Government Regulation

Government Regulation

Government regulation of psychotherapy and counselling is beginning to have an impact on the practice of music therapy in Canada.  Please click on the links below for updates impacting music therapy practice, training and internships across Canada.


For updates on the current status of the government regulation of psychotherapy and counselling in Canada please visit the website of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association.

What is government regulation?

Government regulation is the legal process to establish a regulatory College in a particular province for specific disciplines or professions. The mandate of the new College, once fully operational, is to develop standards and procedures to regulate the professionals in the public interest, striving to ensure that the practitioners are competent, ethical and accountable.***Once a provincial government regulates a profession, the College of that profession becomes the regulatory body that may oversee any or all of the following professional functions:

  • registration and licensure of professional members
  • approval of training program curriculum and faculty qualifications, including internships handling of ethical complaints
  • requiring appropriate liability insurance and membership in the College
  • requiring College members to maintain minimum standards of professional development, continuing education and upgrades
  • ensuring minimum standards of practice are adhered to as per the competency profile
  • ensuring title protection for College members so that the public receives standardized services by a recognized professional. The title of “music therapist” may or may not be a protected title in particular provinces. For example, in Ontario, the title “Registered Psychotherapist” is a protected title. Thus, music therapists in Ontario who have registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, must present their titles as Registered Psychotherapist – Music Therapist Accredited.

What is the purpose of government regulation?*

The goal of regulation is to reduce the risk of harm to the public while maximizing the wellbeing of the client. Provincial or territorial governments grant professional self-regulation as a privilege that requires standards of practice. Under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), these standards must be comparable across Canada.There are two types of regulatory statutes: “stand alone” and “umbrella”. In Nova Scotia, the law refers to a single profession, setting out its limits and standards. In Ontario, the “umbrella” is a larger act that governs all health professions within the mental health field, setting out the shared privileges, processes and requirements for all.

What is the role of a professional association such as CAMT when music therapists become members of a regulatory College?

  • to uphold the recognized standard for Music Therapy practice in Canada, MTA
  • to offer member services unique to music therapy
  • to offer continuing education unique to music therapy
  • to carry out public advocacy of music therapy
  • to offer access to appropriate liability insurance
  • to advocate for music therapy education for members that meets with provincial regulatory standards

Why regulate music therapy?**

Historically, national and provincial professional associations have had a dual mandate: serving both a self-regulatory function (i.e. certification, standards of education, standards of practice, code of ethics and ethical complaints) and a member service function (i.e. promoting the profession, advertising and public relations, offering liability and benefits insurance, conferences, journals, newsletters, and continuing education). With the development of regulatory counsellor colleges in BC, Ontario and Quebec, member professions will be regulated.Music therapists in each of these provinces are aligning with a variety of professions to achieve regulated status, which may or may not include title protection of “music therapist”. As each province regulates with a regulatory college, the regulatory function of the professional associations will shift to the regulatory college.

What might be the challenges for professional associations with regulation?**

  • initially losing members from the professional associations to the regulatory college has been a common occurrence in jurisdictions where regulation has occurred (it can be legally mandated to join the College for those who fall under its scope of practice, and it cannot be legally mandated to join the professional associations)
  • to keep current with information/education regarding these changes
  • changing boundaries in terms of what the professional associations are now responsible for and what the regulatory college is responsible for, depending on what model is adopted in the province


*Lorna Martin, President of CCPA: presentation to the CAMT conference, 2011 and 2012