In Ontario we are quickly approaching April 1, 2016, which marks the one-year anniversary of the Proclamation by the province’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Mental Health Therapists of Ontario (CRPO). In arriving at its proclamation the Ministry reserved a set of titles and terms for use by the College’s practising Members to designate their privilege as Members of CRPO and to set them apart from non-members. These titles and terms include words such as Psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, and the like. Neither is the practice or carrying-on of the Act or Controlled Act of Psychotherapy, as set forth in the Psychotherapy Act permitted to non-members of the CRPO.
Now, this is not a particularly egregious thing to impose: if a professional college is to be established that will provide protections to the public against improper practices on the part of professional practitioners, then such steps and designations are necessary to separate those professionals who agree to the regulations and rigors of the College from those who are not willing to subject themselves to them in a statutory manner.
But what of we practitioners who choose not to become members of the CRPO? How do we set apart and practise what it is we do among the therapeutic arts that is different from those which are both restricted and permitted by the College? Is there a title I can use that would be permitted by the College by falling outside of its “restricted” terms?; Is there a way I can describe what it is I do in the course of my work that demonstrates how that work falls in its activities outside of the Act and Controlled act of Psychotherapy as set forth by the College?
I have decided to try out – play with – the term/title, “Psychopractor” – one who undertakes the practice of “Psychopractry”.
Psychopractry would refer to the application of skill-based, “data” driven “techniques”, in the context of specific methods that describe a specific form of relationship between a Client and a Psychopractor.
Of course, the term/title Psychopractor will quickly and freely call to mind the profession and practice of Chiropractor – a health care professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on the use of skill-based, data driven techniques which focus on manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spinal column, from the pelvis to the neck, and including associated nervous system and joints. The Chiropractor, too, conducts her/his techniques – manual manipulations – in the context of method that describes and underlies a therapeutic relationship. A significant aspect of that method is a “Treatment Plan”, which is devised and followed on the basis of a recording of the personal history of the spinal column and a diagnosis for each Client.
Excepting that one deals with neurological, physical conditions while the other with conditions of the “mind”, the parallels between them are striking to the extent that both focus on disorder and dysfunction. In the case of Psychotherapy, and its controlled act as set forth in the Psychotherapy Act (2007, 2015):
In the course of engaging in the practice of psychotherapy, a member is authorized, subject to the terms, conditions and limitations imposed on his or her certificate of registration, to treat, by means of psychotherapy technique delivered through a therapeutic relationship, an individual’s serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory that may seriously impair the individual’s judgement, insight, behaviour, communication or social functioning.
And so it is with designations by professional associations and statutory regulation by professional colleges regarding those acts we call “Therapies” – they refer to the reparation of impairments, disorders and dysfunctions. My Mentor, the late, great Alvin R. Mahrer – decried this, looking for either an expansion of the definition for the term Psychotherapy, or for a term to replace it.
My response to this is that, unlike the term and profession of Chiropractor, a Psychopractor, as I conceive of it, does not focus on diagnosis, impairment, disorder and dysfunction. Rather, s/he attends to the Potential, resident within the Client – potential for taking on whole and completely new ways of being and behaving, even to the point of becoming a different person with respect to behaviours, attitudes and relationships. Essentially here I am referring to what have hitherto been known as Humanistic Psychotherapies – those which, like many holistic “therapies” from other fields do not, in acordance with the urging of the World Health Organization, limit their understanding of “wellness” to simply the absence of disorder or dysfunction. Rather, they promote WHO’s definition of health as being “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
In the form of Psychopractry which I practise these potentials are uncovered, not through diagnostic measures such as the taking of a Client’s history or questioning as to symptoms; rather, they are accessed via specific techniques used by the Psychopractor which are in experiential response to verbal data – with its prosaic and nonprosaic expressions – in the context of the Client-Practitionner relationship and the methods which define that relationship.
It is my strong sense that the entire field of Psychotherapy can be understood – and even taught and researched – in terms of the Methods, Techniques and Data that may characterize each of its approaches, and that such an understanding would be more useful and malleable than an understanding limited to diagnosis, treatment, disorder and dysfunction, etc. In Ontario at least, however, including within the CRPO and other colleges of the province’s Ministry of Health and Longterm Care which regulate and authorize members in carrying out the Act of Psychotherapy, such is not the case. This leaves open the legitimate choice to practitioners who formerly called themselves Psychotherapists, for whatever reason they may hold out, to resist and avoid joining those colleges.
So, let we “Psychopractors” carry on, basing our work on our methods, techniques and data. In future blogs I intend to expand on the concepts of Method, Technique and Data, using the approach to Psychopractry which I principally follow – that initiated by Alvin R. Mahrer – to provide examples and illustrations of these concepts.