McMaster University will be starting a new master of science in psychotherapy program in September 2020 in response to updated legislation about who can provide the controlled act of psychotherapy.

Applications are being accepted now for the graduate program which will immerse students in psychotherapy theory and applied clinical skill development.

It is being offered by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“This program will train students in evidence-based psychotherapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as provide opportunities to develop and apply their clinical skills,” said Elizabeth Pawluk, director of the program and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster.

Students will be enrolled full-time and the duration of the program will be 20 consecutive months.  

As of Jan. 1 this year, only specific regulated health professionals are authorized to perform psychotherapy, according to the provincial Regulated Health Professions Act. The goal of the new McMaster program is to prepare professionals for registration with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and a career as an independent psychotherapy practitioner.

 “We anticipate that the program will appeal to students with a wide range of educational backgrounds,” said Pawluk. “Some will come directly from undergraduate degrees in psychology, health sciences or social sciences programs, while others may be mature students, who are already working in a health profession and interested in gaining greater competency in the delivery of psychotherapy.”

Students in the program will complete 11 courses, including seven required courses, two elective courses and two clinical practicum placements.

The required courses will cover introductory concepts as well as advanced training in psychotherapy theory, research and applied clinical skills. The practicum courses will provide students with the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning in a clinical setting and receive ongoing support from a supervisor who is a registered psychotherapist.

Nick Kates, chair and professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, said the master’s program is the first in Ontario based within a university faculty of health sciences.  

“This new program meets an important provincial need, as Ontario will require many more trained psychotherapists, especially those with expertise in cognitive behavioural therapy as it implements its plan to increase access to psychological therapies for people with depression and anxiety,” Kates said.

An open house regarding the program will be held on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in room 1A5 of the Health Sciences Centre at McMaster University, 1200 Main St. W. in Hamilton.

For information or to apply, visit

Program director Elizabeth Pawluk and manager Tracey Oliphant.