The Practice of Psychology

Most registered psychologists in British Columbia have completed doctoral level study and supervised practice experience or the equivalent. Registered psychologists provide services to manage and enhance the cognitive, behavioural, emotional, interpersonal and physical functioning of individuals or groups of individuals, primarily by applying and using psychological assessment and intervention strategies, including psychometric testing and psychotherapy. As part of this work, psychologists also assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional, cognitive and mental disorders.

The practice of psychology is quite broad and registered psychologists can be found working in a variety of settings and with clients of all ages and issues. Psychology services are provided in a variety of contexts, including schools, private practices, businesses, health clinics, hospitals, jails, courts, social welfare agencies, and rehabilitation centres.

Psychologists typically focus their practice in specific areas such as clinical, counseling, forensic, health, rehabilitation or school psychology. Across these practice areas psychologists engage in a broad range of activities including:

  • assessing and treating mental health problems such as anxiety and depression;
  • assessing and working with neurological conditions such as brain injury or dementia;
  • helping people to address psychological factors and problems associated with physical conditions and disease (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, stroke);
  • assessing cognitive functions such as learning, memory, problem solving, intellectual ability and performance;
  • providing court consultations addressing the impact and role of psychological and cognitive factors in accidents and injury, parental capacity, and competence to manage one’s personal affairs;
  • assisting people struggling with stress, anger and other aspects of lifestyle management;
  • treating marital and family relationships and problems; and
  • helping people to address addictions and substance use and abuse (e.g. smoking, alcohol).

Registrants of the College are identified by their registration number, the title “registered psychologist” (“R.Psych.”) and a certificate of registration which is required to be posted in their professional office(s). The title “psychologist” can only be used by professionals who are licensed or registered by the College of Psychologists of BC, unless specifically exempted by regulation. If you have information regarding inappropriate or unlawful use of the protected titles or unauthorized practice of psychology, please contact the College.

There are a number of things you can always expect from your psychologist including:

  • your psychologist provides enough information so that your decision to receive services is well-informed (this is called “informed consent”);
  • your psychologist maintains a professional relationship with you at all times;
  • your psychologist practices in areas in which he or she is competent;
  • your psychologist keeps records of your treatment for 7 years (or more if you are under 19), and you have the right to see these records subject to some very narrow exceptions and some very specific situations;
  • your psychologist keeps confidential any information you share with him or her, subject to the exceptions stipulated by the Code of Conduct and governing legislation.