Dr. Pauline Lysak

Psychiatrist, Victoria BC

Specializing in mental health care of adults with comorbid physical illness

(250) 483-7641
(250) 483-7643

Currently not taking new patients.

Services covered by MSP. You cannot pay privately to be seen faster.

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Office Location and Hours

#321 — 1207 Douglas Street (Sayward Building)
Victoria, BC V8W 2E7

Hours sometimes vary.

View Street Parkade is half a block east of Douglas. Now using pay by space system. Limited free one hour parking (cannot be extended by paying).

Mark and Dr. Lysak

Dr. Lysak sees patients for an initial consultation and often a small number of followup visits to address short-term concerns. A report is sent to the referring physician with treatment recommendations.

She may continue to follow some patients to implement a specific treatment plan consisting primarily of medication management and group psychotherapy. This is regularly reviewed.

Patients are expected to also see a counsellor or psychologist if they need extensive individual psychotherapy. Ongoing coordination with a primary care physician is required.

Given the high demand for psychiatrists, she does not provide all-inclusive, standalone, or indefinite care.



Patients must be referred by a physician.

Referral form

Dr. Lysak's referral form can be downloaded here. 

All information is required. Incomplete referrals will be returned.
Her MSP # is 67382.

Patients Accepted
  • Patients must be aged 18–64.
  • Primary psychiatric concern is mood or anxiety.
  • All relevant basic primary care interventions (behavioural, laboratory investigations, and medication trials) have been recently tried but unsuccessful.1
  • Dr. Lysak's special interest is patients with comorbid physical illness.
  • Unfortunately, she cannot accept patients:
    • where primary concern is any of: psychosis, addictions, ADHD, neuropsychiatry or eating disorders
    • in crisis or on extended leave
    • having family members who she is already treating
    • with significant longstanding cognitive difficulties2
    • who are stable and not in need of active treatment, who want to preemptively connect with a psychiatrist, have annual medication reviews, etc.1

1 Given the extreme demand for psychiatric treatment, she only sees patients requiring active care by a specialist, after first-line interventions have been attempted through a primary care provider.

2Her practice model relies extensively on patient education, psychotherapy and active participation in care decisions.

About Dr. Lysak

Dr. Lysak is an accomplished general psychiatrist, with a particular interest in treating complex patients having both physical and mental comorbidities.

Her practice of psychiatry relies on a broad knowledge of organic medical conditions (e.g. vitamin deficiencies, effects of other illnesses and medications used to treat them). She draws upon a wide range of psychopharmalogical and psychotherapeutic treatments when working together with her patients.

Dr. Lysak obtained her medical degree with honors in research at the University of Alberta. She completed her psychiatry residency at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario with additional work at the University of Toronto. She subsequently completed the prestigious Advanced Health Leadership Executive Program at Rotman.

She previously headed the psycho-oncology service at the Grand River Cancer Centre in Kitchener, and redeveloped and ran a program for complex psychiatric patients at Homewood Health Centre, a nationally renowned mental health and addiction facility in Guelph. She served as Site Lead for Mental Health at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert, worked with the St. Albert & Sturgeon Primary Care Network, and was Division Chief of General Outpatient Psychiatry at Victoria Mental Health Centre. She had a thriving private practice in St. Albert, and now in Victoria.

Dr. Lysak has also been active in medical student and resident training, as assistant clinical professor at McMaster University and University of Alberta. An engaging speaker, she has given many presentations to the public, family doctors and other health professionals, insurance companies, and the Dept. of National Defence.

Common Questions   Expand All

Her office is Suite #321 in the Sayward Building (1207 Douglas Street), at the corner of Douglas and View, kitty-corner from the Bay Centre in beautiful downtown Victoria. Check out the map above. See the city's website for information on available parking. The View Street Parkade is half a block away, and the first hour is free. Many transit routes stop in the immediate vicinity, and street-side bicycle racks are readily available.

Yes, you will need a referral from a physician, typically your family doctor. If you don't have a regular family doctor, you can see one at a walk-in clinic. Note that Dr. Lysak cannot provide longer-term followup to patients without a regular family doctor or a walk-in clinic they regularly attend which serves as their "medical home".

After receiving your referral, it is reviewed and prioritized. If for some reason Dr. Lysak cannot accept your referral, the doctor who sent it will be notified; they should then contact you to sort something else out. As for what happens if the referral is accepted, see the next question.

This can vary a lot. Referrals are prioritized based on urgency, with the sickest people being seen first.

