The History of Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSRP)
This history was compiled through archive material including minutes from the original steering committee, Board and committee meetings, AGM Reports and newsletters. Thanks to Evonne Brant at the OSP office for providing this material to the writer. Also, many thanks to Mary Greey and Carl Moore for time spent generously sharing stories of the “early days” when OSP was a twinkle in the founding members’ eyes.
It was March 1991. A group of psychotherapists, diverse in theoretical orientation, came together to share a common perspective and a strong sense of purpose.
They had a vision about the development of the theory and practice of psychotherapy in Ontario. A vision that would position unregulated psychotherapists in a sound place. A place that would provide a coherent, professional voice to related professions, to the general public and to the government . . . a place where liability insurance was an affordable possibility . . . where psychotherapists could experience a sense of fellowship with peers . . . where professional development and new learning was valued and promoted.
They had a vision that held strong confidence in group process and what it could accomplish.
The seven original members were:
- Geraldine Fogarty (who became the first president),
- Rita Fridella (who became the second president),
- Mary Helen Garvin (who did most of the work on the constitution),
- Helen Morley and Carl Moore (who outlined the first Code of Ethics),
- Alisa Hornung and Mary Greey (who set up the original membership qualifications)
They evolved into a Steering Committee. Each member chose a special area of interest and began an arduous two-year task of planting the seeds of their vision into the fertile soil of their collective commitment:
a code of ethics
- a constitution and By-laws.
- high standards for membership, including criteria that would set its members apart from other such organizations (a requirement of individual psychotherapy to demonstrate a serious commitment to personal growth).
A seedling tree with a substantial root system.
The small group was positioned to grow into an organization it dreamed would influence the course of psychotherapy in Ontario. The organization was named The Ontario Society of Psychotherapists (OSP).
OSP would be run by volunteers with a mission to represent the interests of psychotherapists and advance the standards of practice in order to promote effective and efficient service to all people.
This would be accomplished by:
- encouraging, initiating and promoting activities appropriate to strengthening and unifying the psychotherapy profession;
- assisting and promoting the development of high professional standards within its membership;
- promoting psychotherapy research and its dissemination;
- promoting and encouraging educational standards within the profession;
- promoting responsible personal practice in the psychotherapy profession;
- promoting and encouraging psychotherapy concepts and principles among the public.
In November of 1993, OSP held its first Annual General Meeting. President Geraldine Fogarty speaks: “Our vision requires the fundamental realization of, and respect for, our divergent nature and the willingness to struggle with the difficulties which inherently arise from these divergencies.”
1994 – The tree grows! OSP membership has blossomed by more than eighty per cent since October 1993.
A Delegate Council is established to keep OSP’s geographically broad organization functioning effectively. This means decisions affecting the whole society will be made by the delegates in the council.
Members are encouraged to become familiar with the by-laws that outline how individual member voices can be heard and to form a region to ensure their voice is represented on the Delegate Council.
The OSP quarterly newsletter Connection is launched — a forum for ideas, articles, opinions, support for ethical dilemmas and a means for members to keep updated on OSP business.
The Public Relations Committee creates a membership directory and requests ideas from members to heighten public awareness and enhance the reputation of therapy and therapists in our community.
A province-wide registry is in place. Outreach to regions of Ontario continues by the Organization Development Committee and a package is developed to guide and encourage members to formally set up their own regional groups.
The Delegate Council votes in favour of the proposed Code of Ethics and the Complaints and Disciplinary Policies and Procedures brought forward at the AGM.
The afternoon forum at the AGM is entitled “Psychotherapists and the Law.”
President Rita Fridella encourages the membership to “... acknowledge the dream and the design put into place in the first years of OSP’s life ... make the commitment to take the difficult steps to follow through on the ideas and dreams . . . find the determination to continue to move forward when the initial dream starts to fade and the design proves faulty in ways.”
1995 – the tree broadens its base with a 70% increase in membership.
A Task Force on Professional Regulations is formed to ensure OSP an informed perspective on regulation and an active hand in shaping the course of OSP’s professional future.
