The often changing role and direction of psychology in Canada can be seen quite clearly when analyzing the journal Canadian Psychology. During 1960-1965, accrediation was a major issue, one which is to be expected in an emerging and growing discipline. As well, the journal articles suggest that the public became conscious of the impact of psychologist's work. During 1965-1970 the training of psychologists (which still dealt heavily with acrediation) was a very important issue, especially because Americans were being hired because there were few qualified Canadian psychologists. Between 1970-1975 the focus on accrediation continued, but ethics came to the forefront and was a large concern for Canadian psychologists. Due to the increased scrutiny applied to governmental activities (eg. Watergate), the public became increasingly more critical towards many formerly "sacred" institutions, including psychology. Psychologists were forced to respond to these external pressures, as well as the ever present pressures from their peers. This increased concern with ethics continuted through tio the 1980's, especially as it applied to reserach and experimentation.
In the early 1960s, several topics were being raised that dealt with improving Canadian society. Many of these aimed to 1) improve the population's welfare and 2) to aid in the improvement of society. At this time, people began looking towards the professionals for help. Little was known about psychologists, except what was written about them in magazines and newspapers. Unfortunately, these articles were not always accurate. Therefore, since the demand for services from psychologists increased, the Canadian Psychological Association deemed it necessary to establish a clear understanding of who psychologists were and what they could do. The Association commenced by looking at what the major concerns were at that time: in this case, it ranged from the raising of children to the mental health of individuals in society. Hence, psychologists started to lay the foundation for distinguishing between professional psychologists, those with doctorate degrees, and "lay" psychologists.
After looking through many issues of Maclean's magazine from the early 1960s, there were several recurring themes that reflect the "social concerns" of the day. In particular was the concern with how to raise the future generation. There were several articles devoted to proper parenting techniques. Concerns ranged from whether children should be allowed to participate in the labor force as they once had to know how to best create a home environment that is conducive to a child's learning. In regard to the field of psychology, the position of school counsellor became important. There was consequently considerable concern over the adequacy of training for personnel within school settings. For example, the minimum requirements for a school counselling psychologist was a provincial teacher's certificate, two years teaching experience, and an Intermediate Certificate in Guidance of the Ontario Department of Education. It was expected that these individuals would also possess a graduate degree in psychology or educational psychology and have some experience in a field of applied psychology; however, this was not mandatory. There was mounting pressure on school psychologists to take an interest in research and undertake experimental work if possible. Thus, it would appear that the qualifications for a school counselling psychologist were on the rise. This shows the beginning of an increase in the relationship between psychology and society.
A concern during the first half of the 1960s in the psychological community was in the accreditation of professional psychologists. In looking through the issues of the Canadian Psychologist between 1960 and 1964, there was a great deal of discussion on, not only what should be the "established" training for clinical and applied psychologists, but also whether other "lay" psychologists should be allowed to practice their skills under the titles of "psychologist" or "consulting psychologist". Related to the first issue on the training of professional psychologists were several journal articles devoted to the role or functions for which psychologists should be trained for. There was a heavy emphasis on separating the training for a Ph.D. in psychology from certain sub-doctoral specialized areas. Moreover, for the training of Ph.D. psychologists, there was a concern for emphasizing the research components depending on whether the psychologist was specializing in the academic or applied areas. In addition, although it has been recognized that the term psychologist is used to denote both teacher and researcher in the field, the term has also been used denoting persons concerned with serving the community with their psychological skills and knowledge. However, what has occurred in the field is that many individuals with little or no training at all in psychology are passing for "professional psychologists".
One article in the journal Canadian Psychologist proposes that professional psychological services are possible and needed. Therefore the best way to establish the profession is to raise the level of accreditation. There was a push to establish the academic requirement for practising psychology at a Ph.D., while others argue for a minimum level of a MA. Those pushing for higher accreditation agree that psychology should not be limited to conducting antiseptic research in laboratories, but rather that the profession needs to look at the effectiveness of teaching methods in terms of the end product of both scientists and professionals. Thus, the psychological community in Canada in the early 1960s was primarily engaged in a debate about what its future as a profession should be, how to define the levels of competence within the profession, and what role it should play in Canadian society.
