Therapy isn’t a cup of tea with a friend. While that can feel therapeutic and can certainly add value to your life. Therapy offers professional insight from someone who is learned and experienced in the field of human behaviour, emotions and relationships. Even at the entry level, social workers & psychotherapists have hundreds of supervised practice hours under their belts. In Ontario, social work and psychotherapy are regulated professions. This means that, there are standards of practice that must be upheld, including ethics, confidentiality practices, & continuing competence (professional development), among others.
Additionally both titles of Social Worker & Psychotherapist are also regulated. While many can practice what can be called social work, only registered Social Workers in Ontario, can call themselves a “Social Worker”. This is as the registration body (Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers) ensures they have the educational background to practice social work, and that they are held to standards of practice. For example, every year I engage in professional development and must complete documentation that reflects this. This supports the expectation that you work with someone who’s current in their field. If there are advances in the field, or findings that a previous practice has deficits, a registered practitioner should be aware of these happenings.
Psychotherapists are similar, however include those who must be registered in one of six different regulatory body (the Ontario college of social workers & social service workers; the college of nurses of Ontario; the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Ontario; The College of Psychologists of Ontario; and The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario). At its foundation this means that the practitioner is held accountable for their actions. For example, as a social worker, our college advises us of disciplinary actions taken toward other practitioners, to offer better understanding of the standards. Disciplinary action may include, fines, suspensions and/or loss of license to practice. Licenses are renewed annually and practitioners must acknowledge adhering to practice standards. Regulatory bodies are not associations, they are for the protection of the public.
It is with bias I say that it’s in your interest to seek therapy with a regulated practitioner. Though, I’m aware that similar issues can be addressed by a variety of approaches, not just through therapy. Other supports may help at times, however, in need of cognitive, emotional, navigation support and when vulnerable I want someone/something that’s accountable. I consider, would I let my children attend a non-licensed doctor or be in class with an unregistered teacher? Not without asking some serious questions first and even then likely not.