What is Required to be an Edmonton Psychologist?
An Edmonton psychologist has significant training, supervision and experience in diagnosing and treating a variety of mental health and family dynamic challenges.
By law, the term "psychologist" can only be used by those who have met the requirements to register as a psychologist. In Alberta, psychologists will identify themselves by placing "Registered Psychologist" or "R. Psych" after their name.
Psychologists in Alberta cannot prescribe medication. Psychiatrists and other physicians may prescribe medications for mental health issues.
A counselling psychologist works primarily with people who are struggling with low mood (mild depression), worrying to much (mild anxiety), who have trouble with communication or maintaining relationships, individuals with self-esteem issues, anger management difficulties, insomnia, or those who are on a workplace medical disability. A counselling psychologist can help with parent-child relationship difficulties, aging, struggles with handling transitions, and general life changes (adjustment disorders). Counselling psychologists may also be able to assist with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning delays, and behavioral difficulties.
A clinical psychologist have additional training in treating more severe psychiatric disorders. They can help individuals suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, clinical Anxiety, Social Phobia / Performance Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bi-Polar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Autism, Schizophrenia, Panic Disorder, or Dissociative Disorders.
Clinical psychologists may have specialized training in performing psychometric assessment. Psychometric assessment can be used to diagnose IQ, learning delays, giftedness, personality disorders, and mood disorders. Psychometric assessment is often a significant component of parenting assessments, custody assessments, and competency assessments.
Educational psychologists are primarily found in the school system, although some will work in private practice. Educational psychologists have taken training that focuses on how people learn. Most educational psychologists are focused on children's education. They may be called the school counsellor, school psychologist, or consulting psychologist for a school or school district.
Educational psychologists often conduct psychometric assessment. They are qualified to test for IQ, academic learning levels, and to diagnoses and provide treatment for some behavioral, developmental or mood issues such as ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), anger management, or social skills weaknesses. While parental involvement is always preferred, school psychologists are allowed to provide counselling to children in the school setting without prior parental consent. Educational psychologists also run psycho-educational and psycho-therapeutic groups in the schools for children, teens and parents.
Educational psychologists are often the first ones to identify children potentially struggling with major developmental or psychological issues such as Autism. Typically they will refer these students to clinical psychologists or mental health agencies for further assessment and treatment.
Neuropsychologists are trained in psychometric assessment and treatment of brain injury and illness. While they may do all the general psychometric assessments, they can often provide significantly more information on what areas of the brain have been damaged, and likely prognosis. Neuropsychology is a sub-specialty in psychology requires significant additional training and supervision after basic psychology training has been completed.
Other psychology specialties also exist. Competency in these specialties requires significant training in a focused area after licensing is achieved. For example, Karin has a sub-specialty in treating complex presentation children ages 0-5 years of age. Obtaining this sub-specialty involved spending 2+ years working closely with psychiatrists and other psychologists who were experts in this field at a clinic whose focus was treating infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
A Psychologist's Education
All psychologists have completed a bachelors and masters level degrees. While the degrees may be in arts (B.A., M.A.) or sciences (B.Sc., M.Sc.,), individuals who wish to become clinical or counselling psychologists must show a preponderance of course work in mental health training (as opposed to other areas of psychology such as organizational psychology, health psychology, or rehabilitation psychology). All registered psychologists must have demonstrated foundational knowledge in biological basis of behavior, cognitive-affective basis of behavior, social basis of behavior, and psychology of the individual.
Advancement through academic levels typically requires a 3.0+ grade on a 4.0 scale to continue. At each level of training they will have completed practicums in counselling and / or assessment. These practicums range from 250 hours in lower education levels, to 750 hours at the higher levels. Each practicum will have a minimum defined number of direct client service and supervision hours.
Once a psychologist has completed a Master's degree, or is accepted into a Ph.D. program in psychology they may apply to the College of Alberta Psychologists to be a provisional psychologist.
As a provisional psychologist they are required to complete a 1600 hour internship. For those wishing to be clinical or counselling psychologists, the supervised placement in a hospital, mental health clinic, organization or private practice. Many provisional psychologists will work at more than one place in order to gain sufficient experience. 800-1200 of the internship hours must be in service delivery with the remaining hours spend on supervision (107 hours minimum), professional development, rounds, etc... 75% of the supervision must be 1:1 with the supervisor (as opposed to group), and supervision that involves live observation of clinical practice or via video tape is always preferred over case file review, as this allows the supervisor to see exactly how the provisional psychologist is doing their work.
Psychologists license in a branch of psychology such as educational/school psychology, clinical/counselling psychology, neuropsychology, forensic psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, health psychology, or rehabilitation psychology. While all psychologists must have skill in interventions (counselling psychology), provisional psychologists may also focus on one or two additional professional activities (specialties) such as psychometric assessment, research, consultation, teaching or supervision. They will also focus on working with one or two specific groups within their professional activity such as individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, children/adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
What this means is that psychologists focus on gaining mastery in one or two areas rather than being generalists. Once they have completed their 1600 hour internship, many psychologists choose to continue to learn and engaged in supervised practice so that they can competently work in other licensing areas, in additional professional activities, or with different client groups.
Proof of Competency
A psychologist in Edmonton will be able to show a copy of at least a Master's level degree, and a Psychologists registration certificate with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP).
To obtain their College registration, the psychologist will have completed their Masters, the 1600 hour internship, and passed several exams.
The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a difficult standardized, international exam that tests a broad base of the applicants psychological knowledge. A passing grade of 70%+ is required. Due to the difficulty of the exam it is not usual for applicants to fail on their first attempt.
Psychologists also need to pass one or more oral exams. The exam(s) ensure the psychologist has training in ethics, and can make ethical judgements. The exam(s) also tests the psychologist on their knowledge of provincial and national laws ( jurisprudence) pertaining to providing psychological therapy.
Once a candidate has achieved all these requirements, and received their full registration certification they may call themselves a psychologist.