I still remember grad school well. It was my peak of excitement in clinical training heading out to Family Services of Greater Vancouver where I would provide low cost counselling for 10 clients a week as part of my internship to complete my master’s degree. It was exciting because courses and papers aside, this was the real reason I’d entered this profession: To sit with clients and to make a difference.
Coming up on 10 years later, it is the same as ever, but I’m sitting on the other side. Thrive is now a space where graduate students come to complete their practicum placements, letting them provide low-cost counselling, also known as reduced cost or subsidized counselling. At any given time, we have a small team of eager and capable reduced fee interns working with eight to 12 clients a week.
As fun as this is, I often get questions from people curious to try counselling who are a bit confused as to the different levels of counselling. Why is it so much cheaper than working with a registered counsellor? Does this mean the service quality is reduced?
Clearing Up Confusion Around Low Fee Counselling
I want to clear this up with three things you might not know about low fee counselling.
- Graduate student interns are supervised by a clinical director. They may be students, but they are likely receiving more supervision and guidance than many practicing therapists. Matthew or myself directly mentor our interns, and so as they encounter new and interesting challenges, they quickly receive feedback and approach the sessions next week with new directions and ideas.
- Lower costs mean coming regularly is more easily possible. Coming regularly to get momentum and build a trusting relationship is generally more helpful than coming once a month to save money. Far more important is getting yourself into the energetic flow of healing and reduced rate counselling allows this for when finances get in the way.
- Fees are insurance billable. That’s right, services are still covered. By working under a registered supervisor, so long as clinical counselling is covered under your benefits you will receive a reimbursement.
- We choose competent, caring and capable interns. The number of applicants we receive is staggering. I feel bad for graduate students whose location of a practicum is as demanding as a job hunt. The advantage for you, however, is that we always choose students who both understanding trauma and counselling, but also just have something about them that is magnetic, likeable and warm.
- Reduced-cost smashes barriers to who can receive counselling. Let’s be honest. Counselling is expensive. Nobody should be left out though, and so affordable rates means far more people will be able to subscribe to the benefits of inner work.
- Today’s graduate students know as much as many registered therapists did in the 90s. I am blown away at the knowledge of posttraumatic stress, the nervous system, anxiety, depression, couples counselling, CBT and attachment trauma that graduate students have coming in the door. The revolution of brain scans in the late 90s changed the game in therapy, as the students we select already stand out from oldschool counsellors trained strictly in talk therapy.
So there you have it! A few reasons why accessing reduced-fee therapy might be your best entry point to the healing arts. Those interested in our other services may also appreciate individual counselling, couples counselling and psychedelic integration.
In any case, we wish you only the best on the endless journey inwards and all the outer benefits that come with it.
Carson Kivari is the Founder and Clinic Director of Thrive Downtown, with years of experience helping individuals and couples overcome anxiety, depression, and burnout. He guides clients on a journey of self-exploration and trauma release to find purpose, connection, and safety. Take the first step towards healing and contact Carson today to schedule a session.