How to Become a Psychotherapist in Ontario: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you passionate about helping others improve their well-being and lead happier, more fulfilled lives? A career in psychotherapy can be incredibly rewarding for someone who enjoys working with people and has a deep interest in human behaviour. Yet, like any professional career, becoming a psychotherapist requires specific steps that must be completed before you start practicing.

This article will discuss the steps necessary to become a licensed and registered psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. We’ll review certification requirements, professional experience, therapist-in-training supervision protocols, and more. Keep reading to learn how to become a qualified psychotherapist in Ontario.

Overview of Becoming a Psychotherapist in Ontario

Psychotherapy is a form of mental health treatment that involves talking with a trained professional to help address mental health concerns and improve overall well-being. To become a professional psychotherapist in Ontario, you must meet specific academic qualifications, professional training and supervision, continuing education requirements, and complete the appropriate licensure or registration process.

Benefits of Becoming a Psychotherapist

Becoming a psychotherapist offers many benefits, including the opportunity to help others through difficult times while also developing professionally as an independent therapist or working within an interdisciplinary team setting. Plus, a career as a psychotherapist provides some degree of job flexibility and the potential for professional advancement over time.

Requirements for Becoming a Psychotherapist in Ontario

Suppose your goal is to become a licensed psychotherapist in Ontario. In that case, your first step will be to fulfill academic qualifications, including obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and, in most cases, completing a graduate program, such as a Master’s or a Doctorate. Other requirements include professional training and supervision, continuing education, and the corresponding licensure registration process.

Education and Training Requirements for Becoming a Psychotherapist in Ontario

Aspiring psychotherapists in Ontario must have completed at least two years of post-secondary study from an accredited institution or university with courses related to psychology or counselling. This can include undergraduate degrees such as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc), graduate degrees such as Master’s degree programs, and doctoral programs such as Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

After completing the academic qualifications required for licensure, applicants must satisfy additional supervised practice hours under the guidance of an experienced supervisor already registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).

The number and type of hours will vary depending on the type of academic program you pursue. During these supervised practice hours, candidates gain experience working directly with clients while learning to apply various therapeutic techniques within the ethical guidelines set by CRPO.

Supervision Requirements

Individuals in the following categories must satisfy clinical supervision hours for registration purposes:

  • Those in the process of fulfilling their requirements to become a registrant with CRPO, including students and others who are not yet registered with CRPO.
  • RP (Qualifying) Members – Qualifying registrants, as a condition of their Certificate of Registration, must receive ongoing clinical supervision while they are Qualifying members. Registrants must receive 100 hours of clinical supervision as part of the requirements to enter the Registered Psychotherapist category. Qualifying members must continue receiving ongoing clinical supervision once they have completed the 100 hours to meet the Registered Psychotherapist category requirements.
  • Registered Psychotherapist Members – Members in the Registered Psychotherapist category must receive ongoing clinical supervision until they have completed 1,000 direct client contact hours and 150 hours of clinical supervision. If a candidate reaches 150 clinical supervision hours before completing 1000 direct client contact hours, they are still required to receive ongoing clinical supervision until both requirements are met for “independent practice.”

Once licensed by CRPO, all practitioners must undertake ongoing continuing education activities every three years to remain registered with the college. These activities may include attending workshops or conferences on mental health topics or taking online courses approved by CRPO.

Additionally, all practitioners must renew their registration annually by submitting fees and proof they have completed any mandatory continuing education credits before the renewal date.

Key Takeaway: To become a psychotherapist in Ontario, applicants must have completed at least two years of post-secondary study and the pertinent supervised practice hours. They must also renew their registration annually with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) by submitting fees and proof they’ve attained continuing education credits.

Recognized Programs

ProgramDegreeRecognition Date
Adler Graduate Professional School Inc. (Toronto)Master of PsychologyApril 23, 2020
Athabasca UniversityMaster of Counselling (Counselling Psychology)June 17, 2022
Canadian Institute for Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic PsychotherapyDiploma for Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic PsychotherapistFebruary 4, 2015
Canadian International Institute of Art TherapyArt Psychotherapy DiplomaAugust 19, 2022
Centre for Training in PsychotherapyDiploma of The Centre for Training in PsychotherapyFebruary 2, 2018
CREATE InstituteDiploma in Expressive Arts TherapyMarch 8, 2022*
Gestalt Institute of TorontoDiploma, Five-Year Training Program in Gestalt PsychotherapyJune 11, 2014
Martin Luther University College (formerly Waterloo Lutheran Seminary), Wilfrid Laurier UniversityMaster of Arts in Theology – Spiritual Care and PsychotherapyJuly 31, 2018
Ontario Association of Jungian AnalystsAnalyst Training ProgramJuly 18, 2019
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of TorontoMaster of Education in Counselling Psychology – Counselling and PsychotherapySeptember 24, 2014
Ontario Psychotherapy and Counseling ProgramDiploma in Psychotherapy with focus on Psychodynamic TherapyOctober 21, 2016
Saint Paul UniversityMaster of Arts in Counselling and SpiritualityOctober 15, 2018
Toronto Art Therapy InstituteGraduate Level Diploma in Art TherapyAugust 14, 2018
Toronto Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling EducationCertificate in PsychotherapyApril 23, 2020
Toronto Institute of Contemporary PsychoanalysisDiploma in Psychoanalytic PsychotherapyJanuary 31, 2019
Toronto Institute for Relational PsychotherapyDiploma, Toronto Institute for Relational PsychotherapyJune 17, 2015
Toronto Institute of PsychoanalysisCertificate of Graduation as PsychoanalystDecember 9, 2016
Toronto School of Theology (Knox/Emmanuel College), University of TorontoMaster of Pastoral Studies, Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy CertificateApril 13, 2018
Transformational Arts CollegeSpiritual Psychotherapy ProgramOctober 28, 2022
Tyndale UniversityMaster of Divinity – Counselling Major – Clinical StreamNovember 28, 2016
Tyndale UniversityMaster of Arts in Clinical CounsellingMay 6, 2022
University of GuelphM.Sc. Couple and Family Therapy ProgramNovember 12, 2015
Université de HearstDiplôme d'études supérieures en psychothérapieJuly 22, 2021
University of OttawaMaster of Education (M.Ed.)/Master of Arts in Education (M.A.) in Counselling PsychologyApril 29, 2021
Vancouver Art Therapy InstituteGraduate Level Diploma in Art TherapyNovember 10, 2020
Western UniversityMaster of Arts in Counselling PsychologyJune 6, 2016
Yorkville UniversityMaster of Arts in Counselling PsychologyMarch 27, 2015

