What is BC's Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP)
Did you know that in British Columbia, you may be eligible for benefits under CVAP if you have been a victim of a crime, witnessed a crime, or are a family member of someone involved in a crime?
To help you understand what the crime victim assistance program or CVAP has to offer you and to answer common questions about this regarding counselling services.
Crimes can have profound effects for victims, witnesses, and family members of those impacted. The government of British Columbia offers CVAP to those who qualify for assistance. This assistance can help with things like, costs associated with a crime that was committed, medical expenses, travel expenses and counselling necessary for recovery (CVAP, 2023). For a comprehensive list of benefits covered and eligibility for assistance, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/financial-assistance-benefits
The program has both a printable and electronic application form that is required to be filled out and sent in for determination. Once approved, you will receive a package detailing the services covered and your claim number. For quick access to the application form please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/cvap-forms .
Counselling Services under CVAP
Once a client has been approved they can look for an approved provider of services or their current counsellor can request status of approval with CVAP. You can find approved providers through the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) or
Psychology Today. If your current counsellor is not already approved for CVAP, there is an application process where the counsellor submits a package for review and once approved can see clients under the program, direct bill and/or submit requests for services and reports, if requested. Typically, a client will receive an automatic approval of sessions, which can be up to 36 individual sessions plus 4 educational sessions (to be used with supports of the client). There is potential to request more sessions if needed, though CVAP would ultimately determine approval of an extension. CVAP also determines the fee coverage depending on the status of the counsellor. As per their guidelines they have different rates of pay, ranging from 60$/session to 105$/session for a Registered Clinical Psychologist who holds registration with BC's College of Psychology. Currently for Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) the rate is 80$/session and for Registered Social Workers (RSW) the rate is 95$/session. For more information on their rates and guidelines you can visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/criminal-justice/bc-criminal-justice-system/if-victim/publications/cvap-counselling-guidelines.pdf. For some private practices, counsellors will require a co-pay for CVAP clients. What this means is, the client pays the difference between what is covered for CVAP and the counsellors normal rate. For example, if the counsellors normal rate is 130$ + GST/ session and CVAP covers 80$ + GST/ session, the client would be responsible for paying the difference of 52.50$ for their sessions. This is individual to the practice for the each counsellor and can be dependent on things including: if the counsellor has sliding fee spots, availability of those spots, etc. This is also often the case for other programs including ICBC. When you are completing your consultation with a potential counsellor, asking about how payment is handled and if there is a co-pay is important. Furthermore, some practices will direct bill CVAP for the client and some will require payment up front for the client to be reimbursed from CVAP. This is also very individual to the practice. Other important questions that may be discussed during your consultation or in the beginning sessions of your services can include: if your case is actively going to court, how this may impact your confidentiality, how/if services may be impacted by court, required consent for releasing documents for court or legal purposes, and payment by CVAP or yourself for your counsellors participation in legal proceedings.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where can I apply and what if I need help applying for CVAP?
The application is available online at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/cvap-forms. If you need further help with your application you can phone 604-660-3888 or toll-free in B.C. at 1-866-660-3888
How do I know if I qualify?
Eligibility criteria and benefit information can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/financial-assistance-benefits For more information about this you can phone 604-660-3888 or toll-free in B.C. at 1-866-660-3888
What if my counsellor is not currently covered under CVAP?
Don't worry, counsellors can apply for status with CVAP through an online application. They can also phone the program and ask for direction regarding services rendered during the time in which they are waiting approval. It can take upwards of 8 weeks to receive approval- though this is a generic estimate.
Why are their different prices for sessions covered?
CVAP sets the guidelines for payment to their providers. This may change with the impending regulation of Clinical Counselling in the near future. At this time, there are multiple tiers for payment allotments depending on what credentials the counsellor holds. This does not necessarily change or impact the quality of care you will receive from any of the providers available.
What does it mean when I am required to pay a "co-pay"?
A co-pay means that the program does not cover the counsellors full fee, therefore, you as the client is responsible for paying the difference. This is individual for the practice. Many counsellors will offer sliding fee spots but there still may be a co-pay required for those spots as the fees still may not be fully covered. This is a normal practice for many private practices.
What happens if my case is actively going to court? How does this effect my counselling services?
It is not uncommon that CVAP clients have active cases and may be required to go to court. In Canada, if a counsellor is court ordered to testify or release your records (which includes all emails, messages and clinical records), they must comply. This is one of the four limits to confidentiality in Canada. For some practices, the counsellor or group practice may request a retainer to be paid for active court cases where it is likely they will be involved in proceedings. This is to cover the counsellors time for travel, hotel, meals, and clinical time to be available to testify or be present at a trial. This is something that would be important to discuss with your counsellor either during the consultation or during the beginning of sessions. This is also something that would likely be present in your informed consent agreement.
Is therapy effected if I have an open court case?
In most cases therapy is not changed or effected when a client has an open court case. However, there may be some circumstances where therapy is adjusted. For example, in some cases, how EMDR therapy is used when a client has an open court case is adjusted to protect the best interest of the client and their case. This is something that is discussed and collaborated on with the counsellor, client, their legal team, and any other professionals that may be involved in the clients circle of care.
Does CVAP always require reports about my progress?
No, CVAP can request reports for certain cases, but not every case requires report writing from your counsellor. It is not uncommon for them to require a report if the counsellor is requesting an extension for sessions.
Do counsellors direct bill CVAP?
Some counsellors may direct bill CVAP and some counsellors only bill the clients, in which they would submit receipts to CVAP to be reimbursed. This is dependent on the practice and can be case by case as well.
To find a Registered Counsellor who offers CVAP:
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca