The Regulation of Psychotherapy in Ontario
“The Regulation of Psychotherapy in Ontario”
By Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak
A long time in the works, the field of psychotherapy will be regulated in the province of Ontario with an approximate target date of March 31, 2013. This process was initiated in 2005 and researched by the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) making a recommendation in a document called “New Directions” that psychotherapy should be regulated as a controlled act under the Regulated Health Professions Act 1991 (RHPA). The main reasons cited for regulation are two major sources for potential harm to the public: 1) “the nature of the relationship between therapist and client 2) and the failure to properly assess or implement specific psychotherapeutic interventions.”
There are currently 21 health regulatory colleges under RHPA governing 23 health professions such as physicians and surgeons, nurses, psychologists, social workers and more. RHPA recognizes the need for “public protection involving such factors as quality of care, access, accountability, standards of education, continuing competence, complaints and disciplinary processes and practice standards.” Other health care fields currently undergoing RHPA regulation are homeopathy, kinesiology, naturopathy (currently regulated under Drugless Practitioner Act) and traditional Chinese medicine.
The scope of psychotherapy practice as defined by the Psychotherapy Act 2007 is “the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances by psychotherapeutic means, delivered through a therapeutic relationship based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.”
In 2011, the Transitional Council (TC) of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario went to four cities in the province to obtain stakeholder input on their regulation recommendations. Stakeholders were then formally able to submit their input online to the TC who submitted their draft documents at the end of 2011 to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to whom they are accountable.
Regulation has involved developing standards for the practice of psychotherapy, in the interest of the public, to ensure that practitioners are competent, ethical and accountable. Specific draft regulations on Registration, Quality Assurance and Professional Misconduct have been submitted to the Ministry for review and input to the TC over the next year. Since they are still in draft form they are subject to modification. Draft Competency Profiles have also been developed. These documents can be found on the TC website at www.cprmhto.on.ca under ‘Resources’ and ‘Competency Project’
Currently, two streams of membership will be available through the new college: Registered Psychotherapist (RP) and Registered Mental Health Therapist (RMHT). For RP’s, an undergraduate degree and an educational program of at least 360 hours of training is required. For RMHT’s, a minimum two-year diploma in a field related to psychotherapy is necessary that includes 180 hours psychotherapy training. Education must lead to the development of specific entry-to-practise competencies.
Graduates from psychotherapy training programs will be able to apply and practise as RP (Qualifying) under case supervision until 450 client contact hours and 100 hours of case supervision have been completed, at which point they become RP’s. RP’s will be able to practise independently with an additional 550 client hours and 50 hours of case supervision. Those who apply for a RMHT will require 1,000 supervised client contact hours, 150 supervision hours and other specifications for independent practice. Completion of a program in aboriginal healing or indigenous practice that meets competencies is also part of registration regulation.
Both designations will have to complete a Registration exam by the College and a Jurisprudence/Professional Practice exam. The latter will probably be offered as an e-learning module on-line course to make sure members understand their legal obligations as regulated professionals.
Grandparenting to become a Registered Psychotherapist
If you have been practising for a while in Ontario as a psychotherapist you may apply for grandparenting. You will need to have practised at least 750 hours within the past three years prior to applying with 500 hours completed in Ontario. “These hours may be comprised of direct client contact, record keeping, preparation, research, consultation, professional development and case supervision. It may also include teaching, supervising, conducting research and writing in the field of psychotherapy.” Weighting and minimum and maximum benchmarks for the above are being considered. An undergraduate degree is not mandatory.
The applicant must provide “a portfolio of evidence of relevant education, experience and supervision and evidence that demonstrates safe and effective use of self in the psychotherapeutic relationship.” In order to practise independently, 1,000 hours of direct client contact and 150 hours of case supervision are necessary. The Registration exam is not required but the Jurisprudence/Professional exam will be. One must apply within two years of regulation coming into force.
Benefits of Regulation
Besides the public being protected, there are many exciting benefits of regulation that will enhance, expand and advance the field of psychotherapy whether you are an existing psychotherapist or if you are considering it as a career:
• The profession of psychotherapy will be recognized by government and public
• The recognized title of Psychotherapist reflects extensive training and experience
• More job opportunities will become available as psychotherapy moves into institutions and agencies
• Required errors and omission insurance will be easier to obtain
• Insurance companies will likely recognize psychotherapy for the Employee Assistance Programs
• Increased earning potential
•Recognized credentials to do workshops
As a leader in the field of spiritual psychotherapy training, Transformational Arts is excited to be part of this pioneering initiative to recognize and regulate psychotherapy as a distinct profession which allows for a wide diversity of modalities. Along with the Alliance of Psychotherapy Training Institutes, we have submitted relevant input to the TC. All documents are still in draft form and are subject to government amendment. We applaud the TC for the professional and judicious work they have done. All psychotherapists practising in Ontario will need to be registered with the new regulatory college by April 1, 2013.
If this field is of interest to you, we encourage you to explore the many modalities available to you to embark upon an exciting career as a Registered Psychotherapist or Mental Health Therapist in Ontario.