The most common questions about our services are listed below, categorized as administrative or clinical in focus. Have a question that isn’t answered here? Feel free to contact us directly.
How does your clinic operate?
Each practitioner at The Refuge operates their own independent business from the premises. As a result, it is important to know that Sarah Schlote has a business relationship with each of them as sub-tenants.
The therapists operating at The Refuge are focused on working with trauma and attachment-related issues and have been invited to operate here because of the focused nature of the clinic. Often, clients may see more than one therapist at The Refuge at once, such as attending individual counselling with one therapist and couples counselling with another. Seeing therapists who share theoretical perspectives and use similar approaches can help streamline your overall experience and facilitate treatment planning and coordination with your various providers. It is for this reason that The Refuge was created, and many of our clients appreciate the “one stop shop”, integrative wraparound care they receive here, in terms of the ease of effort it provides them.
However, there is no obligation for you to work with other therapists on the team, and you are more than welcome to work with other therapists in the community for other aspects of your care. We are also happy to coordinate care with your existing therapist if you have one, or refer you to someone offsite who might be a better fit for whatever reason should you require additional support. This will not affect your care with your therapist here in any way. We value your choice, voice and empowerment, and strive to embody these principles of trauma-informed care by upholding and respecting your right to self-determination in making decisions that are right for you. Thank you for your trust in us.
How do I make an appointment?
Alternately, you may call any of the practitioners here directly, whose numbers are available on their page on the website. If contacting a therapist directly, please let them know how you found out about us.
Do you offer a free initial session?
Are your services covered by OHIP?
Are your services covered by insurance?
- Registered Psychotherapist (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario – applies to 3 of our practitioners)
- Master’s-level therapist (applies to 4 of our practitioners)
- Clinical Counsellor (Sarah Schlote and Angela Herzog are certified counsellors through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association)
- Registered Social Worker (Kari Kokko)
- Services under supervision of a Registered Psychologist (Sarah Schlote, Angela Herzog and Tiffany Burtch work as associates of Dr. Julianna Switaj)
- Health spending account (applies to all our practitioners)
Prior to booking, please confirm with your insurance provider what coverage you have available, how much per calendar year, whether you need a referral from a medical doctor, etc. Typically, clients pay therapists for their services and submit receipts for reimbursement.
Advocating for RP Coverage: Since the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario is still relatively new, many insurance companies have not updated their policies to include Registered Psychotherapists (RPs). However, some have begun doing so. Also, some insurance companies are willing to consider approving individual practitioners on a case by case basis, even if a particular designation is not formally listed in a particular benefits plan. We’ve had some success with certain insurance companies who have approved our practitioners on an exception basis once they review our qualifications and areas of focus, which is something you could inquire about.
Are you registered with an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan)?
Are you an approved provider for mental health services for indigenous clients through Health Canada?
Do you take credit card payments or have a sliding scale?
What are your office hours?
What do I need to do to prepare for my first session?
What are your rates?
Do you work with children and teens?
While our clinic focuses on working with adults, we do occasionally work with older teens who have the ability to consent to engage in therapy (17-19), on a case by case basis. We do not have any child or younger teen-focused therapists in our clinic at this time.
I want to try to resolve what is going on for me without medications. Will you support me in that?
I don’t know if I have trauma, but I do struggle with chronic stress, grief and loss, relationships, anxiety, anger, etc. Can you still help me?
I’ve been to lots of therapists and have had to tell my story over and over again and nothing’s really changing. I’m also concerned about doing body-focused trauma work and that it will be overwhelming. What makes you different?
At The Refuge, our practitioners are committed to ongoing professional training in the area of trauma and attachment, obtaining clinical consultation/supervision and to doing their own personal work to ensure the highest standard of therapeutic care.
Our practitioners are also committed to supporting your safety, choice, voice and empowerment. Know that you can always refuse body-oriented approaches in your work with us, and that we have many other modalities at our disposal that we can use in our work together. Or you may be curious about body-focused work but want to proceed slowly – and we agree with this too. The first step is always building trust and rapport with one another, and working in a titrated way from where you are at, regardless of what approach we use. Titration implies doing a little bit at a time, respecting your limits and comfort level, to help you develop the internal capacity and self-confidence to gradually tolerate more, so that you don’t need to put so much effort into managing things all the time (“using your energy to control your energy”). It’s like learning to drive a car – you need to know how to work the brake pedal before being able to press down on the gas and enjoy the freedom of driving. Similarly, we don’t want to toss you into the deep end of the pool before you know how to swim.
This involves learning the internal self-regulation skills to ground yourself and help you modulate your emotions and physical arousal, so that feelings, sensations and being in your body are not as overwhelming or scary. It can be a pleasant surprise to feel your emotions or sensations without fear, bracing, worrying, panic or avoidance and ride them out until they dissipate and still be ok. This is especially important if your feelings have felt out of control or you have kept things tightly guarded or controlled, or learned to disconnect or dissociate in order to cope. You may struggle with hyper-arousal (a high amount of anxiety/panic/hypervigilance, anger/rage, or speedy energy and difficulty settling) or hypo-arousal (flat, disconnected, numb, tired, foggy), or caught between extremes, and so finding a more flexible mid-range that isn’t so stuck, rigid or exhausting is an important step.
Working with trauma for some people may then involve the renegotiation of a traumatic or stressful experience to release, discharge or complete it in an embodied way in the present (also known as “unwinding” in certain circles). This is not the same as catharsis, re-enactment or re-living it, which are rarely useful. Renegotiating means being able to work through the leftover charge from difficult experiences differently. This often involves gradually thawing out of freeze/fear and into feeling more empowered to move physically or respond emotionally in the way you need to in order to self-protect (or would have wanted to in the past but were prevented from doing – mobilizing fight/flight responses). Our goal is to help you feel a sense of joy, mastery, embodied empowerment and triumph in your life experiences and sense of self, as opposed to re-enacting a familiar sense of fear, anxiety, overwhelm and defeat. You may be ready to do this work off the get-go, or this can be the culmination of a process of careful preparation at your own pace.
Do I need to tell you the details of my story in order for you to work with me?
Do we need to drag up old memories in order for me to heal?
There are ways we can support your healing process to a certain degree without delving too deeply into the past. For example, the body holds memory and sometimes a physical response can arise and be worked through that doesn’t seem connected to any particular conscious experience. We can also work together in the present moment to build skills that will helpful for you to move forward, without any deeper processing of past events. However, if a spontaneous memory or connection to past experiences does arise in our work, or if you have a specific goal of wanting to work on a particular memory or experience, our focus will again be to help you work through that in a way that is less overwhelming. Instead of feeling isolated or left to flounder alone helplessly in it, which may be familiar and what you went through at some point in the past and want to avoid, we aim to offer you the support, attunement and presence you need emotionally and physically to get through what is coming up for you in a more empowered and transformative way. As Dr. Peter Levine says, “trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.” Things can be different.