Your mental health should always be a priority! mywellness provides students with specific tools, resources and support to achieve the student life and mental health balance. Students have access to a free and anonymous Mental Health Assessment, Video Counselling at great rates, Financial Education, and a number of other resources.


The glossary provides explanations of the different words we use on this website. These are not legal definitions or to be used for self-diagnosis, if you are still confused with a word or term that we use on the website, you can talk with your counsellor for clarification.


Find a word or term!

Start typing the word or term that you are looking for to filter only these words that match your search.

Addictions Counsellor
An addictions counsellor has gained addiction expertise through specialized degrees or practical experience. They are generally a certified or registered counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist or social worker that has received additional training or work experience in addictions.
Adjustment Disorder
Adjustment disorder is a diagnosis that is related to having trouble coping with one or more stressful life events. Symptoms can be strong and disabling but typically only last for a relatively short time. To be diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, the stressful event must have occurred within 3 months of the person's symptoms becoming an issue. Symptoms may include sadness or worry, and must interfere with the person's social, work, or personal functioning, and be a more extreme than expected.
Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa restrict their food intake causing them to become significantly underweight. These individuals may have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, or will persistently avoid weight gain despite its necessity. Those with anorexia nervosa will see themselves as larger than they are, deny the danger of low body weight, or place undue importance on their body weight or shape; they maintain their low weight by primarily reducing their caloric intake while others engage in binge-eating or purging behaviours. Purging may occur through vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, that can continue through adulthood. ADHD presents itself as a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsive behaviour. Symptoms of inattention include difficulty focusing on or completing a task, and symptoms of Hyperactivity include behaviours such as difficulty sitting still, excessive talkativeness. Impulsivity refers to difficulty delaying gratification.
Binge-Eating Disorder
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by episodes of binge-eating; those with binge-eating disorder have inappropriate compensatory purging behaviours. People with binge-eating disorder often eat more rapidly than normal, eat until they are uncomfortably full, eat large amounts even when not hungry, eat alone out of shame for the amount they are eating, and feel disgusted, guilty, or depressed about how much they eat. Individuals with binge-eating disorder can be normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Biofeedback involves training clients to pay attention to normally involuntary physiological processes so they can learn to control them. Biofeedback can monitor various body functions including heart rate, brain waves, and skin temperature. During biofeedback, electrodes are placed on the skin, sending signals to a monitor. The monitor reports the physiological activity and the therapist assists the client in practicing techniques to control these physiological functions, particularly relaxation exercises. Biofeedback has been demonstrated to be helpful with insomnia and may be useful for Anxiety Disorders, Depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a medical condition in which people have extreme mood swings. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, bipolar disorder symptoms are more distinct and enduring, and are often severe. Mood swings affect thoughts, feelings, physical health, behaviour, and functioning.
Brief Interventions
Brief Interventions are specific approaches to assess problematic behaviour and motivate change, particularly in alcohol and substance use disorders. Interventions can take place in a variety of settings including emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and in the community. The primary goal of a brief intervention is to raise awareness of the substance abuse problem and recommend a specific change or treatment.
Bulimia Nervosa
Individuals with bulimia nervosa experience recurrent episodes of binge-eating. Binge-eating is eating abnormally large amounts of food within a certain period, along with the feeling of being out-of-control and over-eating during the episode. People with bulimia nervosa also engage in unhealthy compensatory behaviours to try and counteract the binges and prevent weight gain. These behaviours may include vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive exercise. Those with bulimia nervosa overemphasize the importance of weight or shape. However, people suffering from bulimia nervosa are not underweight, and are typically normal weight or overweight.
Certified Canadian Counsellor (Registered Counsellor)
A certified or registered counsellor has a Masters-level training in clinical or counselling psychology, or in a related field such as educational psychology. They are registered with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association or a similar provincial organization. This kind of counsellor can help you with a wide range of concerns, including difficulty adjusting to everyday life, mood disruptions, and issues with your spouse or family. They also often work with children, family violence or trauma work.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a series of structured, interactive sessions to help improve mood and alleviate emotional distress through a positive change in thinking. CBT is the most extensively researched therapy and is different from other therapies in that it is brief, and focuses on the present, and on problem solving. It is based on the theory that one’s thoughts influence one’s feelings and behaviours, and that by changing the way you think, you can feel and act better even if the situation does not change. Learning new, more rational ways of reacting to distressing situations leads to long-term positive results. CBT can be done in individual or group sessions, and even on the phone, computer, or using self-help workbooks for those who may have difficulty with face-to-face sessions. CBT has been shown to be effective in many disorders including Anxiety Disorders, Depression, and Eating Disorders.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) blends cognitive-behavioural interventions with acceptance-based strategies derived from Buddhist meditative practices. A primary therapeutic task is to balance an individual’s acceptance of circumstances with a focus on change. Clients are taught a number of coping skills, including elements of mindfulness such as, focusing on the present moment, better emotion management, effective communication, and tolerating distressing situations and feelings. DBT traditionally combines individual therapy with a skills-teaching group. While DBT was first developed to treat patients with borderline personality disorder, it is now also used to treat patients with eating disorders, addictions, anger problems, and other impulsive behaviours, and has been shown to help reduce the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour, frequency of hospitalizations, increase engagement in therapy, and decrease substance use.
