Social Work Services – Frequently Asked Questions

Who consults a Social Worker?
People from all age groups and all walks of life consult social workers. Social Workers provide services to individuals, couples, families, groups, communities and corporations.

The services of Social Workers are aimed at helping people develop their skills and ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems. The primary objective of the work is concerned with individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as unemployment, poverty and domestic violence.[dt_sc_hr]

When should you consult a Social Worker?
People consult Social Workers when they are going through a difficult period in their personal, professional and family life. Social Workers posses the necessary skills to help identify the source of stress, help people to develop coping skills and find effective solutions to their problems, offer different types of counselling and therapy, and mediate between conflicts.

Social Workers are the major providers of counselling and psychotherapy services in Ontario.

Services provided by Social Workers:

  • Individual, family and couple assessment and counselling
  • Play Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Grief, loss and trauma counselling
  • Addictions counselling
  • Stress management
  • Mental capacity assessment
  • Mediation/alternate dispute resolution
  • Custody/access assessments
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
  • Adoptions
  • Career/employment counselling and placement
  • Vocational assessments/rehabilitation
  • Counselling for eating disorders[dt_sc_hr]

Where do Social Workers work?
Social workers work in a variety of settings, including – family services agencies, children’s aid agencies, general and psychiatric hospitals, mental health settings, addiction treatment facilities, school boards, correctional institutions, senior’s services, employee assistance programs, federal and provincial departments. An increasing number of social workers are also choosing private practice.[dt_sc_hr]

Do I need a referral to see a Social Worker?
No, but you may want to discuss your problem with your doctor who can refer you to a social worker. In some cases, this may enable you to receive coverage under an extended health plan.[dt_sc_hr]

Difference between Social Workers, Psychologists & Psychiatrists
Social Workers, Psychologists and Psychiatrists are professionals who can provide psychotherapy. Though they are all trained to provide psychotherapy, they differ in their education and training.

Social Workers
Social Workers attend graduate school in social work, earning an MSW (Master of Social Work) or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) degree. Training generally includes 2 years of coursework and practical experience working at agencies in the community. Social workers are trained to provide psychotherapy, with special emphasis on connecting people with the community and support services available there.

Social workers practice a variety of roles in a range of settings, including schools, hospitals, correctional centres, children’s aid societies, as well as in private practice.

Psychologists
Psychologists attend graduate school in psychology. The Canadian Psychological Association recognizes the Masters degree as the minimum educational requirement for psychologists. One can work as a psychologist after doing a M.A., M.Phil. or Ph.D. in Psychology. Training focuses on all aspects of human behaviour, with an emphasis on research and scientific methods.

Psychologists may use psychological testing to help with assessment and diagnosis.

Psychiatrists
Psychiatrists attend medical college and earn M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. They can go on for additional training to specialise in mental health and mental disorders. Training for psychiatrists primarily focuses on biological aspects of mental illness.

Because of their medical education, psychiatrists can prescribe medications, and their work with clients may include talk therapy in combination with medications.

Other professionals who can provide psychotherapy
Other professionals who can offer psychotherapy include licensed professional clinical counsellors, licensed marriage and family therapists, pastoral counsellors and psychiatric nurse practitioners.[dt_sc_hr]

Are Social Work Services Covered by OHIP?
Although, social work services are not covered by OHIP; the services of social workers who work in agencies are many times available at no charge to clients or on a sliding scale. Typical examples include – publicly-funded organizations are schools, hospitals, community agencies, children’s aid societies and family service organizations.

Private practitioners offer social work services that are billed on an hourly rate. One can claim coverage under a private health plan or employee group benefits plans. More and more insurance companies will cover social work services in individual policies or group health plans if asked to do so. If social work is not presently on the list of professional services covered in your insurance plan, you can ask for it to be added.[dt_sc_hr]

What you can do to get coverage for social workers service in your workplace group benefits plans?

  • If your organisation provides a group benefits plan, become familiar with the nature and amount of coverage for each benefit.
  • If psychosocial counselling provided by a registered social worker is not covered, request your union representative or, in non-unionized settings, your HR department or employer to add coverage when contract negotiations occur or when the plan comes up for renewal.
  • Encourage your colleagues in organisation to support your request. Attend union meetings to ensure that this benefit is on the table when the contract negotiations take place.