The general entry requirement for registration as a psychologist in British Columbia is a doctoral degree in psychology as well as extensive supervised practice experience in the form of practica and a full time 12-month internship.* Following their bachelor’s degree, psychologists complete, on average, 6 years of graduate level education in order to obtain a doctoral degree in psychology.

In British Columbia, all registered psychologists may use the titles “registered psychologist” or “psychologist” and the abbreviation “R.Psych.” Registered psychologists with doctoral level training may also indicate their degree (“Ph.D.” or “Psy.D.”), or, alternatively, they may use the academic title “Dr.” before their name. In British Columbia, registered psychologists without doctoral level training are not permitted to use the title “Dr.” in connection with their psychology practice.

* Most registered psychologists in British Columbia have completed a doctoral degree and supervised practice experience, as described above, or the equivalent. There are, however, some master’s trained practitioners who have been “grandparented”, or who have been granted registration in British Columbia in accordance with Canadian labour mobility requirements as required by the BC government.

What does a registered psychologist do?

Registered psychologists evaluate and diagnose problems and disorders that can affect how you behave, your emotions, cognition (thinking), and mental health. A psychologist also offers therapy to treat these problems such as psychological treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychologists work in many places and with many types of people and problems. For example, in addition to treatment of common problems like anxiety and depression, they evaluate and treat people who have brain injury or dementia. They can help people understand and cope with health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. They assess the way people think by evaluating functions like learning, memory, and problem solving. Sometimes psychologists consult with the courts about the results of accidents, parental issues, and the ability of someone to take care of their own affairs. They can assist people who struggle with stress, anger, and other lifestyle issues. A psychologist can treat marriage and family relationship problems, and can help people address addictions and substance use and abuse. All registered psychologists are expected to provide services only in the areas in which they are competent and have the education, training and experience do to the particular work.

How do registered psychologists keep their skills up to date?

Registered psychologist must renew their registration once a year and maintain their ability to practice through required and ongoing continuing competency / educational activities.

What happens when I first visit a registered psychologist?

At your first appointment a psychologist will ask you to describe your problem and ask some questions about your personal history. They will ask you when the problem started and what you think makes it better or worse. They will need to know how the problem affects your work, social life, and relationships. You will want to know if your psychologist has treated other people with your problem before, how they will approach your problem and how that works. You will also want to know what kind of success you can expect to have. Together you will set goals based on how you are feeling. They will talk with you about the confidential nature of their work and what this means for you.

How can I find a registered psychologist?

People often find a psychologist through local clinics and hospitals, their family doctor, or through friends and others they trust. If you want to find out if the psychologist is registered, the College of Psychologists of BC keeps a current list on their website www.collegeofpsychologists.bc.ca

How do I pay for a registered psychologist?

In British Columbia MSP only covers the services of a psychologist employed, for example, by hospitals, correctional facilities, community clinics, social agencies or schools. If you visit a psychologist in private practice you must pay them directly. You do not need a referral from your physician to see a psychologist privately although you may need a referral if you apply for coverage under an extended insurance plan.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from a registered psychologist?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your psychologist. If you think that has not happened, please contact the College complaints line at 604.736.6164.

Where can I find more information about registered psychologists?

Visit www.collegeofpsychologist.bc.ca

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