Welcoming Members to the 2016-2017 Session

On behalf of the Ontario Association of Psychological Associates (OAPA) board, I would like to formally welcome our returning and new members to the 2016-2017 membership year. As I move into the mid-point of my second term as OAPA’s President I find myself reflecting on the growth this association has experienced over the last two decades and the strong foundation that my predecessors have laid for the association. It is my hope that I can add to that foundation as my second term begins to wrap up and I look forward to working with our Board and our active OAPA membership to further strengthen this organization as one that serves the public by promoting a robust and skilled Masters+Apprenticeship class.

Updates on OAPA’s Lobby and Advocacy Work

The issue of the College of Psychologists of Ontario’s (CPO) proposed closure of the Masters+Apprenticeship route to registration has continued to be a major aspect of OAPA’s work over the last year and will continue to be a major draw on our resources in the year ahead. We have been working closely with government over the last few years to relay our concerns on how closure will impact access to services for Ontarians and how the proposed loopholes for registering out-of-province practitioners is inherently unfair to home -grown practitioners. We believe this message has been well received and the CPO Council appears to now be wavering on the proposal as well.

As the end of our closure fight nears, OAPA is looking to tackle other emerging trends that marginalize access to services for Ontarians. Specifically, we have seen a trend towards job postings requiring a “PhD” psychologist, despite a lack of any justifiable reason for excluding the Masters+Apprenticeship class. Similarly, we have seen insurance plans that place similar requirements despite providing coverage for other Masters prepared clinicians (e.g., social work). While some of these postings and plans are clearly a result of misinformation, there are also cases where this is an obvious attempt by a small subset of our Doctoral peers to marginalize the Masters+Apprenticeship class.

During the early months of the 2016-2017 OAPA Membership year, we plan to develop a number of mechanisms to target the marginalization of our members through misinformation, deliberate or otherwise. For this we need your help. If you see inaccurate information being presented regarding the qualifications of the Masters+Apprenticeship class (e.g., articles; job postings; insurance plans), please let OAPA know as soon as possible by completing our contact form at: https://oapa.on.ca/oapa/contact-us/

OAPA Promotes Transparency

In the fall of 2015 the OAPA Board reached out to the CPO to relay concern regarding a number of CPO procedures that we felt were lacking in transparency. In general, OAPA’s concern was that a lack of access to essential information in a complete and expedited manner prevents the membership, government, and public from shaping the College in a manner that better serves and protects the public interest.

Dr. Rick Morris of the CPO was quick to respond to our letter and engaged in a proactive conversation regarding our concerns. Several of our concerns have already been resolved in full (e.g. access to Council packages used for decision making at the Council table), while others remain under active consideration and consultation. OAPA was impressed that Dr. Morris and the CPO responded so quickly to these issues and are hopeful that current and ongoing consultations will help shape the CPO into the gold standard of transparency amongst all Ontario health regulatory colleges.

2016 Conference and AGM

OAPA will be returning to the beautiful Old Mill Toronto on Friday November 18th for our 2016 Conference and Annual General Meeting. I am excited that our conference this year will be inclusive of our therapy-oriented members, but am excited that we are also able to co-sponsor an assessment focused session that same month. Regardless of your area of practice, we are hopeful to see a large contingent on hand for our AGM.

This year’s conference theme is The Future of Psychotherapy. We have a engaging agenda that includes discussions on technology-assisted treatments and homework, therapeutic and client progress tracking tools, tele/video-psychology, and even the future of virtual reality in therapy. If you want to know what therapy will look like across and beyond the next decade, this is a session you will not want to miss. While technology will be a key component of these discussions, technophobes need not fear, this will be a day/workshop that is accessible to all.

Looking Ahead at Member Communication

Sometimes technology moves everyone forward and sometimes it impedes you. For various reasons OAPA moved from a member-communication email listserv to a web forum. While we tried to make this accessible to those who still wished to communicate with their peers by email, it was clear that our solution was forum-focused first and that email options were a second thought and, honestly, not all that easy to use. This year we hope to reverse this order by returning to a primarily email listserv communication portal that also has web options for those who worry about their inbox being flooded. We will be testing this system out over the next couple of months and begin bringing members online.

In closing, I would like to personally thank all of you for returning to OAPA for another membership year. I look forward to engaging with each of you as we work together to bolster the Masters+Apprenticeship class and, in turn, better assist the thousands of Ontarians we work with each year. As always, OAPA would appreciate member feedback on how we can serve you better. If you have comments, thoughts, ideas, or critiques, please do not hesitate to contact us at: https://oapa.on.ca/oapa/contact-us/
Michael Decaire, M.A., C.Psych.
OAPA, President