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About psychologists

Psychologists are regulated health professionals who study the biological, cognitive, emotional, social, cultural and environmental determinants of behaviour — in other words, how people think, feel and behave in their social and physical environments. Psychologists assess, diagnose and treat psychological problems and mental disorders.

Psychologists provide services, teach and/or conduct research in settings such as hospitals, community clinics, private practices, universities, schools, criminal justice settings, social welfare agencies, workplace employee assistance programs, rehabilitation programs and workers’ compensation boards. Psychological services are provided across a continuum of care, which includes wellness, injury and illness prevention, diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation and relapse prevention, chronic disease and disability management, and palliative care.

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of psychologists in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, psychologists are regulated in all 13 provinces and territories.

Practice criteria

To practise as a psychologist in Canada, an individual must obtain a licence from one of the psychology regulatory authorities in Canada. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.

Common requirements

  • Hold a doctorate degree in psychology from an accredited program; a master’s degree is accepted in some provinces
  • Pass the Exam for Professional Practice in Psychology and/or other written or oral examinations (applicable in most provinces)
  • Register with a provincial/territorial regulatory body 

Area of practice

Psychologists usually focus their practice in specific areas such asi

  • Clinical psychology
  • Counselling psychology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • School psychology
  • Correctional/forensic psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Rehabilitation psychology
  • Industrial/organizational psychology

Within these areas, psychologists or psychological associates may work with a variety of individual client populations — such as children, adolescents, adults or seniors — or they may focus their attention on families, couples or organizations. They work in a range of settings, including schools, hospitals, industry, social service agencies, rehabilitation facilities and correctional facilities. Many psychologists and psychological associates have their own private practice.

i. The College of Psychologists of Ontario. Frequently asked questions: About psychology. Accessed April 4, 2016.