What is the Canadian Psychological Association?


The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) is the primary organisation representing psychologists throughout Canada. It was organised in 1939 and incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act, Part II, in May 1950.

Its objectives are to improve the health and welfare of all Canadians; to promote excellence and innovation in psychological research, education, and practice; to promote the advancement, development, dissemination, and application of psychological knowledge; and to provide high-quality services to members.

Brief History

The CPA was founded in a University of Ottawa psychology lab in 1938, although it was not formally organised until 1939. Initially, the CPA’s purpose was to help with Canada’s contribution to World War II; indeed, the CPA was heavily involved with test construction for the Department of National Defence.

Organisational Structure

CPA’s head office is located in Ottawa, ON. The CPA has a directorate for each of its three pillars:

  1. The Science Directorate’s mandate is to lobby government for increased funding for psychological research, promote and support the work of Canadian researchers in psychology, and educate the public about important findings from psychological science.
  2. The Practice Directorate’s mandate is to support and facilitate advocacy for the practice of psychology across Canada.
  3. The Education Directorate’s mandate is to oversee the accreditation of doctoral and internship programmes in professional psychology.

The Board of Directors sets policies that guide the CPA. It is made up of Presidential Officers, Directors, and Executive Officers.

Policy and Position Statements

The CPA publishes the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists which articulates ethical principles, values, and standards to guide all members of the Canadian Psychological Association. This Code is reviewed regularly with the most recent version published in January 2017. The ethical standards are built on four principles which form cornerstone guidelines for making ethical decision. Those principles are: Respect for the Dignity of Persons and Peoples; Responsible Caring; Integrity in Relationships; and Responsibility to Society.

The CPA publishes policy and positions statements which are based on psychological evidence and ethical standards on given issues of importance. Below are some issues in which the CPA has issued public statements on:

Policy Statements

  • Conversion/Reparative Therapy for Sexual Orientation.
  • Gender Identity in Adolescents and Adults.
  • Violence against Women.
  • Bullying in Children and Youth.
  • The Presence of Involved Third Party Observer in Neuropsychological Assessments.
  • Public Statements.
  • Physical Punishment of Children and Youth.
  • Ethical Use and Reporting of Psychological Assessment Results for Student Placement.
  • Convictions based Solely on Recovered Memories.
  • Public Statement by Paul Cameron on Homosexuality.
  • Equality for Lesbians, Gay Men, their Relationships and their Families.
  • Inclusion of Unpaid Household Activities in 1996 Census.
  • CPA Response to Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women.
  • Child Care.
  • The Death Penalty in Canada.
  • Prejudicial Discrimination.
  • Minority Groups.
  • Discrimination in the Employment Areas.
  • Psychology of Women.
  • Female Role Models.
  • Education of Graduate Students.
  • Autonomous Profession.
  • Psychology in Hospitals.
  • Prepaid Health Schemes.
  • Psychologists Providers of Health Care.

Position Statements

  • Addressing Climate Change in Canada: The Importance of Psychological Science.
  • Inappropriate Psychological Test Use: A Public Safety Concern.
  • Recommendations for Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Canada.
  • Health and Well-Being Needs of LGBTQI People.
  • Recommendations for the Legalization of Cannabis in Canada.
  • Psychologists Practicing to Scope: The Role of Psychologists in Canada’s Public Institutions.
  • Neuropsychological Services in Canada.
  • Issues and Recommendations about Advertising and Children’s Health Behaviour.
  • Same Sex Marriage.

The CPA board of directors convenes working groups to explore various issues affecting the science, practice and education of psychology. Some of those working group reports are as follows:

  • E-Psychology Working Group.
  • CPA Task Force on Title: Model Language Suggestions.
  • Recommendations for Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Canada.
  • Psychology’s Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report.
  • Medical Assistance in Dying and End-of-Life Care.
  • Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments in Canada.
  • Supply and Demand for Accredited Doctoral Internship/Residency Positions in Clinical, Counselling, and School Psychology in Canada.
  • Evidence-Based Practice of Psychological Treatments: A Canadian Perspective.
  • CPA Task Force on the Supply of Psychologists in Canada.
  • CPA Task Force of Prescriptive Authority for Psychologists in Canada.


Members of the CPA with interests in specific areas of psychology are able to form and join sections. Sections have official status under the By-laws of the CPA, which give them power to:

  • Initiate and undertake activities of relevance to its members.
  • Draft position papers on topics of relevance to the Section.
  • Initiate policy statements in areas of expertise.
  • Organize meetings within CPA.
  • Make specific representation to external agencies or organisations, if it has received the approval of the Board of Directors to do so.
  • Recommend that CPA make specific representations to external organisations or agencies.

