If you’ve been looking for therapists in Canada, you may have noticed many different types of counsellors. According to the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, there are more than 70 mental health professional titles covering various types of therapies in Canada.
What do they all mean?
In Canada, the titles of psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker are regulated by law at the provincial level. That means, if you’ve found a therapist with one of those designations, you’ll know they must meet specific education and training requirements to use that title. They are also overseen by a legally appointed organization—a college or an association.
Depending on which province you live in, the titles of psychotherapist or counselling therapist may or may not be regulated. In unregulated provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and all three territories), you can look for therapists with the title Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), which is overseen at a national level by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.
In addition to the CCPA at a national level, there are associations at the provincial level that may certify their professionals. For example, if you’re looking for a counsellor in British Columbia, look for certified practitioners with credentials such as Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), provided by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.
First Session carefully vets all therapists and counsellors to ensure they meet requirements in their region and are certified by the correct legal or credible self-governing bodies.
We know this can be confusing. The chart below outlines which provinces currently regulate counselling and psychotherapy, as well as the varying regulations for psychologists and social workers.
What about those other 70+ titles? Do a little digging before working with someone. You might get advice and guidance from professionals like a life coach — that’s great! — but they are not a certified or licensed therapist unless they meet the regulations for psychology, social work or psychotherapy/counselling therapy in your province as well.
Note: Anywhere in Canada, a psychiatrist will need to be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) at a national level, and they will need to register with the appropriate medical college at the provincial level. They are not included in the chart.
When looking for therapists in Ontario, the titles of Registered Psychotherapist or Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying), Registered Social Worker (RSW), Psychologists and Psychological Associates are all regulated.Find a therapist in Ontario
The types of counsellors in British Columbia that are regulated include Registered Social Worker (RSW) and Psychologist. BC is in progress regulating the title of Counselling Therapist.Find a therapist in BC
Registered Social Workers (RSW) and Psychologists are the regulated titles for therapists and counsellors in Alberta. Regulations passed for the title of Counselling Therapist but a governing college is not yet in place.Find a therapist in Alberta
A number of titles for therapists in Quebec are regulated by the provincial law. Quebec Regulates the titles of Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Social Worker. Marriage and family therapists also fall under the regulations overseeing social workers in the province. Other professionals, like guidance counsellors, criminologists, occupational therapists, nurses, psychoeducators, sexologists, family therapists and social workers can also only practice psychotherapy with a psychotherapy permit.Find a therapist in Quebec
Counsellors in Saskatchewan are regulated under the titles of Psychologist and Social Worker. Regulations are coming for the title of Counselling Therapist but they are not yet in place.Find a therapist in Saskatchewan
Therapists and counsellors in Manitoba are regulated under the titles of Social Worker, Psychologist and Psychological Associate. Regulations are in progress for the title of Counselling Therapist.Find a therapist in Manitoba
When looking for a therapist in Newfoundland and Labrador, the titles of Social Worker and Psychologist are regulated. Regulations are in progress for the title of Counselling Therapist.Find a therapist in Newfoundland Labrador
Therapists and counsellors in New Brunswick are regulated under the titles of Social Worker and Psychologists and Licensed Counselling Therapist (LCT). The regulations overseeing LCTs also apply for the professional titles of Registered Counselling Therapists and Licensed/Registered Career Counsellors.Find a therapist in New Brunswick
The titles of Psychologist, Registered Social Worker (RSW) and Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) are all regulated titles for therapists and counsellors in Nova Scotia.Find a therapist in Nova Scotia
Therapists in Prince Edward Island are regulated under the titles of Psychologist, Registered Social Worker (RSW) and Counselling Therapist.Find a therapist in Prince Edward Island
When looking for a therapist in Nunavut, be aware that the territory only regulates the title of Psychologist. Yukon and Nunavut do not currently require registration to practice as a social worker. There are currently no regulations for psychotherapy or counselling therapy in place.Find a therapist in Nunavut
Therapists in the Northwest Territories are regulated under the titles of Psychologist and Registered Social Worker (RSW). There are currently no regulations for psychotherapy or counselling therapy in place.Find a therapist in Northwest Territories
Like Nunavut, therapists in the Yukon are only regulated under the title of Psychologist. Yukon and Nunavut do not currently require registration to practice as a social worker. There are currently no regulations for psychotherapy or counselling therapy in place.Find a therapist in Yukon
* 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). Registered Psychotherapists (RP) are permitted by the CRPO to practice independently only once they have completed 1,000 direct client contact hours and 150 hours of clinical supervision.
** The Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.) designation with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) has two pathways. Pathway one is for new professionals who completed their graduate degree (master's or PhD) under fives years ago. Pathway two is for experienced practitioners who completed their graduate degree over five years ago
Psychiatry is a medical field of study covering the causes, identification, diagnoses and medicinal treatment of mental health disorders.
Psychologists are trained in the science of behaviours and the mind. They may focus on research and academic study, or practice with patients in the field providing counselling therapy.