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Court hands down key decision in unlawful practice of psychotherapy case

14.02.2018
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Montréal, Feb. 14, 2018 - As the outcome of a trial at the Laval courthouse, a major decision has been handed down in the case brought by the Ordre des psychologues du Québec against Marie-Micheline Corbin. The court found Ms. Corbin guilty of unauthorized use of the title of psychotherapist and unlawful practice of psychotherapy.

The Ordre des psychologues du Québec welcomes this historic ruling regarding the unlawful practice of psychotherapy. Having thoroughly examined the evidence, the court concluded, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had unlawfully practised psychotherapy.

“In this key ruling, the court establishes for the first time how we should understand psychotherapy as defined by the law,” said the president of the Order, Dr. Christine Grou, psychologist. “The law is intended to protect the public, and that is why it restricts activities that carry a high risk of prejudice – such as the practice of psychotherapy – to those with the training and skills required to practice them.”

In her decision, presiding justice of the peace Lucie Marier concluded that the defendant’s actions were actually psychotherapy. Ms. Corbin was therefore found guilty of having unlawfully practised psychotherapy on two occasions in April 2015, and of having made unauthorized use of the title of psychotherapist on December 24, 2014, and November 20, 2015. At the time these acts took place, each offence was punishable by a fine of at least $1,500 and at most $20,000. The court has said that it will hear arguments on sentencing at a later date.

Since Bill 21 came into force in 2012, the Ordre des psychologues du Québec has been responsible, among other things, for keeping a watch on the unlawful practice of psychotherapy. Regardless of the title used, it is forbidden to practice this activity without proper accreditation. Because psychotherapy involves a high risk of prejudice to the public, only psychologists, physicians, and persons holding a psychotherapist’s permit may practice it.

The Ordre des psychologues du Québec emphasizes the importance of making sure that the person one intends to consult is legally authorized to practice. Information on lawful practitioners may be found on the Order’s website at www.ordrepsy.qc.ca.

So far, over 1700 instances of unlawful practice and unauthorized use of the title have been reported. The Order has always favoured an approach based on education and dejudicializing. After investigation, most cases have been resolved without legal action.

The central mission of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec is to protect the public. To fulfill this mission, the Order ensures the quality of the services provided by its members, promotes the development of the profession, and works to keep psychological services accessible.

Information:

François Van Hoenacker, communications adviser,
Ordre des psychologues du Québec
514-738-1881, extension 225
fvanhoenacker@ordrepsy.qc.ca

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