X

About the College

This section provides information about the College, its functions, related websites and other general information. Please see the sections below for more details:

The College is mandated to regulate the profession in accordance with provincial legislation, the Health Professions Act and the Psychologists Profession Regulation. This legislation governs the activities and functions of the College. 

The profession of psychology has been organized in Alberta since the 1960s as the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta. In 1987 the Psychology Profession Act was passed, and in 1996 the association was separated into regulatory and societal bodies, with the College of Alberta Psychologists taking over regulation of the profession. The College was proclaimed under the Health Professions Act (HPA) on January 15, 2006, which replaced the previous legislation. 

The scope of practice for the profession is set out in the HPA. The College maintains two primary regulated members’ registers: the registered psychologists register and the registered provisional psychologists register. The titles “psychologist” and “provisional psychologist” are protected under the HPA. For more information describing the different categories of registration click here.

Categories of Registration

Registered Psychologist. The vast majority of College members fit into this registration category. This category imposes no prescribed practice limitations unless a condition has been placed on an individual regulated member’s practice permit. A registered psychologist may use the protected titles “psychologist” and “registered psychologist” and the abbreviation “R. Psych.”

Registered Provisional Psychologist. This registration category comprises of individuals who remain under supervision until such a time as they have successfully completed the registration requirements and are approved for unsupervised practice by the Registration Approvals Sub-Committee. A provisional psychologist may use the protected titles “provisional psychologist” or “registered provisional psychologist.”

Courtesy registration. This registration category provides temporary registration for a period of up to one year to psychologists who are registered elsewhere or “in another jurisdiction.” 

Non-Regulated Retired. This registration class applies to individuals currently not practicing. Retired members are not regulated members of the College, can no longer vote in an election of the College Council and cannot use the title of retired psychologist as a credential. Non- regulated retired members are welcome to serve on non-adjudicative College committees.

Self-regulation is a privilege, not a right, granted by the provincial government. Self-regulation is commonly used in technically specialized and complex areas, like healthcare, because the professions, not the government, have the specific knowledge and expertise needed to set education, competence, license and practice requirements/standards. The granting of self-regulation acknowledges a profession’s members are capable of governing themselves under certain conditions that include graduation from a recognized school and successfully completing a rigorous examination process before being granted the privilege to practice. Health professionals must also complete criminal record checks, provide proof of good character, renew their registration each year and keep their skills and knowledge up to date. This is done on the condition that the profession’s College regulates in the best interests of the public. 

Without registration with a College, Albertans have no way of knowing if the person providing service has had appropriate training, education, skills or is subject to standards that ensure safe care. All complaints are investigated by the College, and may lead to remedial, or in some cases, disciplinary action. While members of the public can bring concerns about a regulated psychologist directly to the college, complaints about unregulated care providers are much more difficult to deal with and sometimes may only be dealt with by an employer or through the courts.

The College Council, the governing board of the College, sets the College’s policy and strategic direction within the context of the Health Professions Act, and the College’s mandate. The Council consists of ten voting members: seven registered psychologists elected by the membership and three public members appointed by the provincial government. College officials and one recording secretary also attend Council meetings.
Council Member Position
Mr. Paul Jerry 
President
Dr. Kevin Alderson
President Elect
Dr. Lorraine Stewart Past President
Dr. Roger Gervais Treasurer  
Mr. Kenneth Bainey Public Member
Mr. David J. Ellement Public Member
Mr. Michael D. McLaws Public Member
Ms. Hanita Dagan
Member-at-Large
Dr. Reagan Gale Member-at-Large
Dr. Kerry Mothersill Member-at-Large
Dr. Richard Spelliscy Ex officio
Ms. Wendy El-Issa Recording Secretary

The Registrar’s role is to function as the Chief Executive Officer of the College and to discharge the responsibilities of the Registrar as mandated in the Health Professions Act and the Psychologists Profession Regulation. The Registrar oversees the regulatory compliance of College functions and maintains a clear separation between adjudicative and advisory functions, in keeping with the principles of administrative fairness. Additionally, the Registrar advises and supports the Council in fulfilling its responsibilities, advocates high professional standards for members and promotes and maintains public relations with members, agencies, government and the public.

In addition to the Registrar, College staff members are organized by regulatory and administrative functions. All staff members report directly to the Registrar in the performance of their duties.

The following summary lists College departments and their functions.

