OPC Learning Strategies, Methods & Approaches

i)   Individual Therapy

Students may have been engaged in personal therapy before entering the program and must be active in personal therapy throughout the program.

ii)  Learning Groups

Students must participate in OPC learning groups for a minimum of five years. Learning groups of 10-12 Student Associates meet every other week, except in the summer months. A minimum of 140 hours in learning groups must be attended to qualify for graduation from the program.

Learning about therapeutic communications and self-awareness is assisted through participation in an experiential group involving communication and reflective and interpersonal processing. Students are expected to complete the required readings, reflective journaling, learning activities and assignments that accompany the groups.

The group provides a safe place for students to examine their own personal histories as they impact on them and subsequently on their relationships with others, including clients. The group experience provides a learning context for working out a student’s own personal emotional “triggers” that might surface if she/he were working with clients. Group learning provides opportunities for deep, insightful personal reflections and embodied knowledge related to child and human development that will be beneficial to future practice in the field. OPC group facilitators support the integration of learning and how emerging embodied personal knowledge intersects with other sources of knowledge in the rest of the program. Students are encouraged to complete readings and to be engaged in projects that support group discussions and the goals for the group meetings.

iii)  Residency workshops

Students must attend three full weekend learning residencies over the course of each year in order to successfully advance through the program to graduation (15 residencies over 5 years; Friday 7:00 pm – Sunday noon). Residencies often require an independent group study project assigned by faculty for submission and presentation at the residency.

The purpose of the residency is cover material related to the subject areas and learning modules outlined in the curriculum: Students learn by reading the required books/resources; by individual or group presentations of their projects and assignments; by participating in experiential exercises; by group discussions and by creative personal expression. Residencies are often structured around a central theme or topic of inquiry

iv)      Independent Reading and Projects:

Independent reading is required and assigned throughout the program to cover academic studies and subject areas and preparing for residencies, assignments, and groups. Every summer, an independent reading list is assigned. A final Concentration Study/ Mastery Thesis is in year five.

v)  Required Specialized Workshops/Seminars

All students must attend four required full-day workshops to graduate:

  1. Professional ethics and ethical decision making
  2. An introduction to understanding basic pharmacology
  3. An introduction to understanding diagnosis (DSM IV-TR and PDM)
  4. An introduction to understanding and applying research in practice

vi)      Special Presentations/ Workshops/Seminars related to current trends, issues and topics of relevance to psychotherapy

Twice a year, Adjunct Faculty of OPC offer special half day presentations and workshops that Student Associates are required to attend on topics related to the curriculum and current trends, issues and topics of relevance to psychotherapy and counseling. Some of these special topics are also integrated into the residencies. Examples of past topics include: Diversity and psychotherapy and counseling; Dreams and the subconscious; Intuition; Dissociation; Grief and loss; Dealing with conflict; Spirituality; Sexuality and gender; Ecopsychology; Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

vii)     Guest Speaker Series

Every 2-3 years, a well-known guest speaker is invited to conduct a workshop or presentation of relevance to our curriculum and to the practice of psychotherapy and counseling. Students are expected to attend this session and an invitation is extended to other interprofessional colleagues.

OPC has invited Jean Vanier to speak on Healing and Inner Liberation in 2007 to 750 persons. He has written numerous books and is founder of 130 L’Arche communities in 30 countries. Harville Hendrix conducted a 2 day workshop for OPC in 2010 with 85 persons on his Imago Approach to Couple’s Therapy. He has written 10 books, appeared on the Opra Winfrey show 17 times and his approach is practiced in 30 countries. We also produce an interview and pod cast for ongoing learning for our student community: ontario.psychotherapyandcounseling.ca.

viii)    Clinical Practicum and Clinical Supervision

At the end of the third continuous year in the program, faculty and the Educational Director review the student’s progress in the program and successful completion of the required studies to assess readiness to begin 2 years of a supervised clinical practicum. In the practicum, students are required to complete 400 client contact hours In addition, students are to meet in a clinical supervision group every other week and to complete 100 hours of group supervision and 50 hours of individual supervision.

All students must attend clinical and case supervision sessions with faculty, both individually and in group supervision, while seeing clients. Modeling and learning skills through supervised practice, feedback, and mentoring is an important part of the OPC program.

Students are encouraged to continue attending supervision after completing the OPC Certificate to meet registration requirements for a total of 1,000 client contact hours and 200 clinical supervision hours (group and individual) before being able to practice without supervision as a registered psychotherapist.

Upon entering supervision, students are required to register as a student therapist with CAPT in order to attain liability insurance or to belong to a professional organization outside of the OPC program.

ix)      Weekly E-Learning and Posting Exchanges

All students are required to post a weekly review and update of their academic studies and progress on an interactive web board (the Student/Faculty Board or SFB) for necessary communications with faculty and learning exchanges with other students. E-learning and exchanges are an important part of the student’s academic experience and progress through the program, as OPC is an adult education model of learning with both directed and self-directed learning involved. Maintaining contact and dialogue with faculty is an essential part of OPC studies.

x)  Concentration Study (Mastery Project or Thesis)

In the final year, those working on being a psychotherapist are required to prepare a proposal to complete a Concentration Study/Mastery Thesis or Project to focus on an area of their own interest related to psychotherapy or counseling. The thesis or project is to demonstrate the Student Associate’s capacity for independent research, integration of knowledge, and depth of understanding in her/his chosen field of interest. Concentrations only begin after a review of student’s progress in the program, successful completion of all requirements and review and approval of a formal written proposal.

This part of the program provides an opportunity for students to develop a high level of research expertise and capacity for critical thinking and scholarly study in their fields of interest in order to develop an area of specialty and expertise. It is an opportunity for the student to make an original contribution to psychotherapeutic, psychoanalytic and/or counseling knowledge and to demonstrate ability for independent research, integration of knowledge, and depth of understanding.

Students are responsible for making individual appointments with faculty supervisors throughout their final year to maintain appropriate academic exchange for the progression of their mastery thesis or projects.

xi)  OPC Curriculum Hours and fees

All components of the OPC program are mandatory for successful completion of the program. Therefore, students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled school activities in their entirety and to participate in the web-based learning modules. Absences, missed web-based postings and incomplete assignments must be made-up prior to graduation and thus may extend the usual five years to complete the program.

NOTE: A complete listing of required hours and costs will be discussed with those who are interested in applying. Contact us at ontario.psychotherapyandcounseling.ca or 416-920-9355.