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Foggy Pier
Ducks Over the Lake

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

Marcel Proust


Treatment Approach

The type of therapy I practice is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT explores the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we change any one of these areas, we can bring about change in the others.  CBT includes strategies to make thinking more flexible and promote behavioural change.

CBT is an evidence-based, research-supported therapy.  It is focused on helping people develop tools to manage challenging thoughts, emotions, and life events.  It is a short-term structured therapy that is focused on building skills and making positive changes.  

Therapy may also include strategies for increasing mindful, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, acceptance of difficult situations and emotions, and committed action to build a life in line with your own personal values.  

Treatment Focus

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Responsibility obsessions and checking rituals

  • Contamination obsessions and decontamination rituals

  • Symmetry obsessions and ordering/ arranging compulsions

  • Taboo obsessions (violent, sexual, religious)

  • Other obsessions and compulsions

  • Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (e.g., hair pulling, skin picking)

woman on beach


  • Social anxiety

  • Health anxiety

  • Excessive worry

  • Panic attacks

  • Phobias

woman stressed at computer

Perinatal mental health

  • Perinatal anxiety

  • Perinatal depression

  • Postpartum OCD

pregnant woman looking out window

Eating Disorders

  • Bulimia nervosa

  • Binge eating disorder

  • Other eating and body shape and weight concerns

person looking at weight on scale

Other related concerns

  • Stress 

  • Self-criticism

  • Perfectionism

  • Life transitions (e.g., starting university, moving)

man at computer at work stressed

Commonly Asked Questions

What can I expect in the first appointment?

The first appointment is considered an assessment appointment.  It gives me a chance to get to know you and get a better understanding of what challenges you are facing and how I might be able to help.  During this appointment, you can ask any questions you may have. It is an opportunity for us to determine whether it would be a good fit to work together and decide on a plan for treatment.

How long is each session?  How often should I attend? How long will treatment take?

Each therapy session is 50 minutes.  Sessions generally start out weekly and then move to biweekly then monthly depending on your schedule, availability, and personal preference.  The number of sessions depends on the individual.  Typically the number of sessions ranges from 6 - 20 depending on presenting problems and personal preferences.

What are your rates?

My current rate is $240/50-minute session.  This rate is aligned with guidelines set by the BC Psychologists Association.  Any requested psychological reports are billed at the same rate.

Are services covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP)?

Psychological services at private clinics are not currently covered by MSP. However, many extended health plans provide coverage for sessions with a Registered Psychologist. Please consult your provider for details. Psychological services not covered by extended health plans might be a tax-deductible medical expense.

What happens if I can't make it to an appointment?

You can reschedule your appointment when you know that you will not be able to make it. Please note that there is a 24-hour cancellation policy; appointments cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice (as well as missed appointments) will be charged the full rate.

Do you use any therapeutic approaches other than CBT?

In addition to traditional CBT, I am trained in and incorporate strategies from "third wave CBT" approaches, predominately Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  When it comes to OCD, I utilize a specific form of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) which is the gold-standard treatment for OCD.  

Do I need a referral from a physician?

A doctor's referral is not required to book an appointment; however, some insurance providers may request this.  If you are paying through insurance, please check with your provider to see if this is the case.

Do you prescribe medication?

Psychologists in British Columbia are not permitted to prescribe medication.  For questions regarding psychiatric medication, please consult your family doctor.

About Me

I believe that therapy should be a collaborative experience between the client and therapist that is tailored to each individual’s needs.  I bring to my sessions compassion, warmth and a sense humour, while providing practical, evidence-based strategies to help clients manage difficulties and make positive changes. I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from York University in Toronto and completed my pre-doctoral residency at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario.  I specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for OCD, anxiety disorders (panic disorder, health anxiety, social anxiety, phobias and generalized anxiety disorder) and eating disorders.  I also have expertise working with people with related difficulties, including perfectionism, body dissatisfaction, and self-criticism. In addition to working as a Psychologist in private practice, I work as a Clinical Instructor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC and Psychologist at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.  I have conducted research in OCD and eating disorders.  I have co-authored numerous publications in scientific journals and have presented my research at several national and international conferences. I am registered to practice in the Province of British Columbia (#2192).

Contact Me

Tall Tree Integrative Health Centre

555 Superior St.

Victoria, BC V8V 0C5

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Office Hours

New Patients Welcome

Dr. Vella-Zarb is currently accepting new patients for video sessions or in-person sessions at Tall Tree Integrative Health Centre in James Bay.  Wait times vary.  Please contact for more information.  

Thurs - Fri: 8:30 am - 3:30 pm

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