Registrar’s office
  • Oversees all College functions:
    • regulatory and legislative requirements
    • hearings and appeals under Parts 2 and 4 of the Health Professions Act
Registration
  • Renews practice permits
  • Reviews registration applications:
    • evaluates academic credentials including doctoral credentials
    • approves registration as provisional psychologists
    • provides temporary licensure
    • approves mobility applicants from another jurisdiction
    • provides substantial equivalency assessment
  • Conducts examinations:
    • Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
    • Oral Examination
Complaints and Professional Conduct
  • Oversees and administers the College’s complaint and discipline processes under Part 4 of the Health Professions Act
  • Responds to public concerns and complaints
  • Administers incapacity processes under Part 6 of the Health Professions Act
  • Identifies emerging practice issues
  • Liaises with other health professions to collaboratively develop uniform resources
Professional Guidance
  • Responds to ethical and regulatory queries
  • Oversees and administers the advisory committees of the College (Registration Advisory Committee and Practice Advisory Committee)
  • Manages the Continuing Competence Program (once it is established)
  • Manages communications and publications
  • The Assistant Deputy Registrar acts as the Privacy Officer of the College and manages its responsibilities under privacy legislation
Administration and Finance
  • Manages financial operations
  • Manages College office administration
  • Coordinates Council meetings, dissemination of information
  • Manages personnel resources
  • Tracks and recognizes College committee volunteers
  • Manages information systems

To assist the College of Alberta Psychologists in fulfilling its mandate as authorized by the Health Professions Act (HPA), the College has established several adjudicative and advisory committees that consist primarily of College members to advise the Council and aid it in performing its duties. Adjudicative and advisory committees are clearly separated, in keeping with the principles of administrative fairness.

More than 100 volunteers contribute hundreds of invaluable hours to the College, supporting efficient and effective self-regulation including:

  • Council members who carry out vital functions of the College 
  • standing and legislated committees, task forces and ad hoc committees formed to address specific, time-sensitive issues 
  • members who offer their professional expertise to the College

The committees and their functions are outlined below:

Adjudicative Committees of the College

Credentials Evaluation Sub-Committee (CESC). As established in legislation and regulation, the CESC reviews applications for the evaluation of academic credentials from accredited institutions. The CESC determines whether the applicant meets core and substantive content areas and possesses the required number of credits as established in legislation and regulation. Foreign applicants are required to provide an assessment of their academic credentials from International Qualifications Assessment Services (IQAS) to assist the CESC in its evaluation. The CESC also reviews and approves doctoral credentials.

The CESC meets once per year as a full committee, and in smaller panels generally six times per year. Committee members are asked to attend the full committee meeting and three out of six panel meetings per year. Meetings are generally scheduled to last four hours. However, their length may vary depending on the number of files reviewed. As required by the HPA, the CESC provides its decision results in writing.

Oral Examinations Committee. The Oral Examinations Committee is responsible for conducting oral examinations of applicants for registration as psychologists, to assess whether the applicant demonstrates a minimum standard of knowledge and judgment in matters of jurisprudence and ethics.

Oral examinations are scheduled to last approximately 90 minutes. Panels of three examiners conduct the exams, using standardized interview questions. The examinations are held four times per year, over the course of two to three weeks, generally in January, April, June and October. As required by the HPA, the Oral Examinations Committee provides its decision results in writing.

Registration Approvals Sub-Committee (RASC). The RASC reviews applicant files through all stages of the registration process. This includes review and approval of supervision plans, waiver requests, final evaluations of supervised practice, references and registration verification. The RASC adjudicates whether an applicant is ready to be issued a permit to practice as a registered provisional psychologist, a registered psychologist or a courtesy registrant. The RASC also reviews practice permit renewals at the request of the Registrar.

The RASC meets annually in April as a full committee and in smaller panels generally eight times per year. Committee members are asked to attend the full committee meeting and a minimum of two panel meetings per year. As required by the HPA, the RASC provides its decision results in writing.

Substantial Equivalency Sub-Committee (SESC). Applicants who do not meet the College’s registration requirements may, in some circumstances, apply for a substantial equivalency review in accordance with the HPA. Substantial equivalency is the process of determining whether a combination of education, experience and practice, or other qualifications demonstrate the competence required for registration as a regulated member.

Sub-committee members, appointed from the Registration Committee by the Registrar, sit in panels of three or more to consider substantial equivalency review requests, as needed. As required by the HPA, the SESC provides its decision results in writing.

