Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Urge CNO Council to allow RNs to continue to initiate the controlled act of psychotherapy

RNAO has strongly advocated to ensure RNs who have the appropriate education and training can continue to initiate the controlled act of psychotherapy. However, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has decided to bar RNs from initiating this treatment without an order from a prescriber (NP or physician) if psychotherapy becomes a controlled act.

This decision was made despite recommendations from HPRAC in 2006 that each of the colleges should outline appropriate guidelines and standards for their members and avoid dual memberships, and despite the fact that RNs who are mental health nurses often have even more extensive education and experience initiating and delivering psychotherapy than some members of the other five colleges. The College of Psychologists of Ontario, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, and the College of Registered Psychotherapists have already outlined appropriate guidelines and standards for their members to initiate this controlled act (if and when proclaimed), and thus avoid dual memberships.

CNO is the only regulatory body of the six granted authority to perform psychotherapy to require its members – who have been practicing psychotherapy for years – to obtain an order from a prescriber to continue treatment. As a result, our members have been so frustrated and demoralized about their knowledge and skills not being recognized that some are seeking recognition from other colleges to maintain their autonomy. Others have decided to suspend their private practice.

Those who practice psychotherapy regularly treat the most vulnerable populations who have serious mental health issues. Denying RNs who have the knowledge and training to practice psychotherapy the ability to initiate the controlled act will hinder access to vital mental health services for Ontario’s most marginalized populations.

For the sake of our patients, there needs to be equity amongst the professionals authorized to perform psychotherapy. All those who meet set standards to practice the controlled act must be able to do so independently.

Copies will be sent to:

  • Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
  • Patrick Brown, Leader of the Official Opposition
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
  • Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care
  • Jeff Yurek, P.C. Critic – Health and Long Term Care
  • France Gélinas, NDP Critic – Health and Long Term Care
  • John Fraser, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Anne Coghlan, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer
  • Dalton Burger, CNO President
  • Connie Manning, CNO Vice-President
  • CNO Council Members
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