FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Not sure where to start? Here are some questions that might help.

General Questions

The first step is to set up an appointment.  The quickest way to book an appointment is to use the appointment scheduler.  If you prefer, you can also phone, 604-554-0469, or email, stephen@viepsychology.com.  During your first appointment, you will be asked to complete some forms to collect some basic information and the reasons for your appointment will be discussed.  You will also be asked to review and confirm your understanding of policies related to consent for engaging in services, confidentiality of information, fees, and missed or late appointments.

Dr. Stephen is a registered psychologist with a practice in forensic and clinical psychology offering assessment, treatment, and consultative services to adults, adolescents, children, couples, and families. For a more thorough list of services please refer to the lists of forensic psychological services and clinical psychological services

Vie Psychology, Inc. and Dr. Stephen are located at:

3030 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 211
Coquitlam, BC V3B 6B4

Office hours are typically scheduled Monday through Friday between 9:00am and 6:00pm. Some accommodations may be available based on individual circumstances. Offices hours are subject to change.

Every attempt is made to schedule and see new clients as quickly as possible. Many first-time appointments are scheduled within the week. Wait times can vary, especially for high demand times such as after-school or evening appointments.

Please check the appointment scheduler to check availability and to book your appointments.

All contact with a psychologist is held in the strictest confidence. With few exceptions, any and all information regarding your work with a psychologist is confidential and will not be released to anyone without your written consent. The following are legal exceptions to your right to confidentiality:

  • If a psychologist has reason to believe that you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or another person, the psychologist must take action to prevent that harm include, but not limited to, informing friends or family members, contacting police, or contacting other designed health professionals.
  • If a psychologist has a reasonable suspicion, based on information you provide, that there is a child or vulnerable person being abused or neglected, the psychologist must provide information the appropriate authorities.
  • If a psychologist is ordered by a Court to provide services or release records, the psychologist must provide information as requested by the Court.

The length and frequency of sessions will depend on the nature of the psychological services offered. Initial intake sessions will last from 50 to 80 minutes. Assessment interviews and testing sessions can last up to 3 hours. Regular therapy sessions are typically 50 minutes in length.
Frequency of appointments and length of treatment are determined jointly by you and your psychologist.

A psychologist is an individual who has acquired the required post-graduate degree in psychology that meets academic requirements specified by a provincial College tasked with credentialing psychologists. In British Columbia, via the College of Psychologists of British Columbia, a psychologist must earned a Doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in an appropriate accredited program of study. A psychologist must also be registered with his or her respective provincial College which involves completion of a registration examination in psychological theory, research, and practice and completion of ethics and jurisprudence examinations.

A psychiatrist holds a medical degree and has completed medical school and a four-year residency in psychiatry. A psychiatrist will have passed several written examinations administered by a national board, and is qualified to prescribe medications. Some psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy. Further information on about psychiatrists and the practice of psychiatry is available at the website of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

Being a counsellor refers to many individuals who may come from a vast diversity of educational and skill training backgrounds. A counsellor often provides guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems within specialized areas of practice (e.g., marriage and family counselling, addictions counselling, etc.). Currently, there is no regulatory body for counsellors. Discussions are ongoing in the provinces to establish regulations of a counselling profession. Further information is available on the website for the Canadian College of Professional Counsellors & Psychotherapists.

Provincial health care generally does not provide coverage for the services of a psychologist in private practice. Although many clients pay their own fees directly, there may be a number of options available to people who need to see a psychologist, including:

  • Extended health plans
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Crime Victim Assistance Programs
  • Other agencies that support mental health

If you are an Blue Cross subscriber, submissions for direct billing can be made at the time of your appointment. Depending on your insurance program, part of all of your fees for psychological services may be covered. You can confirm you coverage with Blue Cross.

Please inquire about other extended health care providers who allow direct billing.

Yes. Insurance companies use a variety of procedures for handling coverage. Please inquire about arrangements that can be made for your insurance provider.

If an emergency involves an imminent risk to yourself or to someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately, or contact the crisis line at 310-6789.

Other important contact numbers include:

  • Mental Health Helpline
  • Distress/suicide help line
  • Kids help line
  • Bully line for youth
  • Mental Health Helpline
  • Distress/suicide help line
  • Kids help line
  • Bully line for youth

Further support contacts are listed on the Resources page.

No. A referral is not required.

It is always encouraged that you approach the psychologist to explain your concern and to seek a mutually agreeable resolution. Psychologists are ethically required to treat you with respect and to attempt to resolve matters is a professional manner. If you are unable to resolve your matter directly with the psychologist, you can direct your complaint to the College of Psychologists of British Columbia:

College of Psychologists of British Columbia
404 – 1755 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V6J 4S5
Phone: 604.736.6164

Additional information can be found on the College of Psychologists of British Columbia Concerns About a Psychologist web page.

