Who is Permitted to Use the Title “Psychotherapist”?

As we reported in a recent blog post, the Psychotherapy Act, 2007 (the “Act”) was proclaimed in force on April 1, 2015, resulting in the creation of the new College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (the “College”).  While the majority of the Act came into force on this date, there are several additional important provisions of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (the “RHPA”) and the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 (the “SWSSWA”) relating to psychotherapy that the Ontario government has delayed proclaiming, including those related to the use of the titles “psychotherapist”, “registered psychotherapist” and “registered mental health therapist” (collectively, the “Psychotherapy titles”).

Today we will review the current state of the law regarding the use of the Psychotherapy titles.  In particular, we will clarify who is, and who is not, currently permitted to use the Psychotherapy titles in light of the recent proclamation of the Act without companion legislation being proclaimed.

The Controlled Act of Psychotherapy

At the outset, it is important to note that the controlled act of psychotherapy was not proclaimed in force on April 1, 2015.  This means that health professionals who currently provide psychotherapy services may continue to do so until such time as proclamation occurs.

Who Can and Cannot Use the Psychotherapy Titles?

As of April 1, 2015, however, only those health professionals who are registered members of the College may use the Psychotherapy titles in describing themselves either verbally or in writing.  This is because section 8 of the Act specifically restricts the use of the titles “psychotherapist”, “registered psychotherapist” and “registered mental health therapist” to members of the College.  Furthermore, section 8 provides that only members of the College may hold themselves out as people who are qualified to practise in Ontario as a psychotherapist, registered psychotherapists or registered mental health therapist.

The RHPA contains a provision (section 33.1) which permits members of the colleges regulating physicians, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists to use the Psychotherapy titles in accordance with specific guidelines.  However, this provision has not yet been proclaimed at this time.

Similarly, the provision in the SWSSWA (section 47.2) which will give legal authority to members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers who are authorized to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy to use to the restricted titles has not yet been proclaimed in force.

Conclusion

Until the provisions outlined above are proclaimed in force, only registered members of the College of Registered Psychotherapists may use the title “psychotherapist”, “registered psychotherapist” and “registered mental health therapist”.  All other health professionals who practise psychotherapy, such as physicians, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and social service workers, must refrain from doing so.  This includes making reference to a Psychotherapy title in business cards, letterhead, e-mail signatures, website profiles, and any other documents.

The Ontario government has not provided any information regarding the timing of proclamation of the provisions regarding the Psychotherapy titles.  We will post an update on our blog as soon as we receive notice of when this might occur.  In the meantime, please contact us for further information on the use of the Psychotherapy titles or how to manage your practice to ensure you are in compliance with the Psychotherapy Act, 2007.

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