A resolution is passed. “All members of OSP who are practising or who have practised psychotherapy shall show proof of professional liability insurance.”
The Membership Forum — Issues of Race and Culture in Psychotherapy — led to significant and heated discussion, which continued onto the pages of the newsletter.
Of 218 current members, one in four is actively involved on the Board, in a committee, or with a region.
An emphasis on developing active local regions throughout Ontario continues in order that a professional community can be found closer to home.
The Board decides the annual OSP fee will include provincial and regional membership for all members.
OSP dreams of creating a journal to promote research and education on psychotherapy theory and practice. The first journal, titled “The Illusion and Necessity of Diagnosis,” is published in the spring edition of Connection.
Ethical Dilemma . . . a new feature debuts in the same newsletter. Dilemmas meant to provoke thought and be used as a source of information and education are examined in relationship to the OSP Code of Ethics.
The Complaints and Discipline committees work together with the Ethics Committee and some lay people to establish a protocol that meets the criteria of “natural justice.”
President Valerie Gibson writes in Connection: “. . . some of the policies that were tried in earlier stages of our development don’t quite fit our needs as we grow — our volunteer resources don’t always keep pace with what we would like to achieve — it’s time to take stock, appreciate our accomplishments, appraise our resources and realistically review our vision of how OSP will grow.”
A serious look at the complaints and discipline procedures begins — which principles work? Which need to be reviewed?
The Board reconsiders how to expand throughout the province and to develop user-friendly ways for members to develop and maintain local branches in OSP Regions.
The Task Force for Professional Regulations recommends establishing an official Standards of Practice document.
The Professional Development Committee offers an array of learning –– spirituality in psychotherapy/creativity in psychotherapy and the complexity of counter transference.
1997 – The tree’s roots remain strong but the branches are bowing.
OSP is a volunteer-run organization — current volunteers recognize the need to simplify goals and conserve resources yet still remain committed to a vision of growth and development. This means keen attention paid to priorities.
The plan for regional development is redesigned, to run at a pace that accurately reflects human resources and available energy.
A media kit and contact list is created by the Public Relations Committee.
The Complaints and Discipline committees continue to work with the Ethics Committee — redefining, clarifying and acknowledging the limitations of support that can be offered.
Professional development includes marketing psychotherapy, insight therapy and challenging members to look at alternative ways to think about and provide supervision.
The Public Relations Committee focuses its outreach initiative in an effort to inform physicians, dentists, registered massage therapists and other professionals how OSP could help them provide high quality assistance to their clientele.
The OSP website is launched, enhancing the visibility of the organization.
The Nomination Committee distributes member profile surveys to support its plan to broaden OSP’s volunteer support base.
The Standards of Practice Committee studies provincial legislations for possible inclusion and seeks legal advice on the implications of the issue.
OSP members vote to eliminate the Delegate Council and move to a one-member, one vote process for decision making.
President Steve Schklar addresses the membership: “Events of this year have required us to reflect deeply, to stay the course and to consider a process of change where change is called for. The work of OSP is an ongoing challenge as we continue to find ways and means to serve both the public and psychotherapists in Ontario.”
The Board requests a task force to review the constitution and by-laws regarding the complaints and discipline processes and protocol.
The Task force for the Standards of Practice Committee completes a two-year endeavour and passes its final report to the Ethics Committee for review.
Financial matters cause temporary strain on OSP, including legal fees and increased use of Collins Communications & Management Ltd. services are addressed.
The Ethics Committee facilitates a workshop for Board members on the ethical issues inherent in being a member of OSP’s Board of Directors.
The tree stretches its limbs . . .
The Professional Development day is led by OSP members, with presentations and demonstrations of several modalities including Body Work, Relational, Jungian, Cognitive, Expressive Arts and Psychodrama.
President Mary Greey acknowledges this coming of age: “This PD Day proves we don’t have to import an outside expert to have a rich day of learning. This important step supports and challenges its members to become the best professionals we can be.”
