Members of self-regulated professions are held to standards of professional conduct in their practice and, to a certain extent, in their personal lives. Professional conduct encompasses interactions with the College, clients, colleagues, other professionals and the public.
As the governing body of the profession, the College’s ability to fulfil its public protection mandate depends on the cooperation of members in various aspects of College activities. Key to this is members’ acceptance of the regulatory authority of the College based in legislation – in this case, the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and the Psychotherapy Act, 2007. Together, these two statutes constitute the legislative framework of the College.
Professional conduct, among other things, comprises the proper use of titles, including one’s regulated title and any specialty titles a member may have earned. Members must comply with any terms, conditions or limitations placed on their Certificate of Registration, and must participate in the College’s Quality Assurance Program. In addition, they must comply with any orders made by a panel of their peers, i.e. other members of the College, fulfill any undertakings (agreements) entered into with the College, and co-operate with College investigations. Failure to do so could lead to disciplinary action against the member.
Members have a duty to report unsafe practices of colleagues and other regulated health professionals, and to report knowledge or suspicion of sexual abuse by a colleague, client or other health professional. In addition, members strive to avoid dual relationships with clients; they respect boundaries and refrain from influencing clients unduly, especially in legal and financial matters; and they do not engage in sexual activity with clients. The latter is an extremely serious form of professional misconduct that can result in loss of registration and/or other mandatory penalties.
Members are required to take steps to avoid conflicts-of-interest in their professional lives and to deal appropriately with conflict situations. They can be disciplined for “disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional conduct” related to their practice, and for “conduct unbecoming a member of the profession” in their private lives, if such a finding is made by a panel of peers following a complaint to the College.
Members practise only in areas in which they have the necessary knowledge, skill and judgment, and perform only controlled acts they are legally authorized to perform. They understand there are situations when a client should be referred to another health care provider with different expertise, and they appreciate the role of supervision and/or consultation in their own continuing professsional growth as a therapist.
All of these aspects of professional conduct, among others, are described in greater detail in this section. Members and prospective members should familiarize themselves with the College’s standards of professional conduct, and the obligations of registration.