Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the OPC program. 

How many hours a week does the program typically require?

Generally speaking, we would say between 3-6 hours a week including the ITP Groups (Integrated theory and Practice groups). Obviously, this depends on the pace of the individual student in terms of writing and absorbing the readings. Some readings are also denser than others.

What is Psychodynamic psychotherapy in plain language?

Psychodynamics speaks of 2 things:

  1. that the human mind has 2 parts – the conscious (the things we know we know) and the unconscious (the things we are not aware of, but nevertheless, impact our thoughts, feelings and behaviours). These dynamics within the mind are often connected to earlier experiences
  2. that between two people there are relational dynamics – meaning: those inner forces/motivations that we are not aware of can also impact our relationships.

The therapy part is that understanding these things and coming to know the things we don’t know (our unconscious mind), improves well-being and relationships.

How many years does it take to graduate?

The program is a minimum 5 years.

The first 3 are what we call foundational academic and if a student successfully completes those years, they are eligible to enter the final 2 years of clinical practicum.

By the end of your 5 years and upon graduation, most students have almost all of their client contact hours and clinical supervision hours for applying to the CRPO as Registered Psychotherapists

Does everyone begin her/his practicum after 3 years?

Yes, as long as a student has successfully completed all the rigorous academic and experiential components of the foundational years. Students are provided regular feedback about their development of core competencies needed to sit in the therapist’s chair even as a trainee.

OPC will not put any trainee in the therapist’s chair unless we feel you are safe enough not to harm your clients.

What are criteria for entering clinical practicum?

As faculty we are looking for competencies and capacities that indicate a student ‘s preparedness to sit in the therapist’s chair.

The overview looks like this:

  1. Demonstrates openness and deepening emotional connection to, as well as emotional regulation of her/his personal narrative and capacity to listen/respond to other’s narratives emotionally.
  2. Demonstrates increasing knowledge of human psychological functioning and development through application.
  3. Demonstrates increasing self-reflective and mentalizing capacities.
  4. Demonstrates a deepening awareness and engagement with boundaries.
  5. Demonstrates solid knowledge of human and cultural diversity in relation to psychotherapy practice.
  6. Demonstrates increasing ability to listen, offer and engage with feedback.
  7. Is engaged in transference work, boundaries, and interpersonal dynamics.
  8. Overall demonstrates increasing integration and embodiment of the safe and effective use of self (SEUS), the psychodynamic psychotherapy model of practice (PPMP), other academic material and comparative psychologies.

These capacities are measured through yearly Progress Reviews and within constant dialogue and feedback with faculty and TA’s.

What makes OPC different from other programs?

a) Unlike other programs, OPC (in the last 2 years of the program) provides our students with up to 5 clients a week for 46 weeks a year. We also provide student office space. What this means is that by the time a student graduates from OPC they have fulfilled almost all the client contact hours (450) required by the CRPO and almost all the clinical supervision hours (100)

We are able to do this because we have a very robust referral directory. In fact, 5 clients per training therapist usually amounts to approximately 40-60 client referrals and maybe more depending on the training therapist, because all new therapists loose clients quite regularly and quickly.


b) We have a vibrant alumni association– so that post-graduation our therapists are not simply out there on their own, if they do not want to be. We continue to provide clinical supervision (which is required by the CRPO for RP’s) and while it’s not our obligation, as said early, we have a very robust referral and so we often have overflow and we are happy to pass that on to our graduates. We have filled many a graduate private practice.


c) Our program is accessible for many candidates both from a scheduling perspective and financially:

i) The format of our program is what we call full-time/part-time. Meaning our in-class hours would be considered part-time (occurring on weekday evenings or weekends) and the rest of the hours are completed through regular web-postings to your assigned Teaching Assistant.

  • ITL Groups – 2 hours every 2nd week either on a weekday evening or Sat.
  • Residency weekends– 3 a year that go form Fri at 7 pm until Sun. at 12:30
  • 2 ½ day Sat lectures – one in the fall and one in the Spring
  • 2 full day Sat workshops – one in the fall and one in the spring (these are rotating standard workshops: Basic pharmacology, DSM/PDM & Assessment, Applied Research methods, Diversity and cultural competency in psychotherapy, Ethics and professional practice)
  • Academic seminars – 4 per year (2 hours each) on a Sat or Sunday.

ii) We do not ask for any up-front tuition – it is paid on a graduated system where you pay as each module is offered. However, because it is tuition, you pay whether you attend or not.


d) Our program has a deeply experiential thrust and commitment to teaching through a hands-on approach to learning the ‘art’ of psychotherapy. By the time our student therapists are moving into their practicum, they have the practical skills already in development and use. This kind of hands-on experiential training lends confidence and competency to our training therapists and graduates.

Can you get OSAP?

No, but our graduated system of tuition often makes the program quite financially accessible.

Do I need to see a psychodynamic therapist while in the program?

No, if you have a therapist that you work with already please continue to see them. We only require that you see a therapist (one you currently have or one you start with once you begin the program) for the duration of the program for a minimum of 20 hours a year. If you do not have a therapist, we are happy to help you with a referral.

Is there any benefit to seeing a psychodynamic psychotherapist?

Perhaps, in that learning psychotherapy is an art and having the opportunity to be mentored by a therapist who practices similarly can be helpful, but not necessary.

How do I know if the program is a good fit for me?

We suggest once you’ve read through our website; contact us and come in for a personal interview or join us at one of our Open Houses and/or complimentary lectures as this will give you a sense of our learning community and our faculty. And like we often say to clients in that first interview, you’ll know whether it is a good fit because it’s something you will feel in your “gut” (you’ll know) once you’ve met us!  

