Some years ago, I was introduced to the work of the College of Psychologists of Ontario by a colleague who thought that I may value acting as an oral examiner. She opened an extensive learning opportunity for me that has continued ever since. I was starting to feel professionally isolated as a private practitioner in the community, and the College work allowed me to remain connected to colleagues in meaningful ways that have sharpened me in this focused area of public protection. I now recognize the benefits of working in a community with colleagues, especially as we mark two years of greater isolation due to a pandemic.
Likewise, in the past few months, I’ve had a growing appreciation for both the uniqueness of our regulatory role in Ontario and our embeddedness in the Canadian and North American regulatory landscape. It has been useful to consider where the College of Psychologists finds itself currently in many areas of shared focus with other psychology regulators. Our Registrar and Executive Director, Dr. Rick Morris has worked extensively to maintain meaningful ties with both the Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organizations (ACPRO) and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and has welcomed me to the conversations and educational opportunities that these organizations engage in.
“I now recognize the benefits of working in a community with colleagues, especially as we mark two years of greater isolation due to a pandemic”.
At the fall meeting of ACPRO, the regulators across Canada focused their attention on provincial EDI initiatives, interjurisdictional practice and regulating telepsychology, and residency requirements in graduate training. In addition, discussion continued encouraging the provincial/territorial pursuit of what is identified as a national doctoral standard for psychology registration. With regards to this last issue, some provinces, like Ontario, are in the process of pursuing a doctoral standard for registration, while others have completed this process.
In December 2021, our Council agreed to change our approach to the pursuit of amendments to O.Reg. 74/15 – Registration under the Psychology Act, 1991 to discontinue Master’s level registration; a goal that has been identified for over a decade. It approved taking a more proactive approach to further the Ministry of Health’s understanding of the complexity of this issue and its relevance to the public interest. It seemed appropriate for our College to take leadership and action in collecting and presenting information to the Ministry. To facilitate this goal, Council members voted to hire a project researcher with relevant expertise to begin information gathering. Council members believed that it was important that this be external to the College in order to optimize the goals of presenting a fair and balanced picture. The researcher will gather information from principal stakeholders and relevant external groups. Some of these may include provincial/territorial and state members of ACPRO and ASPPB who have gone through similar change processes. I encourage you to watch for future updates as the College progresses in this initiative in the coming months.
The ASPPB Council/Board Chairs met several times recently with discussions focusing on common issues, including implementing EDI initiatives, regulating Behaviour Analysts and interjurisdictional virtual practice. I attended the ASPPB virtual conference in the fall as well, which focused on the important goal of prevention in regulation. It was there that I heard an informative talk about the risks of professional isolation as guest speaker, Dr. Zubin Austin, addressed the question of “What is competency?”. He reported on characteristics of professionals most at risk for competence drift in their professional practice, with the common variable being professional isolation or loneliness. He added an interesting concept in suggesting that the opposite of competence is boredom and disengagement.
With Dr. Austin’s words in mind, I was again reminded of the beneficial impact of a colleague’s encouragement to try something new that would ultimately remove me from a place of professional isolation and link me to many of you in meaningful and educative ways. The leadership of the College has also chosen to be part of organizations of peers to facilitate learning and mutual goal attainment. Likewise, I encourage each of you to find ways to connect with colleagues to reduce the risk of professional isolation and competency drift, while also finding supportive connections to assist in weathering the impacts of this isolating pandemic. You all have unique contributions to make in the provision of excellent psychological services to the Ontario public and ensuring that you are embedded into a network of other psychologists and psychological associates is one important way of safeguarding this excellence in practice.
Wanda Towers, Ph.D., C.Psych.