Western society in general and Canadian society in particular were relying more and more upon the measured opinions of professional psychologists in a wide variety of contexts. An article in Time magazine criticizes Dr. Albert Ellis, author of "Sex and the Single Man", as being a respectable psychologist, but offers adivice on how to seduce a girl. Clearly, the writers of the article are expressing one of the concerns over the cult of pop hedonism and phoney sexual sophistication evident in Dr. Ellis' book; a concern that was becoming evident in American society. The article summed up with an awareness of the need for psychiatric opinions to assist in explaining the current social revolution. Need for this psychological expertise can be seen in issues related to justice where the focus was on expert witnesses and the affect they had upon trial outcomes. Lawyers, then, pick an expert with respect to the view they want presented. Thus the role of the so-called "professional psychologist" in Canadian and American societies is open for debate; on the other hand, the research psychologist's role is well defined. Here we begin to see the importance of psychology in society. The next step would be to establish the psychologist's qualifications in order to meet the demands of their role in society.
In an article on alcoholism, the focus is upon the "research and treatment of addiction". Dr. S.J. Holmes holds the position that with regard to alcoholism, society should stop being moralistic and treat addicts by helping individuals in a proper clinical setting. What is evidet here is the concern for both research in the causes of a social problem and the effective treatment for that problem. With the increase of concern on research and treatment of psychological problems, many changes began to be made. For example, mentally ill persons were undergoing changes in their treatments. That is, both home care and half-way houses were being introduced as alternative methods due to the overcrowding in the hospitals and also to protect these individuals from being unnecessarily incarcerated. Doctors were beginning to recognize psychosomatic illnesses in patients, and were also researching phobic fears. However, doctors at this time were being scrutinized based on the preception that prescription drugs were being overprescribed. An example is with the new drug at that time known as thalidomide which caused severe deformities in newborns. In fact, this drug continued to be sold in Canada six months after the U.K. and Germany stopped selling it.
Another theme at that time was that society was more open to self-analysis techniques that were advocated by many so-called "experts". For example, there was one article written by James Hickling on "What your voice reveals about you". By using individuals such as Hitler and Churchill, Hickling was hoping to demonstrate that the voices of these people somehow "drew a picture of their personalities". Another story dealt with revealing our personalities by what we "tell to other people". What was implied by this article was that by analyzing certain chance remarks or intimate confessions that other people made, we could somehow know what other people are like.
Clearly, psychologists were trying to establish a niche in Canadian society for themselves as professionals. An article in Maclean's revealed how important psychology was becoming in defining social problems like alcoholism. Psychologists were becoming more and more the experts that the Canadian society was wanting to rely upon for giving answers to its social problems. No wonder, then, that the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) was trying to establish itself as a professional organization in Canada in response to the need that psychologists saw for their services. However, one must distinguish between the "lay" psychologist and the professional psychologist. Such "lay" psychologists have created a lot of controversy because professional psychologists felt that their reputations would be in jeopardy unless some action was taken to carefully delineate the status of "psychologist". To solve this problem psychologists have tried to label the two different professions in order to distinguish between them in society. Therefore, they have tried to use the word "psychologist" to be in accord with only those with a doctoral degree, while "consulting psychologist" would be used to designate practicing or, what is better known as today, "para-professional" psychologists. It appears as though many new "expert" psychologists were making their views known more than ever before in society. With issues such as, "What your voice reveals about yourself" or "What we choose to say to other people as revealing our true self", one can notice that there was a general interest in society for individuals to find techniques or skills to better understand what was at the core of their beings. Therefore, in the field of psychology, the concern was to provide society with knowledgeable and "professional" advice. In order to do this, the psychological community wanted to be recognized as an established scientific discipline, rather than just be based upon opinions that were formulated by "lay" psychologists. Moreover, if society was going to place the trust of something as significant as how to raise their children in the hands of psychologists, the psychological community wanted to do everything possible to ensure that trust. This of course meant that the "professional psychologist" had to make a clear distinction between that of their expertise and other people who were claiming to know the answers.
In order to do such a task, a committee was established to examine the issue of professional problems in psychology. They identified several areas within which this matter could be dealt. First, they deemed it necesssary to examine what psychologists actually do in Canada. For example, many psychologists were employed in industry, government, hospitals, and others, but little was known about their tasks or qualifications. Second, the attitudes, opinions, and perceptions were to be studied. That is, society needed to know more about psychologists' attitudes towards their profession and the future of it. Additionally, the discreprancy between what a psychologist does and thinks he/she is capable of doing was an important issue. Lastly, training requirements for various types of professional psychologists was another important area. Clinical or experimental training, and research techniques were just a few of the potentional training methods.