Depressive Episode
During a major-depressive episode, the person must have a low mood or inability to experience pleasure, and at least four of the following symptoms, for at least two weeks:
  1. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much,
  2. Loss of appetite or eating too much,
  3. Problems concentrating or making decisions,
  4. feeling slowed down or feeling too agitated to sit still,
  5. feeling worthless or guilty or having very low self-esteem,
  6. loss of energy or feeling tired all the time,
  7. thoughts of suicide or death. These symptoms must be present almost daily, for most of the day, over a two-week period. Severe depression may also include hallucinations and delusions.
Eating Disorder
An eating disorder is characterized by an abnormal pattern of eating behaviours that interfere with a person's health, relationships, or daily activities. Eating disorders generally involve two types of symptoms, not eating enough, and loss of control over eating. In addition to being preoccupied with food, people with eating disorders often obsess over their body weight or shape.
Employee Assistance Counsellor
Employee Assistance Programs often provide you with counselling services for you and your family. Programs and services vary from employer to employer, but through an EAP you can usually get confidential and short-term counselling to help you with work or personal problems such as financial issues, separation or divorce, the loss of a family member, and substance abuse. Qualified EAP counsellors usually must be members in good standing in professional associations, such as social workers or psychologists.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that helps individuals with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In an EMDR session, an individual recalls a traumatic memory while paying attention to a specific motor task, such as moving one’s eyes side to side, following the therapist’s finger; the process is repeated until the traumatic memory no longer evokes distress. The therapist and the individual then work on developing healthier beliefs about the traumatic event.
Family Physician
Family physicians usually work in a private practice, including group or team practices, hospitals, and clinics. Their services are covered by your provincial medical insurance plan, which means you don't have to pay to see them. They are graduates of approved medical schools and have two to three years of family medicine residency training; family physicians have working knowledge of the symptoms, causes, and basic treatment of Mental Health and addiction conditions, which means they can diagnose and treat mental disorders, as well as prescribe medication for them. A physician may also provide counselling for Mental Health problems.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Among the variety of symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder, the most prevalent one is excessive worry about events or activities, such as concerns at work or performance at school. If the worrying develops into anxiety attacks, that occur more often than not over a period of more than six months, then a General Anxiety Disorder has developed requiring treatment.
Group Therapy
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a small, carefully selected group of individuals, struggling with similar problems, meet regularly under the guidance of a therapist. The purpose of group therapy is to assist each individual in emotional grow py-3th and personal problem solving, and help these individuals learn about themselves and how to take steps toward meaningful change; it also allows individuals to learn from other group members. Group therapy has been shown to be useful for people struggling with addictions, depression, and eating disorders, as well as those facing illness, such as HIV and cancer.
Hypomanic episode
A hypomanic episode is a milder and less severe form of a manic episode, which may still be disruptive for the individual. People may feel happy and have lots of energy, but do not usually get into serious trouble. Hypomania may progress to a full-blown manic episode or a major depression, and therefore needs treatment.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is defined by occasional, sudden, and extreme outbursts and is considered an impulse-control disorder. These outbursts can be verbal, physical, or both. The outbursts are out of proportion to the provocation, and the person has limited ability to control himself. The anger episodes are not premeditated, and cause the individual significant distress or interfere with his ability to function. Since anger or impulse control problems can occur due to many illnesses, intermittent explosive disorder is only diagnosed if the outburst are not better explained by another disorder.
Interpersonal Therapy
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), sometimes referred to as Interpersonal Psychotherapy, is a well-researched form of therapy in which the focus is on an individual’s recent life stressors and changes or conflict in current relationships. Like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, IPT is time-limited and can be done individually or in groups. The goal is to help people identify relationship problems and enhance social support and interpersonal skills. It is used for the treatment of a number of disorders, including Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Substance Abuse.
Major Depressive Disorder
Clinical depression, such as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a serious mental illness that can affect every aspect of a person's life. The main symptom of MDD is either a persistent low mood or loss of interest or pleasure in most activities. Additionally, someone with MDD may also experiences other symptoms such as appetite changes, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, and trouble concentrating.
Manic Episode

