Registered Psychotherapists: a huge untapped resource for addressing mental heal needs  

On April 22, the Globe and Mail posted an article called "Psychiatrists shouldn’t have a monopoly over psychotherapy" in which the writer mentions a number of mental health alternatives to psychiatry, none of which were psychotherapists!

Our president, Claire Watson, sent in a response, which we've included below. Only an abridged portion of her response was published on the Globe and Mail. Below is the full response:

It's heartwarming to hear from Dr. Zaretsky that psychiatrists do not have a monopoly on providing effective psychotherapy, nor that there are only one or two proven methods of psychotherapy. In fact, mental health providers who are able to work in diverse modalities are far more adept at matching the needs of the client with the most effective intervention.

What wasn't pointed out in the article is that there already exists an entire profession dedicated exclusively to providing psychotherapy. In Ontario, these practitioners are called Registered Psychotherapists (RPs),numbering approximately 6700, and regulated by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). In other provinces, these practitioners may be called psychotherapists or counselling therapists.

Becoming registered to practice in Ontario involves several years of training at a recognized psychotherapy training institute or University program plus hundreds of hours of supervised practicum. Five main categories of psychotherapies are prescribed by the College resulting in the fact that RPs have the expertise among them to work with any kind of issue from depression to trauma to addiction to relationship conflict, and many others.  

Mental health issues affect 1 in 5 Canadians and impact people of all ages, education backgrounds, cultures and income levels. Registered Psychotherapists are a huge untapped resource for addressing this public health need.  

Psychotherapy is not well understood and we must do a better job of explaining what it is.  Some psychiatrists practice psychotherapy, some psychologists practice psychotherapy and some social workers practice psychotherapy. But all psychotherapists practice psychotherapy.  

What we need is to become fully integrated partners in the provision of mental health services both government-funded and covered by employee benefit plans. Given the size and scope of our profession, psychotherapy should be accessible to all who all who reach out for this kind of help.  

Claire Watson, Registered Psychotherapist

President, Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists

Categories: Advocacy


Brian Collinson · May 28, 2019 at 1:22 pm

I think that this was an excellent reply, and that the OSRP and other RP organizations need to be working consistently on raising our overall visibility on the mental health and personal wellness landscape in Ontario. A great many people still face great difficulty distinguishing psychotherapists from psychiatrists, probably due to the unfortunate similarity of the names of the two professions. I am very pleased at Claire’s spirited response to the Globe article, which suffered from quite a myopic perspective, in my opinion!

Thank you Claire!

Lesli Musicar · September 6, 2019 at 12:21 am

Well said, Claire!

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