Forensic Clinical Psychology

Forensic psychology refers to the application of psychology to the legal system. Psychological principles, theory, research, and data help inform legal questions. The practice of forensic psychology often involves forensic psychological assessment of individuals who are involved in the legal system in one way or another. Additionally, general or specialized forensic psychological treatment can be provided.

Within the field of forensic psychology there are two primary areas: criminal forensic psychology and civil forensic psychology. Criminal forensic psychology involves the delivery of psychological services who are involved in criminal proceedings. This often involves working with individuals who have been accused, charged, or convicted of a crime. It may also involve working with victims of crime. Civil forensic psychology involves the delivery of psychological services to individuals who are involved in civil proceedings. Most common among these are personal injury claims, worker’s compensation, family court, civil competencies, and discrimination-based claims.

A forensic assessment is conducted when a forensic psychologist is hired to answer a specific psycho-legal question. A forensic psychologist will conduct clinical interviews, collateral interviews (e.g., witness, victims, family, friends, legal counsel, police officers), review records (e.g., medical, psychological, criminal, school), administer psychological tests, and form an opinion to answer the legal question.

A client requesting a clinical assessment is often posing their own questions regarding diagnosis, treatment, or progress. In forensic assessments, the client can be court ordered or referred by their attorney to assist in their legal case.

Some features of forensic assessments are:

  • Sometimes adversarial relationships develop between the psychologist and client
  • A narrow focus to answer a specific psycho-legal question is required
  • There is a heavy focus on the accurate portrayal of information. 
  • Clients may distort or provide an inaccurate portrayal of information
  • The psychologist does not act in a therapeutic role
  • They can be conducted in a psychologist’s office, jail, or other correctional setting
  • There may be limited confidentiality as a forensic assessment is typically shared with the client’s representative legal counsel and, in some cases, the court

Clients are referred for forensic evaluation when their legal counsel believes it may be beneficial to their legal case or when the Court orders someone to undergo an evaluation.

Common legal questions that forensic psychologists are required to answer are:

  • Mental condition of defendant at time of the commission of the crime (Criminal Responsibility)
  • Mental condition of the defendant at the time of the trial (Competency)
  • Sentencing recommendations
  • Recommendations for mitigating sentencing outcomes
  • Violence risk assessment
  • Sexual violence risk assessment
  • Pre- or post- incident functioning
  • Contributory negligence
  • Intervening factors
  • Current or future functioning
  • Parenting, custody, and access arrangements
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Mental disability

A criminal profiler is often a law enforcement investigator with a background in behaviour sciences that is applied to criminal offending. While some forensic psychologists do this, it is not what most forensic psychologists do. A forensic psychologist applies psychological methodology and tools to address questions relevant to a psycho-legal question. Criminal profilers are applying behavioural analysis to patterns of behaviour to facilitate investigation and identification of possible suspects.

A custody evaluation, or parenting evaluation, is a legal process in which a mental health expert, such as a psychologist, evaluates a family and makes a recommendation to the court for a custody, visitation, or parenting plan. While a custody evaluation can help in making recommendations for parenting time and custody, it also offers possible solutions that minimize problems between parents (e.g., minimize conflict during child exchange, use of a parenting coordinator, determining treatment needs of individual family members).

A custody evaluation involves a number of steps. You will be asked to complete questionnaires about your background. You will be interviewed about pertinent information in terms of the issue that has brought to Court as well as your background. A review of records will be completed. Additionally, psychological testing is conducted using several different tests. Interviews and testing are conducted with all relevant individuals involves in the case (i.e., each parent and child). It is common to interview and test children separately and then with each of the parents. At the end of the evaluation, a psychological report is generated and sent to the appropriate parties.

Forensic treatment involves the administration of psychological interventions or treatment to individuals involved in either criminal or civil cases who require or request services. In criminal forensics, treatment can involve therapy to counsel convicted criminals, recovering drug addicts, and sex offenders. A forensic treatment may be appropriate to help restore competency after an individual has been determined by the courts as incompetent to stand trial. It can involve assisting inmates or their families who are impacted by problems resulting from imprisonment. Forensic psychologists can also organize and manage programs designed to decrease criminal recidivism (e.g., anger management, sex offender treatment). Forensic treatment may also involve more typical clinical psychological treatments to address maladaptive thoughts and behaviours or mental health problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, disordered personality, etc.). In civil cases, forensic treatment may involve providing psychological interventions to families going through a divorce or custody case. Forensic treatment can also be provided to individuals who have suffered psychological injuries due to trauma.

Forensic psychologists, and psychologists in general, are governed by codes and standards of professional ethics. They avoid bias by focusing on the data and evidence presented to them and applying structured and transparent professional clinical judgement. Forensic psychologists avoid advocating for a particular outcome of a psycho-legal question but instead focus on provide accurate information to inform the psycho-legal question. Forensic psychologists also do not accept contingency fees or engage in behaviours that might influence or prejudice their expert opinions.