Hearing Tribunal/Complaint Review Committee (HT/CRC). Under the HPA, the College Council appoints members to a membership list to be used for appointing members to both Hearing Tribunal and Complaint Review Committee panels.

HT panels conduct hearings into allegations of unprofessional conduct made against psychologists. CRC panels conduct reviews of the Complaints Director’s dismissals of complaints. Panels, comprising of two members from the membership list and one public member, appointed by Alberta Health, are arranged as required.

The time commitment required of HT and CRC panel members varies depending on the circumstances of the particular case. Hearings are conducted in person and may range from one to five days. Complaint dismissal reviews are often complex and may take a similar amount of time. The panel may choose to meet in person or via teleconference. Additional time may be required for teleconferences and the writing of decisions. Committee members may be asked to sit on one to three panels per year, based on need and availability.

Advisory Committees of the College

Practice Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is a non-adjudicative standing committee that acts in an advisory capacity to the College Council. The mandate of the PAC is to advise Council on matters of psychological practice and continuing competence. The committee meets approximately three times per year or on an as-needed basis. The PAC occasionally forms ad hoc committees to address specific issues. Some of the activities undertaken by the PAC in the past have included:

  • undertaking a comprehensive review of the Standards of Practice
  • reviewing practice guidelines and alerts
  • issuing practice alerts for members

Registration Advisory Committee (RAC). The RAC is a non-adjudicative standing committee that acts in an advisory capacity to the College Council. The mandate of the RAC is to review all aspects of the registration process and make recommendations to Council. The committee meets approximately three times per year or on an as-needed basis. The RAC occasionally forms ad hoc committees to address specific issues. Some of the activities undertaken by the RAC in the past have included:

  • reviewing and amending various registration policies
  • establishing an ad hoc committee to develop a framework for ensuring competent supervision for provisional psychologists
  • establishing an ad hoc committee to develop guidelines for assessing substantial equivalencies
  • "Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, "the understanding of behavior" is the enterprise of psychologists."

    American Psychological Association 2016

The College has an online directory that allows the user to search for a regulated member. If you require confirmation of a regulated member’s registration, please contact the College or refer to the Member Directory which can also be found at the bottom of the webpage. 

The College does not offer a referral service. For information on how to get a referral for a psychologist, contact the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta (PAA)

On an individual level, we all face challenges daily that can cause stress and worry which may negatively impact our quality of life, health and well-being. Psychologists work in many different areas of society and can offer coping strategies, interventions and referrals to improve healthy thinking and boost resiliency to reduce the impact of stress and effects of these challenges to elevate health and well-being.

Additional examples of life and health issues where psychologists may help include helping people to overcome depression, stress, trauma, or phobias, ease the effects of parental divorce on children, speed up the recovery from brain injury, improve management of physical health-related issues, overcome personal difficulties and thought-related issues, improve self-esteem, improve motivation, helping to stop or prevent bullying at school or in the workplace, ensure that students in school are being taught in the most efficient and effective way, making sure that people are happy at work and perform to the best of their abilities, helping the police, courts, prison services to perform more effectively and to help athletes and sports people to perform better.

There are number of other organizations and websites which may be useful in your search for information on the practice and regulation of psychology. For further information, click here.

The Psychologists' Association of Alberta is the voice of, and for, psychology in Alberta. PAA: 

  1. Is a voluntary body of psychologists that advocates for psychology in Alberta, 
  2. Informs the public and the media, and 
  3. Advocates for consumers of psychotherapy, psychological, and mental health services.

For members of PAA, services are provided for: 

  1. Professional development 
  2. Networking 
  3. Recognition and recruitment 
  4. Public education and promotion 
  5. Advocacy

  • "A psychologist studies how we think, feel and behave from a scientific viewpoint and applies this knowledge to help people understand, explain and change their behaviour."

    Canadian Psychological Association 2016

Psychologists have expertise in all aspects of psychological functioning, including cognitive, emotional, behavioural, spiritual and intellectual dimensions. Psychologists assess, advise and assist people to improve their life adjustment and functioning.

Psychologists apply their expertise to a broad range of issues and clients. Their clients include individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The settings in which psychologists offer their services are diverse, including schools, health centers/clinics and hospitals, community and sports organizations, the workplace, police and defence services, research institutes, as well as private offices.

For further information about psychologists and the practice of psychology, please refer to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta or the Canadian Psychological Association.