Note: If you are in crisis, please contact your family doctor, go to your closest hospital, call the Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600, call the Suicide Crisis Helpline by dialing 988, or call 911.


If you have a concern or a complaint about the care you received from a Registered Psychotherapist, this is where you can find out more information about the formal complaint process. The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario is the organization that members of the public can make complaints to; our job is to ensure that Registered Psychotherapists are providing the care that they should to all Ontarians.

If you are unsure about whether you should file a formal complaint or report, please review Should I File a Complaint or Report.

Before You Make a Complaint

The complaint process can be difficult for both complainants and psychotherapists. While CRPO will always consider the information carefully, neutrally and in the public interest, the outcome may not be the one hoped for by the complainant or psychotherapist. It may be advisable to have personal supports in place during the complaint process.

For questions about the complaint process, you may email us any time at Staff are also available via phone during business hours (8:30am – 4:30pm). Contact information is available on the Contact Us page. Please note that staff record written notes from all phone calls. These notes may be disclosed to the registrant in future investigations.

Back to top

How to File a Complaint

If you decide to submit a formal complaint, please use the Complaint Form. You can submit the form by email, mail or fax. If you are unable to provide your complaint in writing, please contact CRPO to request accommodation.

Back to top

After You File a Complaint

Once you have submitted a complaint, a staff person will contact you to confirm receipt, obtain any clarification needed and provide information on next steps. CRPO will then provide the psychotherapist you have complained about with notice of the complaint within 14 days from the time the complaint was received. In general, CRPO will provide the psychotherapist with a copy of the complaint and give them the opportunity respond.

In addition, an investigator may be selected to investigate the matter. If this occurs, the investigator may request to speak with you in order to learn about the events and circumstances surrounding the complaint.

The investigator may be a staff person or an investigator contracted by the College. The investigator’s role is to interview relevant witnesses and collect any necessary documentation. The investigator is not a decisionmaker.

Back to top

What Will Happen to the Psychotherapist I Complained About?

Complaints about Registered Psychotherapists are reviewed by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). This committee is made up of members of the profession, as well as members of the public who sit on CRPO’s governing Council. The committee screens complaints and concerns about CRPO registrants and decides how they should be addressed. The following is a description of various outcomes the committee is able to order. They are sometimes used in combination with one another and are presented in order of increasing seriousness:

  1. Take no action – The committee will not take any action where the information raised through the investigation process appears to include no risk or minimal risk to the public.
  2. Issue written advice – Where an investigation has identified that there may be some room for improvement in a registrant’s professional practice or conduct, the committee can issue written advice, including recommendations. CRPO does not monitor or follow-up with the psychotherapist about whether they have followed the advice; however, non-cooperation could be considered in the future, e.g. if another complaint is made. This outcome reflects concerns that are of low risk to the public.
  3. Remedial agreement – Where a concern about Registered Psychotherapist appears to present a low risk to the public, the psychotherapist and CRPO may enter into an agreement. The agreement generally includes self-directed learning and submission of an assignment for evaluation, such as a reflection paper.
  4. Specified continuing education or remediation program (SCERP) – Where the committee identifies a practice deficiency that poses moderate risk to the public, it can order the registrant to complete a SCERP, which is a specific learning program meant to address the shortcoming.
  5. In-person caution – If the committee identifies a serious concern that poses moderate risk to the public, it can order the psychotherapist to attend the CRPO office in person to receive a caution from the committee. A caution sends a strong message about the need for immediate improvement.
  6. Undertakings – In situations involving a medium-to-high risk to the public, the psychotherapist, in consultation with CRPO, may voluntarily agree to restrict their practice or resign from CRPO and not reapply. A referral to a discipline hearing may also have been made. When a registrant resigns in such circumstances, a note to that effect will be posted to the Public Register and will remain there.
  7. Referral to the Discipline Committee – Where investigation reveals a serious concern posing a high risk to the public, and where the evidence is sufficient to support a legal hearing, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) will refer specific allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee. A discipline hearing is a formal legal process. Hearings are generally held in public. More information about the discipline process is available on the Discipline page of our website. Referrals to the Discipline Committee are relatively rare compared with other possible ICRC outcomes. Where a risk of harm to the public requires an immediate restriction on the registrant’s practice, the ICRC can make an “interim order” restricting the member’s ability to practise.

Back to top

Remedies Unavailable Through the College

The College’s complaints process cannot:

  • Be used as evidence in civil proceedings such as family court, see Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, s. 36 (3).
  • Order the payment of funds by a registrant as a result of a financial loss suffered by the complainant. This is a matter for the courts.
  • Resolve employment or labour relations difficulties that are not addressed by the professional standards governing the profession.
  • Direct a member to change his or her professional opinion or a report.
  • Direct a registrant to issue a formal apology.

What if I Disagree with the Decision?

Both you and the psychotherapist involved each have a right to request that an Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) decision be reviewed by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB). HPARB is a legal tribunal that is independent of CRPO. It reviews the ICRC’s decision in a complaint and determines whether the investigation was adequate and the decision was reasonable. Reviews by HPARB are usually open to the public. HPARB cannot review a decision to refer a complaint to the Discipline Committee or to incapacity proceedings, as the matter is still in progress at CRPO.

Back to top

How Long Will This Take?

The time it takes the College to make a decision on a complaint varies from case to case. The College will ensure that Complainants and Registrants are updated throughout this process. ICRC members and College staff work hard to avoid unnecessary delays in the complaints process—nevertheless, delays do occur. Currently the average time for receiving the ICRC’s written decision is around 270 days from receipt of the complaint. Timelines are affected by various factors including complexity of the issues and how quickly responses are provided when the College requests information.

