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Jordan B Peterson tweets and is further quoted in The Post Millennial

BREAKING: the Ontario College of Psychologists @CPOntario has demanded that I submit myself to mandatory social-media communication retraining with their experts for, among other crimes, retweeting @PierrePoilievre and criticizing @JustinTrudeau and his political allies.

I have been accused of harming people (although none of the complainants involved in the current action were clients of mone [sic], past or present, or en [sic] were even acquainted with any of my clients.

I am to take a course of such training (with reports documenting my "progress" or face an in-person tribunal and suspension of my right to operate as a licensed clinical psychologist.

About a dozen people from all over the world submitted complaints about my public statements on Twitter and Rogan over a four year period (out of the 15 million who follow me on social media) claiming that I had "harmed" people (not them) with my views.

  • Can Ontario College of Psychologists, the regulating body for Psychologists in Ontario Canada, demand that registered psychologists attend "communication retraining"?
  • Have they demanded that Jordan must attend?
  • If so, can they suspend his clinical psychologist license if he refuses?
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2 Answers 2

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Yes, they have required Jordan Peterson to attend training sessions.

The College has required Jordan Peterson to complete a SCERP.

In a decision released on November 22, 2022, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee decided to require Dr. Jordan Peterson to successfully complete a prescribed Specified Continuing Education or Remedial Program (SCERP). The substance of the SCERP is a Coaching Program to address issues regarding professionalism in public statements.

Dr. Peterson has filed a Notice of Application for Judicial Review with the Ontario Divisional Court.

Yes, The College of Psychologists of Ontario can regulate their members.

Jordan Peterson is a member and subject to their rules of professional conduct and has had a "Certificate of registration for a psychologist authorizing autonomous practice" since 1999.

The College of Psychologists of Ontario is the governing body for psychological practitioners, Psychologists and Psychological Associates, in Ontario. The College is not a university, school or community college; its mandate is to protect the public interest by monitoring and regulating the practice of psychology.

Its FAQ goes further...

Regulated professionals are required by law to deliver professional services competently and ethically. They are accountable to the public, through their professional regulatory body, for their professional behaviour and activities. As members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, Psychologists and Psychological Associates must meet rigorous professional entry requirements, adhere to prescribed standards, guidelines, and ethical principles and participate in quality assurance activities to continually update and improve their knowledge and skill.

The Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (ICRC) must investigate each complaint and should take no action if the complaints were considered frivolous.

From the Regulated Health Professions Act...

Complaint in bad faith, etc.

(4) If the panel considers a complaint to be frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, moot or otherwise an abuse of process, it shall give the complainant and the member notice that it intends to take no action with respect to the complaint and that the complainant and the member have a right to make written submissions within 30 days after receiving the notice.

His activity has been deemed of "Moderate risk"

The ICRC Risk Assessment Framework says it can "order a SCERP if it identifies moderate risks. A SCERP is remedial and can include a specific course of study." SCERP has been applied 15 times in the last 5 years. "Public trust in and perception of the psychology profession" is a risk indicator and moderate risk is defined as "conduct may cause moderate disapproval and/or sustained implications for the client and/or others. In addition, a "moderate display of a pattern in Member's conduct history" and "the Member demonstrates some awareness and/or plans no/insufficient changes" are also moderate risk.

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A note about professional licensing and public trust.

Peterson has attempted to characterize this as a free speech issue; that he is being persecuted for his political views as a private citizen. He has attempted to diminish the complaints because he is a public figure with millions of followers on social media, and because they did not directly involve his clients.

The College has been levying accusations and conducting investigations in relationship to me since 2017 (although not once in the twenty years I operated as a clinical psychologist before my rise to public awareness).

About a dozen people from all over the world submitted complaints about my public statements on Twitter and Rogan over a four year period (out of the 15 million who follow me on social media)...

...none of the complainants involved in the current action were clients of mone, past or present, or en were even acquainted with any of my clients...

In reality, Peterson has made these public statements while presenting himself as a Clinical Psychologist. This has a very special meaning in Canada. Only members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario may use the title "Psychologist" in Ontario.

As a licensed psychologist, he his granted the power and authority and trust necessary for his profession to function; people are expected to share their deepest and most intimate thoughts and behaviors with a complete stranger. It is Peterson's responsibility to protect this "public trust in and perception of the psychology profession". As a public figure who has chosen to develop a large following he has more responsibility to do so. Accusations are quite rare; the ICRC receives about 25-30 new matters every quarter. This makes a dozen complaints against a member over any period of time quite a lot.

He is being disciplined by the organization which licenses him as a psychologist. To obtain and retain his license he agreed to uphold a code of conduct which includes his public behavior when presenting himself as a psychologist.

