Rebecca Steele

Psychotherapist (Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy, MA, MSW)

Rebecca Steele, Private Practice

Rebecca Steele earned her MA in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy in 2015 and received her Master of Social Work in December 2017. As a teenager, Rebecca was interested in personalities. She would go to the library and read about personality theories, as well as take personality tests. Throughout her university education, she explored these interests further through several psychology classes related to personality, marriage and family, death/dying and sexuality, and realized psychotherapy would be a great career fit.

Currently, Rebecca is a registered social worker and psychotherapist. Her past experiences helped lead her to these positions, as well as set her up for success. Prior to being a psychotherapist, she was a psychometrist for 1.5 years. Rebecca would meet with a psychologist’s clients and administer testing as part of the assessment process. Examples of what she would collect were tests related to examining memory, intelligence, reading comprehension and mathematical skills to name a few. After administering such tests, she would do some of the scoring and then pass the results on to the psychologist for interpretation and diagnosis. These tests used to assess people are standardized and have to be done exactly the same way every time so that everyone’s results can be compared to one another. Rebecca’s previous roles as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Waterloo in psychology, and as a health promotion intern during her time as a social work student have contributed immensely to her path. As a health promotion intern, Rebecca would attend psychiatric consults where the psychiatrist would provide consultation and supervision regarding client cases. Rebecca presented a workshop in therapy and mental health to the staff at the health centre and created a health and wellness booklet during her time in the position. One project she is proud of is the resource binder she created for staff at the agency, where social workers could turn to for all the resources they needed.

With her own private practice, Rebecca’s schedule is variable. On average, she meets with clients 6 days a week for one-on-one psychotherapy sessions. After each session, she authors case notes to record what happened. She also has to engage in administrative tasks such as responding to inquiries from prospective clients and speaking with insurance companies. A lot of Rebecca’s work is self-directed in her own working environment. She loves that it is her own work and loves what she is doing, which is essentially connecting with and hearing clients’ stories. One of her biggest challenges was the learning curve of having her own business. It can be quite time consuming (i.e., having to take a few hours each day to deal with administrative tasks). She also notes that it is important to balance self-care with work; you must deal with your own stresses and help yourself to be able to effectively help others.

One of the most important qualities to have in this line of work is to be sincerely curious. Rebecca explains that in this area people are so variable. If you have a lot of strong emotions about how people should be or what kind of life they should lead, it will get in the way of helping them. Curiosity helps to keep work enjoyable and allows you to be more effective. Also, she says the love of learning is important, as there is always another type of therapy or treatment to learn and explore.

To pursue a career in psychotherapy, you don’t necessarily have to do an undergraduate degree in psychology. However, it is a good idea to have some psychology classes as part of your background. A master’s degree is required to work in a therapeutic capacity. Regardless of your degree though, Rebecca wants students to know that learning comes from experiences and continual learning. Having a desire and being open to learn is very important. With respect to being a psychometrist, a psychology background is helpful. There is formal training to learn about psychometry where you can invest money in workshops to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Also, on-the-job training from a mentor is an option as these skills can be learned without having to financially invest a lot of money.

As a psychometrist the working environment is typically in a psychologist’s office. For psychotherapy though, it can range from working as a social worker in a hospital setting, being in a community-counselling agency, or offering services in clients’ or your own home. Online therapy is also an option, where you can work your business via distance counselling.

As far as future trends in the field, online therapy and distance counselling are growing. This opens doors for people who don’t have access or present with concerns that are hard to approach via face- to-face counselling. There is also more integration of other types of healing with psychotherapy now. An example is blending indigenous healing with psychotherapy in the appropriate cultural context. Rebecca also feels that the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, though fairly new, will help make psychotherapy become a more prestigious profession as they work to become legitimized by insurance companies and the public. Regarding psychometry, it is staying steady and continuing as is.

Rebecca’s advice to students is that they should reach out to any supports they have, do the best they can academically, and learn more about the environment in which they want to work. Psychotherapy is a profession involving working with people. As such, reaching out and making connections is important. Finding like-minded people wherever you are in schooling can be key because colleagues and fellow students will be a main source of support. She also stresses the importance of self-care and tending to your own mental health. If she could go back in time to offer wisdom to herself, Rebecca would say to always continue on the path of self-awareness. Doing so allows you to learn more about who you are and what you want. She explains that it is important to pursue your interests and passions and to explore what excites you. To pursue your passion is the greatest gift in the world because it will give you the energy to continue your work. As long as you pursue what you’re passionate about, you may come across innovative ways to combine your interests.