Finding a private counsellor

About private mental health services

While UBC provides a range of mental health care options, you can also access private, community-based counselling to better suit your needs.

UBC students registered in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan are eligible for coverage for appointments with a private mental health practitioner, such as a registered psychologist or clinical counsellor.

Benefits of working with a private mental health professional

UBC offers brief individual counselling options through UBC Counselling Services. You can also connect with a counsellor 24/7 with Here2Talk.

However, you may consider connecting with a private mental health professional if these concerns are important to you:

  • You want to access longer-term counselling. After completing work together, you can reconnect with the private mental health professional later if new concerns arise. 
  • You want to choose a therapist who specializes in a particular mental health concern and/or a specific therapy approach, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
  • You would like more flexible hours for your appointments, including evenings and weekends.
  • You would like someone who is closer to where you live, particularly for in-person appointments with a longer-term mental health professional. This can be helpful if you are on an internship or work experience or live further away from UBC.

Extended health insurance coverage for private counselling

There are several options to use your extended health insurance coverage for mental health services outside of UBC:

  • UBC provides coverage for private counselling as part of your extended health benefits. If you are a registered UBC student, you are automatically enrolled in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan unless you have chosen to opt out. During the policy year (typically Sep 1 to Aug 31), you can submit claims of up to $1,250 for services from a licensed psychologist, registered clinical counsellor, or therapist with a Master’s in Social Work.
  • Indigenous students with status are eligible for mental health service coverage through the First Nations Health Authority. Some Indigenous students who do not have status may also qualify for coverage.
  • If you are insured through your family’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), please look into coverage for counselling.

You can also pay privately. Some counsellors offer reduced rates for students.

Finding a private mental health professional

Use the search tools below to browse mental health professionals by gender, language, location, or area of expertise. 

You can make an appointment on your own. However, if you would like support connecting with a mental health professional, you can book an appointment with a Wellness Advisor from UBC Counselling Services.

Tips to find a “good fit” with a mental health professional

An important thing to consider when choosing a mental health professional is whether you feel a good connection with them. Regardless of their therapeutic approach, research consistently shows that a good collaborative relationship between you and your mental health professional is key to helping you reach your goals. 

Here are ideas that may help increase the chance of a “good fit” with the mental health professional you start meeting with:

  • Make a shortlist of mental health professionals
    Look at their website, areas of specialization, experience, and therapy approach to see if they align with your values and needs. Perhaps you find it important to have a counsellor who identifies similarly in terms of identity, such as cultural background, language, ethnicity, or gender.
  • Request a free 15-minute consultation
    Many clinics offer a free consultation. If not, contact the mental health professional and request a free 15-minute consultation to make sure you feel a good connection with them. You can use an introduction like, “Hello, I am a UBC student looking for counselling. Can we arrange a free 15-minute consultation to find out if we would be a good match? Thanks.”

What to expect from a free consultation

Generally, in a free consultation, the mental health professional will guide you during the conversation. Below are ideas of what you may want to discuss. 

Discussion topic What you can say

Concerns in your life you would like to address

“I have experienced lifelong anxiety. I experience high anxiety resulting in panic attacks and then feelings of being a failure.”

Goals you would like to work toward

“I would like to understand my anxiety and also find ways of coping better and maybe even reducing it.”

Their therapy approach

Ask questions like: 

  • “What therapy approach could you use for this type of issue/goal?”

  • “What are your strengths/limitations as a therapist?”

  • “What is your approach to helping? Are you more directive or guiding?”

Other questions which may be important in making your choice

You might find it important for the mental health professional to share your identity. Usually, this information is outlined in their profile. If not, consider asking something like: “Do you identify as BIPOC? How does this inform your therapy approach?”

Benefits and payment options

  • “Do you have a sliding scale for students?”

  • “I have $1250 in extended health benefits each year. How can we work with that to address my issues and goals?”

Additional resources