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The Regulation of Psychotherapy in Ontario

by Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak RSS

Regulation has developed standards for psycho­therapy to ensure practitioners are competent

Regulation has developed standards for psycho­therapy to ensure practitioners are competent

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A long time in the works, the regulation of psycho­therapy will begin in the province of Ontario with an approximate target date of March 31, 2012. This process was initiated in 2005 and researched by the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC), which  made a recommendation in a document called “New Decisions” 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; and 2) 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 the 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 http://www.cprmhto.on.ca under ‘Resources’ and ‘Competency Project’.

Two Streams
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 of 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 online 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’ status. 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 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 College 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.

CORRECTIONS

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; and 2) and the failure to properly assess or implement specific psychotherapeutic interventions.”

To learn about the regulation details of psychotherapists and mental health therapists regulation in Ontario please visit the website of the Transitional Council of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario at http://www.cprmhto.on.ca/pages/Home

References

Article Tags: vitality, vitality magazine, gord riddell and kathy ryndak, conscious living, psychotherapy -- regulation

About the Author

More Articles by Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are therapists and co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health Care and Coaching.

September start Training courses are now registered. Also offered: Personal and Spiritual Growth Courses through a 10 part program “Discovering the Total Self”.

Next start dates are in July and September. For a calendar call the College at 416-484-0454 or toll free 1-800-TAC-SELF or visit www.transformationalarts.com