OAPA, our Professional Association

First founded as the Ontario Association of Psychological Associates, OAPA now represents over 400 Psychological Associates and master’s-prepared Psychologists.

Since its founding in 1998, OAPA has promoted the full recognition and inclusion of master’s-prepared licensed practitioners in the field of professional psychology. We work to ensure that accurate information is provided to the public on all matters relating to the competence and scope of practice of licensed Psychological Associates and master’s-prepared Psychologists. We offer advice to those who are in training to become licensed Psychological Associates. OAPA encourages professional development and collegial professional consultation among our members so as to enhance their ability to serve clients effectively and efficiently.

Our efforts support timely access to competent psychological services by those who seek them. In this way, OAPA promotes the spirit of Ontario’s Regulated Health Professions Act and of the federal legislation that aims to make needed professional services more readily available.

 

The OAPA

OAPA represents Psychological Associates and master’s-prepared Psychologists licensed and working in Ontario. It is a corporate entity guided by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by the members. The Board holds regular meetings and consultations throughout the year, in accordance with association by-laws. An Annual General Meeting is held each year, usually in November.

OAPA supports members’ professional development by sponsoring a conference every other year, by providing a forum for collegial consultation among members on professional issues through its secure web-based member links, and by providing updates to the membership on important issues relating to professional practice in psychology.

OAPA provides a professional voice for the master’s-prepared practitioners regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. It works to raise awareness among policy-makers in government, insurance providers, other professional associations and leaders in professional psychology regarding the qualifications and competence of its members. It upholds the valued contribution made to psychological services delivery by licensed practitioners who possess both academic and experience-based training.

 

A Brief History of OAPA within Professional Psychology

Since the founding of a profession in the field of psychology towards the middle of the 20th century, Master’s-prepared practitioners have been important contributors to the field and have delivered psychological services in hospitals, schools, clinics, institutions, organisations, community health centres, and private offices.

In 1960 the first legislation came into force in Ontario to regulate psychology practice under the Ontario Board of Examiners in Psychology (OBEP). All psychological service providers were initially called Psychologists, both those who held a Master’s degree and those with a Doctoral degree. The legislation aimed to ensure that all practitioners had the appropriate competence to provide the services they offered and that clients would have recourse if they thought they had not received competent services.

By 1966 OBEP only accepted applicants who had completed a doctorate for licensing as Psychologists.  Master’s-prepared practitioners were no longer part of a regulatory framework and no longer required to follow consistent guidelines for training and practice.  Instead many were required to work under inconsistent levels of supervision by a psychologist. They had a variety of titles, such as  consultants, counselors, psychometrists,  and psychotherapists.  These providers continued to be essential to a system where the need for psychological services was growing.

The Regulated Health Professions Act of 1991 (RHPA) aimed to make all health-related services more accessible, safe and competent..  In that spirit, the new College of Psychologists (CPO) could admit providers of psychological services who held a Master’s degree.  After much discussion and negotiation within the profession, RHPA provided for two regulated titles, Psychological Associate and Psychologist.  Both titles permitted autonomous practice in the full scope of practice in psychology.

The College of Psychologists then imposed requirements for licensing: an additional four years of professional practice-based training for Psychological Associates only, in addition to their graduate degree. Psychologists and Psychological Associates were required to complete the same written and oral examinations in order to complete the registration process with the College.

In 1994 the first 32 Psychological Associates were licensed.  Twenty years later there are more than 600 Psychological Associates delivering services in all the regions of Ontario.

In 1998 OAPA was founded by Psychological Associates who had experienced many challenges to gaining recognition of their new title and their scope of practice.  By working together they were able to address problems more effectively.  OAPA expanded its activities as a professional association, providing professional linkages, information, support for members, and advocacy for better public access to psychological services.

Since 2010, federal legislation regulating professional mobility in Canada has required that psychology professionals who fulfill the licensing requirements of the CPO, must be allowed to practice as Psychologists if they hold the title in another province.  As a result, Master’s-prepared practitioners in Ontario are now licensed either as Psychologists or as Psychological Associates.  Both titles indicate that the professional has met the full requirements for licensing, and is competent to provide psychological services.