Clinical Psychology

A psychological assessment takes place when a psychologist is hired to answer a specific clinical question. It involves the use of scientific methods to understand human personality, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. During a psychological assessment, the psychologist will integrate observations, clinical interviews, psychological tests, and information from various sources to help clients explore new ways to more effectively resolve problems. Feedback from an assessment is intended to promote self-awareness and understanding and to help inform treatment planning. A psychological assessment can also provide accurate and objective information to help answer questions posed by other health professionals and referring agencies such as school systems, the Court, and social agencies.

Psychological assessments support decision making and planning for the needs of clients based in part on their psychological functioning. A psychological assessment is appropriate when there is a clinical rationale to address a specific set of referral questions about a particular client under a unique set of circumstance.

Examples of when a psychological assessment may be beneficial include:

  • Establishing diagnoses (e.g., depression, anxiety, ADHD, personality, etc.)
  • Determining developmental delays, learning strengths, weaknesses, and needs
  • Identifying reasons for school problems, learning differences, or learning disabilities
  • Testing for intelligence or giftedness
  • Assisting in school placement
  • Developing individualized program plans and special accommodations for school
  • Confirming readiness for surgery
  • Learning about emotional, personality, or relationship styles
  • Understanding one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and relationships
  • Developing therapy goals
  • Assisting with career choices

A psychological assessment is valuable in order to conduct a pre-treatment evaluation in order to describe an individual’s current functioning, confirm or refute clinical impressions, identify treatment needs, suggest appropriate treatments or aid in careful diagnosis. A psychological assessment may be conducted to evaluate outcomes of treatment in order to supplement a client’s subjective reports with formal measures of current functioning. Psychological test data collected at the beginning, end, and at interim points can help accurately measure progress and treatment effectiveness. If treatment appears stalled, a psychological assessment can be used to review and modify treatment plans or to identify the factors impeding therapeutic progress. Additionally, psychological assessments can be used as a brief treatment in some cases to for a therapeutic or collaborative assessment or to decrease distressing symptoms, restore hope, and increase cooperation with other treatments.

A psychological assessment offers an objective measure of personal characteristics, important treatment related information, and reliable and valid information about a client based on comparisons with research data gathered from large groups of people. A psychological assessment can measure a large number of personality, cognitive, and behavioural characteristics simultaneously. Information can be merged from a wide range of sources, including self-reports, performance tasks, and other assessment strategies. A psychological assessment can provide central information for the start of or early in treatment. It can guide the selection of appropriate treatment methods. It can also highlight potential client characteristics that will facilitate or impede treatment. A psychological assessment can also provide a baseline to measure the progress of treatment and to evaluate the effects of treatment.

Psychological assessments can be conducted for any age. Depending on the age of the client and the circumstances surrounding the request, the psychological assessment process will be tailored through an appropriate selection of methods and tools.

Psychological assessment activities such as interviews and testing normally take place in the psychologist’s office. Observations and other interviews may be conducted at schools, employment, homes, or other venues as necessary. Often the client and individuals familiar with the client will be asked to complete questionnaires.

Therapy, or psychotherapy, involves the use of psychological interventions to implement psychological change when a client is struggling with personal or relationship issues, or a formal mental health concern. Therapy involves the development of a supportive collaborative environment in which an client’s concerns can be openly discussed with a psychologist who is objective, neutral, and nonjudgmental. In therapy, a psychologist applies scientifically valid procedures to help the client identify and affect change in maladaptive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that distress the client.

There are a variety of different psychotherapy approaches and many psychologists will draw on one or more of these approaches. The kind of treatment you will receive will depend on current psychological research, your psychologist’s theoretical orientation, and what works best for your situation.

There are literally hundreds of theoretical orientationsExamples of theoretical orientations include:

  • Psychodynamic – Examines how the unconscious influences a person’ thinking and behaviour.  The goal of psychodynamic approaches is to increase the client’s self-awareness and understanding, help them understand how unresolved conflicts from the past may influence them in the present, and replace unwanted patterns in current relationships.
  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – Assumes that behaviours and beliefs are responsible for the development of mental health problems.  The goal is to help the client identify, challenge, and adjust maladaptive beliefs and behaviours.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) – A treatment approach that uses CBT techniques to increase a client’s mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.
  • Humanistic – With a focus on optimism, this approach assumes that people have a natural inclination to strive toward self-fulfillment.  The goal is to help clients self-actualize through self-examination, self-mastery, and creative expression.
  • Integrative or Eclectic – While not a theoretical orientation, per se, an integrative approach involves an attempt to unite various aspects of different theoretical orientations to best fit the needs of the client.