Support & Resources for Provisionally Registered Psychologists
Evaluation of Academic Credentials
As always, we won’t tell you absolutely everything you need to know about each step, so always refer to CAP’s official documents.
The first step you take to getting registered is having your credentials reviewed. This means that CAP looks at your undergraduate and graduate courses and degrees to make sure you meet the academic requirements to be a psychologist. What does this mean?
- Your degrees have to come from accredited schools.
- You have to have a certain number of credits in psychology.
- You have to have taken certain “Core Area” courses in your grad studies (e.g., ethics, research methods, assessment, and intervention). There are specific requirements to ensure that the courses you took truly fulfill CAP’s requirements, particularly in terms of the content covered in the courses. There is very detailed information about this in CAP’s Criteria for Evaluating Academic Credentials document (if you completed your studies after 2013)
- You have to have taken certain “Substantive Content Area” courses as well. Many people fulfill these at the undergraduate level, but grad courses can count as well. The substantive course area is where people seem to run into the most trouble and confusion, so we’ll spend a bit more time on this. First, you need a course in each of the 4 required areas, and you need it to be at the 300 or 400 (or graduate) level. The four areas are:
- Biological Bases of Behaviour – These courses focus on “biological influences on behavior, affect, cognition and development” (p. 7) and CAP outlines 5 different content focuses that fall in this category (e.g., psychopharmacology). Your course must cover at least one of those 5 areas and they explain what that might include.
- Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behaviour – These courses focus on “cognitive and affective influences on each other, on behaviour and on development” (p. 7). Again, CAP provides 6 options for what a course in this area must include (e.g., theories of emotions, or cognitive science, etc.).
- Social Bases of Behaviour – These courses focus on “social influences on behaviour, affect, cognition and development” (p. 8) and CAP outlines 5 content options (e.g., environmental psychology). Your course must cover at least one of the 5 and should correspond closely with the details provided.
- Psychology of the Individual – These courses focus on “the range and diversity of normal and abnormal human functioning and development” (p. 8) and there are 8 different options for what a course must include (e.g., theories of development).
Since people seem to struggle with this step, here are some tips (with no guarantees):
- Your course syllabus really should outline content that matches up quite well with the content CAP outlines. Cross reference with your syllabus and read each content area very closely.
- Sometimes it is hard to tell the substantive areas apart (Biological vs Cognitive/Affective Bases). For example, people will falsely attribute a cognitive science course that focuses on different brain functions as fulfilling the Biological category, when really it seems to fit better in the Cognitive area. Again, read all of the substantive course area details and they will get easier to tell apart.
- It doesn’t usually seem to be enough to find key words in an area (e.g., “gender” or “family systems”) and think your course is therefore going to work in that category. Don’t forget about the main content focus of each area, as outlined above in bold.
- CAP offers good FAQ documents, and the one specific to credential reviews is here.
How does this credential review actually work (at the time of this writing!)?
- You fill out an application (you can find it on their website (cap.ab.ca; under “Register as a Psychologist” and then the “Application for Evaluation of Academic Credentials” tab)
- You’ll need to read through the document we just briefly reviewed in order to fill out the application properly.
- This credential review costs $250.00 (if you went to a Canadian Institution).
- After you send in the application, you wait! The specific committee (comprised of volunteers!) that evaluates credentials meets 8 times a year and CAP tells you when these meetings are. The turn around time varies on hearing back about your credentials being approved. (Some people say a week, others say a month. It depends.)
- If your credentials get approved, you are ready to move on to the next step: Finding a supervisor.
- If your credentials do not get approved, something was likely missing. You might need to take another course, or sometimes a degree altogether doesn’t qualify. It will all depend on the feedback you get. And, yes, there is a process for you to appeal a decision and maybe get a course approved that wasn’t initially.
Finding a Supervisor
Once your academic credentials have been approved you can begin the search for a supervisor. This can be a daunting undertaking and many people find this stage overwhelming. Luckily, there are several resources to help in navigating this step.
*If you are enrolled in a doctorate program, supervisor and site selection will be facilitated by your program and is unique to each school. If you’re planning on taking this route, you can consult with your program advisor for more details on this process. Regardless of the path you take, these tips can be useful.
- You can contact the PAA for a list of prospective supervisors. This list is not exhaustive, as supervisor inclusion is voluntary, but it can be a good place to start.
- Reach out to those around you. Ask former graduates from your program where they completed their provisional hours, talk to peers and colleagues and explore relevant alumni groups. You can also do a general search for psychologists and agencies you have an interest in working with to see if they are accepting provisional psychologists.
- Things to consider before reaching out to a potential supervisor:
- The supervisor’s area of practice and/or specializations. Do your research. Make sure that the supervisor has experience in your desired areas of practice. If they operate out of a private practice, there is likely information about their areas of interest, professional affiliations and certifications, research experience and academic background available online. Psychology Today is also a helpful resource for this information gathering step.
- At this stage, you may also be considering whether you will have an onsite or offsite supervisor. With an onsite supervisor, your supervisor will be present and working at the site where you are completing your hours. With offsite supervision, your supervisor will be separate from your provisional site and you will meet offsite for your supervision hours. While onsite supervision is often most desirable, it may not always be feasible.
- So now you’ve shortlisted potential supervisors. Next you want to consider a few questions that can help you in vetting a potential supervisor prior to requesting a meeting.
- Experience as a supervisor.
- Years of experience, supervisory training and model of supervision used.
- Number of provisionals accepted for supervision at one time.
- Cost of supervision and compensation.
- Will your supervisor be providing clients (e.g., through their private practice) or will you be responsible for finding your own clients?
- If they are providing clients, will you be compensated for your hours and will supervision cost be deducted from this compensation?
- Experience as a supervisor.
- Now you’re going for interviews and meeting with potential supervisors. Here are a few central questions to keep in mind.
- How will supervision be delivered (i.e., individual/group, face-to-face/phone/video, direct session observation/supervision).
- Frequency of supervision and supervisor availability.
- Do you have a standing supervision time? How accessible is your supervisor should you need to book an hour?
- In the case of an external supervisor, you may be especially interested in how accessible they are and how you would manage a crisis situation where immediate consultation is needed.
- Supervision style and orientation. Here you want to get an idea of how your supervisor approaches supervision, and if it’s a good fit for you.
- For instance, you can inquire about the general structure of supervision. Are sessions wholly supervisee led or does the supervisor have specific subjects/themes they like to present?
- Is there a balance of both process and content in supervision delivery? This relates to the level of emotional support you might want from a supervisor as well as the level of clinical expertise and knowledge provided. It can be useful to think about your practicum supervision as well as your experience with supervision in general to have an idea of what works well for you.
- Ask any questions you may have relating to their theoretical background, as this will have a significant influence on supervision.
- Inquire about additional trainings, certifications, and professional affiliations.
- What is the process for conflict resolution as it relates to the supervisor and supervisee relationship?
*This route represents the ideal supervisor selection process; but, dependent upon supervisor availability, competition for sites/supervisors and other factors, it may not be viable. Given limited supervisory options, you want to consider what your primary needs are and what you can compromise on.