By Christina Becker, Clinical Member and President, OSP
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of prOSPect.
This year, 2015, will be a pivotal year for OSP and maybe for psychotherapists in Ontario. The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario will change the parameters of the playing field. However, exactly what that looks like remains to be seen. The application process has created anxiety and fear for many members. Some are electing not to apply at least until there is greater clarity on whether all or part of the Act will be proclaimed. As of the first week of January 2015, there is still no word on a proclamation date. In many respects, it is a time of great uncertainty. In other respects, it is also a time of great opportunity.
When OSP was formed in the early 90s, by default, we needed to protect the public interest to some extent. We fulfilled that role with the complaints and discipline process and then later with the restorative circle process. Much of these responsibilities will reside with the College in the future, allowing OSP’s focus to be purely on the members and members’ needs.
And that brings me to the central question of the society. OSP is the professional home to many psychotherapeutic modalities and philosophies — relational psychotherapy, EMDR, CBT, DBT, narrative therapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, Jungian, art therapy, psychoanalytic — to name just a few specialities that our members practise.
What unites us and bring us together? What are the roots that make this community vibrant and unique?
In 2004, a number of members led a visioning exercise at the Annual General Meeting. It is that vision that I want to come back to in my reflections. What arose from that meeting remains true today. However, it may have fallen into the shadow as our attention has shifted toward negotiating a new regulated environment.
What we said in 2004 is that the “use of self” is the starting point. This is a core value for us. It informs our membership criteria which require OSP members to have a minimum number of personal psychotherapy hours. The work that OSP members do on and with themselves is seen in the quality of its members. I have, over time, observed that in OSP equal attention is paid to the process as to the tasks that need to be accomplished.
In 2004 it was noted that what OSP does comes from the inside out and as such it reflects a certain integrity and authenticity. There is congruence throughout the association between what is espoused and what is practised — encouraging a climate of honest self-appraisal with a healthy humility and openness around discussing differences.
This is the heart of what we do and forms the foundation of our professional home.
These values reflect the choice of the 2014 Honours of the Society Awards presented at the Annual General Meeting in November. They were given to two long-standing OSP members — Steve Schklar and Jennifer Pearson. Both Steve and Jennifer embody OSP’s vision and values and are stellar examples of the best that we can be as psychotherapists.
Steve has made significant contributions in various capacities, including President, over the years. As a result of Steve’s efforts, OSP “is recognized by our peers as one of the lead organizations to which a psychotherapist can belong in the province of Ontario,” according to Gwen Shandroksi in her speech at the AGM. She honoured Steve by saying that “OSP runs like a well-oiled machine, with proper accounting, clear membership criteria, a format to deal with dispute and a willingness to work through its problems.”
Barbara Brown, in her honouring of Jennifer, said: “the artist and the very skilled therapist find ways to see the mirror the world holds up, and to reflect the best — and sometimes hardest or scariest — parts of ourselves and our world back in a way that we can hold those truths, see them more clearly, or simply sit in compassion with them. This quality — of seeing the mirror the world holds up and the ability to reflect back in ways that make it manageable — is why Jennifer Pearson is so very deserving of OSP’s honours award.”
Your Board will be focusing this year on how to enliven the heart of what we do as we remember what we stand for in a new regulated environment.