In Canada, the regulation of trades and professions is done at the provincial level. The typical model for professions is self-regulation. Self-regulation refers to an approach or system where regulatory powers are delegated (in our case, through the Regulated Health Professions Act by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) to a body that is comprised of members of the profession and that has the responsibility of protecting the public’s right to safe, effective and ethical health care.
Although newly regulated, Ontario’s Registered Psychotherapists (RPs) have the knowledge, skills and judgment needed to regulate themselves and their profession through the College. The College is led by a Council of nine professional members elected by their peers and as many public members as are appointed by the provincial government. Working with College staff, the Council regulates the practice of psychotherapy in Ontario to protect the public interest. This work includes:
- developing, establishing and maintaining requirements for registration and renewal;
- developing Professional Practice Standards for Registered Psychotherapists and the Code of Ethics;
- ensuring the ongoing competence of members through the Quality Assurance (QA) Program;
- holding members accountable for their conduct by investigating and addressing all complaints;
- maintaining a Public Register of members;
- taking action to prevent non-members from using restricted titles; and
- providing funding for therapy and counselling in the event a client is sexually abused by an RP.
The professional regulator’s duty to protect the public interest makes its role different from other professional organizations, such as associations. Membership in professional associations is voluntary. These associations exist to advocate on behalf of and to serve their members through providing things such as networking opportunities, holding conferences/seminars/workshops, maintaining job boards and lobbying government to influence policy in furtherance of the economic, employment, professional and political interests of their members.