As we have seen, the field of psychology,with respect to its role in society, began to change. More emphasis was being placed on establishing a clear understanding of what psychologists were and what they did. Distinctions were being made between professional psychologists and "lay" psychologists. Psychologists attempted to meet the demands of the society, and at the same time, prove their worthiness to society. However, due to some miscommunicated views of psychologists, it was necessary to formulate guidelines with which to follow in order to be deemed a professional psychologist, rather than a "lay" psychologist. These guidelines, in turn, needed to be shared with society so that their opinions of psychologists would alter. Therefore, in the early 1960s, psychologists were attempting to establish themselves in society as professionals with doctorate degrees who could aid in the improvement and welfare of society.
Psychologists exist as a part of society. Therefore, the issues that affect society are usually addressed by psychologists in their journals. This may explain why there are parallel themes evident in Maclean's and The Canadian Psychologist from 1965-1969. One issue that was of concern at this time was the under qualification of Canadian professionals. Since Americans were better educated than Canadians, Canadian professionals were having trouble competing with them for jobs in Canada. Therefore, there was a "brain drain" of Americans into Canada. Psychologists addressed this problem by improving their training programs. Another issue facing society at that time was a lack of respect of professionals. Therefore, psychologists began to standardize their methods and certify psychologists. In order to gain acceptance from the general public, psychologists also began to direct their efforts toward applied psychology.
One issue that was of concern from 1965-1969 was the "brain drain" of Americans. In an article in Maclean's "Who is uneducated? The boss that's who" (1966), it was cited that the overall percentage of Americans who finish university is double of that of Canadians. Since professionals in the United States had a higher incidence of post-graduate degrees and special training, they are more educated than professionals in Canada. The implication of this is that Americans and foreigners are the one's being hired to teach our universities and do professional work. It is also generally felt by the public that Canada is short of adequately trained general practitioners who are good at their jobs.
To address the problem of "brain drain" the psychologists have made many changes to improve the quality of psychologists coming out of Canadian universities. The problems with previous psychology training programs was that students were not given many opportunities to do research and were not taught how to apply the concepts they had learned in class. Training programs needed to be improved so that these students would be able to fit their roles as a psychologists after receiving their Ph.Ds. There were also concerns in the psychological field that an increase in the number of students receiving Ph.D.'s in psychology was greatly needed.
To further increase the quality of Canadian psychologists, the qualifications required to register as a psychologist became more difficult to meet. For instance in Alberta and Quebec the minimum educational requirement for registration as a psychologist was a masters degree. In Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick , and Manitoba the requirement will be a masters degree plus four years experience by 1972 (Arvidson, 1968).
The results of this is that psychologists are now better trained to handle their jobs. By 1968 the number of qualified Canadians that could teach university courses has risen. There is also a higher number of Canadians receiving degrees (Who's being hired, 1969).
Psychologists also wanted to be a seen as professionals. Many psychologists felt that they were not respected. The general public also seemed to feel a lack of trust toward professionals in general. For instance in the "Argument Section" of Macleans magazine (1965) it was stated that experts have failed to bring the benefits of science to parents because they can't seem to agree with one another on how to bring up children. This article went on to argue that parents are just as knowledgeable and capable as experts when if comes to figuring out how to bring up their children. It is evident, the advice of psychologists was being questioned.
One way the field of psychology has attempted to solve this issue is to pass acts requiring the registration or certification of psychologists. Statutes have also been passed to restrict the use of terms such as psychologist, psychology, and psychological. By passing these acts and statutes it will be easier for the public to identify which psychological services are really qualified to help them. This will also help people see psychology as a profession.
Another way Canadian psychologists have attempted to professionalize psychology is to homogenize the practice of psychology across Canada. One way of doing this was to ensure that the training given to graduate students was comparably the same at all institution. In addition, the importance of following the ethics and codes laid out by the A.P.A. has been repeatedly stressed by The Canadian Psychologist. Students were also trained in technical skills, statistics, and evaluation methods to ensure that they follow uniform standards of conducting experiments.
A third way psychology could gain respect, as being viewed as a profession in the eyes of the public, was through the flourishing of applied psychology. One reason why the public did not respect psychology, and see it as a profession, was because they did not see how psychology could help them in their everyday lives. Therefore, training in psychology began to deal mainly with clinical psychology. The goal of these programs were to produce practitioners who could apply the content and method of psychology to human problems. Therefore, in The Canadian Psychologist psychologists began to apply their methods to issues like alcoholism and delinquency. Likewise in Maclean's, from 1965-1969, there were numerous articles on the application of psychology. Issues ranged from how to cure phobias to how to identify if your infant will exhibit criminal behavior when they grow up. Psychologists also began laying down rules on what society should be like. For instance, they attempted to define what should be considered normal in society. By 1969 it was evident that psychology was gaining public acceptance. For instance, psychological tests were developed that the laypublic could administer to themselves without the help of a professional psychologist or a psychiatrist.
