Psychotherapy is primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being. Registered Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families in individual and group settings. Psychotherapy occurs when the Registered Psychotherapist (RP) and client enter into a psychotherapeutic relationship where both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.

As health care professionals, psychotherapists work in a wide range of settings. Settings include: private practice, hospitals, clinics, care facilities, rehabilitation centres/programs, employee assistance programs, universities, and more.

A psychotherapy client should be able to observe the following key elements over the course of their work with an RP:

  • a conversation about the benefits, risks and expected outcome(s) of the psychotherapy and the opportunity to give their informed consent
  • a clearly communicated, mutually agreed upon goal or plan for the psychotherapy
  • each therapy session has a clear beginning and a clear end where problems or concerns are presented and discussed and outcomes are explored
  • the Registered Psychotherapist demonstrates the appropriate use of boundaries to create a safe and confidential environment

These important elements are part of the effective client-therapist psychotherapeutic relationship that is the foundation of psychotherapy. Through this relationship, RPs are expected to:

  • ensure that the client’s well-being is at the forefront of the relationship;
  • work with the client(s) to gather relevant information that will support the formulation of a plan for psychotherapy;
  • continuously evaluate outcomes of each session and the impact on overall treatment goal(s);
  • practise safe and effective use of self throughout the psychotherapeutic process; and
  • adhere to the standards of practice for the profession.

Registered Psychotherapists will be competent to use a treatment approach or modality that is part of one or more of the categories of prescribed therapies, which include:

  • Cognitive and Behavioural therapies
  • Experiential and Humanistic therapies
  • Psychodynamic therapies
  • Somatic therapies
  • Systemic and Collaborative therapies

Controlled Act of Psychotherapy

Registered Psychotherapists are authorized to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy. By definition in the Regulated Health Professions Act, this involves five elements:

i) treating
ii) by means of psychotherapy technique
iii) delivered through a therapeutic relationship,
iv) an individual’s serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory that,
v) may seriously impair the individual’s judgement, insight, behaviour, communication or social functioning (RHPA 1991).

All five elements of this definition must be present in order for the controlled act to have taken place.

In the practice of psychotherapy, RPs use their knowledge, skills and judgement to determine whether their client’s condition is serious, having considered the client’s subjective assessment, the RP’s own clinical assessment, and/or the assessment by another care provider.
It is important to note that all five of the elements must be present for an activity or intervention to fall within the controlled act of psychotherapy.

What to Expect from a Registered Psychotherapist

When you seek the services of a Registered Psychotherapist, you can expect to receive competent, ethical, quality care from a qualified professional who is registered with CRPO.

RPs are accountable to CRPO for the quality of care they provide and for their professional conduct. Only individuals who are registered with CRPO are able to use the title “psychotherapist”, “Registered Psychotherapist” or any abbreviation or variation thereof in any language, or to hold themself out as qualified to practise as a psychotherapist in Ontario (no matter what title they use).

Standards of Practise

All RPs in Ontario must follow the established standards for the profession. CRPO’s Professional Practice Standards for Registered Psychotherapists are in place so you can be assured that your psychotherapist is practising in a competent and ethical manner. The standards provide clear expectations for RPs, covering everything from professional conduct to record-keeping and documentation.

CRPO holds all Registered Psychotherapists accountable for their conduct and practise.