Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Professional Characteristics of Canadian Counsellors: Results of a National Survey/L'identité Professionnelle Des Conseillers Canadiens : Résultats D'une Enquête Nationale

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Professional Characteristics of Canadian Counsellors: Results of a National Survey/L'identité Professionnelle Des Conseillers Canadiens : Résultats D'une Enquête Nationale

Article excerpt

The profession of counselling lias a long history of reflecting on its identity. In Canada, counselling is an emerging profession, and its scope of practice is still being defined, At the time of this writing, there exists legislation that regulates counselling in. two provinces: Quebec and Nova Scotia, While Nova Scotia has recently passed legislation protecting the title "counselling therapist" and is in the process of implementing this legislation, Quebec is still the only province in Canada with fully functional statutory regulation and licensing for counsellors (Le., the protected title is "guidance counsellor" or "conseiller/conseillère d'orientation"). The Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d'orientation et des psychoéducateurs et psycho éducatrices du Québec (OCCOPPQ) is the regulatory body entrusted, with ensuring that its members have the educational and professional requirements for practice in Quebec. Although statutory regulation is but one aspect of professional identity, there are some other strong legal and political, currents that are shaping the practice of counselling in Canada, Of particular relevance is the regulation of "psychotherapy" in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

In 2009 Quebec developed statutory regulation, that protects the title of "psychotherapist" and reserves the act of psychotherapy for certain groups (e.g., members of Ordre des Psychologues du Québec and Collège des Médecins du Québec) , Ontario is in the process of developing similar regulation. In the Ontario Health System Improvements Act 2006 (an. omnibus bill with numerous changes and additions to the Regulated Health Professions Act 1991), new professional colleges were established; among these was the College of Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario. Rather than relying on. a scope of practice to control access to psychotherapy, the Ontario Psychotherapy Act (Government of Ontario, 2007) provides for an. authorized act of psychotherapy as well as a limitation on the use of the titles "psychotherapist" and "registered, mental health therapist." The ripples of these activities can be felt at a national level

For instance, at its annual meeting in May 2009, the Canadian Counselling Association passed a motion to change its name to the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) "to reflect a growing reality in the work force related, to our profession and to keep in sync with the legislation initiated across the country" (CCPA, 2009, para, 1), Another recent landmark is the first formal definition of counselling psychology in a Canadian context adopted at the 2009 annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association (see Beateli et al, 2009). It appears that the significant changes to the regulatory landscape provide unparalleled opportunities for the counselling profession to shape its future course, and, more than ever, counselling needs to define itself from within or risk, being defined by other stakeholders with their own professional interests.

In Canada there exists a considerable overlap in the practices of allied mental health professionals in particular between clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists. Howard (1992) suggested that counselling psychologists are what they do, not what they say they do. Following from this, if we are to define counselling in this way (i.e., by observing the practice of counsellors), then we can certainly proclaim that diversification in professional roles is a characteristic of the profession (Fitzgerald & Osipow, 1986; Gazzola & Smith, 2007; Smith & Drodge, 2001). However, Neimeyer and Diamond (2001) caution that continued diversification of function amay at once be a boon and bane (p. 50).

Gazzola and. Smith (2007) reported that counsellors in Canada work in numerous sectors of society, from high schools to government agencies to private practice and industry. …

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