It is evident that the professionalization of psychology between 1965-1969 was an important issue to psychologists. It's effort has paid off. Psychology is now a respected profession. Many people now turn to psychologists and psychiatrists for advice and help. Psychologists are is also looked upon to handle many of society's problems today. In addition, improvement of training progams have improved the qualifications of psychologists to handle their jobs. What these issues highlight is that psychology is not really objective and value-free. The issues that effect society effect the type of questions asked and the type of studies done by psychologists. Psychologists are not independent of society. They are humans who have a need for respect and recognition.
During the 1970's, especially with the Watergate scandal, both the American and Canadian governments became increasingly self-conscious. A direct result of this was an increased public vigilance in matters of government ethics, as well as a general assessment of what government was doing for the individual and the community. Governments were forced to justify their financial decisions much more frequently. Additionally, in the case of research monies, they were given out to only the most "important" or "socially relevant" resarch programs. Basically, the programs that would appear to beat appease the voting public were selected for government approval and funding. Some examples of this were the increase in number and scope of drug and alcohol treatment programs. This shows how governments were affecting and or "controlling" the direction of psychology, as well as showing psychologists' affects upon government.
There are numerous examples of how people were more critical of not only government, but also more critical of other important institutions that had not undergone serious scrutiny before this time. Time magazine had numerous articles during the 1970's chronicling decreasing SAT scores and the corresponding tendency to blame the level of instruction for these scores. Placing responsibility on a previously "sacred" institution was a new trend. Psychologists and the institutions of psychology were not immune to this sort of scrutiny and questioning. As well, psychologists underwent some internal reflection, and in 1973 the American psychological association declared that homosexuality should not longer be classified as a mental illness. This shows an increased sensitivity to ethical issues and the rights to choice of lifstyle for various individuals. The public perception of psychology had been questioned by the film A Clockwork Orange, which came out in 1971. This movie examined the ethics surrounding the use of psychological techniques on human beings, as well as the results of such "treatment." Additionally, the problems and concerns surrounding institutionalization of patients and their treatment within these institutions was raised by the film. An article entitled, "Science, Fallacies and Ethics" in the Canadian Psychologist (1971) dealt with such issues. Furthermore, a 1974 article in the Canadian psychologist dealt with the institutionalization of severely retarded individuals. This is another example of an increased awareness of the role and power of mental institutions and how public scrutiny helped raise the importance and awareness among the psychological community.
With the increasing concern and focus on government ethics, came a parallel development of ethics in psychology in Canada. This issue became critical as psychology at this time came to be considered an agent of social change (eg, "The psychologist as change agent" 1971, vol. 12). As well, the accreditation issue was raised due to the increasing concern over para-psychology and other "pseudo" sciences having the potential to gain prominence. Therefore, the position of the psychologist was undermined unless steps were taken to specify and define the roles and limits of psychology. Thus, accreditation became a very important part of this mandate. Closely related to this focus on "legitimate" psychology came a renewed stress on the use and roles of science. Finally, psychologists began to see that they had many responsibilities which extended not only to themselves, but also to the surrounding community.
As a consequence of the increased ethical awareness in the realm of psychology an important addition to the mental health law was added in 1972. Numerous articles on the impact of the Alberta Mental health Act on clinical psychology appeared in this year (eg. "Notes and comments: Bill 83 - Alberta mental health act - 1972" vol 13) This Act had important implications on for instance the availability of psychological services.
5.0 Afterward The future would hold many twists and turns for the fledgling discipline. However, the concerns raised by the popular media and the public would help ensure that while psychology would perhaps not become a science in the near future, but it would become an ethical discipline, an issue with which traditional natural sciences themselves do not have to tackle.
Are mental hospitals really necessary? (1967, September). Macleans, p. 56.
Argument Section. (1965, June). Maclean's p.48.
Avidson, R. (1968). The Registration of Psychologists in Canada. Macleans, 9, p.40.
Fraser, B. (1966, February). Who's educated? The boss that's who? Macleans, p. 43.
Who's being hired to teach in our university? (1969, March). Macleans, p.10.