DND psychologists serving CAF Members


DND psychologists serving CAF Members

By Colin DeFreitas, PhD, RPsych
Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Atlantic) 

February is National Psychology Month. It is therefore a great opportunity to define the typical occupational responsibilities of psychologists, while also highlighting the role and contributions of DND psychologists serving CAF members in MARLANT. 

Psychologists’ primary roles are to provide assessment, consultation, and counselling/therapy services. They can diagnose and treat mental illnesses, and often work in collaboration with psychiatrists, family physicians, mental health nurses, social workers, addiction counsellors, case managers, and chaplains. 

According to the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), a Psychologist “studies how we think, feel and behave from a scientific viewpoint and applies this knowledge to help people understand, explain and change their behaviour.” ( Psychologists may specialize in certain areas; for example, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, addictions, developmental disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They work in clinical settings, research and/or education. 

Psychologists have extensive training in the variety of empirical treatment methods. The methods they employ will depend on the particular circumstances of the patient they are working with. Treatment is significantly more than just “talk”! For example, one method is specifically designed to assist patients in increasing their motivation. Another method involves changing negative patterns of thinking and behaviour. Yet another example is a method that focuses on changing behaviours to better match the patient’s values and beliefs. Several of the psychologists here at Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Atlantic) also have additional training in highly specialized treatment methods, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Atlantic) (CF H Svcs C (A)) employs 8 psychologists in Mental Health Services. In general, CAF members in MARLANT have more timely access to Psychology services than the general civilian population. At a ratio of approximately one Psychologist for every 1700 members, MARLANT has nearly double the number of psychologists compared to what is available to the general civilian population of Nova Scotia. This means that CAF members have relatively fast access to psychologists, with wait times shorter than they are for the general civilian population. 

All of our psychologists are registered with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP), whose mandate is to protect the public by ensuring that providers are properly trained and qualified. For more information about psychologists, consult NSBEP, the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) and/or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)

To learn more about mental health services provided by psychologists at CFB Halifax, please contact your primary health care provider. 

As part of Psychology Month, the Mental Health team has organized a display table on the 4th floor of the CF Health Services Centre at Stadacona just outside the elevator. At the display you can read about mental health and available resources. 

For more information about Psychology Month, visit or