A Moment to Celebrate

A New Year's Message from OASW President, Dr. Keith Adamson

Proclamation of the controlled act of psychotherapy, a key component of the Psychotherapy Act, represents a tremendous victory for the profession - it has been a long but ultimately rewarding journey. To arrive at this landmark legislative change, the profession had to overcome many challenges. The recent political grassroots campaign, spearheaded by OASW, highlights what we can accomplish as a profession when we share a common goal, have a well thought out strategy to lead us forward, are focused and unwavering in our determination to succeed. 

As a profession we should feel proud - we are making significant strides. We need to take a pause, and recognize this important moment in our history as an association and as a profession. This milestone achievement both recognizes and legitimizes our highly valued and unique expertise in mental health, not just in policy, but in service delivery within the province's health and mental health systems.

An Association Rooted in Advocacy
OASW was founded on advocacy, both for the profession, as well as the clients we serve. As a result of the Association's continued and strategic efforts, over the past two decades, the profession of social work has been acknowledged in many important pieces of legislation, provincial initiatives and policy frameworks. These successes have been crucial to making the voices of social workers and the clients we work with, heard.

When people ask: "What is the value of the Association? What purpose does it serve?" The answer lies in the power of the collective voice that the Association harnesses to influence positive change. The question that I would pose is: "Without the Association, how would the voices of social workers have been heard? Would these successes have been achieved?" I contend that the profession simply would not be where it is today. 

Moving Forward: Impact & Implications
Proclamation of the controlled act of psychotherapy is an important step in the evolution of social work practice, of the profession in terms of our scope, marketing of our skill sets, and general valuation. Losing access to the title "Psychotherapist" would have represented a significant downgrading of the profession within this province. The effects would have been felt well beyond the direct impact on jobs and opportunities for social workers in front-line practice. It also would have affected our perceived skills in the provision of mental health services, as members of interdisciplinary teams as well as advocates for mental health services. Clients would have potentially lost not just care providers, but the valuable and much needed social work lens that we as a profession bring to the delivery of mental health services in Ontario. 

Access to the title "Psychotherapist" is about much more than the acknowledgement that psychotherapy falls within the social work scope of practice. It is about being recognized as experts in mental health. If social work as a profession is going to have input around how mental services are shaped and implemented in the province, if we are going to advocate for the clients we serve, this recognition is vital. 
This win comes with gravitas that will benefit the profession for years to come, formalizing our services and activities in a way that builds opportunities for the profession and benefits the public. Advocacy for social work as a profession is advocacy for the clients we serve. Being recognized by the provincial government as experts, will allow us to better and more effectively advocate for the issues that matter the most to social workers and the client populations we serve. 

Looking Ahead: Growing Our Collective Voice
As we move into a new year, let us look forward to the possibilities ahead. Look at what we can accomplish when we mobilize. Every social worker in the province will benefit from this monumental achievement for years to come, whether they know it or not. OASW members continue to advance the profession, with many in our field of practice unaware of the challenges we face, or the things they may have lost without your engagement. Looking at all we have achieved with 5000+ members, imagine what we as a profession could do if all 17,000+ Registered Social Workers were members of OASW. Think about where Social Work could be, 3, 5 and even 10 years down the road if we continue to push for change that matters.

We need to grow our collective voice. There is still much work to be done, and we look forward to doing the work together.

Please share this message far and wide, with social work students, social work leaders, social work academics as well as social workers who are not OASW members. Every social worker and future generations of social workers need to hear about the much-needed advocacy that the Association is doing on behalf of the profession.

Dr. Keith Adamson, MSW, RSW, PhD
OASW President 

About OASW
OASW is the voice of social work in Ontario. It is a voluntary, provincial, non-profit association representing approximately 5,200 social workers. All practicing members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral level. OASW works actively to speak on behalf of social workers and advocate for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.