And of course, the other factors such as course delivery, financial considerations, etc. will also inform your decision as to whether OPC is the right program for you.

How rigorous is your academic component?

OPC has solid academic requirements and if you have an academic background this should not be overwhelming. We do require that students read some of the original texts and these can be a bit dense. However, we do not ask students to read 100’s of books and articles; we have a very defined core curriculum (about 5-6 books a year) that we want each student to really know thoroughly.

One of the academic rigors of OPC is that we require students to learn the art of quality conciseness. This is part of learning one of the competencies of being a therapist that relates to professional writing (i.e. case notes). This requirement can be a challenge for many of our students, academically speaking.

What should I know before entering your program if I do not have therapy experience?

The feedback we get most often from new students is about the emotional rigor of our program. This is not an easy component and relates directly to the CRPO competency of the SEUS. 

SEUS means – knowing one’s own psychology, history, biases, etc. through and through and this kind of self-reflective and mentalizing skill comes through doing the emotional work that you are going to want your clients to do. You can’t lead where you have not gone.

If I leave the program in the middle of the year is there any penalty financially?

No, because you pay tuition on a graduated system, once you officially withdraw there are no more fees.

How do I become a registered psychotherapist in Ontario? How does the school help me with this process?

Once a student graduates form OPC they take their diploma* to the CRPO and can apply for registration. Registration has a 3-part process:

  1. Complete application form- which includes the sending in of your transcripts from OPC.
  2. Complete the Jurisprudence ELearning exam – this is provided through the CRPO
  3. Once the above 2 are completed and accepted, the candidate becomes a RP qualifying until she/he have completed all client contact hours and clinical supervision hours (450-100) and has passed the competency exam.

OPC supports our students through the entire process. We also often encourage our graduates to meet in ‘study groups” for some aspects of the application process. The faculty has also designed a seminar for the Competency exam to assist our students in preparing for that exam.

OPC also continues to support graduates with their quality assurance program and renewal applications.

*Graduates must have a minimum of 125 client contact hours and 30 hours (15/15) of clinical supervision to be eligible to even apply to the CRPO. Qualifying members have 5 years to fulfill all client contact and supervision requirements and they have 1 year to complete the Competency exam.

Qualifying members can fail the exam 2x – at which point they will be recommended for up-grading skills/education and upon completion can take the exam a 3rd time.

What happens in each of the 5 years? What are the goals of each year and what do I need to expect?

FOUNDATIONAL ACADEMIC YEARS 1-3:

Year 1: The focus on training in this year is the beginnings of self-exploration and expression in relation to others with an emphasis on psychodynamic psychotherapy and its application to your own personal growth and relationships both inside and outside of the OPC learning experiences.

Students are expected to complete:

  • 4 Written assignments, 2 group projects and presentations, 3 reflective reviews, and weekly Student/Faculty Board critical and self-reflective postings.
  • 20 hours of individual personal therapy
  • Attendance at the ILP Groups, lectures, residencies, seminars and workshops

Year 2: Year two builds on the capacities developed in the previous year and encourages students to deepen in those strengths and explore, express and work with the challenges that inhibit or block self-awareness and expression within the relational context of group, larger school activities and within the application of PPMP. 

Students are expected to complete:

  • 4 Written assignments, 2 group projects and presentations, 3 reflective reviews, and weekly Student/Faculty Board critical and self-reflective postings.
  • 20 hours of individual personal therapy
  • Attendance at the ILP Groups, lectures, residencies, seminars and workshops

Year 3: Pre-clinical year: The pre-clinical year prepares students for entering the clinical practicum by emphasizing what will become clinical competencies of SEUS (safe and effective use of self) and the application of theoretical lenses of PPMP for interpreting emotional, psychological and relational phenomena.  Building on the previous years of personal development the pre-clinical year expands those capacities and emphasizes their application to interpersonal exchanges and interactions.

Students are expected to complete:

  • 4 Written assignments, 2 group projects and presentations, 3 reflective reviews, weekly Student/Faculty Board critical and self-reflective postings, and the 3rd year take-home comprehensive exam.
  • 20 hours of individual personal therapy
  • Attendance at the ILP Groups, lectures, residencies, seminars and workshops

Year 4: Clinical Practicum: In the clinical practicum year students are expected to translate the personal and academic growth from the previous 3 years and apply them in the clinical setting while continuing to deepen the capacities of SEUS and theoretical application and develop a sense of her/his professional role as a psychotherapist (ethics, boundaries, and mentorship). Students enter clinical supervision and develop capacities for professional practice and a fruitful supervisory relationship.

Students are expected to complete:

  • 4 Written assignments, 2 group projects and presentations, 3 reflective reviews, weekly Student/Faculty Board critical and self-reflective postings.
  • Regular case notes postings.
  • 20 hours of individual personal therapy
  • Attendance at the ILP Groups, lectures, residencies, seminars, clinical supervision and workshops

Year 5: Consolidation Year/Clinical Practicum year 2: In the second year of clinical practicum students are expected to translate the personal, academic and clinical growth from the previous 4 years and successfully apply them in the clinical setting while continuing to deepen the capacities of SEUS and theoretical application and develop a sense of her/his professional role as a psychotherapist (ethics, boundaries, and mentorship). Students in the 2nd year of their clinical supervision/practicum ought to demonstrate the capacities for professional practice and fruitful supervisory and collegial relationships.

Students are expected to complete:

  • All requirements for the OPC Consolidated concentration project (application, proposal, PowerPoint presentation and thesis/creative project), and 3 reflective reviews.
  • Regular case notes postings
  • 20 hours of individual personal therapy
  • Attendance at the ILP Groups, lectures, residencies, faculty meetings with concentration supervisor, clinical supervision and workshops