FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
A psychologist is a regulated health practitioner who has been awarded a doctoral degree in psychology (typically, a Ph.D.) and has received additional training beyond this. Psychologists are governed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. A psychiatrist is a regulated health practitioner (physician) who has been awarded a medical degree (M.D.) and has received additional training beyond this. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication; psychologists can not. The services of psychiatrists are covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP); the services of psychologists are not. To ensure that members of the public can make informed choices about health services being offered, psychologists are required to use this title when introducing themselves professionally and when providing services.
What is a psychological associate?
The title "psychological associate" was introduced in Ontario in 1993. It applies to members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario who possess a master's degree in psychology, plus additional training. Psychological Associates are autonomous regulated health practitioners--they are not required to work under the professional supervision of a psychologist (although they may do so in larger psychology departments). Some Psychological Associates are legally able to communicate a diagnosis. Others have a limitation on their certificate of registration and may only diagnose under the supervision of a Psychologist or Psychological Associate who is entitled to diagnose.To ensure that members of the public can make informed choices about health services being offered, psychological associates are required to use this title when introducing themselves professionally and when providing services.
What is a psychometrist?
The term "psychometrist" is generally used to refer to someone who administers psychological tests. The term "psychometrist" is not a legally protected title, and people who hold this title do not legally require any special training. However, typically psychometrists possess a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related discipline, and usually they work under the professional supervision of a psychologist or a psychological associate.
Who provides psychological services in schools?
Psychological services staff have post-graduate level education and professional training and experience in psychology. They are specifically trained in and are knowledgeable about child and adolescent development, human learning, psychological assessment as well as social-emotional functioning. The profession is regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario and operates under a code of ethics, as outlined in the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Psychology Act. Confidential psychological services are provided under the supervision of the Chief Psychologist of the board.
Providers of school psychological services have many different titles, including Psychologist, Psychological Associate, Psycho-educational Consultant, Psychometrist, Psycho-educational Associate, etc. Psychologists and Psychological Associates are registered members of the College of Psychologists.
How do I access psychological services for my child?
The Chief Psychologist for your child's board of education can explain to you the procedures for referral within the board of education. See the list of members for phone numbers.
How confidential is the psychological service provided to my child?
Parents or students of age provide written permission for psychological services. The permission form explains the limits of confidentiality of the service to be provided. It should also specify whether other professionals at the board who work with you child will have access to the information from the psychological service, such as the psychological report. At the time that you give consent, you can specify any limits to sharing the information. No information is shared with third parties, meaning persons outside the school board, without your written consent, on a separate form. Once the student is 18 years of age, he or she alone can decide with whom the information may be shared.
How long will a file of psychological information be kept on my child?
Psychological records must be kept for at least ten years after the eighteenth birthday of a child who has received psychological services, or 10 years after the last date of contact, whichever is later. Many school boards keep the psychological records even longer.
Where can I access psychological services outside of my child's school board?
Psychological services may be available through hospitals and children's mental health clinics. However, these agencies may restrict referrals soley to children who fall under their direct mandate (e.g., children with particular kinds of medical conditions). Psychological services are also available through individuals in private practice. Such services are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Psychologists". However, psychologists or psychological associates in private practice will charge on a fee-for-service basis, as psychological services are not covered by OHIP. Some employee insurance plans, however, do provide coverage for some kinds of psychological services.