Principles & Ethics

OPC’ s model of learning is built on the following principles.

Active and participatory learning

The model is based on the assumption that the learner’s active involvement in the learning process is essential to good learning and good practice. Thus, OPC approaches (experiential learning groups, residencies, special lectures, clinical practice) are intended to provide dynamic learning spaces where student Associates engage in active and participatory learning. The Faculty of OPC serve as facilitators of learning who manage the learning process by engaging learners in a variety of learning approaches and activities. Each process, assignment and learning strategy is intended to lead students to an increased level of understanding the theory and practice of psychotherapy and counseling. By involving students in a variety of learning activities, respect is demonstrated for diverse ways of learning and knowing. Interaction and participation in classes, groups, project teams and individual assignments are expected and required.

A learning environment based on collaboration

The effectiveness of cooperation and collaboration in enhancing learning is well and widely documented. Structures that encourage and facilitate collaboration are central to this teaching/learning model. OPC holds that students themselves can be invaluable resources in enhancing their own and others’ learning. More traditional educational models emphasize a top-down, vertical transfer of information. Adult students with rich and varied experience find benefit in instructional practices that encourage collaboration. This approach adds a robust “horizontal” dimension to the learning exchange as OPC students teach and learn from one another.

Holistic learning with objectives in the 3 domains of learning

The program is based on the belief that therapy and counseling that are holistic in nature and dealing with the whole person is most effective. The curriculum is also based on a holistic approach to learning with learning objectives and outcomes evident in all 3 domains of learning: cognitive learning is related to what the learner needs to know, understand and comprehend. behavioural learning is related to what skills the learner needs to be able to practice, perform and demonstrate and; affective learning is related to empathy, caring, emotions and relational capacities they need to be able to feel and express. Creating learning opportunities and feedback that utilizes all 3 domains enables adult learners to make the integrated connections between the holistic thinking, doing and feeling required to be a holistic psychotherapist or counselor. How a person learns provides a holistic model for how they might work with clients in a holistic manner in their future practice.

A unique format for adult learners

OPC does not operate according to a traditional academic calendar. New student cohorts can begin at any time and classes are held throughout the year without traditional quarter or semester breaks. Our groups, residencies and lectures are offered at times and in places that are convenient to working adults. Classes are held primarily in the evening and on weekends when working adults are most likely to be able to access the learning.

In summary, this model emphasizes an educational approach and philosophy that promotes:

  • Active learning: Students are expected to be actively involved in their own learning processes. Instead of only offering lecture type classes, a more self-directed and reflexive style of learning is promoted.
  • Collaborative learning: Students learn from each other, group exchanges and interactive inquiry as important aspects of the learning process.
  • Adult learning: Enrollment in the OPC program is continuous and does not follow a typical semester system and is suited to adult learning, strategies and times to be involved.
  • Life-long learning: The program encourages practices that enhance the skills necessary to promote life-long learning and continued professional development.
  • Wise educational use of technology: E-learning, web-based learning and communication are used in the OPC program to create effective methods that encourage students to remain in dialogue with faculty about their academic progress through the program and to process challenges and questions that they may encounter. They are also encouraged to work on projects and to communicate in appreciative dialogue and inquiry with other students through web-based exchanges. Technology expands the bounds of the school outside of class or group learning-time.
  • Professional practice and ethics: Every aspect of the program is meant to encourage the kinds of learning that facilitate student growth into the art and practice of psychotherapy and counseling. Our program is committed to developing the professional skills, professional ethics and personal qualities essential for a psychotherapist and counselor. Throughout the program, the OPC Faculty and Education Director will assess the suitability of a Student Associate for continuation in the OPC program through periodic reviews, feedback, problem solving and decision making.

Code of Professional Ethics of the OPC program

OPC students study the nature and importance of professional ethics. Students are required to sign a Code of Ethics and confidentiality agreement and agree that:

  1. They will be guided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and conduct, in the proper manner, the common laws followed by all Canadian citizens.
  2. They will conduct their professional practices with honesty and integrity.
  3. They will maintain privacy and confidentiality with respect to information related to their clients and colleagues.
  4. They will maintain the therapeutic relationship without exploiting the relationship for social, personal, or financial gain.
  5. They will maintain an awareness of the impact of their behavior both during the course of therapy and after therapy has terminated and avoid any action that uses the imbalance of power to exploit the client for their own personal ends.
  6. They will commit themselves to the evolving process of ethical thinking and to finding ethical solutions to problematic situations.
  7. They will assume responsibility for their own emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.
  8. They will recognize and respect the diversity to be found among themselves and clients and uphold the value of freedom of expression. They will recognize and respect that their diverse personalities, styles and training backgrounds contribute to positive therapeutic opportunities for clients and colleagues and for the growth of the profession as a whole.
  9. They will inform clients in the initial interview of the terms, fees and conditions involved in the therapeutic process.
  10. They will not enter into a professional or external financial relationship with clients.
  11. They will not engage in sexual inappropriateness or sexual activity with their clients.
  12. They will respect the clients’ right to choose the appropriate therapeutic plan and psychotherapist to guide them. If the client chooses not to work with a therapist, then the therapist will engage in the process of exploring and assisting in these choices for responsible therapeutic closure and process of reflection.