Overview

This manual describes the professional and legal obligations of registered psychotherapists. It is divided into three parts. Part 1 discusses what it means to practise a regulated profession. Part 2 discusses CRPO’s Professional Practice Standards. Part 3 reviews various laws relevant to the practice of RPs.

This manual, and the jurisprudence module it accompanies, serves three purposes:

  • to allow the reader to become generally familiar with the professional and legal responsibilities of RPs;
  • to serve as a reference when researching a particular professional practice issue; and
  • using case studies, to develop the ability to apply general principles to specific situations RPs may encounter.

Note that this manual contains general legal information, not legal advice regarding actual situations. It is advisable for RPs to consult colleagues, supervisors, and legal counsel when dealing with complex, risky situations, or legal disputes.

Glossary of Abbreviations

In this document, a number of acts are referred to by their abbreviations, including the following:

AODAAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
CYFSA —  Child, Youth, and Family Services Act, 2017
HCCA —  Health Care Consent Act, 1996
MHA —  Mental Health Act, 1990
PHIPA —  Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004
PIPEDA —  Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, 2000
RHPA —  Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991

Other abbreviations include the following:

CAS — Children’s Aid Society
CCB — Consent and Capacity Board
CRPO — College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
CTO — Community Treatment Orders
HPARB — Health Professions Appeal and Review Board
ICRC — Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee
IPC — Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
RHRA — Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority
RP — Registered Psychotherapist
SDM — Substitute Decision-Maker

Part 2: Practice Standards

Introduction

The written standards of CRPO deal with matters such as informed consent, confidentiality, and record-keeping, among others. Applicants and registrants are encouraged to regularly review the Standards (available at https://www.crpo.ca/standards-regulations/). Written standards and guidelines assist registrants in the safe, ethical, and effective practice of the profession. They are reviewed periodically based on various factors, including data from CRPO investigations and practice advice questions, evolving societal expectations, the current practice environment, and stakeholder feedback.

Ultimately, the test of whether a registrant has upheld a practice standard (written or unwritten) is based on what a knowledgeable and prudent practitioner would have done in similar circumstances. In a discipline hearing, this decision is made by a panel of members from CRPO’s Discipline Committee, often after hearing expert evidence on the issue.

This section discusses many of CRPO’s Professional Practice Standards. It provides links to the Standards and other relevant resources. It also illustrates the Standards using scenarios and practice questions. Some standards are discussed at length, others briefly, and some are not specifically covered in this manual. There are a few reasons for this variation, including the following:

  • CRPO’s Practice Advisory Service, which offers information and resources in response to practice questions, tends to receive questions about some standards more than others.
  • Some standards are at issue more often in investigations about registrant conduct.
  • Some standards are related to detailed laws with which registrants need to be familiar.

While not all of the Standards are discussed in detail, registrants remain responsible for meeting all professional practice standards.

Standard 1.1 Responsibility to CRPO

Registrants benefit from the trust the public places in them as regulated health professionals. This collective trust is possible only if individual registrants accept their responsibilities toward CRPO. Standard 1.1 explains what these responsibilities include.

Standard 1.1 Scenario 1

CRPO contacted a registrant as part of a random audit to ensure RPs carry appropriate professional liability insurance (PLI). CRPO did not receive a response by mail or email. CRPO suspended the registrant’s certificate of registration for failing to provide proof of PLI. The registrant later contacted CRPO showing that extenuating circumstances prevented them from receiving correspondence and that they do have PLI. CRPO lifted the suspension.

Standard 1.1 explains that registrants are required to respond within 30 days to a written request or inquiry from the College. This scenario recognizes that, while extenuating circumstances sometimes arise, it is important to receive and respond to correspondence from CRPO. This includes updating CRPO as soon as one’s contact information changes. Doing so is one form of accepting one’s responsibilities to the College.

Standard 1.1 Scenario 2

The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) ordered James to attend an in-person caution as an outcome of a formal complaint received about his conduct. College staff contacted James via email and voicemail to notify him that a date and time had been set for his caution. James did not respond to the College’s communication and did not attend the scheduled caution. CRPO opened an investigation (sometimes referred to as a Registrar’s Report) into James’ apparent breach of the ICRC’s order.

Standard 1.1 Scenario 3

The College received a mandatory report from Farah’s former employer, who stated Farah’s employment was terminated for professional misconduct. Once Farah became aware of the report to the College, she began contacting her former colleagues on social media demanding they deny any request for an interview from the College. Farah threatened to sue one of her former colleagues for defamation.

Registrants are obligated to fully cooperate with College investigations and exhibit appropriate behaviour throughout. In this scenario, Farah attempted to tamper with witnesses and obstruct the College’s investigation. If this were to occur, the Registrar would open a separate report to investigate the registrant’s conduct during the original investigation.

Practice Question

Question

Which of the following is not considered professional misconduct regarding a registrant’s conduct toward the College?

i. Failing to attend for a caution before the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee.

ii. Failing to cooperate with the College investigating a matter that was brought by a client complaint.

iii. Failing to respond to a proposed regulation that has been put out to registrants for feedback.

iv. Not participating in the Quality Assurance Program because a registrant feels they know enough.

Answer Key

The best answer is iii. While it may be beneficial to the profession in general to contribute to the regulatory process by providing feedback to any proposed regulations, this is not a mandatory duty that would constitute professional misconduct if it wasn’t performed.

Answer i is not the best answer because failing to attend a caution directed by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee is professional misconduct. Cautions help make the complaints process work.

Answer ii is not the best answer because the College has the authority to regulate the profession, and registrants must cooperate with the College when it is investigating matters. Failing to cooperate is professional misconduct.

Answer iv is not the best answer because the Quality Assurance Program is a required part of being registered