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How to become a registered psychotherapist canada

Education Requirements for Registration

CRPO requires a master’s-level program central to the practice of psychotherapy for registration. This can be a master’s degree or an equivalent graduate diploma that requires completion of a bachelor’s-level program for admission. The program must provide training in the Entry-to-Practice Competencies.

When you apply for registration with CRPO, you will need to indicate whether you have completed a recognized training program/accepted bridging program or a non-recognized program. You can use the information below to determine whether you completed a recognized/accepted program.

Recognized Programs

Recognized programs have submitted applications to demonstrate that they meet the minimum education requirements for registration. Recognition does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of a program by the College. If you have completed a recognized program, you don’t need to provide detailed information about your education and training. Except where otherwise noted, recognition is retroactive for a period of five years before the recognition date. If you graduated in the five years prior to the date of recognition, you are considered to have graduated from a recognized program.


  • Your program was recognized on April 1, 2020. You graduated in 2018. Because you graduated within the five years prior to recognition, you can use the application for recognized programs.
  • Your program was recognized on April 1, 2020. You graduated in 2010. Because you graduated more than five years prior to recognition, you are not considered to have completed a recognized program. You must select the Non-recognized program application type and fill out the Mapping Tool.

Programs are recognized by the Registration Committee for a period of five years. At the end of each five-year period, the program must submit an application for renewal to demonstrate that the program still meets the minimum education requirements for registration. If a program’s recognition is not renewed, this will be noted below. Applicants who graduated prior to the end of recognition will still be considered to have completed a recognized program.

Applicants can follow these steps in order to apply to CRPO:

  1. Create a CRPO account.
  2. Pay for and successfully complete the Professional Practice & Jurisprudence eLearning Module. Review the handbook first to familiarize yourself with the contents of the module.
  3. Pick your application type:

IMPORTANT: Please ensure you select the correct application type prior to submitting your application (i.e., CRPO recognized/accepted program, Non-recognized program, Labour mobility, Temporary). If you submit your application under the wrong application type you will be required to resubmit your application under the correct application type and pay the Application fee again. Fees paid to CRPO are non-refundable. If you are unsure what application type to select, please review the links above, consult your educational institution, or email [email protected] for more information. If you have selected the incorrect application type, you must email [email protected] and staff will change the application type.

4. Complete the application form for the application type you select, including all required documentation.

Important: Please retain copies of all documents submitted to CRPO for your records. You will not be able to view documents after you submit them in the Applicant Portal. You are also advised to save screenshots of your application pages, as you will not be able to view the application once it is submitted.

5. Pay the required fees. All applicants are required to pay the application fee. If you completed a non-recognized program, you will also be required to pay the mapping tool fee. Your application is automatically submitted once payment is made.

Information about fees and payment methods is available on the Fees Overview page. All fees paid to CRPO are non-refundable.

For more information about what happens after your application is received and how to track the status of your application, see the Assessment of Applications page.

Applicants who apply through the application type CRPO recognized/accepted program, non-recognized program, or Indigenous registration pathway are registered in the RP (Qualifying) category. Applicants who apply through the labour mobility application type are registered in either the RP (Qualifying) or RP category depending on their registration category in another Canadian province – to confirm eligibility see here. Applicants who apply through the temporary application type are registered in the RP (Temporary) category – to confirm eligibility see here.

NOTE: An applicant cannot perform the controlled act of psychotherapy or use a protected title or advertise they are a CRPO registrant, including even if they indicate “in progress,” until their application has been approved and their certificate of registration has been issued. CRPO can investigate unregulated individuals and may take legal action against them. For information about practising prior to registration, see here.

Overview of Certification

In 1986, CCPA established a credentialing service for its members: Canadian Certified Counsellors: A National Certification Program for Professional Counsellors.

Certification with CCPA is different from membership with CCPA. This distinction between membership and certification is for the benefit of the public. Certification represents a successful evaluation of a member’s qualification to practice. Membership does not. Should you wish to use a qualification designation from CCPA, you must seek certification, which will permit the use of the letters CCC as the appropriate statement about qualifications to practice counselling.

The Canadian Certified Counsellor certification is a national service that identifies to the public those counsellors who CCPA recognizes as qualified to provide counselling services in Canada. Obtaining the status of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) includes recognition of standards of professional preparation, continuing education, and a formal code of ethics. As a non-statutory self-regulating body, CCPA provides advice and discipline for members on matters of professional conduct.

Only counsellors who are certified by CCPA are permitted to use the trademarked title Canadian Certified Counsellor and/or the acronym ‘CCC’. Certified Professional Members also receive a certificate which their clients should expect to see displayed at the place of work.

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How to become a psychotherapist, counsellor or psychologist

Newly trained therapist counsels young client


Updated December, 2020

Dr. Kim answers a question from a University of Toronto student who asks how to become a therapist in Ontario:


I’m going to include some practical things that don’t appear in the brochures but that are important to know.

There are several different ways to qualify. You could train as a clinical psychologist, usually by obtaining a PhD. Alternatively, a Masters of Social Work in counselling, or an M.A. in psychology or occupational therapy can teach you basic counselling skills if you pick the appropriate courses, and might get you a counselling job in outlying regions (not likely Toronto or Ottawa). Some nurses also practice psychotherapy, in most cases under medical supervision. Training in a psychotherapy school approved by the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario is another option, and may give you a deeper training. Or you could train as a medical doctor and either practice as a GPP or take further training to become a psychiatrist.

As with any training you are contemplating, think about what type of work and what type of lifestyle you have in mind, and then do due diligence to find out whether you are likely to be able to find work that suits you. For employment, you could see what jobs are being advertised and try to find out how many qualified applicants are applying. Jobs have been opening up for registered psychotherapists, but the increase in people qualifying could be increasing much faster.

If you are interested in private practice rather than working for an employer, be aware that except for MDs paid by OHIP, there has been an oversupply (relative to the number of people who can afford to pay for therapy, not to the need) for many years.

This could mean that you spend a lot more time on marketing than on counselling–and I see a lot of money being spent by therapists on advertising and expensive offices which it is hoped will bring in clients. It has also meant that many people who train for this type of work are unable to find it.

For example, about twenty years ago I knew a student in a very good (and very expensive) masters in counselling program at a quite prestigious university; most of the students I believe were intending to go into private practice. Two years later two were working as counsellors–one of them part time and low paid with a long commute; the rest were still (or again, after trying to start a private practice) working at what they had been doing before the course.

Since that time the numbers of people training as counsellors and psychotherapists seems to have increased considerably–for example, at the conclusion of 2016 there were 3,931 registered psychotherapists, and as of September 13, 2017, there were 4,882, and the Ontario College of Registered Psychotherapists has been processing 100 new applicants a month. (This does not include psychologists, social workers, doctors or others who practice psychotherapy.) Just recently new schools have been set up to train RPs, and I know of two more in the works in Toronto.



So if you want to go into private practice think about how important it will be to have an income and where you will find clients. If you train as a psychologist, you may be able to find a specialty that is currently in demand from individuals or institutions that can afford to pay. Or you might decide to train as a social worker or psychotherapist because you have a special in–for example, if your husband is a doctor in a well-to-do neighborhood, he and his friends may be able to keep you supplied with clients, assuming you’re good enough and your talents are sufficiently diversified. I knew one charismatic and very gregarious therapist who built a psychotherapy practice in a relatively underserviced area through friends of her many friends; many people try to do that today with social networking, with what success I don’t know. Most people find they need a website–however a private website won’t be found in a search; it’s just to refer people to for information about you. (Here is an example of the absolute minimum–see psychotherapists’ web page.)

However, a large proportion of psychotherapists in private practice are middle aged and older women whose husbands are high earners; thus they can enjoy whatever clients come their way without having to worry about making a living or about how much the clients can afford to pay; it’s more about giving back. This can work out very well for all concerned. A relaxed and genuinely happy person is a better therapist than a person who is worried about paying the bills. I have even heard of therapists who tried to keep a client coming to see them against the client’s best interests for financial reasons. That is a total betrayal of the client and of the profession.

Another thing to remember, if you are contemplating private practice and calculating possible earnings, is that you are talking about “billable hours”. You need time to plan your work with your clients, consult with colleagues, contribute to the profession, continue learning, do paperwork, and run a business, even if you have enough clients and don’t need to work on marketing.

Regarding clients’ ability to pay, most people with good jobs can get a few sessions provided by their EAP and/or paid for by their plan. At this time most plans pay $600 per person per year. Plans will pay for a psychologist, and most will pay for an MSW. Payment for registered psychotherapists is in the pipeline, but at this time doesn’t seem to be moving very fast. Some therapists lower the fee substantially after the insurance runs out, and that enables some clients to continue, for a few more sessions or longer, depending on their financial situation.

There is a way to be in private practice and never have to be concerned about marketing or finding work once you get the word around. If you become a GP Psychotherapist or psychiatrist paid by OHIP the patients will beat a path to your door. Most of the training you will get is in medicine, which is essential if you are dealing with physical problems such as dementia, but not the best preparation for doing psychotherapy; however there are courses and workshops you can take over time to build up your skills.

So choose a university program, or if you prefer to train as an RP, a psychotherapy school. Entrance to most psychotherapy schools can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree. Two well-established schools with a fine reputation are the Centre for Training in Psychotherapy (in Toronto) and the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy.

I have tried to fill you in on some caveats; but let me say that for those it works out for, being a therapist can be extremely satisfying. Best wishes for your very worthwhile ambition.


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