- Standard 15: Use of Technology in the Provision of Psychological Services, Standards of Professional Conduct, 2017.
The College has adopted the Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organizations (ACPRO) Model Standards for Telepsychology Service Delivery. The Model Standards define Telepsychology as “the use of information and communications technology to deliver psychological services and information over large and small distances”. Practice within psychology using this modality would include all client-centered services, consultation, supervision of students/professionals/colleagues, and the education of the public and/or other professionals delivered to individuals outside of Ontario.
A telephone (landline or mobile) would be considered “communications technology”. While some of the items within the “Use of Technology…” section of the Standards may not be relevant to simpler, older technologies, some items would be relevant and applicable to even ‘lower-tech’ devices, including a corded or land-line telephone. Examples of requirements applicable to the use of all technologies in service provision would include the need to obtain authorization from the relevant jurisdiction before providing services to someone who is located outside of Ontario, ensuring the privacy of the person you are communicating with, and having contingency plans in the event of a technological failure.
In Canada, the practice of psychology is regulated at the provincial/territorial level. That is, each province/territory is responsible for the regulation of psychological services delivered within its borders. Within the United States, psychology is similarly regulated.
At this time, most jurisdictions regulating psychology in Canada and the US, including the College of Psychologists of Ontario, view services to be delivered in the province/territory/state in which the client is located whether such service is provided in person or through telepsychology. That is, the service is deemed to be provided where the client is, regardless of where the psychologist or psychological associate may be located. Given this, many regulatory bodies expect the practitioner to be registered/licensed in the jurisdiction in which the service is being provided.
At this time, there is some variability in the expectations of the various Canadian jurisdictions with regard to what is required of a practitioner providing services by telepsychology into their province/territory. Some may have temporary or courtesy registers which permit a member to practise within their jurisdiction for a limited period of time without formal registration with them. For members considering providing service by telepsychology into another jurisdiction, it is recommended that they contact the regulatory body of the jurisdiction into which they may be considering practising to determine what may be required of them in terms of registration/licensing or formal notification of the regulatory body for psychology. The College of Psychologists of Ontario has adopted, as advice to members, the Model Standards for Telepsychology developed by the Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organizations (ACPRO). In addition, a joint task force of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Psychological Association Insurance Trust (APAIT) has recently developed Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. The Canadian Psychological Association has also published Draft Ethical Guidelines for Psychologists Providing Psychological Services Via Electronic Media.
Members considering providing telepsychological services will find these documents very useful as they provide guidance on a variety of issues related to this type of service. This includes ensuring one is legally entitled to practise in another province, territory, or state and one is familiar with the relevant laws and regulations applicable within that jurisdiction.