over the years we’ve been putting the pieces together. Through our work I’ve learned skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have been equipped with to deal with my anxiety, disordered eating and lots of other fun things.

When meeting a therapist it can be beneficial to bring some questions with you to determine fit. I have found the following helpful:

  • What is your method or approach?
  • Will we work together for an indefinite amount of time or a set period where we accomplish a specific goal?
  • Will there be work or expectations of me outside of our sessions?
  • I am hoping to get __________ out of therapy. Is this realistic for me and if so what would your strategy be to help with this?

I think being clear with a therapist about your personal expectations can help determine if this relationship will work.

Every therapist will undoubtedly have different responses and it’s up to you to decide what resonates with your current goals. Trust your gut.

Long term treatment like psychotherapy can be pricey. If you’re on a stricter budget CBT is a great option.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of talk therapy that generally requires fewer sessions because it focuses on a specific issue and equips you with a skill set to deal with it. Due to its shorter structure this is a great option for those in a financial bind.

Which brings me to an important point: your doctor can refer you to a therapist through OHIP and though the wait times can be long (sometimes 6-8 months) it is free of charge.

Google can do wonders for finding a therapist but the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. In my experience, getting a referral from a friend was key. If you know someone with a therapist you think might be a good fit, see if they are accepting new patients. If they’re not, they can likely refer you to a colleague they trust.

Pre-Covid, I saw my therapist in person. During lockdown our sessions became virtual. I was hesitant at first but was relieved to discover that it didn’t affect the quality of our conversations whatsoever.

This made me curious about online platforms such as BetterHelp. There is a whole world of online therapy that is quickly accessible and affordable. I discovered a great website listed below which outlines the pros and cons of the top online therapy platforms. COVID-19 affects how businesses are run and therapists are not exempt from this. Online platforms are COVID-19 proof!

There are incredible resources out there to help you find the right fit for your needs including low cost and sliding scale therapy. Below are some helpful places to start.

Approaching therapy can be intimidating but it’s important to remember that you’re worth it. Taking a step towards mental health care is a gift that you can and should offer yourself. We’ve all got baggage that we carry and therapy is a tool you can use to lighten that load and breathe a little easier. While we’re on the subject…don’t forget to wear your mask!

RESOURCES

LOW COST

Hard Feelings – West End

Hard Feelings offer low cost counselling out of their Bloor West store front. Their website gives information on all their available therapists and they have an incredible list of mental health resources.

https://www.hardfeelings.org/

https://www.hardfeelings.org/resources

The Healing Collective – East End

The Healing Collective takes a holistic approach to counselling and aims to make it as accessible to as many folks as possible. With both counsellors and wellness practitioners on staff, The Healing Collective can work with you on your limited budget and is fully accessible.

https://www.healingcollective.ca/

Canadian Hearing Services

Canadian Hearing Services has several programs and services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals including mental health counselling.

https://www.chs.ca/service/connect-mental-health-counselling-services

Alternatives – East York

Alternatives offers individual counselling and has a strong focus on those dealing with addiction.

http://alternativestoronto.org/

Anishnawbe Health Centre

The Anishnawbe Health Centre serves the Aboriginal community in Toronto and offers mental health and addictions services as well as other specialized counselling and community events.

http://www.aht.ca/

Toronto Institute for Relational Therapy

At TIRP, low cost therapy is provided by students or recent graduates of the psychotherapy program. It’s affordable and a way to meet a therapist early on to potentially keep working with in the future.

https://tirp-lowcost-therapy.ca/

Sherbourne Health

Sherbourne Health has a dedicated counsellors specifically for LQBTQ+ individuals, Newcomers and those dealing with housing crisis. They offer a variety of services including walk in counselling.

https://sherbourne.on.ca/mental-health-services/counselling-services/

TeleCBT

TeleCBT is currently offering OHIP covered CBT therapy in the wake of the pandemic.

https://telecbt.ca/

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands

WHIWH offers counselling and healthcare to women of African, Black, Caribbean, Latin American and South Asian decent. They offer a range of programs and services that are inclusive and low cost.

http://www.whiwh.com/

Women’s College Hospital – Brief Psychotherapy Centre For Women

The BPCW program at Women’s College hospital is a short term, goal driven approach to therapy offering 16 individual 50 minute sessions.

https://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/care-programs/mental-health/bpcw/

PSYCHOTHERAPY

The Therapy Toronto website allows you to browse psychotherapists by speciality and location. It’s the Tinder of psychotherapy!

https://therapytoronto.ca/index.phtml?l=nv

ONLINE THERAPY

I love this article which offers a deep dive into online therapy platforms and explores the pros and cons from many popular options you might be interested in trying.

https://www.verywellmind.com/best-online-therapy-4691206

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

I stumbled upon this article while research and it has a concise breakdown of many common types of therapy and which might be the best fit for you.

https://www.talkspace.com/blog/different-types-therapy-psychotherapy-best/#2

This YouTube video by licensed therapist Kati Morton takes a look at different types of therapy and which might be right for you. Her other videos are also full of helpful information that is worth a watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfex5wnWZXI