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Understanding the Psychotherapy Act: an OPSEU Q&A

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Questions and answers about the new Psychotherapy Act for OPSEU members in Sector 15, Children’s Treatment


On March 31, 2015, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care announced that the Psychotherapy Act, 2007 would come into force April 1, 2015, thereby regulating the practice of psychotherapy in Ontario. This Q&A answers some questions OPSEU members in Sector 15 may have.

1. What is the Psychotherapy Act?

The Psychotherapy Act makes the practice of providing psychotherapy a "controlled act"-an act specified in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) as one which may only be performed by authorized regulated health professionals. The Psychology Act will be the fourteenth and newest controlled act included in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA).

Until the act comes into force, any person can practise psychotherapy. Once in force, anyone practising psychotherapy must register with the newly-established College of Psychotherapists of Ontario.

Workers who meet the requirements listed below (under "How do I register with the Psychotherapy College?") can apply to be grandparented into the college, but must do so before March 31, 2017.

2. How does the Psychotherapy Act define "psychotherapy"?

The Psychotherapy Act defines "psychotherapy" as, "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" (Section 3).

3. Who is affected by the Psychotherapy Act?

Anyone who does not currently belong to a regulated college (College of Physicians, Nurses, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers, and Social Service Workers), and is practising psychotherapy, will no longer be able to do so unless s/he is registered with the Psychotherapy College, or one of the other five regulatory colleges, by the time the act comes into force.

Child and youth workers (CYWs) who perform psychotherapy, and are not members of any college as registered health professionals, will also be required to register with the college.

4. What can I expect from my union?

Through the OPSEU Negotiations Unit, the Sector 15 executive is spearheading a coordinated action with highest-ranking union members, directed at all employers in children's treatment and mental health units. OPSEU will provide a formal letter to employers, requesting that they:

a) review all positions where scope may apply;

b) determine what positions entail the practice of psychotherapy; and

c) notify staff prior to the March 31, 2017 deadline for grandparenting college registration, should the employer deem them to be required to register under the act.

All local presidents or highest-ranking members will be asked to table the OPSEU letter at their next EERC meeting, and obtain verbal agreement from employers that they will exercise due diligence in this process. These members will also track the number of affected members in their unit, after receiving notification from employers, and will ensure that members are supported by OPSEU staff representatives where needed.The sector divisional executive plans to lobby the government on this piece of legislation, and will continue to communicate to members on this issue on a regular basis.

5. What is the employer's role?

Employers determine job descriptions and classifications and, where applicable, the union and employer have joint job evaluation committees established to review new positions, or rescore positions where job responsibilities have changed as per a collective agreement.

The employer needs to review positions, and establish where psychotherapy as defined in the Psychotherapy Act is being practised. Once they establish which positions are impacted, they must inform the affected workers and the union. Employers can remove the practice of psychotherapy from a job description. Or, they can maintain it, and require registration with the Psychotherapy College or one of the other five regulatory colleges that is authorized to perform the controlled act.

6. How do I register with the Psychotherapy College?

If it has been determined in consultation with your employer that you will be required to register with the college, you must initiate the registration process. You can do this by visiting www.crpo.ca/home/info-for-applicants.You may be eligible to be grandparented into the college. To be eligible, a practitioner must meet the currency requirement for grandparenting; i.e. s/he must have completed a minimum 750 currency hours within the three years immediately prior to submitting an application. In addition to meeting the currency requirement, applicants must demonstrate completion of the following:

  • a minimum 800 direct client contact (DCC) hours over their professional career (anywhere in the world); 
  • a minimum 100 hours of education and training related to the practice of psychotherapy;
  • a minimum 40 hours of supervision, including at least 20 hours of clinical supervision;
  • a minimum 30 hours competency development related to safe and effective use of self (SEUS), gained through experiential learning, coursework, personal psychotherapy, or some forms of clinical supervision;

Please visit the college website for more information: http://www.crpo.ca/home/info-for-applicants/

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