Volume 92, Issue 94

Thursday, March 25, 1999


Recommendations hope to slice crime

Psychotherapy guidelines welcomed

Western's phone system to move into the 21st century

Hill cleared path for future campus issues


Caught on campus

Psychotherapy guidelines welcomed

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

If Sigmund Freud were alive today, he might probe deeper into the meaning behind changes to the guidelines for Ontario psychiatrists when dealing with patients.

The recent announcement of a new set of guidelines for psychiatrists practicing psychotherapy will have far reaching effects for both patients and doctors, said Paul Cameron, a professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy at the University of Ottawa and editor of the book entitled Standards and Guidelines for the Psychotherapies.

"The book was started in 1992 as a result of there not being any guidelines about how to practice psychotherapy. It's the first book of its kind in North America," Cameron said.

The book, which outlines such commonplace practices as not having a relationship with patients and not accepting gifts from patients, also emphasizes medical education to keep practitioners up to date and the consent of patients before starting treatment, Cameron said.

Stephen Connell, psychiatrist and chair of the Ontario Medical Association section on psychiatry, agreed the book is beneficial to psychotherapy. "This book will help the public because they can buy it. This is a consumer-friendly scientific guide to the plethora of psychotherapies available on the market," Connell said. "It provides a description of the therapy, as well as the objectives and states exactly what the standards should be."

While there are guidelines set out by the College of Physicians and Surgeons all doctors must follow, there are none specific to psychiatrists, said Emmanuel Persad, chair of the psychiatry department at Western. "The clinical practice of psychiatry involves various forms of psychotherapy. It's important to set up specific guidelines with greater detail," he said.

Connell agreed with the motivations behind writing the book. "We feel that because confidentiality is so important in these treatments, there has to be a specific set of standards that everyone must follow," he said.

"The book will also help remove the stigma for patients with mental illness," Connell said. "[Psychotherapy] has always been poorly understood. Because it's such a private matter that involves collaboration between doctor and patient, it's very important that the relationship be defined by standard practices and that's what these guidelines do."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999