Finding Balance – Notes from a Therapist/Jewelry Maker

Crystal Healing Bracelets by Angela Gentile, Gentle Angel Treasures

In the fall of 2021 I decided that my counselling skills were not going to go to waste. I started seeking out office space that was comfortable, wheelchair accessible and affordable. I found a great office in the heart of downtown Winnipeg in an area called Osborne Village. The office is on the main floor and it overlooks the Assiniboine River. I can see the Golden Boy on top of the Manitoba Legislature from one of my windows.

My client list is growing, and I have a few regular clients now. Some come in to the office, some prefer home visits, some like telephone, and many prefer virtual or “teletherapy.” I use the platform called Sessions by Psychology Today. They also have an app so my clients can use their mobile devices instead of having to be on a desktop or laptop computer. This makes counselling and therapy very convenient!

As my private practice thrives I have to be careful that I take time to look after myself. Burnout can happen to anyone in any kind of caring profession. I have been burnt out before, so I am very careful and will not let that happen again.

To keep myself balanced, a work-life balance, I have decided to work with my private practice Monday to Thursday. Friday to Sunday are my days off. I have also developed a new passion and hobby which allows me to be creative and nourishes my passion for helping people.

In my spare time, I make semiprecious gemstone bracelets. These bracelets are said to have crystal healing properties and some people believe the energy that comes from them can help them feel better. Some wear them for the healing properties, others just like the visual appeal of wearing natural stones. I have been wearing these types of bracelets since my cancer diagnosis in 2017. The designing, creating, assembling, and sale/gifting of these beautiful and natural gem bracelets is very “recreationally therapeutic” for me. I love making these bracelets, and I have also started making custom orders for people. Some of the most popular types of stones I use are onyx, obsidian, howlite, amethyst, rose quartz, jade, jasper, agate, hematite and lava. My supply has grown leaps and bounds since October 2021, and I think I have almost every type of bead now!

Counselling and therapy is hard work. Making crystal healing bracelets is fun and energizing. The combination of these two activities creates a great balance for me. I am very well mental-health wise, and feel energized and grounded. I remember years ago listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. In addition to her marriage and family advice talk show, she would talk about selling her jewelry that she handcrafted. Now I get it. A therapist who has a creative and fun outlet is better equipped to handle any stress, trauma, grief, and conflict that a client brings to them. It just makes good sense.

If you are interested in booking an appointment for counselling or would like to see what I have for sale in my Gentle Angel Treasures shop, please send me a message in the comment box below.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Are Social Work Counselling Therapy Services Covered?

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Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW

“Are your services covered?”

I get this question asked many times. If you are in Manitoba and would like to claim the expenses for my Social Work services, please take note of the following options:

1. Group Health Insurance Plans (Check to see if your plan covers “Social Worker”)

  • Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan has included social work coverage since 2014. You pay me for the service, then I give you a receipt which will include my name, credentials, and my social worker registration number. You submit to Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan for reimbursement (Johnston Group). 
  • Empire Life – I am a registered provider
  • Great West Life may provide some coverage for the services of a social worker. See Comprehensive Healthcare Plans.
  • Green Shield Canada (GSC) – I am a registered provider
  • Manitoba Blue Cross – I am a registered provider. Check out the Counselling Services information for EAP and IAP. The website states, “Counselling services are available to those who have Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Individual Assistance Program (IAP) coverage with Manitoba Blue Cross. If you are unsure of your coverage, visit your mybluecross online account to confirm.”
  • Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) – I am a registered provider. This service is covered under the “Fatality Claims – Grief Counselling” provision.
  • Manulife – Some plans cover social workers, so check your plan. If your plan does include social worker, then you pay for the service, get a receipt with the social worker’s name, credentials, and registration number and submit to Manulife for reimbursement.
  • Sun Life Financial Health Insurance and coverage – I am registered with the Sun Life Lumino Health Network
  • SSQ Insurance – I am a registered provider

2. Indigenous Services Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Mental Health Counselling Services

  • First Nations Inuit Health Branch – Non-Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) Mental Health Counselling Services and the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Programs (IRS RHSP) – I am a registered to provide services (free of charge) to those who qualify. This therapy is provided by funding through Indigenous Services Canada.

3. Manitoba Government Employees Health Spending Account

If you have a Health Spending Account through Manitoba Blue Cross, please see the following from the government website:

“A Health Spending Account can be easily compared to a bank account. The Province
of Manitoba deposits a pre-determined amount of benefit dollars into your account.
These benefit dollars can be used to top-off existing benefit maximums, or to pay for
any medical expenses you incur which meet the requirements for the medical expense
credit as defined by Canada Revenue Agency, for anyone for whom you claim a tax
deduction in accordance with the Income Tax Act (Canada).”

4. Medical Expenses on Income Tax Through Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA)

You may be able to claim the therapy on the CRA Income Tax Form, Line 330 – Medical Expenses for Self, Spouse or Common-Law Partner, and your Dependent Children.  Social workers are on their list of approved qualified medical practitioners for almost all provinces.

Therapy is listed as an eligible medical expense by the CRA. The following is from their website:

“Therapy – the salary and wages paid for the therapy given to a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC). The person giving the therapy must not be your spouse or common-law partner and must be 18 years of age or older when the amounts are paid.

The therapy has to be prescribed and supervised by one of the following practitioners:

  • a psychologist, a medical doctor, or a nurse practitioner (for expenses incurred after September 7, 2017) for a mental impairment
  • an occupational therapist, a medical doctor, or a nurse practitioner (for expenses incurred after September 7, 2017) for a physical impairment

For more information about the DTC, see Guide RC4064, Disability-Related Information.”

Contact Numbers:

Canada Revenue Agency (for Manitoba): 1-800-267-6999.

Manitoba Blue Cross(204) 775-0151

Clarify your eligibility for coverage prior to our first session. If you need any help finding out if you have coverage, please let me know.

References:

Manitoba Blue Cross Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.mb.bluecross.ca/faq

Medical Expenses (2020), Canada Revenue Agency

Social Work Services and Third Party Payments – Canadian Association of Social Workers