Frequently Asked Questions

What is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour, which increasingly includes neuroscience and brain research. I practice Clinical Psychology, but there are many other branches of Psychology, for example, Social, Personality, Developmental or Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

What does a clinical psychologist do?

A clinical psychologist applies the science of Psychology and knowledge from related fields, to mental health and human well-being. Some areas include relationships, mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, addictive problems, behavioural patterns or psychological adjustment related to medical and physical health, recovery and rehabilitation from injury or medical illness.

How is a clinical psychologist qualified?

In Ontario, a clinical psychologist:

  • is a regulated health professional meeting rigorous training and legal standards
  • is trained and qualified in psychological assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
  • is regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario under the auspices of the Government of Ontario
  • typically has a doctoral degree in Psychology (e.g. PhD, EdD, PsyD), requiring completion of:
  • extensive coursework, clinical and research training
  • a doctoral dissertation based on original research
  • a full-time year-long internship or residency, usually in a hospital
  • has practiced for a full year under supervision after the doctoral degree
  • has passed examinations set by the College of Psychologists of Ontario

Why would a psychologist be helpful
for medical or physical problems?

We often assume that our minds and bodies are separate from each other. In fact they are intimately connected. Increasingly, research shows that psychological factors are important in many medical conditions. For example, psychological reactions can result from heart attack, and then greatly burden recovery. Psychological factors such as stress, depression and anxiety can also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in the first place, contribute to high blood pressure, and complicate management of diabetes. A psychologist can help you adjust to the medical condition itself, and to reduce psychological risk factors.

How do you decide whether a
particular psychologist is right for you?

You should look for a solid combination of training, experience and qualifications in a psychologist. Because the relationship between patient and psychologist is so important, this information should be considered along with your own feelings: Could you work comfortably with this person? Does he or she respect your concerns? Do you feel that you can develop a trusting relationship with him or her?

How long and often are sessions,
and how many are needed?

Sessions generally last 50 minutes, although in some assessment situations the duration may be longer. Usually sessions are held every week or two, although this is flexible. It is difficult to make a general statement about the number of sessions required, since this depends on individual considerations such as personality or complexity of the issues involved. For example, counselling to develop basic skills for management of common daily stress might be accomplished in five or six sessions. More complex problems such as psychotherapy for chronic depression complicated by a medical or other problem will probably take longer.


In Ontario, psychological services outside of a hospital program are generally provided on a fee-for-service basis, and are not covered by OHIP (medicare). You may have coverage for psychological services from sources such as your healthcare plan at work, insurance, employee assistance plans or the WSIB. Currently my basic rate for a fifty-minute session is $150.00.

Payment is due when service has been provided. Usually I bill patients on the final session of each month, and ask for payment at that time. I accept direct payment by cash, cheque or e-mail transfer, and do not generally direct-bill private insurance plans. I do not accept credit or bank cards. Amounts overdue by more than 30 days after billing may be subject to a charge of 2% monthly.

If you and I have agreed on an appointment time and date, and you need to cancel or change it, then I ask you to notify me as early as possible. I reserve the right to bill you for a session missed without notice at least 24 hours ahead of time.

Under Ontario law, you are the owner of, and have the right to control your personal health information. This includes personally identified information you disclose to a regulated health professional such as a clinical psychologist. It also includes opinions or diagnoses a psychologist may form on the basis of that information. The psychologist is deemed to be a custodian of your personal health information, and is required to ensure its security, and your privacy and confidentiality.

Under Ontario law disclosure of your personal health information must not occur except with your informed consent. However, there are five exceptions in which your personal health information could, or must, be disclosed without your consent:

1) If you are assessed to be a danger to yourself (e.g. suicidality) information may be disclosed to protect you. If you are assessed to be a danger to others (e.g. intent to harm), potential victims of violence must be informed.

2) Risk or suspicion of child abuse must be reported to the Children’s Aid Society.

3) Risk or suspicion of elder abuse in a long-term care facility or retirement home must be reported to the Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care or Retirement Home Regulatory Authority.

4) A court of law can issue a subpoena to compel release of written notes and records, file contents, or testimony. This would be discussed with you before release of information.

5) If you have been sexually abused or harassed by another regulated health professional, then the appropriate regulatory college must be notified. This would not necessarily involve disclosure of your identity.


Links and Information

Provincial & National Professional Associations of Psychology:

Legal governing body for Psychology in Ontario

Provincial and national associations for cardiac rehabilitation:
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Network of Ontario:
  • Canadian Association of Cardiopulmonary Prevention & Rehabilitation:

Resources on heart disease, stroke and healthy living:

I was the editor and lead author of the Psychology chapter of the current Canadian national guidelines for cardiac rehabilitation:

  • Prior, PL, Francis, JA, Reitav, J, & Stone, JA. Psychological and Behavioural Issues in Cardiovascular Disease. Chapter 6 in Canadian Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Translating Knowledge into Action, 3rd Edition. JA Stone, editor-in-chief; H Arthur & N Suskin, associate editors. Winnipeg: Canadian Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation, pp 107-202.

    To obtain this professional and academic resource please go to:


Prior PL, Hachinski V, Chan R, Unsworth K, Mytka S, Harnadek M, O’Callaghan C & Suskin N (2017). Comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation for secondary prevention after transient ischemic attack or mild stroke. Psychological profile and outcomes. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation37, 429-436.

Majoni M, Suskin N, Unsworth K, Stranges S, Prior P (2018). Cardiac rehabilitation as secondary prevention among survivors of transient ischaemic attack: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 34(10; supp 1), abstract 041 p. S26.

Prior P, Xue Y, Ali A, Suskin N & Skanes A (2017). Psychological factors associated with self-reported symptom burden, quality of life and health care usage among paroxysmal atrial fibrillation patients. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 33 (10, supp), p. S58-59, abstract 100.

Zhang KM, Prior PL, Swartzman LC, Unsworth KL, Suskin NG & Minda JP (2017). Explaining causal links among risk factors, cardiovascular pathophysiology, symptoms and health behaviours: a randomized controlled trial of patient education strategies to enhance ‘deep’ vs. ‘surface’ level of knowledge. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 32(10, supp 1)abstract 081, p. S111-112.

Prior PL, Asgary-Eden V, Jongsma K, Unsworth K & Suskin N (2016). Post-CABG patients were less emotionally distressed and attended more exercise sessions than other referral cohorts in cardiac rehabilitation. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 32 (10, supp 1) abstract 306, p. S240-241.

Prior PL, Xue Y, Unsworth KL, & Suskin NG (2013).  Atrial dysrhythmia in comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation: prevalence, characteristics, program completion and outcomes.  Canadian Journal of Cardiology29 (10; supp), abstract 174,  p. S157.

Prior PL, Asgary-Eden V, Jongsma K, Unsworth K & Suskin N (2016). Post-CABG patients were less emotionally distressed and attended more exercise sessions than other referral cohorts in cardiac rehabilitation. Abstract in Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2016 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress issue; Oct 2016.

Prior PL, Xue Y, Unsworth KL, & Suskin NG (2013). Atrial dysrhythmia in comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation: prevalence, characteristics, program completion and outcomes. Abstract in Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 29 (10; supp), p. S157

O’Connell ME, Prior PL, Suskin NG & Unsworth KL (2010). Reliable change indices to assess progress of individual cardiac rehabilitation patients. I. Psychometrics: anxiety, depression & quality of life. Abstract in Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, 30(5), p. 346.
Prior PL, O’Connell ME, Suskin NG & Unsworth KL (2010). Reliable change indices to assess progress of individual cardiac rehabilitation patients. II. Stress-testing: Exercise capacity. Abstract in Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, 30(5), p. 352.