Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Urge Ontario to enable RN initiation of psychotherapy

Resource Type: 
Political Action

The Psychotherapy Act, 2007 came into effect on April 1, 2015, but the controlled act of psychotherapy has not yet been proclaimed under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. Once proclaimed, psychotherapy will become a controlled act with members of six regulatory bodies (nurses, occupational therapists, physicians, psychologists, registered psychotherapists, and social workers) granted the authority to practise it. While the other five professional colleges have created profession-specific guidelines to qualify psychotherapy competencies to ensure safe and effective practice, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has not. Instead, CNO will require all registered nurses (RNs) practising psychotherapy to seek an order from a physician or nurse practitioner (NP) to initiate this controlled act.

At a time when many Ontarians already have difficulty accessing mental health and addiction services, this will further decrease their access to timely care by experienced RNs with psychotherapy competencies. Sensitive therapeutic relationships will be interrupted. There will be unnecessary duplication of system resources by those seeking an order when NPs and/or physicians are often in short supply. Having to seek an order devalues the competencies, knowledge, and skill of RNs who have been safely practising psychotherapy for years, and sometimes decades. Instead of requiring an order, the public will be best protected by clearly established direct accountability for initiating and performing psychotherapy as a controlled act.

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