First nurse-led psychotherapy clinic in Canada opens in Peterborough

A portrait of Sheena Howard. She is sitting down and there is a red brick wall behind her. She wears a white shirt under a dark purple blazer and wears glasses.
Sheena Howard, owner and founder of Acceptance Nurse Psychotherapy. Photo provided by Sheena Howard.
Edward Sweeney - CFFF - PeterboroughON | 25-10-2023
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Canada’s first exclusively nurse-led psychotherapy clinic opened in Peterborough this October.

Acceptance Nurse Psychotherapy officially opened its doors at 459 George St. N. on Oct. 2, and had their grand opening on Oct. 12.

“This is a historical moment for nurses,” says Sheena Howard, owner and founder of Acceptance.

Howard has 20 years experience as a nurse in Canada, but has been operating in independent practice since 2018, which she says is uncommon for nurses to do.

“The College of Nurses of Ontario have regulated [nurses] to perform psychotherapy in an independent setting,” says Howard.

Howard would get requests from clients who would receive better care from nurses with different specialties than her own, so she decided to invite another Peterborough nurse to become an independent nurse psychotherapist, which led to the creation of Acceptance Nurse Psychotherapy. Acceptance now has eight nurse psychotherapists in addition to Howard, and they offer a wide variety of specialties and programs:

“We see youth, adults, couples, and families. We see folks in person, here in Peterborough, but then we have a number of nurse psychotherapists who see people virtually across the province. We specialize in ADHD care, trauma, anxiety, and depression, as well as folks who are pregnant, or wanting to get pregnant,” says Howard.

Howard believes that nurses can provide an elevated level of psychotherapy because of their experience in medical settings: they are more familiar with the human body, medications, and medical language than a traditional psychotherapist or social worker would be.

Because it is uncommon for a nurse psychotherapist to practice independently, there are medical insurance providers who do not yet include it in their coverage, a problem that Howard and other nurse psychotherapists are working to fix.

“The nurse psychotherapists in the province, including our clinic, have been really active in advocation to the insurance companies that those people who are covered for psychotherapy should be able to see any one of the legislated, and regulated, providers, of which nurses are one of them,” says Howard.

Learn more about Acceptance on their website.

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