In a manic episode, the person has an elated or irritable mood and at least three of the following symptoms every day, for a week:

  1. less need for sleep,
  2. rapid talking,
  3. racing thoughts,
  4. easily distracted,
  5. inflated feeling of power and self-esteem, and
  6. reckless activities without concern about bad consequences.

These symptoms are experienced to the point where the person has trouble functioning in a normal way, and in severe cases, the person may experience psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there) or delusions (firmly held beliefs that are not based in reality).

Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and Family Therapy treats psychological problems within the context of a couple or family system. The focus is broadened from the individual to include primary relationships. The family’s behaviour impacts the individual that presents problems that may need to be included in the treatment. Additionally, mental illness affects not only those with Mental Health problems, but also their families and loved ones; marriage and family counselling can benefit both the individual with the problem and their family or partner. This type of counselling can help increase understanding, support, and teach specific skills such as coping and communication, and can also teach an individual the skills needed to deepen family connections and get through stressful times. Research supports the use of Marriage and Family Therapy for many issues, including relationship distress, anxiety and mood disorders, psychosexual problems, and alcohol abuse.
Mental Health First Aid
MHFA is the help provided to a person developing a Mental Health problem, experiencing a Mental Health crisis, or a worsening of their Mental Health.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, and is a group-based treatment that combines principles of cognitive therapy with meditative practices. Designed for people suffering from repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness, MBCT helps individuals to better understand their depression, what causes their mood to spiral down, and how maintaining certain beliefs can contribute to their depression. Research shows that MBCT helps reduce relapse rates in individuals with recurrent depression.
Mood Instability
Mood instability refers to three levels of moods experienced by those with Bipolar disorder, mania, and depression. These states are typically a high state, called "mania"; a low state, called "depression"; and a well state, during which many people feel normal and balanced, and function well. The periods of high and low are called episodes of mania and depression; symptoms of mania and depression may occur together in what is called a mixed episode. Between episodes, most people are symptom-free, and individuals living with mood instability can lead healthy and productive lives when their illness is effectively treated. Proper treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people maintain normal and balanced moods.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET):
See “Motivational Interviewing (MI)”
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivation Interviewing (MI) is a form of therapy designed to help individuals move toward their goals by enhancing their intrinsic motivation. This is achieved, in large part, through resolving ambivalence, which is seen as normal when one is trying to change familiar behaviours. An adaptation of MI is Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). In both MI and MET, the therapist attempts to evoke talk of change to strengthen the individual’s commitment and minimize resistance. MI and MET have been shown to be useful to people struggling with addictions, alcohol-related problems, and other health-related behaviours.
Nurse Practitioner
In most provinces in Canada, a registered Nurse Practitioner is able to diagnose and manage many disorders and chronic diseases (including mental disorders), prescribe medications, order and interpret tests, and refer patients to specialists if needed. A nurse practitioner requires an advanced nursing degree and extra training and experience.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
As the name Obsessive Compulsive Disorder suggests, there are two important symptoms that constitute the disorder an obsession over unwanted thoughts, and a compulsion to repeat actions or words. The obsessive (i.e. excessive, intrusive and unwanted) thoughts or images cause a great deal of anxiety.
Panic Disorder
Refers to the onset of unexpected panic attacks, some of which come completely out of the blue and may even occur during sleep; attacks may repeat when a person is in a similar situation or in specific places. These attacks can be quite severe with rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, dizziness, fear of having a bowel movement, clammy hands, and fear of losing control. People may also fear that they are about to collapse and die.
