News

COVID-19 Information for Members – March 22, 2020

Psychological Services by Out of Province Practitioners to Clients Temporarily Relocated to Ontario

The College has had several inquiries from licensed psychological service providers from other North American jurisdictions whose clients have temporarily relocated to Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, the clients may be experiencing considerable distress and are at increased risk because their psychological services have been interrupted.  

As members know, the Psychology Act, 1991 limits the provision of psychological services in Ontario to members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.  In the absence of legislative amendments, the College is not able to authorize anyone other than members of the College to provide telepsychology services to clients located in Ontario.  

Under normal circumstances, the College views such activities by non-members as “unauthorized practice” and considers whether there is a need for appropriate action. The College has carefully considered the extreme circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We recognize this must be taken into account with regard to duly registered/licensed practitioners from other jurisdictions who must provide telepsychology services into Ontario for their existing clients during the current emergency situation.    

Therefore, in response to the urgent COVID-19 situation, the College will not initiate an “unauthorized practice” action against an out of province practitioner provided they:

  1. Are registered/licensed in good standing in another jurisdiction at the time the services are provided;
  2. Practice only within their areas of competence and in keeping with any terms, limits and conditions on their license/certificate of registration;
  3. Provide the services to existing clients temporarily in Ontario due to the COVID-19 situation;
  4. Determine it is clinically ill-advised to temporarily stop services and/or to transfer the service to a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Out of province practitioners are asked to confirm their understanding and acceptance of the requirements listed above by notifying the College of their intention to provide telepsychology service to existing clients in Ontario. Practitioners should email the College (cpo@cpo.on.ca) providing their name, the jurisdiction in which they are registered/licensed, and their registration/license number.  While the College will endeavour to acknowledge receipt of this information, practitioners need not wait for confirmation before initiating service. 

NOTE: The College of Psychologists of Ontario does not have the authority to authorize its members to practice in other jurisdictions. If members of the College have questions regarding the provision of telepsychology services into other jurisdictions based on their registration in Ontario, they should contact the jurisdiction in question.  It is our understanding that many other Canadian jurisdictions are taking steps to make this possible but the requirements, e.g., notifying the College; time limits on such services, etc., may vary among jurisdictions. The information from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards may be of assistance.

 Continuing Professional Development Requirements and Deadlines

2018-2020 and 2019-2021 CPD Cycle Deadlines

We recognize that the social distancing required to avoid transmission of COVID-19 may mean delays in some opportunities for members to participate in CPD activities that involve face to face interaction. Please do not place yourselves, your families or members of your community at any risk out of concern about collecting adequate credits during your current CPD cycle. Once our public health authorities advise that it is safe to resume normal activities, we will determine any changes necessary to ensure that the CPD deadlines are fair and reasonable. 

 Information from the Canadian Psychological Association

The Canadian Psychological Association (www.cpa.ca) provided its membership with some information regarding COVID-19.  With their permission I wish to share the resources from them:  

  • FACT SHEETS. Thanks to Dr. Steven Taylor, we have prepared a new Psychology Works COVID-19 fact sheet, and created a page on our the CPA website for all important updates related to the virus – https://cpa.ca/corona-virus/. Many thanks as well to CPA’s Health Psychology Section for their contributions.  Both the fact sheet and web page continue to evolve as we receive new information. We suggest regularly checking in with our CPA website as it will continue to be updated as the situation evolves, and new information is shared. 
  • In addition to the fact sheet on coping with COVID-19, already posted at the link above, three more are in the works – one on working at home with children, the psychological impacts of COVID-19, and resources related to telepsychology. We hope to have these posted imminently at https://cpa.ca/corona-virus/
  • BMS and Gowling WLG have prepared an article on telepsychology practice which is posted at https://cpa.ca/corona-virus/.
  • APA. The APA has shared some resources to ensure that psychologists have the tools and support that is needed. They have developed new guidance on  how to protect your patients and your practice as well as an office and technology checklist for telepsychological services.   

Keep safe and healthy,

R. Morris, Ph.D., C.Psych. 
Registrar & Executive Director