The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) is a voluntary professional organization established in 1965 to represent psychology in Nova Scotia. APNS is the only provincial association devoted to representing the needs of psychology professionals in the province. APNS promotes psychology as a profession, as a science, and as a means of promoting human welfare.
Visit About APNS for more information
Getting the Psychological services you need
Victor Day, Ph.D.
Dr. Victor Day is president of APNS and in part-time private practice at Marsh-Knickle and Associates.
More than 50 years of research has shown the effectiveness of psychological treatment for many problems, and psychological assessments are very useful for a great variety of issues. Nevertheless, many people who would benefit from psychological services do not access them. There are a variety of reasons for this. One is that many people are unsure of how to do so. In this article I will outline some ways you can do this.
It can seem complicated, because each psychologist specializes in only certain areas of psychology, and some may only work with children or with adults. Moreover, the common ways of accessing other professional services, such as by going to the same person who serves other members of your family, or by asking neighbours or co-workers for recommendations, may not be something you wish to do. It’s not quite the same as looking for a dentist or an accountant.
First, it is helpful to know that about half of practising psychologists in Nova Scotia work just for some public institution or agency, such as a health authority, school system, or university; and about half work full or part-time in private practice.
Public-service and private-practice psychologists are equally qualified and collectively offer similar ranges of services, and sometimes are the same people (e.g. when psychologists working for public institutions also do part-time private practice). The big advantage of accessing psychological services through a publically-funded institution or agency is that the services will be provided without direct cost to you. For some people, this is the only way that they can access psychological services.
However, public services usually are not organized in a way that lets you directly make an appointment
to see a psychologist. Often you will need to be first screened by someone else, who may or may not arrange for you to see a psychologist, depending upon whether you meet certain criteria; or you may need to be referred by some other professional (e.g. a student’s teacher in order to see a school psychologist, or a physician to access some psychologists who specialize in particular health problems). Nevertheless, you have a right to influence the decisions about your care and services. If you want to see a psychologist because you want that type of service a psychologist can provide, then say so, to the person who is doing the screening or referral.
How can you find out what psychological services are available? If you are wondering what’s available within some particular health authority, university or school system, that information is probably available on that institution’s website. If you’re wondering what’s generally available within your community, you can phone 211, or ask your family physician, since family physicians are knowledgeable about local resources.
Alternatively, you may wish to see a private practice psychologist. Private practice psychologists operate out of private offices and charge you for their services. Almost all private health insurance plans, including the ones typically offered to employees of major employers (including the government), cover psychological services, at least up to some limit. An advantage of seeing a private practice psychologist is that it is usually easier and faster to get an appointment. It can be as simple as phoning the psychologist’s office directly yourself, and arranging an appointment within a couple of weeks. But how do you know which psychologist to go to?
There are a variety of ways:
• Search via the APNS website at www.apns.ca, which provides a list of private practice psychologists, which is searchable by areas of expertise, location, gender and languages spoken.
• Phone APNS 902-422-9183 to ask for the contact information of psychologists who can help you with your concerns.
• Ask the advice of your physician, physiotherapist or other health professional whom they might recommend.
• If you have a need for some very specialized service or other special requirements, such that it is not clear from generally available information which psychologist is appropriate, then you may wish to ask a psychologist who is in more general practice whom they would recommend for that particular issue.
Of course, you will also want to meet the psychologist for an initial session, and discuss your concerns and how they might help you, and then decide whether you wish to continue with that person, as you would with any professional relationship.
This article appeared in the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald newspaper February 28, 2015.
Mind Your Mental Health – MYMH.ca
In honour of Psychology Month, the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) and representatives from the other provincial and territorial associations of psychology have launched their second national Mind Your Mental Health (MYMH) Campaign to help highlight the need to enhance access to psychological services across Canada.
The campaign encourages the public to e-mail their Provincial and Territorial governments to let them know that access to a Psychologist is important to them and their families. It also encourages Canadians to take a picture wearing the MYMH t-shirt and share it on social media to show their support.
“Access to a psychologist should be a right not a privilege.The statistics are staggering. One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem in a given year, yet only one in three reportedly receives care.Canada needs to do a better job at making sure that help is available to those who need it,” says Dr. Kerry Mothersill, President of the CPA.
“Psychological treatments work. Yet, these services are inaccessible to people with modest incomes or no private health insurance because they are not covered by provincial/territorial health insurance plans. Publically funded services, when available, are often in short supply and wait lists are long. Other countries have launched initiatives that include covering the services of psychologists through public health systems. These initiatives are proving both cost and clinically effective,” added Dr. Karen Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of the CPA.
Canadians can participate in the campaign by visiting MYMH.ca and submitting a letter to their elected representative. You can also follow the campaign all month long by visiting