This is a question I’m asked all the time in my personal and professional life, and I can understand why! It is quite confusing to navigate all the different types of mental health support out there.
I am a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario, so I am qualified to practice psychotherapy.
But what does it mean to practice psychotherapy?
In Canada, our health services are regulated by provincial colleges which determine if a therapist or health practitioner has the education and experience to practice in the area they claim competency. Now this is pretty straightforward when it comes to a massage therapist, chiropractor, physiotherapist, dentist, etc. Most people understand what they do and when it is necessary to access this type of care. However, when it comes to mental health there seem to be so many different types of practitioners.
In Ontario, there are psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists, and counsellors. Additionally, sometimes a family physician, naturopath, mental health nurse, clergy member or other type of health care provider may offer emotional support and guidance. With so many options, its difficult to determine where to turn or how to find the support you need.
Registered Psychotherapist (RP) is a mental health professional that has obtained education and experience in mental health that is approved by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.
Registered Psychotherapists are regulated to treat using psychotherapy in a similar way to psychologists. The title of “Registered Psychotherapist” began in 2015 in an effort to regulate the practice of psychotherapy. More details about the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario can be found on their website. http://www.crpo.ca
Psychologist (CPsych) in Ontario is a mental health clinician who has obtained a doctorate in psychology (PsyD) or doctorate in philosophy (PhD) with a specialization in clinical training (i.e. clinical psychology, counselling psychology, clinical neuropsychology) from an accredited university. They can diagnose mental health conditions and provide treatment and/or assessments. Psychologists are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. http://www.cpo.on.ca
Psychological Associate (CPsychAssoc) in Ontario can diagnose mental health conditions, provide treatment, and conduct psychological assessments. They have obtained a masters degree in psychology (MA or MSc). They can diagnose mental health conditions and provide treatment and/or assessments. Psychological Associates are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. http://www.cpo.on.ca
Registered Social Worker (RSW) is a mental health professional with a bachelors or masters degree in social work from an accredited university. Social workers help families, individuals and communities find answers to questions, offer resources and provide psychotherapy. Social workers may be found in hospitals, community agencies, and/or private counselling offices. Social workers are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. http://www.ocswssw.org
Psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who has received specialized training in mental health. Medical doctors are the only clinicians with the ability to prescribe medication. They can diagnose mental health conditions and sometimes offer assessment and/or treatment for mental health issues, primarily for clients with a mental health diagnosis (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, single or multiple episode depression). Psychiatrists are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. http://www.cpso.on.ca
Counsellor is an unregulated title. This means that there is no regulatory college for the designation of “Counsellor”. It is a broad term to describe supportive care, guidance, and assistance with resources. There are a wide diversity of counselling approaches and a range of issues for which counselling can be helpful. There is a certification for counselling where credentials of the counsellor are evaluated by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. https://www.ccpa-accp.ca
Now that you have a bit more information about the different disciplines, hopefully it helps you make the best decision for your care. We offer psychotherapy services virtually and in the Ottawa region. Feel free to us our contact page if you have any questions!