MIG Update – June 7, 2021

Can a Supervised Psychotherapist Provide a Diagnosis?

In this week’s edition, the interplay between a supervising psychologist and a psychotherapist in rendering a psychological diagnosis is considered. The two cases discussed are contrasted, one demonstrating what is not accepted and a reconsideration outlining what is considered acceptable.

Factor: Psychologist Oversight of Psychotherapist for Diagnostic Purposes

In Satar v Aviva (20-001571), Satar relied on the psychological report of a clinical psychologist, and a psychotherapist to establish psychological impairment.

‘MIG hold’ – The Tribunal’s findings:

  • Satar’s psychological assessment report relied upon was “of little evidentiary value”
  • Although the report states that the psychotherapist was supervised by the psychologist, the report does not disclose the nature of the supervisory relationship or specify who rendered the diagnoses
  • The wording of the diagnoses section alternates between “my opinion” and “our opinion”, making it impossible to determine whether or the extent to which the psychologist was exercising his clinical judgment in diagnosing Satar with adjustment disorder and specific phobia
  • Only a psychologist is qualified to make a psychological diagnosis; psychotherapists are not licenced to assess and diagnose psychological conditions in Ontario

In the original decision of B.E. v Aviva (18-005760), B.E. was found to have suffered from chronic pain and psychological impairment that removed her from the MIG. B.E.’s psychological assessment report was based on testing done by a psychotherapist in the psychologist’s office and it was not clear as to who wrote the report. Despite this, the Tribunal accepted the report as the psychotherapist worked under the direction, and with the approval of the psychologist. Said report was supported by the Respondent’s IE which reported the Applicant feeling 90% disabled in relationships with others and a 100% negative change in her emotional condition.

The Respondent sought reconsideration, arguing that the report says a psychologist oversaw the assessment, but the report was not signed or dated by the psychologist. That led to an error of fact, which would have led to a different result.

‘MIG escape’ – The Tribunal’s findings:

  • The report in evidence supports that it was signed and dated by the psychologist
  • The report also expresses that parts of the assessment were conducted by the psychotherapist under the supervision of the psychologist
  • There was no significant error of law or fact. The diagnosis was made by the psychologist, and may be relied upon as evidence.

Head to the Compendium for our case summary to read the full synopsis

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