What’s the difference between the CRPO and Professional Associations? 

It's a confusing time for psychotherapists in Ontario who wonder about joining an association in addition to being a member of the CRPO.

Our regulatory college, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), is only 5 years old. Before that, we had to belong to an association in order to practice psychotherapy. We faced choosing from a plethora of different professional associations for two important pillars of practicing in the field: obtaining legitimacy and getting protection (ensuring we had somewhere to go if there was a complaint).

The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) is a regulatory body. It’s the only one in Ontario that confers the Registered Psychotherapist designation. You must join the CRPO in order to call yourself a Registered Psychotherapist and in order to practice psychotherapy (note: a few other health practitioners are also allowed to practice psychotherapy, such as nurses and social workers, as long as they meet the CRPO requirements for the act of psychotherapy). 

The mission of the CRPO is to protect the public. 

Professional Associations: There are many professional associations in Ontario that house RPs. Their job is to protect the professional -- you! Different associations offer different protections, along with other benefits, such as access to affordable liability insurance (professional associations can negotiate insurance costs with insurers based on the number of members in their association). Some of the other benefits to joining an association include: advocacy work on your behalf, professional development offerings, community, and so on. 

The mission of a professional association is to protect you. But it often offers so much more!

Where should I get my liability insurance?

You don’t need to belong to a professional association to get liability insurance. But you must have liability insurance in order to practice as a psychotherapist. It’s a requirement of the CRPO. If you get your liability insurance without belonging to an association, however, you could end up paying more for less coverage. 

For instance, McFarlan Rowlands, one of the main insurers for psychotherapists in Ontario, is an insurance brokerage who has several group policies for different associations. They also offer a policy that will cover you if you are just registered with the CRPO and not with an association. But McFarlan Rowlands warns that a policy for a therapist with no affiliation to an association is higher in cost, covers less, and does not include pro-bono legal advice for policies obtained through an association.

As always, we advise you to undertake your own research by calling insurers and associations to get the price and policy that best fits your needs. 

Do I need to join a professional association?

Technically, no.

But should you? Pretty much yes! And here’s why.

A professional association not only provides access to affordable liability insurance, it’s there to protect you, as well as to support your growth and development in your profession. 

Some protections and supports you can find through a professional association:

  • Advocacy on your behalf with the CRPO and government
  • Professional development courses
  • Staying informed about other trainings
  • Access to supervisors
  • A directory of other therapists

Can you give me a concrete example of protection from a professional association?

If you have a client who lodges a complaint against you, you need liability insurance to cover your legal costs. If you do not belong to an association, your liability insurance may cover the legal costs of your case, but it may not offer pro-bono legal advice. So you may end up paying out of pocket for that. 

At the Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSRP), your liability insurance provides legal advice at no extra cost.

The OSRP also provides something the insurers do not -- emotional support. A complaints process is not a small experience. It can be overwhelming, terrifying, and draining on so many levels. OSRP members who have gone through this process have provided support to others who are going through it. With the OSRP, you are not alone.

What else does the OSRP provide?

Every professional association has a list of benefits. Here are ours:

Dedicated focus: We are the only professional association focused exclusively on RPs in Ontario.

Affordable Liability Insurance

  • Save over 20% on liability insurance by getting it through the OSRP (vs on your own)

Affordable membership fees

  • Get $50 off your initial membership, and more discounts when you become a member, through membership invitations! Ask me (Liz) about these at membership@psychotherapyontario.org!
    • RPs pay $145 + HST (regular fee $195 + HST) with a membership invitation**
    • Students pay $45 + HST (regular fee $95 + HST) with a membership invitation**

** Only therapists who have not been OSRP members before can get the first $50 off, but OSRP members will get $50 off each time a new member uses one of the member’s invitation!s

  • With lower fees, you can join more than one association!


  • Access to a vibrant online and in-person peer community rich in resources, expertise, and support, including a member email group, Facebook, and a blog (you’re reading it now!) with loads of relevant articles and info
  • In-person discussion groups for asking questions, sharing interests, and building community
  • Ways to jump-start your practice through community supports and a referral network
  • Socials for connecting with peers in a relaxed setting
  • Coming soon! A mentorship program for connecting new therapists with seasoned therapists! 


  • Discounts on Leading Edge Seminars
  • Your professional home for asking questions about ethical and other safety issues
  • Other professional development supports, such as topical webinars (e.g. how to do your taxes in private practice)
  • Coming soon! A program to support our members through some of the CRPO’s milestones, such as the entrance exam, the quality assurance program, some standards of practice, such as note-taking, and so on


  • We work to ensure your voice is heard on issues that affect your practice
  • We advocate for the fair regulation of RPs, working with the CRPO to ensure we are considered when they propose new by-laws and regulations
  • We are working to get more insurance coverage and for the HST removal

For stories on our advocacy work, please look for articles on our blog with the category of “advocacy.” 

In most other health-related professions, practitioners belong to an association as well as to their college because the association protects the practitioners and provides the supports they need to grow and develop. 

There are many associations that house RPs in Ontario and nationally. You can find the right fit by doing some research. Some associations have a modality focus, some have a geographic focus. But all do the very important work of protecting you!

How can I become a member at the OSRP?

Please apply at http://www.psychotherapyontario.org/application-form

How can I get a membership invitation discount?

Please write to Liz at membership@psychotherapyontario.org


Categories: General news