While very urgent referrals may be booked soon after they are received, generally you will be placed on a waiting list, and your doctor notified. You will also be sent a letter (via Canada Post) with some information about what you can expect next. When you get close to the top of the list, her office will call you to book an appointment.

Hint: If you'd like to get in faster, call or email her office after your doctor says they'll send in a referral, and ask to be put on a cancellation list. Make sure to provide e.g. your cell number or email to contact you. And if you're not sure where your referral is in this process, you can always ask.

The short answer is there aren't nearly enough psychiatrists available to see the people who need to be seen.

Some patients who Dr. Lysak has been referred may be seen once or twice, and then discharged back to their family physician with recommendations. Others may continue to be seen for much longer. Because of that, there's only a limited number of new patients that Dr. Lysak can take on at a time, while still being able to help her existing patients.

If her waiting list becomes too long, patients can wait for a year or more to be seen. Dr. Lysak feels that an overly lengthy and indeterminate waiting time contravenes the first principle of the CMA Code of Ethics: Consider first the well-being of the patient.

Anyone requiring mental health care should, with help from their care team, try to find alternative means of treatment. Sitting on a waiting list for years is not treatment.

When her waiting list returns to a manageble size (and an acceptable wait), she will again start accepting new referrals.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, who on top of the standard training for any doctor (undergrad and med school), does a five year residency focusing on mental health, typically covering a range of different areas. Their practice can include a wide range of treatment options, including medications and psychotherapy, laboratory or imaging investigations, etc.

Psychologists typically have a masters degree or doctorate in Psychology or a related field, and their practice generally involves psychotherapy of some form. Many psychiatrists and psychologists have specialized practices, either involving particular illnesses (e.g. anxiety) and/or particular treatments (couples, family therapy, etc.). Many have superb training in particular areas and provide excellent care to patients.

In general, no. Because psychiatrists are physicians, like a family doctor or neurologist, your visit is covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of B.C. Also like seeing other doctors, there are some things that are not covered, e.g. filling out insurance forms, which you would need to pay for yourself.

No. Another big (practical) difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is that while both can provide psychotherapy, MSP only pays for psychotherapy provided by psychiatrists. Psychologists are typically paid for out-of-pocket or via third party insurance.

Given that many psychiatrists choose to focus their practice on medication management instead of psychotherapy, this unfortunately makes valuable psychotherapy treatment inaccessible to many people. (Dr. Lysak does both extensive psychotherapy and medication management as part of her practice).

Dr. Lysak has a number of patients who also regularly see a psychologist, counsellor, or other therapist. In these cases, she mostly focuses on the medication and other medical components of patient care, while the other person provides most of the therapy. Dr. Lysak does coordinate care with such other care providers, sending them updates, emailing or calling as needed, to ensure the treatment the patient receives is consistent and coordinated.

There is no such thing as a standard psychiatry practice, or a standard psychiatrist. They can vary greatly depending on the type of patients they see, what range of treatments they provide, how often they see patients, and for how long.

For example, some tend to see patients for shorter appointments that will only deal with medications; they may be able to see a very large number of patients. Others may see patients for longer, provide therapy in addition to medications, but therefore can see far fewer patients (Dr. Lysak's practice tends to be more of the latter).

Also, more than in many areas of medicine, in psychiatry it is important to have a good rapport between doctor and patient, so a good "fit" can make a big difference.

Your first appointment may last up to one hour or more, as Dr. Lysak may need to collect a detailed individual and family health history (mental, physical, social). She will review your current and past symptoms, previous treatments, any medications you are currently taking, as well as recent laboratory results. She may order additional investigations, such as blood work or an ECG (heart tracing).

She may discuss with you some possible diagnoses, as well as different treatment options you may want to consider. She may provide you more information that will increase your knowledge about your illness. Most of all, she will expect you to participate fully in your own care, with her helping you make educated choices that are best for you.

Afterwards, you may have one or more followup appointments booked, or a medical report outlining the session and various recommendations may be sent back to the physician who referred you.

Yes. The front door of the building has a ground-level entrance, with a swing-door operator, and two elevators are available. There is a (non-assisted) door between the elevator and our hallway, and another for our office itself. If you have any concerns with these doors, please call when you arrive at the building and someone will be happy to help.

If you need to cancel a booked appointment, please call as soon as possible, at least 48 hours beforehand. Barring exceptional circumstances, if you miss two appointments without providing 48 hours notice, you may be discharged back to your referring physician. We also charge a $50 fee for missed appointments or late cancels/reschedules.

Due to very severe allergies, please refrain from wearing fragrances or other scented products in our office.

Unfortunately, this also means we are unable to accommodate service animals, emotional support animals, pets, etc.