List of CPA Sections

  • Addiction Psychology.
  • Adult Development and Ageing.
  • Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
  • Clinical Psychology.
  • Clinical Neuropsychology.
  • Community Psychology.
  • Counselling Psychology.
  • Criminal Justice Psychology.
  • Developmental Psychology.
  • Educational and School Psychology.
  • Environmental Psychology.
  • Extremism and Terrorism.
  • Family Psychology.
  • Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine.
  • History and Philosophy Section.
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Psychology.
  • Industrial/Organisational Psychology.
  • International and Cross-Cultural Psychology.
  • Psychologists in Hospitals and Health Centres.
  • Psychology in the Military.
  • Psychologists and Retirement.
  • Psychopharmacology.
  • Quantitative Methods.
  • Quantitative Electrophysiology.
  • Rural and Northern Psychology.
  • Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
  • Social and Personality Section.
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology.
  • Students.
  • Teaching of Psychology.
  • Traumatic Stress Section.
  • Section for Women And Psychology (SWAP).

Membership and Affiliation

The CPA offers 5 types of membership to individuals residing in Canada or the United States.

  • Full member: One has to have a Masters or Doctoral degree in psychology (or its academic equivalent) to become a full member.
  • Early Career Year 1: One has to have graduated with a Masters, or PhD in Psychology (or a related field), and are not returning to school, or those working on the first year of their Post Doc. Applicants must have graduated University the previous year (e.g. 2020) to be eligible for Early Career Year 1 in the year they are applying for membership (e.g. 2021).
  • Early Career Year 2: Available to members who were Early Career Year 1 in the previous membership year (e.g. 2020) OR recent graduates who have graduated with a Masters, or PhD in Psychology (or a related field) in the previous 2 years and are not returning to school or those working on the second year of their Post Docs.
  • Retired member: One has to be a full member or fellow who has retired.
  • Honorary life fellow/Honorary life member: Offered to individuals who are 70 years old and have been full members of the CPA for at least 25 years.

The CPA offers 2 types of affiliation to individuals residing in Canada or the United States.

  • Student affiliate: One has to be an undergraduate or graduate student at a recognised university.
  • Special affiliate: Open to those who have an active interest in psychology.

The CPA offers two types of affiliation to individuals residing outside of Canada or the United States.

  • International affiliate: Open to international psychologists.
  • International student affiliate: Open to international undergraduate and graduate students in psychology.

The CPA now offers a section associate category for individuals who do not qualify for membership or are interested in joining only one section and receiving their section communication.

The CPA has approximately 7,000 members and affiliates.

Public Outreach and Partnerships

The CPA produces a series of informative brochures for the public called “Psychology Works Fact Sheets”. Each brochure is reviewed by psychologists who are knowledgeable on that subject before being published online. Topics range from information on psychological disorders, parenting challenges, pain, stress, perfectionism, and much more. Along with these informative brochures, the CPA website contains many resources for individuals interested in psychology or receiving psychological services in Canada.

Every year, the CPA promotes February as Psychology Month and encourages Canadian psychologists to reach out to the public to raise awareness of what psychology is, what psychologists do, and how psychology benefits everyone.

The CPA is engaged in numerous emergency preparedness activities. Following national and international emergencies and disasters, the CPA provides the general public with timely resources on effective coping and information about stress and the indicators of psychological distress. The CPA is also involved in the National Emergency Psychosocial Advisory Consortium (NEPAC), the Mental Health Support Network, and the Council of Emergency Voluntary Sector Directors.

The CPA is also involved in partnerships with the following:

  • Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).
  • Canadian Association for School Health Communities of Practice.
  • Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century (CCPH21).
  • Canadian Consortium for Research (CCR).
  • Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS).
  • Canadian Primary Health Care Research and Innovation Network (CPHCRIN).
  • Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC).
  • G7.
  • Mental Health Table.
  • Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet).
  • Science Media Centre of Canada.
  • The Health Action Lobby (HEAL).


The CPA, in partnership with the American Psychological Association, quarterly publishes the following three academic journals:

  • Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science.
  • Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology.
  • Canadian Psychology.

The CPA also publishes a quarterly magazine called Psynopsis. Issues contain brief articles on specific themes relating to psychology, as well as updates from the head office of CPA, committee news, information about the annual convention, and much more.

Mind Pad is a professional newsletter that is written and reviewed by student affiliates of the Canadian Psychological Association. The newsletter is published biannually online.


CPA hosts a convention annually. The conventions usually include pre-convention workshops, keynote and invited speakers, poster presentations, symposiums, award presentations, and various social events. The location varies each year from city to city across Canada.


Each year at the annual convention, CPA honours individuals who have made distinguished contributions to psychology in Canada with the following awards:

  • CPA Gold Medal Award For Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Canadian Psychology.
  • CPA John C. Service Member the Year Award.
  • CPA Donald O. Hebb Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Science.
  • CPA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology.
  • CPA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Profession.
  • CPA Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology.
  • CPA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public or Community Service.
  • Distinguished Practitioner Award.
  • CPA Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to the Canadian Psychological Association.
  • CPA Humanitarian Award.
  • President’s New Researcher Award.

The CPA has numerous student awards. As an example, the CPA gives out Certificates of Academic Excellence to students in each Canadian psychology department for the best undergraduate, masters, and doctoral thesis. The sections of CPA also award students for exceptional papers, presentations, and posters at the annual convention.

Fellowships are awarded to members of the CPA who have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of the science or profession of psychology or who have given exceptional service to their national or provincial associations. The Committee on Fellows and Awards review nominations and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who appoint fellows.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.