The Task Force on Complaints and Discipline recommends that OSP abolish the present process. After serious consideration and discussion, the membership agrees.
The core of the tree expands as the organization valiantly begins to breaks new ground . . .
A task force is formed to investigate OPTIONS for handling complaints and discipline procedures. This begins an attentive exploration of alternative dispute resolution, of values in justice and ethics, of the culture of therapists, and a painstaking look at the dimensions of shame, confidentiality and the human need to defend in an adversarial process.
And . . .
The Task Force on Body-Centred Therapy meets to grapple with ethical issues that have been historically difficult for the psychotherapy community to openly talk about.
OSP begins an active exploration of how the association might work in conjunction with other professional associations to gain important information and insights on issues related to professional regulation.
2001 – the roots deepen, the tree truck thickens and the branches reach outward to embrace the ongoing vision of OSP.
Proposed Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice documents are presented at the AGM, where attending members actively participate in a working session to devise several amendments to the proposed Standards of Practice document. The members’ voices are directly reflected within two appendices to the Constitution and By-laws. The Membership Committee requests clarity and guidance in processing applications from a broad range of practitioners. A task force is struck to revisit membership requirements, with a focus on the standards of psychotherapy training, regardless of differences in theory base and pedagogical approach.
The Health Professions Review Advisory Committee (HPRAC) recommends to the Ontario Minister of Health that psychotherapy become a controlled act.
The ground around the tree shakes, but the tree finds courage in its roots and pride in its ongoing pursuit of high standards and commitment to ethical practice.
OSP joins with other professional associations to lobby the government and develop more inclusive options. The Task Force on Legislative Issues is formed in March 2002 and President Rae Johnson provides leadership guided by the wishes and best interests of the society. A membership levy is introduced to help finance these efforts.
The Task Force on OSP Options Regarding the Handling of Complaints presents a position paper to the Board and develops an information package on alternate routes for resolving conflicts and complaints. Mediation is seen as a viable alternative as it offers possibilities of resolution and reconciliation as well as the potential for healing without shame and fear.
The Task Force on Ethical Considerations in Somatic Psychotherapy presents its draft report to the Board in March, a document that provides helpful guidelines to those who include the bodily dimension in their psychotherapy work.
The Ethics Committee continues its work to refine the new Standards of Practice document adopted at last year’s AGM. The Committee reaches out through focus groups, internet discussion and e-mail, urging members for input.
The Public Relations Committee initiates an extensive telephone outreach program.
The Nomination Committee implements a New Member Orientation to help recently joined members connect with others and learn how they can fully participate in OSP.
The Professional Development Committee organizes Celebrating Ourselves, a program befitting the 10th Anniversary of the organization.
OSP volunteers are fatigued.
Due to the ongoing stress and constraint of volunteer time and energy, a resolution is passed to shorten the terms of office for Vice-President, President and Past President to one year.
However, OSP continues to break new ground . . .
The Membership Committee implements innovative task force recommendations with revisions to the application form to include benchmarks for psychotherapy training. OSP is one of few professional psychotherapy associations to have developed these kinds of benchmarks, which will make the work of processing membership applications easier and more consistent.
And . . .
Members unanimously approve the resolutions of the Task Force on Ethical Considerations in Somatic Psychotherapy. This document enhances OSP’s Standards of Practice by including a set of guidelines for body-centred psychotherapy in OSP’s bylaws.
Members vote in favour of two new membership categories — one for retired members and another for members wishing to take a temporary leave of absence from active practice.
The Executive Committee does outreach to members requesting indication of interest for health benefits plan (minimum numbers for a group rate are required).
The Nomination Committee continues its outreach work via the Member Volunteer Profiles and the New Member Orientation.
The Professional Development Committee undergoes a major shift in focus and surveys members to develop a more expansive and responsive professional development program.
The Task Force on Legislative Issues recommends a council to act as an umbrella group to provide psychotherapist in Ontario with an organization that offers accountability in standards and registration similar to a college but without provincial regulation. This would give OSP a strong position should the government decide to regulate the profession.
