How to become a registered psychotherapist in alberta

Deborah C. Escalante

Careers in Psychology

Calgary Clinical Psychology Residency

Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour, that is, how we think, feel, and act. Psychologists study both normal and abnormal behaviour to understand it. Psychologists also try to use what we learn from that study to help people change aspects of their behaviour that they want to change.

Careers in Psychology offer varied opportunities. Employment opportunities for capable psychologists are expected to be slightly better than average over the next several years. However, if you’re interested in a career in Psychology, you should know that the training program to become a psychologist is a long one. There is also stiff competition for places in graduate training programs in Psychology.

Where we work

Some psychologists work in the health care field. They practice in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and both public and private clinics. They may work individually or in teams with other health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and so forth. Psychologists in health care provide assessment and treatment services to persons with mental and emotional disorder. Because of the growing body of scientific knowledge about the role of psychological factors in physical health and disease, psychologists also play a role in the management of various physical disorders, such as heart disease, neurological illnesses and injuries, gastrointestinal disorders, pulmonary disorders, chronic pain, and diabetes. Psychologists in health care may teach, do research, and consult to other health care professionals on how psychological factors affect health and disease. Health psychologists are also involved in evaluating the effectiveness of treatment methods and programs for health care.

Psychologists also work in the school system where they provide assessment and treatment to kids with learning difficulties. They may also work with children who have various emotional disorders. School psychologists may be involved in the assessment of children’s mental abilities and emotional skills and in the design of learning programs in the school and at home. School psychologists may do research on psychological factors related to child development and learning.

Industrial/organizational psychologists work in businesses to help organizations and the people who work for them function better. They may use psychological methods to help in employee selection and improving productivity within the organization. Human factors psychologists may use psychological methods to design better workplaces in which people can work more comfortably and effectively.

Psychologists may teach and do research in university settings. Their research may extend all the way from intricate studies of fundamental abilities such as visual perception and the behaviour of single cells in the brain to complex studies of the behaviour of large groups of people.

Preparing for a Career in Psychology

People who want to become psychologists usually start by completing a university Honour’s degree in Psychology. The Honour’s degree program will provide a basic background in the body of scientific and clinical knowledge in Psychology. As well, students will get some opportunity to see what applied practice in Psychology will actually look like by taking courses and seminars in areas of special interest.

Following the undergraduate degree, a two year program of graduate studies in Psychology in a university will lead the student to a Master’s degree. Part of that two-year program will usually involve completing a research project in Psychology. Some provinces allow persons with a Master’s degree in Psychology to be registered as a psychologist. However, many people, particularly those who want to practice in a specialty area of Psychology, will go on to complete their doctoral degree in Psychology before becoming registered or licensed to practice. This will take another three to four years of study on average. As part of the doctoral program, students will complete a more complex research project in Psychology that will serve as their doctoral thesis. They will also complete an intensive one-year internship program outside the university that will prepare them with the clinical skills they need to practice Psychology following completion of their degree.

Becoming a Psychologist

Each Canadian province and every state in the United States has laws in place that direct who may practice psychology or who may call themselves a psychologist. These laws differ from province to province and state to state. However, they essentially say what the educational requirements for practice as a psychologist are and what experience a person has to have to be registered or licensed as a psychologist. All provinces and states also require applicants to pass examinations before being registered or licensed to practice.

In Alberta, at this time, a person may be registered as a Chartered Psychologist if he or she has:

  • completed a Master’s degree in Psychology from an approved Psychology program,
  • completed approximately one year of supervised experience in the practice of Psychology, and
  • passed oral and written examinations administered by the College of Alberta Psychologists.

Psychologists are also required to understand and adhere to a specific Code of Ethics that governs their practice as a psychologist. Psychologists who breach this Code or who break other laws or regulations related to their practice may have their registration suspended or revoked. Being allowed to practice Psychology is a privilege that Psychologists earn by their professional behaviour.


For more information about Psychology, careers in Psychology, or how to become a psychologist, check any of the following links to Psychology organizations in Canada and the United States:

For more information visit our Predoctoral Residency Program in Clinical Psychology.

Psychotherapy uses verbal and non-verbal communication to help people address and change negative thought patterns, feelings and behaviours. 

Depending on your location, professionals may be regulated as “psychotherapists” or “counselling therapists”. Refer to psychiatrist vs. psychologist vs. social worker vs. psychotherapist to learn more about the psychotherapy designation.

Psychotherapist licensing and education in Ontario

To register with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) as a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Ontario, they must have completed a relevant graduate-level (master’s or PhD) degree, pass a registration exam and complete a minimum of 450 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of clinical supervision. To be permitted to practice independently, the CRPO requires completion of at least 1,000 hours of direct contact with clients and 150 hours of clinical supervision.

Until the RP requirements are complete, qualifying members of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) can use the titles of Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) or RP (Qualifying).

Psychotherapist licensing and education in British Columbia

British Columbia does not yet have regulations in place and anyone in the province can call themselves a counsellor, therapist or psychotherapist. 

Regulations are coming soon for the title of Counselling Therapist.

Until then, look for a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) or Certified Clinical Counsellor (CCC). They will have at minimum, a master’s degree in an area like social work or psychology and they’ve undergone specific supervision and clinical hour requirements. There are currently 14 associations unofficially overseeing this work in BC, like the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. 

Psychotherapist licensing and education in Alberta

Alberta recently passed legislation to regulate the term “Counselling Therapist”. Alberta will also include Psychotherapist as a protected title.
Alberta is still developing a college to register and regulate psychotherapists and counselling therapists. This process is currently overseen by the Association of Counselling Therapy of Alberta. Registration currently requires 450-750 hours of relevant field work.

As your therapist, I am committed to helping you and/or your children to build resiliency against life stressors and family problems. When you are looking for resolution from arguments that just keep happening, we will build on moments of healthy communication. If you are feeling overwhelmed and it’s affecting your sleep, eating, life enjoyment, mood, and energy, we will find realistic changes to reduce stress and promote peace. Just when you are struggling with emotions that may be too big or have stopped feeling at all, we will ground you firmly in the present while we work through the causes at your own pace.

How to become a psychologist


The minimum educational requirement to become a psychologist in Alberta is a master’s degree in psychology. However, many positions require a doctoral degree, which is the minimum education requirement in most other provinces. Psychologists must be registered/licensed with their Canadian provincial regulatory body. For those  outside Canada, consult the professional regulatory body for your country/state. Typically, it will take four years to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, one to three years for a master’s degree and, if required, another three to four years for a doctoral degree. In most provinces/territories, you must pass a written Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and in some instances, successfully complete oral examinations in jurisprudence and ethics and/or board interviews. You will also need to complete a period of supervised practical experience. Psychology is a diverse discipline. If you wish to specialize in a specific area of psychology, you may need additional training and experience. You will need to first complete a four-year undergraduate degree in psychology followed by graduate studies. Most university graduate programs require a four-year undergraduate degree as an entrance requirement. See the Athabasca University Bachelor of Arts Major in Psychology.

The next step would be to enter a graduate program in psychology. According to the Canadian Psychological Association Study of Psychology the most common graduate programs are in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Neuropsychology, Forensic or Correctional Psychology, Developmental or Child Psychology.

Athabasca University offers a Master of Counselling degree with a specialization in Counselling Psychology. See the AU Faculty of Health Disciplines’ website for more information on AU’s graduate counselling programs.

*NOTE: Information in this resource is general in nature. Admission requirements for the various graduate psychology programs vary from university to university. It is your responsibility to ensure the AU courses or degree you complete meet the admission requirements of the university you wish to attend. The Canadian Psychological Association’s Graduate Guide lists most of the graduate psychology programs in Canada. Research the licensing requirements in your province, and ensure you account for the necessary prerequisites in both your undergraduate and graduate program. You may need certain undergraduate and graduate courses to qualify for licensing.

Next Steps

1. Research career information

Decide what type of psychologist you would like to become as there are several subfields in psychology:

  • clinical psychologist
  • counselling psychologist
  • developmental psychologist
  • educational psychologist
  • forensic psychologist
  • health psychologist
  • industrial/organizational psychologist
  • neuropsychologist research and experimental psychologist
  • school psychologist
  • social psychologist
  • sports psychologist

See the following links for information regarding duties, working conditions, skills, education, salary, employment prospects, and more:

Psychologists’ Association of Alberta: Careers in Psychology

A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS)

Canadian Psychological Association: A Career in Psychology

Working in Canada

Marky Lloyd’s Careers in Psychology Page

Psychology Career Centre

American Psychological Association

Portland State University: What Can I do With a Major in Psychology?

2. Contact your provincial or national psychology boards for registration requirements.

To become a practicing psychologist in Canada, you typically need to be registered or chartered. The educational requirements for registration may vary from province to province. A doctoral degree in psychology is required in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. A master’s degree in psychology is required in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

For Alberta: College of Alberta Psychologists

For those elsewhere: Provincial/Territorial Licensing Requirements for Psychologists

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

3. Research graduate program options.

Research program and admission requirements. For information about graduate degrees in psychology:

Athabasca University Faculty of Health Disciplines

Alberta Learning Information Service

CPA Graduate Guide: Description of Graduate Psychology Programs in Canadian Universities

4. Contact an AU Counsellor

If you have further questions regarding this career path or wish to book a telephone appointment to speak with a counsellor, please contact us.

5. Become an AU Student

Once you complete these steps, you are ready to become an AU Student.

6. Contact an Academic Advisor

Once you have applied to AU and selected a program of study, contact an Academic Advisor if you need help selecting courses for your program.


Alberta Learning Information Services (2017). Alberta Occupational Profiles. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from

Canadian Psychological Association (2017): Study of Psychology. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from

Psychologists’ Association of Alberta: Career Information (2017) Retrieved October 30, 2017 from

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