New and Innovative Relational and Psychotherapy Training Program to Address Growing Mental Health Crisis

Posted on Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

CSAHS is launching three new graduate programs focused on mental health

The University of Guelph's College of Social and Applied Human Sciences is proud to announce the anticipated launch of the Relational and Psychotherapy Training Program, which will consist of three new and innovative master's degrees designed to meet the challenges of the mental health crisis and a post-COVID world. This suite of programs will significantly expand enrollment and offer flexible pathways for studying and program delivery.

Building on a rich 40-year history of providing the gold standard for excellence in education, ethical training, and clinical practice through the Couple and Family Therapy program, the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition is ushering in a new era of systemic relational family therapy and psychotherapy in Canada. In place of the Couple and Family Therapy program, the department will soon offer three new degree programs: the Master of Relational and Family Therapy, Master of Psychotherapy, and Master of Arts in Mental Health.

These programs have been created in response to the current mental health crisis facing Ontario and all of Canada. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, mental health services in Ontario are seeing a "skyrocketing" demand as by the age of 40, half of Canadians have or will have had a mental health illness.1 While the crisis of mental health started well before COVID-19, the World Health Organization estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for a 25% global rise in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.2

The Maplewoods Centre will house two of the new programs

The Master of Relational and Family Therapy (MRFT) program will be a unique two-year clinical program recognized by the College of Registered Psychotherapists (CRPO) and accredited by the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT). The program is rooted in the practice of relational and systemic psychotherapy, a training perspective where individuals' mental health is considered within the context of their many relationships and broader social systems. Students in this program will train to become couple and family therapists by completing approximately 40% of their clinical work in sessions with more than one person, often involving work with intimate partner(s), family members and friends. Students will gain supervised clinical experience and be ready to begin their career practicing psychotherapy upon graduation.

Both the Master of Relational and Family Therapy and the Master of Psychotherapy programs will complete practica at the Maplewoods Centre for Family Therapy and Child Psychology. Created in the fall of 2021, the Maplewoods Centre is a state-of-the-art clinic and interdisciplinary training facility home to the Relational and Psychotherapy Training Program and the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Program. These two distinct programs work collaboratively to provide essential mental health services to the community. The Relational and Psychotherapy Training Programs will train up to 36 therapist interns per year to provide individual, relational, and family therapy to the community through the Maplewoods Centre, which will have a major impact on mental health services in Guelph and the surrounding area.

Students will deliver mental health services to community members

The third program, the Master of Arts in Mental Health (MA.MH), will give students the best non-clinical mental health training possible in Ontario. As an online course-based program that can be completed in 16 to 24 months, the MA in Mental Health is a flexible, remote synchronous degree that professionals in fields such as teaching, policing, human resources, social work, nursing, and more can pursue to enhance their mental health education and address our society’s growing demand for mental health support in their existing careers.

The Master of Relational and Family Therapy and Master of Psychotherapy programs plan to open applications this winter for Summer 2024 enrollment, while the Master of Arts in Mental Health plans to intake its first class in Fall 2024.3

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