Back to top


CRPO takes the confidentiality of the complaints process seriously. Information about complaints is confidential to the complaints process. During an investigation, psychotherapists are generally asked to provide relevant documents from the client record. CRPO will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of client records. Complainants must keep in mind, however, that if a decision is reviewed by HPARB, or the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, the information obtained through the complaints process may be presented at a review or hearing, which is open to the public.

Complainants who are concerned about the provision of their clinical file to CRPO, or have other questions about the confidentiality of the complaints process, are advised to contact us.

Feedback About the Complaints Process

Individuals involved in the complaints process are invited to write to CRPO with their comments or concerns about the process. The Registrar and/or Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee will review any such submission and determine what steps, if any, CRPO can take to address the concerns. CRPO uses the information received to improve the process.

Incapacity Inquiries

If a complaint investigation raises concerns about the psychotherapist’s mental and physical capacity to practise the profession safely and effectively, the ICRC follows a process to inquire into the registrant’s capacity. More information can be found on the Incapacity Proceedings page of our website.

Note: As of April 1, 2017, any ICRC decision involving an in-person caution, SCERP or undertaking, will result in a notation being made on the registrant’s Public Register profile.

Issues CRPO Cannot Address

There are various concerns about psychotherapists that are outside of CRPO’s jurisdiction. These include:

Members of Another Regulatory College

If a practitioner is a member of more than one college, you can make a complaint with any of the colleges where they are a member. Depending on the nature of the complaint, one or more of the colleges may play an active role in the investigation.

For example:

  • Psychologists are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario;
  • Social workers are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers;
  • Psychiatrists and GP psychotherapists are medical doctors who are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; and
  • Some nurses and occupational therapists may practise psychotherapy and are regulated by the College of Nurses of Ontario and the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, respectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you protect my identity from the psychotherapist if I make a complaint or report to CRPO?

Fairness requires CRPO to disclose information we receive about Registered Psychotherapists and allow them the opportunity to respond. This includes the names of individuals who make a complaint or report. CRPO can redact information that is clearly irrelevant, such as the personal contact information of the individual who submitted the information.

Do I need a lawyer for the complaints process?

While you may find it helpful to have a lawyer, it is not required. CRPO investigates and decides on all complaint matters fairly, whether you have a lawyer or not.

While Registered Psychotherapists (RPs) do not need a lawyer to respond to a complaint or report, we advise RPs to use a lawyer. This is because the outcome of the process can have a significant impact on the RP’s practice and career.

What supports does the College offer throughout the investigation process?

  • The public can email or phone staff at any time throughout the complaints process and will receive a response within 3 business days.
  • Wherever possible, CRPO will accommodate a request to speak with a staff member of a requested gender.
  • A support person can file a complaint on behalf of a client. Additionally, you can have a support person with you at an interview with CRPO staff or an investigator, or to a hearing.
  • When disclosing difficult information, staff provide advance notice to the recipient to explain the information may be difficult to read and ask if the person has supports in place. We also offer to send the materials to the client’s new therapist in situations where it may be helpful for the client to review the documents in a supportive environment.
  • If a complainant requires accommodation putting their complaint in writing or in a permanent medium, staff will arrange and pay for a contractor to assist.
  • Staff do not disclose sensitive information on Fridays because mental health supports (and staff/investigators) are less accessible over the weekend.
  • Translation services are available for complainants in their preferred language.
  • CRPO uses a file sharing platform which allows for secure bi-directional file sharing. This provides a simplified solution for complainants to securely send staff complaint materials.
  • Designated staff at CRPO manage all formal requests for accommodation to ensure accessible services, information and communication to individuals with disabilities. Accommodation will be customized to each person according to their needs.

Additional Supports Offered For Complaints Relating to Sexual Abuse

  • When using a contract investigator, staff inform the client they will be contacted by an outside party regarding the investigation within the next few business days. This also provides an opportunity for the client to ask any questions of staff.
  • Where possible, investigators ensure clients alleging sexual abuse have access to all documents which will be reviewed in the interview in advance.
  • The investigator will accommodate the client’s needs with regard to the format and pacing of interviews (e.g., if the investigator requires 3 hours’ worth of interview time, the investigator will ask if the client is more comfortable booking 2 sittings).

Client sexual abuse resources and other crisis resources are also available on the CRPO website.

How long does it take for CRPO to make a decision on a complaint?

The time it takes the College to make a decision on a complaint varies from case to case. The College will ensure that Complainants and Registrants are updated throughout this process. ICRC members and College staff work hard to avoid unnecessary delays in the complaints process—nevertheless, delays do occur. Currently the average time for receiving the ICRC’s written decision is around 270 days from receipt of the complaint. Timelines are affected by various factors including complexity of the issues and how quickly responses are provided when the College requests information.

What decision is likely to be made regarding my complaint?

CRPO staff cannot speculate or predict the outcome of complaints. Every complaint is different and is evaluated on the information gathered. Statistically, the committee that makes the decision (called ICRC, or Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee) has taken no action on approximately one third of complaints and ordered educational outcomes in most others. The purpose of the complaints process is to protect the public. If educational activities will prevent the concerns from happening again, the ICRC is likely to take this approach. Only the most serious complaints, e.g. involving dishonesty or abuse, are referred to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing, provided that there is enough evidence to support a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence.