How to Become a Psychotherapist in Canada [Province Specific]

Written by Nicole Laoutaris
Last updated on: May 09, 2024
A colorful illustration of a woman holding a large magnifying glass, looking at clusters of circles labeled with various mental health credentials, such as Psy.D, LCSW, LMHC, and others. The woman has question marks above her head, indicating confusion or decision-making

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”.

But in short, what steps should one take to pursue a career as a psychotherapist?

To become a psychotherapist in Canada, acquire a degree in counselling psychology, social work, or a related mental health discipline, gain supervised clinical experience, and secure membership in a professional association. And also remember that registration with a regulatory body is required in some provinces.

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).

If you're looking to start therapy with a licensed therapist that fits your needs, explore our directories of Ontario therapists and Toronto therapists.

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

If you're looking to start therapy with a qualified therapist, explore our directories of BC counsellors and Vancouver therapists.

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.

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About the Author

Nicole Laoutaris

Nicole Laoutaris is a freelance writer and adult learning professional based in the Greater Toronto Area. She specializes in educational content for brands and companies in industries such as mental health, pet health, lifestyle and wellness, cannabis, and personal finance. Nicole holds a double undergraduate degree in Communications and Film studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She currently lives in Hamilton Ontario with her spouse and her cat.