Faculty of Education celebrates CPA accreditation for PhD program

May 18, 2023

Western Education’s PhD in the Field of School and Applied Child Psychology has been accredited for a three-year term.

The Faculty of Education is celebrating an academic milestone for its PhD in the Field of School and Applied Child Psychology (SACP).

Earlier this month, the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) announced the doctoral program had been accredited for a three-year term.

It is one of only six doctoral programs in school psychology across Canada to earn a prestigious endorsement from the CPA. The program is also offered at the Master’s-level, however the CPA only accredits doctoral programs.

Dr. Shannon Stewart, a professor in the program as well as its director of clinical training, says faculty and students were elated to learn the program had received accreditation.

“It provides further confirmation of the extensive commitment and dedication to training future school and child clinical psychologists,” Stewart said.

First launched in 2015, the PhD in SACP develops professionals who promote the educational and psychological well-being of children, youth, and their families. Students are prepared with theoretical, research, and professional training to support psychological practice in different environments.

More than 80 per cent of graduates so far have either become registered psychologists or are currently on supervised practice within Ontario. These graduates work in schools, independent practice, children’s and community mental health centres, youth justice, and various other settings.

While the program has already proven its worth, CPA accreditation bolsters its appeal to the most sought-after students and provides a unique advantage for future graduates.

According to the CPA, graduates from accredited programs “often receive ‘fast-track’ credential reviews by regulatory bodies,” when applying for registration or licensure.

“This accreditation is also needed to place our students in award-winning internships and residencies, and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) will only accept students from accredited programs, giving the University added credibility in addition to public accountability,” Stewart said.

“It shows proof of our university’s rigour, competence, and integrity.”

Applying for accreditation, however, is no easy task, especially when bringing a complicated and new program before the CPA’s accreditation panel.

The process requires an extensive examination and evaluation of the program, including a review of its policies, procedures, and professional training, as well as a review of its academic course and curriculum development. A site visit is also included, and it can only be carried out once applicants meet or exceed all required CPA standards.

Several efforts were made proactively, such as conducting annual reviews of the program and ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion was inter-woven into its training, coursework, and related activities, to prepare for accreditation, “but most importantly to ensure our training was outstanding,” Stewart said.

The application process enlisted the help of faculty members within the Applied Psychology Academic Research Cluster and the SACP Advisory Committee.

Outside of the Faculty, extensive collaborations and community partnerships were established with numerous school boards, private practices, agencies specializing in children’s mental health and development disabilities, and a variety of organizations serving child wellness. This added to the more than 40 partnerships that were developed to support students seeking external supervision with registered psychologists in a variety of settings.

“Accreditation is an extensive, multi-year process that is not only a reflection of our Faculty-wide accomplishment, but is also a University-wide achievement,” Stewart said.

“Thank you to all who have assisted in making our program such a wonderful success story!”