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UTSC and OISE partner to train next generation of clinical psychologists


by Jennifer O'Reilly

Deans Halperin and O'Sullivan sign historic MOUA University of Toronto initiative to improve access to clinical psychology services in Ontario and Canada was realized at a special ceremony recently with the signing of a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the University of Toronto–Scarborough (UTSC) and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). UTSC’s Department of Psychology and OISE’s Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development have allied to administer jointly a doctoral stream (MA and PhD) field in Clinical Psychology, which will admit its first students this Fall.

UTSC’s Department of Psychology had long been considering a graduate program in clinical psychology, while at the same time OISE’s Counselling Psychology Program was independently seeking to be renamed to emphasize the clinical psychology component that had become part of their program.

Under the MOU, OISE’s existing program in Counselling Psychology, accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association for training counselling psychologists, has been renamed ‘Counselling and Clinical Psychology’ with two fields: ‘Clinical and Counselling Psychology’ which will be based largely at OISE and ‘Clinical Psychology’, based largely at UTSC. The program will be both bi-departmental and bi-faculty.

With one in five Canadians experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime, William Gough, Vice-Dean of Graduate Education & Program Development at UTSC, pointed out the value and importance of this new partnership. “The emotional and financial costs of mental illness are staggering. The program in Counselling and Clinical Psychology will be working to train the next generation of clinical psychological researchers that will be developing and testing new assessment and treatment techniques that will help control, and perhaps someday help eliminate, much of this suffering.”

Despite huge student demand to get into the field, the ratio of clinical psychologists to the general population in Ontario remains low. Adding a field in clinical psychology focussed on adult mental health increases the existing range of clinical psychology programs at the University of Toronto, which includes School and Clinical Child Psychology and the recently renamed Counselling and Clinical Psychology Program. 

Jeanne Watson, OISE’s Associate Dean of Programs who was instrumental in helping to realize the program, explained the program’s benefits for students, “This is a wonderful opportunity for the University of Toronto to expand its graduate degree programs in Clinical and Counselling Psychology to provide an enriched experience to students seeking graduate training in Psychology. The collaboration of UTSC and OISE to provide students with the research, and training in Counselling and Clinical Psychology provides more opportunities to students to specialize in research, diagnosis and training in adult mental health and well-being. This collaboration brings together the wealth of talent and expertise across the University of Toronto to provide an enhanced and excellent program for students.”

 “No other single accomplishment has brought me as much satisfaction. This addresses UTSC’s aspirations to expand in the graduate area and it’s a wonderful platform for growth in the coming years,” said UTSC Dean Rick Halpern (pictured above with OISE Dean O'Sullivan).

“This is an historic, momentous event of particular importance to students and a great indication that academic departments can collaborate,” added OISE Dean Julia O’Sullivan.

Rick Halpern, UTSC Dean, Julia O’Sullivan, OISE Dean, George Cree, Interim Chair of UTSC’s Department of Psychology, and Esther Geva, Chair of OISE’s Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development signed the MOU at OISE on May 6, 2013.