After hearing from CRPO exam registrants about a variety of issues regarding the October exam, on October 10, 2020, the OSRP Advocacy Committee sent a letter to the CRPO and to Compass/Yardstick exams to address these issues. The responses received from the CRPO and Compass/Yardstick did not address the request for online exams or for ensuring all registrants would able to write the exam in 2020. We will continue this advocacy work over the next month regarding the CRPO registration exam.
We will also be pursing an investigation into the exam questions themselves, as we are also hearing about bias towards agency protocol questions, which are not part of the training in the free-standing therapy institutes (e.g. TIRP, CTP, Gestalt, etc). Given that those who graduate from the free-standing schools are not hired into agencies, nor are they trained in career counselling or guidance counselling, these questions don’t make sense as a way to assess their competencies. Stay tuned for more on that piece of advocacy.
Below is the letter to the CRPO about their exam-delivery issues in 2020.
CRPO, Attn: Deborah Adams Compass, Attn: Lorna Martin
Dear Deborah and Lorna,
We are writing to address the alarming information we are hearing from registrants about the October 2020 CRPO exam. We were deeply concerned about the April 2020 exam cancellation. And even more surprised to hear about the limitations on the number registrants allowed to write the October 2020 exam. It was understandable in the circumstances that the April exam did not go ahead, but it should have been rescheduled quickly as an online exam. The result of this cancellation has led to the deeply negative impacts on registrants, outlined below.
We understand the need for flexibility due to the current pandemic: we appreciate how challenging it is to work within rapidly changing policies and guidelines from authorities. But we also expect the CRPO to show responsive flexibility in thinking about alternatives. We are alarmed to hear that registrants who were set to write the exam in April 2020, who were then moved to October 2020, are now being told they may not get to write that exam either due to space limitations (in accordance with government Covid guidelines). This limitation means many registrants will not get the chance to write this exam at all this year, despite being eligible to do so. We are also hearing that the process by which Compass/Yardstick is choosing who can write and who they excluded from writing the exam is opaque to registrants. We are concerned with the unfairness of this situation. It is not just frustrating, it is distressing both emotionally and financially for all registrants to not be able to write this exam and get their full designation of Registered Psychotherapist in 2020.
There are many negative impacts on all registrants who are not writing the exam in 2020. For many qualifying therapists, waiting for the exam has already added extra supervision hours and could add even more beyond the required 150, which is an unexpected added and unfair financial burden. For many qualifying therapists, full compensation for their service is tied to getting the RP designation. The longer these registrants have to wait to remove “qualifying”, the greater the impact on their financial security. For many qualifying therapists, there are still numerous insurance companies who refuse to cover psychotherapy services provided by a therapist with a qualifying registration status. That leaves these therapists at a significant disadvantage until they can access the exam. In addition, many qualifying therapists are not able to attract clients because the public perception of the term “qualifying” suggests the therapist might not be good enough since they are not yet validated by an authoritative body, as compared to a Registered Psychotherapist.
We understand from the Psychotherapy Act 2007 that examinations must be held at least annually (see paragraph 21). In cancelling the April exam and offering the exam in October to only limited numbers, the CRPO is not making the exam available to everyone who has registered, and is thereby not meeting this requirement. Our understanding of this Act is that the CRPO must provide ALL exam registrants access to this exam in 2020: it’s an obligation that must be met, even during a pandemic. We believe that this obligation can be met by creating an online remote examination.
We urge the CRPO and Compass/Yardstick to consider other options for ensuring all registrants in 2020 have an opportunity to write the exam before the end of this year. Other regulatory bodies, such as the law society, have pivoted in response to the pandemic and are allowing registrants to write their bar exams online. Universities have also administered online examinations. Given that we are poised for further restrictions to public gatherings as a result of the rise in Covid cases, online exams seem to be the only viable option. We don’t understand why online exams are not yet in place when so many other institutions have implemented this effective and safe alternative. As an organization dedicated to administering exams, it seems Compass/Yardstick should be working towards doing what other bodies have already accomplished.
We are also concerned about registrants having to go into testing centres in conditions that not only put their physical health at risk, but also their emotional health. These are extraordinary conditions under which to expect someone to write an already stressful exam – one that determines the future of their professional career. Before limiting the opportunity for many registrants to write the exam in 2020 (which would mean waiting an entire year for those therapists who were supposed to write in April of 2020), we implore you to exhaust all avenues of safe possibilities for exam administration and to be transparent with registrants about the process.
We look forward to hearing your response to this urgent matter.
Liz Phillips, RP, DipTIRP
Co-president, Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSRP) firstname.lastname@example.org
416 530 0752