What is the College?
The College of Psychologists of Ontario regulates the profession of psychology in Ontario. Members of the College of Psychologists are regulated professionals and are the only persons authorized to practice psychology in the province. Psychologists and Psychological Associates are members of the College of Psychologists.
The College is not a university, community college, or school. Instead its mandate is to protect the interests of the public by ensuring that consumers receive competent and ethical professional psychological services from qualified providers.
What is a Regulated Professional?
Regulated professionals are required by law to deliver professional services competently and ethically. They are accountable to the public, through their professional regulatory body, for their professional behaviour and activities. As members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, Psychologists and Psychological Associates must meet rigorous professional entry requirements, adhere to prescribed standards, guidelines and ethical principles and participate in quality assurance activities to continually update and improve their knowledge and skill.
In contrast, the College has no authority over unregulated service providers. There is no regulatory body with the legal authority to set minimum levels of education, training and competence or to establish and monitor professional and ethical standards of conduct. There is no professional regulatory body responsible to protect your interests and hold unregulated providers accountable for the services you receive.
What do Psychologists and Psychological Associates do?
Only members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario may use the title ‘Psychologist’ or ‘Psychological Associate’; use the terms ‘psychology’ or ‘psychological’ in any description of services offered or provided, or hold themselves out to be a psychologist or psychological Associate. Psychologists and Psychological Associates respectively may also identify themselves with the designation C.Psych. or C.Psych.Assoc. after their names.
To qualify for professional registration to practise psychology requires successful completion of graduate education and training in professional psychology, supervised professional experience and examinations. A member of the College is required to practise in accordance with applicable legislation, regulations, standards of conduct, professional guidelines and professional codes of ethics.
Psychologists and Psychological Associates are trained in the assessment, treatment and prevention of behavioural and mental conditions. They diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions as well as psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and dysfunctions. In addition, Psychologists and Psychological Associates use a variety of approaches directed toward the maintenance and enhancement of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning.
Psychologists and Psychological Associates usually focus their practice in specific areas such as clinical psychology, counselling psychology, clinical neuropsychology; school psychology; correctional/forensic psychology; health psychology; rehabilitation psychology; or industrial/organizational psychology. Within these areas a Psychologist or Psychological Associate may work with a variety of individual client populations such as children, adolescents, or adults, or may focus their attention on families, couples or organizations. They work in a range of settings including schools, hospitals, industry, social service agencies, rehabilitation facilities and correctional facilities. Many Psychologists and Psychological Associates have their own private practice.
A Psychologist or Psychological Associate who holds a certificate of registration authorizing autonomous practice may provide services without supervision, within his or her area of competence, and may charge a fee for these services. While most members of the College have no explicit term, condition or limitation on their certificates of registration, some do and must practice in accordance with any such restriction.
The College maintains a register of all current members. Information about an individual Psychologist or Psychological Associate may be found in the searchable Public Register or obtained from the College by telephone 416-961-8817 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Occasionally clients of Psychologists and Psychological Associates need to have forms completed and signed by their treating professional in order to obtain insurance reimbursement for psychological services or to qualify for some other benefit or service from an insurer or government agency. Normally both Psychologists and Psychological Associates may complete and sign such forms. If there are any questions or difficulties in having such forms accepted, please contact the College for guidance.
What is the Difference between Psychologists and Psychological Associates? (*See Note Below)
The difference is in how they are trained. Both have completed an undergraduate degree and have gone on to complete a graduate degree in psychology.
Psychological Associates have completed a masters level degree in psychology (e.g. M.A., M.Sc., M. Ps., M.Ed.), which is then followed by four years of experience working in the scope of practice of psychology. Psychologists have completed a doctoral level degree in psychology (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D., D.Psy.) which typically includes a one-year internship.
Both Psychologists and Psychological Associates have then completed at least one additional year of formal supervised experience approved by the College and passed the three examinations required by the College.
The profession of psychology in Ontario has a single scope of practice. There is no distinction made in the legislation or in the regulations between Psychologists and Psychological Associates with respect to scope of practice or with respect to controlled/authorized acts.
All members must have knowledge and skills respecting interpersonal relationships, assessment and evaluation, intervention and consultation, understanding and applying research to professional practice and knowing and applying professional ethics, standards and relevant legislation to professional practice. Every member of the College, with the exception of individuals whose practice is limited to Industrial/ Organizational Psychology, must be competent to formulate and communicate a psychological diagnosis.
*Note: In June 2009, the Federal/Provincial Agreement on Internal Trade was signed and in December 2009, the Ontario Labour Mobility Act (2009) was enacted. As a result of this legislation, the College of Psychologists of Ontario must offer registration as a ‘Psychologist’ to individuals who have been registered as Psychologists in other Canadian jurisdictions, regardless of the level of their graduate degree in psychology. There are some Canadian jurisdictions that award the title ‘Psychologist’ to individuals at the Masters, rather than Doctoral level. The recent legislation requires that the College of Psychologists recognize this title for these individuals. Therefore, while the majority of Psychologists and Psychological Associates in Ontario will have the differential training and experience described above, there are some Psychologists, who have come to Ontario from another Canadian jurisdiction, who may have a Masters degree. Members of the College are required to indicate their degree and title in any professional correspondence, report or promotional information.
In summary, both Psychologists and Psychological Associates are members of the College of Psychologists and are qualified psychological practitioners in the province of Ontario.
Questions regarding Psychologists and Psychological Associates or other inquiries related to the regulation and practice of psychology in Ontario may be directed to the College:
The College of Psychologists of Ontario
Suite 500 – 110 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A3
Tel: (416) 961-8817/(800) 489-8388
Fax: (416) 961-2635