Licensing and Registration Processes for Becoming a Psychotherapist in Ontario

Once you’ve completed your education and supervision requirements, you must apply for and obtain your practicing license. The licensing process involves earning your academic qualifications, completing professional training requirements, and passing an examination. In addition to these steps, you must pay certain fees associated with obtaining licensure and registering as an approved provider of mental health services.

Licensing Process for Becoming a Psychotherapist in Ontario

To become licensed by CRPO, applicants must have earned at least a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited institution that includes coursework related to psychotherapy theory and practice. Applicants must also complete two years of supervised practice experience under the direct supervision of a qualified supervisor registered with CRPO. Finally, applicants must pass both written and oral examinations administered by CRPO before being granted licensure.

Obtaining licensure as a psychotherapist in Ontario involves several fees, including application fees, examination fees, annual renewal fees for maintaining active status on the register, and late payment penalties, if applicable. Additionally, some applicants may be required to pay administrative costs, such as background or criminal record checks.

Key Takeaway: To become a psychotherapist in Ontario, applicants must have a master’s or doctoral degree, complete two years of supervised practice experience, and pass written and oral exams. Fees include application fees, examination fees, annual renewal, and potential administrative costs.


Characteristics of Effective Mental Health Practitioners

Beyond the educational and licensing requirements you must satisfy to practice in Ontario, several skills and characteristics are important to cultivate if you want to succeed as an effective psychotherapist.


Mental health practitioners should be compassionate and understanding of their clients’ needs. They should strive to create a safe and supportive environment where clients can openly discuss their challenges without fear of judgment or criticism.


Psychotherapists must be able to empathize with their clients to understand them better and provide effective treatment. Empathy is essential for building trust between the practitioner and client, which is key for successful therapy sessions.


Patience is an important trait that mental health practitioners need to help their clients work through difficult issues effectively. It takes time for people to process emotions, thoughts, and experiences; patience allows therapists to give their clients space while providing guidance when needed.

Non-judgemental attitude

A non-judgmental attitude towards all aspects of life is essential for mental health professionals as it helps foster an open dialogue between therapist and client without fear of being judged or criticized. This atmosphere encourages honesty from both parties, leading to more meaningful conversations about sensitive topics such as trauma or addiction recovery.


Open-mindedness allows mental health professionals to consider different perspectives on any given issue, which can lead them down new paths when treating patients with complex problems or conditions, like depression or anxiety disorders. Being open-minded also means being willing to learn new techniques that may be beneficial in helping a patient achieve desired results faster than traditional methods.

Good communication skills

Good communication skills are essential for any relationship, especially when working with someone struggling emotionally. Practitioners must articulate themselves clearly while respecting the feelings expressed by their clients. They must also possess active listening skills to fully comprehend what the person is talking about before responding accordingly.


With the proper education, training, certification, licensing and registration processes, you can become a registered professional who provides therapy to individuals struggling with mental health issues. Becoming a psychotherapist in Ontario requires dedication and hard work, but it can be incredibly fulfilling as you help people improve their mental health.

If you’re passionate about becoming a psychotherapist in ON, a profession I wholeheartedly recommend, it makes sense to talk to someone in the field first. You can contact Well Beings Counselling by booking a session with one of our psychotherapists, who can give you the insight and expertise you need to make the best decision possible.


The process of becoming a registered psychotherapist in Ontario is relatively straightforward. First, applicants must have completed an approved master's degree in counselling or psychotherapy from an accredited university and have at least two years of supervised clinical experience.Once these requirements are met, applicants must submit their credentials to the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) for review and approval. After completing this step, applicants must pass the CRPO Registration Exam before officially becoming registered psychotherapists in Ontario. The process typically takes 6-12 months, depending on individual circumstances.
The average salary for a psychotherapist in Ontario is $77,846 per year. However, this amount can vary depending on experience and qualifications. For example, those with higher education or specialized training may earn more than the average wage. Additionally, those who work in private practice may have the potential to make more money due to their ability to set their rates and hours.

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