A physician is a medical school graduate with a post-graduate degree in family medicine or psychiatry. In most cases, you won't pay money to see a physician — the province they work in pays their fees.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or traumatic event.
Problem-Solving Therapy
The goal of Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) is to enhance a person’s ability to cope with stressful aspects of life. PST is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles in that it views Mental Health problems as stemming from unhealthy coping mechanisms. In PST, the therapist teaches the client how to approach problems, using a step-by-step process. This approach has been shown to be effective in multiple problems, including: Depression, Self-Harm, and Adjustment Disorders
A psychiatrist is a physician with post-graduate training in psychiatry, the medical field concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing Mental Health conditions. Unlike other Mental Health professionals, such as psychologists and counselors, psychiatrists must be medically qualified doctors who have chosen to specialize in psychiatry; this means they can prescribe medication, as well as treat all Mental Health disorders with evidence-based psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioural training.
Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is based on psychoanalytic theory. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are to increase the client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of their past on present behaviour. Psychodynamic therapy encourages individuals to explore their emotions, including those that trouble them or are difficult to acknowledge. It also acknowledges that intellectual understanding is not the same as emotional understanding. Psychodynamic theory also acknowledges that emotional insight is central to lasting change. Psychodynamic therapy is effective for a wide range of Mental Health symptoms, including those related to Depression, Anxiety, Panic, and Stress-related physical ailments.
Psycho-education provides information designed to facilitate healthy behaviours and support recovery to those with Mental Health problems, and sometimes their families. Psycho-education is often provided in groups and tends to be relatively brief. Sessions typically include information about the illness, appropriate treatment, and suggestions for how to manage symptoms. Psycho-education is frequently incorporated into other treatments, and research demonstrates that psycho-education helps with treatment compliance, and reducing relapse and hospitalization rates in people with mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and those with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse.
A psychologist is the only other type of Mental Health professional that can diagnose your condition. Psychologists can't prescribe medicine, only physicians and psychiatrists can do that. A psychologist has a master's or PhD in Psychology and must be licensed through an appropriate regulatory body. A psychologist can help you understand, explain, and change your behaviour through evidence-based therapy. Psychologists often work with individuals, couples, groups, and families.
A psychotherapist (sometimes also called a counsellor) helps people with their Mental Health problems. Remember, don't confuse a psychotherapist with a psychiatrist or psychologist. It's important to ask a psychotherapist about their background and training. Psychotherapists may offer many types of therapy, including but not limited to, evidenced-based therapy.
Registered Counsellor
See “Canadian Certified Counsellor”
Registered Marriage & Family Counsellor
A registered marriage and family counsellor is a family-focused therapist who specializes in personal, work, or group relationships. This kind of counsellor is registered with the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and associated with that organization’s American counterpart.
Self-Help Groups
Self-help groups or peer support groups are different from Group Therapy in that they provide support rather than treatment and are typically organized and run by the group itself or a peer. In self-help groups, members come together to support each other and receive support around a common problem. These groups can provide empowerment, healing, a sharing of resources, and reduce stigma. They are typically free or low-cost. Some example of self-help groups includes: 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and parenting groups.
Sleep Disorder
Insomnia refers to trouble with the duration or quality of sleep. This may include problems falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking up too early in the morning and being unable to fall back asleep. Insomnia can also include nonrestorative sleep, meaning sleep that may be long enough in duration but does not result in the individual feeling rested upon awakening.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
