Bill 21, the law amending the Professional Code and other legislative provisions in the field of mental health and human relations, was introduced and adopted by the National Assembly in June 2009. Bill 21, in force since June 2012, aims, among other objectives, to supervise the practice of psychotherapy in order to protect the beneficiaries of services in psychotherapy*. The definition of psychotherapy as it appears in Article 187.1 of the Professional Code constitutes the foundation on which the College of Psychologists of Quebec relies on to define the practice of psychotherapy:
Psychotherapy is a psychological treatment for a mental disorder, for behavioral disturbances or for any other problem that causes suffering or psychological distress, the purpose of which is to encourage significant changes in the client's cognitive, emotional or behavioral functioning, interpersonal system, in his personality or in his state of health. This treatment goes beyond helping to cope with common difficulties or from a counseling or support rapport. [Article 187.1 of the Professional Code]
The year 2014 marked the end of the grandfather clause (transitional recognition period) of the law 21 allowing certain professionals, art therapists and others, to obtain the psychotherapy license following a process evaluation by the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec (OPQ). Despite the presentation made by the AATQ, to the Committee on Institutions on Bill 21, the presentation made by the AATQ, to the Committee on Institutions on Bill 21, june 11, 2009, and the persistent efforts of the OPTA Committee since (see the article What about the law 21 and Art Therapy in Quebec Today, February 2017) Art Therapists in Quebec remain excluded from Law 21.
*Requirements to obtain a psychotherapy permit can be found on OPQ website.
Now, according to Law 21 as stipulated, the Master's level training in art therapy does not in itself allow access to the psychotherapist's permit. Energies are mobilized presently to try to remedy the situation, among other efforts, by deploying efforts for the recognition of university programs in art therapy (Concordia and University of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue). However, the evaluation by the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec of these programs as satisfying the criteria for training in psychotherapy under the law 21 will not succeed in dispelling all the obstacles that art therapists will face during their journey towards obtaining the psychotherapist's permit. A decisive pitfall remains: the non-integration of art therapists into the professional system of Quebec (absence of a professional order for creative arts therapists). However, if it turns out that creative arts therapists can apply for a psychotherapist's license under Bill 21, being a member of a professional corporation does not require them to obtain a psychotherapist's license.
However, some art therapists are or may be eligible for the psychotherapist license if they are members of a professional order and meet the eligibility criteria listed below. For example, some have additional training in marriage and family therapy, social work, etc and are members of the respective Professional Orders or Corporations. These art therapists are then eligible to obtain the psychotherapist's permit on condition on obtaining certain additional courses defined by the OPQ.
According to Law 21, accessibility to the psychotherapist's license is based on these eligibility criteria*:
1. Is a member of one of the following professional Corporations: College of Psychologists of Quebec, Order of Councilors of Quebec, College of Occupational Therapists of Quebec, College of Nurses of Quebec, College of Psychoeducators of Quebec, Professional Order of Sexologists of Quebec, College of Social Workers and Family and Marriage Therapists of Quebec, or College of Criminologists of Quebec
2. Has a Master's degree in Mental Health and Human Relations
3. Has completed a 765-hour university-level theoretical training in psychotherapy as described in section 5.3.2 of the explanatory guide (2013)*
4. Satisfied the requirements (see points 5.3.2 and 5.3.3 of the explanatory guide) of a supervised work placement related to a minimum of one of the four theoretical models of intervention (psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, systemic and the theories of communication and humanism)*
* A List detailing classes is available on OPQ's website.
* Supervisors have to be psychotherapists and have 5 years of clinical experience in one of four theoretical models of intervention.