OASW Special Bulletin Re: Proclamation of Psychotherapy Act, 2007

News Reported on April 9, 2015

Dear Members: 

Earlier this afternoon, most of you will have received an "eBulletin" from the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) informing you that the Psychotherapy Act, 2007 was proclaimed in law on April 1, 2015. The OCSWSSW "eBulletin" also alerted you to the fact that government enacted most of the Psychotherapy Act, i.e., those provisions which create the new College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario. However, government has not as yet enacted provisions in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) and the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 (SWSSWA) related to the controlled act of psychotherapy and use of the title "psychotherapist". This has implications for social workers and the four other existing regulated professions (psychologists, physicians, nurses and occupational therapists), because access to the title "Psychotherapist" is linked to proclamation of the "controlled act" of psychotherapy. I strongly encourage you to read OCSWSSW's eBulletin for specific details about what has happened. 

While social workers who currently provide psychotherapy services, or plan to do so in the future, can continue to do so, it is important to note that they will not be able to use the title "Psychotherapist" until such time as government proclaims provisions related to the "controlled act" of psychotherapy.  

Government did not provide prior notification to the existing regulated professions of the timing and their intention not to proclaim the provisions in the RHPA and the SWSSWA related to psychotherapy. 

Since formally receiving notice of the proclamation of the Psychotherapy Act on April 1, 2015, OASW has been: 

  • Communicating with OCSWSSW to seek their understanding of the implications of proclamation; 
  • Developing a strategy with our Government Relations consultants to address this issue; 
  • Reaching out to our sister associations (Ontario Psychological Association, Ontario Medical Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists), some of whose members will also be impacted by the restriction on use of the title "Psychotherapist". In 2009, OASW partnered with these associations and our joint lobbying efforts were successful in having provisions set out in the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998, and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, related to the "controlled act" of psychotherapy which granted use of the title "Psychotherapist", once the "controlled act" was proclaimed. OASW is exploring interest in working together related to this current restriction.
  • Writing a letter to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and copying the Minister of Community and Social Services, their respective Assistant Deputy Ministers, OCSWSSW and our sister associations, outlining our concerns and asking for a resolution of obstacles restricting access to the title "Psychotherapist".

We are vigorously advocating with government to remove restrictions on use of the title "Psychotherapist" by social workers, and will continue to provide regular updates in upcoming e-bulletins as we learn more. 

Joan MacKenzie Davies, MSW, RSW
Executive Director