The Public Relations Committee continues an extensive telephone outreach program on OSP’s referral system and sets up a mechanism to evaluate how the referral process is working. Work continues to upgrade OSP’s website, and a brochure to promote members’ private practices and present OSP to the community is distributed to each OSP member.
The Task Force on OSP Options Regarding the Handling of Complaints hosts a meeting for members to discuss issues and learn about the model the Committee favours — a process of mediation that has been adopted by the United Nations and the government of Canada that promotes reconciliation and resolution. Members request an interactive demonstration of the mediation process.
Members experience community and connection at the newly formatted AGM day — discussions revolve around relevant issues including public relations and clinical issues, legislative issues (HPRAC) and options to complaints.
Members attending the AGM have many ideas for the PR Committee, regarding how to increase the visibility and functions of the website, how to present OSP at health fairs, doctors’ offices and Employee Assistant Programs. A plea is made by the PR Committee for volunteers to make these ideas a reality.
This marks the first year in which a President serves the shortened, one-year term. A challenging year, made more so by the early departure of the Past President and the resignation of the Executive Vice President, both due to opportunities in their professional lives that make continuing with OSP responsibilities impossible. The Board considers the benefits of enlisting an Executive Director to ease the strain on OSP volunteers, provide consistency and support a visioning momentum. A Task Force on the Executive Directorship is set up to establish a job description, pay schedule and a hiring procedure.
President Pat Archer: “The challenge of 2004 has been to accept the reality of our limitations and to do so with creativity rather than in defeat. The year presented us with many questions about how to proceed and, perhaps, how to chart a new course for the future of OSP — and certainly how to engage the membership at large in such a vision.”
The Nomination Committee phones every OSP member to raise awareness of the need for volunteers to keep the OSP Board and committees functioning effectively. The reality — the position of Chair of the Ethics Committee was empty for much of the year.
The Professional Development Committee offers two evenings of facilitated discussion groups pertaining to articles from the Stone Center about relational practice.
The PD Committee publishes the results of its comprehensive survey regarding members’ interests and opinions about professional development. Seventy–two per cent of surveyed members feel that PD should be a requirement for maintaining membership. Eighty two per cent describe one-day workshops as the preference. The Committee announces that plans are in the works for day-long PD in 2005.
The Public Relations Committee launches the OSP website bulletin board — user friendly for the public and potential new members, and a new way for current members to communicate with each other. Volunteers man a booth at the Mental Health Information Fair. The Task Force on Legislative Issues reports that it anticipates a positive relationship with the new government. The coalition’s plan to create a COUNCIL to ensure accountability and high standards of practice is well received by the ministry. The government offers to have the coalition meet with the assistant deputy Minister in the near future.
Participants report a deeply human and powerful learning experience through their participation in the experiential workshop on the mediation model offered by the Task Force on OSP Options Regarding the Handling of Complaints. Several more workshops are planned, with an eye toward proposing the model at the AGM in 2005.
OSP responds to government legislation and makes required changes and recommendations to its members to comply with the Privacy Act.
A new editor with many fresh ideas is recruited for Connections. She puts out a wish list for contributions from the OSP membership to the newsletter.
The Membership Committee experiences increased clarity while processing applications due to the inclusion of questions relating to the Benchmarks for Psychotherapy Training. Discussion continues regarding response to members who are experiencing difficulties paying OSP fees due to illness or other circumstances.
You couldn’t call the tree old yet, but its sapling days are over.
Exposure to multifarious weather shows in the tree trunk, thickened with experience, in the branches extended outward, bravely, but not without fear, and in the roots, which remain faithful to the original seeds of hope and vision. With support, and acknowledgment that the process of growth is rarely easy, the tree can continue to mature and flourish.
Pat Archer provides the following: “OSP the organization is the collective energy of its members.”
Because psychotherapists in Ontario must now be registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) in order to practise, at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018 the membership voted to change the name of the society to the Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSRP).