The term Psychologist is a protected title, governed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO). The CPO is a regulatory body for the profession of psychology (as is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for medical doctors). The mandate of the CPO is to protect the interests of the public by monitoring and regulating the practice of psychology.
The title, Psychologist, may only be used by individuals who have satisfied the requirements of the CPO and who are in good standing with the CPO. A Psychologist, in addition to the other regulated health professionals (e.g. physicians, chiropractors, optometrists, etc…), are required by law to provide professional services competently and ethically. Consequently, before being granted the title of Psychologist, one must first meet very rigorous and strict prerequisites that are set out by the CPO.
An important prerequisite that distinguishes Psychologists from any other mental health therapist is the attainment of a Ph.D., also called a Doctorate of Philosophy. A Ph.D. is a level of education that goes beyond the Bachelor and Master’s degree. Ph.D. programs are highly competitive, on average accepting approximately 5% of applicants. Ph.D. programs are between 5 and 7 years of graduate education beyond a Bachelor’s degree. It includes coursework, research, and clinical experience. In addition, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology requires one year of a clinical internship in a mental health facility. The application process of the CPO is a year or more in duration. It includes successfully passing three examinations: 1) The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, 2) Jurisprudence and Ethics Examination and 3) Oral Examination, as well as receiving one year of supervised practice by two supervisors. Once the title, Psychologist, has been granted by the CPO, that individual has had several thousands of hours of clinical experience, original research experience, and satisfied the requirements of the CPO so they may practice the profession of Psychology autonomously.