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Sep 17, 2021

Survey Results: Standards for Psychotherapy

Thank you to the almost 300 occupational therapists who participated in our psychotherapy survey from June 2– July 5, 2021. The purpose of the survey was to gather feedback about the current Standards of Psychotherapy and was open to all registrants.  We were glad to see that the survey captured feedback from occupational therapists with a wide range of understanding and experience in the field of mental health.

What We Heard

While there may be some overlap across categories, the largest proportion of survey respondents (37%) regularly provide general mental health in their occupational therapy practice. For the remainder of respondents, there was a similar proportion of those who practice psychotherapy (18%), the controlled act of psychotherapy (23%), and those who provide little or no mental health intervention (22%).

Graph: Respondents' Occupational Therapy Practice and Mental Health Services

Occupational Therapy Practice and Mental Health Services  Circle graph of on respondents' occupational therapy practice and mental health services.

What People Liked About the Standard

People found the use of appendices and other available resource useful, for example, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). They would like more examples to help clarify where the continuum of mental health services fit within occupational therapy practice. In their responses people provided many rich examples of factors which help to distinguish between these areas of practice.

Ways to Improve the Standard 

Most (59%) could differentiate between providing general mental health intervention and psychotherapy, however, there was still a large percentage (39%) who indicated they were not able to or were unsure if they could make the distinction. Improving this understanding will help ensure occupational therapists are aware of the parameters of their service and the competencies that make for safe and effective mental health service with clients.   

Graph: Can you differentiate between providing general mental health invention vs psychotherapy in occupational therapy practice?

Bar graph showing 59% of respondents could differentiate between providing general mental health intervention and 39% could not.

After reviewing the Standards for Psychotherapy, about 60% of respondents said they have a clear understanding about what is expected from occupational therapists who provide psychotherapy, while 40% said they were ‘Undecided’, ‘Disagree’, or ‘Strongly Disagree’.

Areas for further clarity include supervision requirements, when to include “psychotherapist” to an OT’s title, clarifying the definitions of psychotherapy and the controlled act and guidance around appropriate training and courses.

What’s Next

Many described the Standard as clear and comprehensive, while also identifying areas for improvement for the next version.  As we revise the standards, all information will be considered. To support this work, we will be looking to consult with occupational therapists who are practising psychotherapy.  We thank those occupational therapists who responded to the recent invitation to form a psychotherapy panel.