The most important symptom is excessive anxiety and worry about being evaluated by other people in a critical way. These fears may relate to a few situations such as public speaking, or can extend to most circumstances where the person could be observed. It is referred to as Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder, and forms of the disorder are also referred to as Social Phobia.
Stress can be defined as the response to something that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being causes stress. Some amount of stress is positive, though we generally use the word "stress" when we feel that everything feels too much, when we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Some situations, although not negative, may still be perceived as stressful, this is because we think we are not completely prepared to cope with them effectively.
Stress Management
Stress management therapy teaches specific techniques to help you deal with your stress. Stress management can help you remove or change the source of stress, alter the way you view a stressful event, lower the impact that stress might have on your body, or teach you alternative ways of coping. Since stress impacts your body, mind, and emotions, therapy often targets all three.
A stressor is an event or stimulus that causes stress.
Student Counsellor
A university or college often offers student counselling services. The organization offering the service will determine the qualifications a student counsellor must have to be hired; usually a bachelor's degree in social sciences, or education and a master's degree in counselling or a related field.
Social Worker
A Registered Social Worker does many different types of work. To be registered, a social worker needs a minimum of a Bachelor's degree. Those who choose to focus on Mental Health counseling are designated as clinical social workers, and have extra postgraduate training in evidenced-based counseling and therapy. Clinical social workers must belong to the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and are required to take continuing education to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. Depending on your needs, a clinical social worker may use short or long-term therapy, using cognitive behavioural techniques, psychodynamic techniques, or more. Clinical social workers often work with the whole system that affects you, and might work with you to do marriage, group or family counselling, or involve doctors, teachers, and others who regularly help you.
Substance Use Disorder
A substance use disorder is when an individual continues to use drugs or alcohol despite significant problems caused by using the substance. Someone with a substance use disorder has trouble controlling the amount of the substance or takes it for longer than originally intended and can experience cravings for the drug. Often, a person with a substance use disorder wants to quit using a drug but has great difficulty doing so. The substance or substances involved may be illegal drugs such as cocaine, a legal substance like alcohol, or prescription medication such as painkillers. Ongoing substance use can interfere with work, school, and social relationships and a great deal of time may be dedicated to obtaining, using, and recovering from the drug. In severe cases, an individual's entire life can revolve around the substance. A person with a substance use disorder may continue to use a drug even when it has deleterious effects on one's physical and Mental Health. Substance use disorders also have physical effects. Someone with a substance use disorder may develop tolerance to the drug so that more and more is needed to obtain the same effect. A person might also experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug isn't being used.
Twelve-Step Facilitation
It is a manualized treatment development to enhance engagement with 12-Step activities in individuals with alcohol and substance use disorders. It can be implemented in an individual or group format over 12-15 sessions. This intervention is based on the principles of 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The goals of TSF are to encourage individuals to accept the need to abstain from substances and willingly partake in 12-step activities. TSF has been shown to help individuals abstain from substances and increase attendance to 12-step meetings.
Walk-in Clinic
If you don’t have a family physician, you can go to a Walk-in or after-hours clinic and see a physician or nurse practitioner. There are also Walk-in Counselling Clinics that can help you if you're having trouble with family conflict, stress, grief, depression, anxiety, relationships, separation, divorce, or abuse. A clinic can provide quick access to professional services for individuals, couples and families.

LCSA Benefits Plan Office

Phone: 403 320-3202 Extension 5310
Address: Room CE1350
3000 College Drive South
Lethbridge, Alberta. T1K 1L6

General Inquiries Line

Monday to Friday from 6:00am to 5:00pm MST

Phone: 1-877-746-5566 Ext. 7249