Upcoming Changes to Psychotherapy Supervision

Are you currently providing supervised psychotherapy services in Ontario or planning to be supervised? If yes, then you may be interested in the new legislative changes to psychotherapy supervision outlined by the Regulated Health Professions Act (the “RHPA”).

Background

On January 1, 2018, the RHPA created the controlled act of psychotherapy, making it a restricted professional activity that can only be provided by members of the following regulatory colleges:

  • The College of Nurses of Ontario
  • The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
  • The College of Psychologists of Ontario
  • The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
  • The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers

The legislation provided a transitional period, which lasts until December 31, 2019, following which, the controlled act of psychotherapy goes fully into effect. One of the changes that will result at the end of the transitional period relates to supervision.

Supervision During the Licensing Process

While in the process of becoming registered with a college, individuals are still permitted to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy, if done under the supervision or direction of another member of the profession. During the transitional period until December 31, 2019, supervision may be provided by any professional who is permitted to provide the controlled act.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, the RHPA will only permit individuals in the process of becoming registered with a college, to be supervised by a practitioner currently registered with their own college. For example, psychologists will only be permitted to supervise graduate psychology students in practicum or internships, individuals in the process of obtaining a psychological associate designation, and other psychologists. Psychologists will no longer be able to supervise psychotherapy services for individuals in the process of being registered with another college.

General Supervision Guidelines

Professionals who are licensed with a college may continue to engage in voluntary supervision with professionals from another college, so long as it adheres to the rules and expectations of both colleges. It is also important to distinguish between situations where supervision is in respect of the controlled act of psychotherapy and situations where supervision is in respect of other services, such as mentorship or consultation.

Supervisory relationships cannot be solely arranged for the purpose of accessing third party funding of psychotherapy services. They require a meaningful supervision relationship and must meet the standards set out by each regulatory college.

Are there any exceptions?

The legislation does not offer any exemptions and the relevant colleges cannot endorse or pardon any practices that would not be otherwise permitted by the legislation.

If you have further questions or concerns about the impact of the upcoming legislative changes to supervision, we encourage you to connect with your college for more details.


Greenspace is a modern way to measure and track client progress. This article is the latest in a series that highlights important events in the Canadian mental health landscape.

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