Taking steps to seek help can be difficult and feel overwhelming at times. It takes courage to reach out for help in the face of so many unknowns. We aim to offer information to help increase your knowledge and comfort in knowing who, and how, to ask for help.
You may be interested in treatment because you are struggling with sexual interest in children and/or are concerned about offending involving a child. You may be—in either instance—concerned about the consequences of sharing your attraction or urges to your therapist, should you choose to do so.
The information below will tell you about the Talking for Change free psychotherapy program, ways in which to access a fee-for-service community-based therapist in Canada, and questions to consider asking a potential therapist.
Talking for Change Therapy Program
As part of our Talking for Change program, we are offering free psychotherapy to individuals in Ontario (and Atlantic Canada) who are willing to identify themselves (i.e., share their name and other identifying details). Currently we are unable to provide anonymous psychotherapy. Talking for Change is provided at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital. CAMH provides clinical care to people in a number of areas, conducts ground-breaking research, develops innovative health promotion and prevention strategies, and advocates for policy issues at all levels of government.
You can also call the Talking for Change helpline if you need assistance in filling out this form at 1-833-703-3303 (toll-free) or 416-583-1310 (local number).
Here’s what to expect after you fill out the Talking for Change self-referral form:
- A clinician from Talking for Change will call or email you (depending on your preference) to review limits to confidentiality (those things we are required by law to disclose if you share them with us) and ask you a few brief questions (and you are welcome to ask questions, too). If you would like to move forward, and your needs fit with the kind of help we can provide, we will schedule an appointment for an assessment.
- The assessment appointment is a 1–2 hour meeting (over secure video or in-person) with a clinician from Talking for Change. This is a more in-depth review of a number of areas of your life, as well as questions about your mental health, sexual interests and behaviour, and how we might be able to help you.
- At the end of that appointment, the clinician will share with you their professional recommendations for any next steps that might be helpful. This could include moving on to our Talking for Change psychotherapy program or referral to other services (at CAMH or elsewhere). It is your decision if you want to follow through with any of these recommendations.
There are a number of excellent therapists (psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists) across Canada who provide psychotherapy to individuals who are concerned about their sexual interest in children and/or are concerned about their risk to offend involving a child.
Finding a therapist can be difficult, even if you know the questions you want to ask. Talking for Change has a list of therapists from across Canada who work with individuals who identify as having an attraction to children and/or are concerned about their risk for offending.
Additionally, you can anonymously request a list of therapists in your area through www.atsa.com/referral. This website is managed by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), which is an international organization aimed at preventing sexual violence and assisting people who have atypical sexual interests, have sexually offended, or are concerned about offending.
Questions for a Potential Therapist
Finding a skilled therapist who is the right fit for you is very important to your overall success in therapy. Whether you are seeking help for your sexual interests, concerns about offending, or want to address other issues in your life, there are important things to consider. It is important to take time to research a potential therapist and identify questions to ask them as you think about meeting with someone for the first time. The information offered below may serve as a guide to help you to think about how to find a therapist.
- If you are seeking therapy to talk about your sexual interests and/or concerns about offending, look for a therapist who has training and experience in working with individuals in these areas. If the therapist has a website, read through their bio and the types of services they offer to see if it is a match.
- Ask a therapist with whom you are interested in meeting if they offer a free and brief consultation for you to get to know them, and for them to get to know you. This can help you to understand their training and experience and to share some of what you might want to discuss in therapy. You will also get to ask any important questions you may have about what it will be like to work with them.
- Ask the therapist about their knowledge, beliefs, and opinions about people who have a sexual interest in children and/or are concerned about their risk of offending.
- Ask what the therapist’s approach might be in working with you. How are treatment goals decided and how do they conduct sessions (i.e., how long is each session, are there therapy exercises to be done outside of session)?
- Ask the therapist about their previous experience with breaching confidentiality in order to make a mandatory report (this is when a therapist believes they need to notify a child protection agency about a history of abuse, or the risk of abuse, towards a child). In what types of situations has this occurred?
- Ask the therapist when they might choose to make a mandatory report to a child protection agency and/or when might they choose to notify police based on a client’s disclosure.
- When meeting for the first time, the therapist should review the limits to confidentiality that they are bound by law to follow. These limits may be slightly different based on the province/territory in which you live. Take as much time as you need to ask questions about the limits to confidentiality.
- Ask the therapist directly about their training and experience in working with people who have a sexual interest in children, have engaged in sexual offences, and/or are concerned about their risk of offending.