Is this the end for MA Psychology?

When speaking to members, I occasionally get asked the question of whether the closure of the MA class will really have much of a negative impact on our day to day practice. After all, would not the title of Psychologist for all members of the College act as a unifying force and, once and for all, remove the term “Associate” that is far too often thought to mean “Assistant”? While OAPA, and essentially every other large scale stakeholder, support single title, it has been fairly obvious at previous Council meetings that Title is being deliberately attached to Closure as a distraction. There are clearly those who hope that Title will be the enticement necessary to once and for all eliminate the Master’s class.

Currently, the Master’s class is a relatively small proportion of the College of Psychologists of Ontario. As a result, we are often marginalized in terms of influence at the College level. We are relegated to one voting seat, which they have deliberately prevented from being accessible to MA’s with the title of Psychologist. At the College, if you want a say, you must not update your title through the Mobility Act and you must not have come from another region in the country that holds single title. This prevents some of our most active members from serving or forces them to wait for the College to rule on title. Perhaps by then, those members will give up and allow closure to go forward. At least that is the hope of many.

What I have learned over the years as serving as OAPA President is that we do have power at the level of Government. To Government our size is large and we are not looked at as a minority representation of the profession. We may not have much of a voice at Council, but the Government hears our message and they recognize that our message is one that serves the public interest. Actually, it is fairly easy to be seen as the good guys when your message is about increased access to services without increased cost, fairness in regulatory practices, and recognizing that the MA-Class disproportionately serves unique and high needs populations. When your message is about having higher academic requirements than any other health profession, restricting registration to a group of graduates that is smaller than retirement rates, and positioning yourself to be the future leader in mental health care when the Government wants partners, it is not as easy a sell.

Here’s the risk: Restriction of future MA registrants will slowly diminish the power of our voice. We will not be able to share our perspective as the boots on the ground in school boards, clinics, and other institutions. Our clients will become increasingly underserved. Departments will not be able to meet staffing requirements, ultimately leading to closure or outsourcing to high earning private practices. Your title of Psychologist will have less value as other professions take up the slack and the unique contributions that we make to mental health and educational practice will be lost. Then we will start hearing the term “Doctoral Psychologist” being bounced around and we will be the “Psychological Assistants” all over again. Looking for a new job? Good luck. Doctoral Psychologists only please.

Here’s another option: The Master’s class is larger than ever and continues to grow in numbers; OAPA grows year over year; The Mobility Act allows Master’s Psychologists to migrate to Ontario; and the Government forces fair regulatory practices for international candidates that are predominately Master’s equivalent. Suddenly the voice of the Master’s class grows louder and we start to be heard at the Council as well.

The College would like you to believe that Closure is inevitable, is in keeping with international trends, and will allow us to move towards a national regulatory standard. I want you to know that this is a facade. Closure is not inevitable, one or two countries considering regulatory changes is not an international trend, and the conversation about a national regulatory movement used to be about a “Doctoral standard” and is now about a “National standard”. That last one may seem like semantics, but our own Council has admitted that we will be moving to a “competency based” registration model within a decade and will abandon academic credentialing altogether. So why are we wasting time trying to adjust credentials now? Because they want to have our voice silenced within a decade.

Are you going to be silent now? Do you want to be heard?

Here is what you need to do:

(1) Review our consultation brief by clicking here.

(2) Generate a letter. Focused and to the point or comprehensive and expansive, whatever allows you to be heard.

(3) Send that response to registrationregulation@cpo.on.ca and consider sharing it with your OAPA peers by sending it to oapa.ont@gmail.com.

(4) Talk to like minded peers (e.g. teachers; colleagues; students; assistants) and ask them to write a simple email to the CPO saying that they do not support closure and that it does not serve the public interest. This consultation should not be about us vs. them.

(5) Want to do more? Contact me directly at michael.decaire@gmail.com to discuss how you can contribute further to the effort.

Be heard. Allow your clients to be heard.

 

Michael Decaire

OAPA, President