Many professions which involve the public trust have similar codes of conduct. For example, a police officer can be disciplined for offensive public remarks made while presenting themselves as a police officer. This protects the public trust in the police which helps them do their job.

Peterson is not going to jail. He is not being silenced; he can continue to post as he likes on Twitter without a license to practice psychology. His licensing organization is presenting him with a choice: protect the public trust in his profession, or lose his license to practice psychology in Ontario.

The complaints

Peterson said he would "make all the concrete allegations 100% public (except identifying the complainants) tomorrow", which he did, and then he deleted it and claims it will be "back up soon, in identical form" while insulting the person who pointed out that he'd deleted it. However, copies of the original were retained which Peterson claims includes "all relevant correspondence".

Peterson makes two claims about the complaints...

...retweeting @PierrePoilievre and criticizing @JustinTrudeau and his political allies...

...About a dozen people from all over the world submitted complaints about my public statements on Twitter and Rogan over a four year period...

The first is grossly misleading. The second is wrong, they came in over a few months in early 2022.

The Case Summary

You can find the "Summary of Report and Investigative Steps" on page 11 of Peterson's document. Here is my summary of the case summary.

The complaints cited came in between Jan 2022 and April 19, 2022 about his current behavior.

  • Joking about suicide.
  • Misleading statements about COVID-19.
  • Concerning remarks on The Joe Rogan Experience Episode #1769.
  • A long, insulting public argument with Gerald Butts.
  • "Unprofessional, embarrassing, threatening, abusive and harassing" behavior.
  • Falsely presenting that he works at the University of Toronto.
  • Claiming white supremacists do not exist in Canada.
  • Claiming a plus-size Sports Illustrated swimsuit model was a "conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty" by the "oh-so virtuous politically correct".
  • Calling the physician who performed the gender affirming surgery on Elliot Page (age 35) a "criminal".
  • Private and public combative and dismissive behavior towards the College and the complaints.

Peterson's document contains the details and screenshots of his Tweets.

The report identifies these issues are to be addressed.

  1. Disgraceful, Dishonorable, or Unprofessional Conduct.

Does it appear that Dr. Peterson's Tweets... constitute abuse and/or harassment?

Does it appear that Dr. Peterson's conduct on the Joe Rogan Experience and/or his use of Twitter would... be reasonably regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonorable, or unprofessional?

  1. Provision of information to the Public:

Does it appear that the information Dr. Peterson shared on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast is accurate and supportable based on current professional literature or research; and is consistent with the professional standards, policies, and ethics currently adopted by the College?

Combative and dismissive behavior towards the complaints.

During the whole process, Peterson has been combative, dismissive, and unrepentant in private and in public. He has stated the complaints and the investigation process are designed to punish him.

The process is the punishment, and those who levy complaints... know this full well. And I'm not participating in it anymore. Take my license if you must. At this point, it would be a relief.

This adds "recurrence risks" to his issues (see ICRC Risk Assessment Table).

  • "The Member does not demonstrate awareness and/or plans no/insufficient changes."
  • "Significant concerns identified with respect to practices, processes, and/or systems."
  • "Significant display of patterns in member's conduct history."

Yes, they can revoke or suspend his license if he refuses.

Under the risk assessment for "Awareness of the Identified Practice Concerns", Peterson's refusal may be defined as high risk.

The Member does not demonstrate awareness and/or plans no/insufficient changes.

High risk cases will be referred to the Discipline Committee which conducts a legal hearing.

The ICRC will refer allegations when it believes the member’s conduct poses a high risk to the public. The Discipline Committee will hold a hearing to decide whether there was professional misconduct or incompetence.

A discipline hearing is a formal, legal process. Evidence is presented under oath. Witnesses are subject to examination and cross-examination. The College is represented by legal counsel. The member is often represented by their own legal counsel as well. The Discipline Committee also has its own legal advisor, who is independent of both the College and the member.

They have a range of options, including suspension.

After a hearing, the Discipline Committee can make a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence. It can then impose a penalty, which may include:

  • Revocation of the member’s certificate of registration;
  • Suspension of the member’s certificate of registration;
  • Terms, conditions and limitations on the member’s certificate of registration;
  • A reprimand; and
  • A fine payable to the government of Ontario.
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  • 6
    Peterson posted the complaints and correspondence. I've skimmed them and will update the answer.
    – Schwern
    Jan 6, 2023 at 3:48
  • 1
    @Schwern "No preview available. File is in owner's trash."
    – user11643
    Jan 7, 2023 at 3:24
  • 5
    The national post was able to quote the complaints from that Google document before it was deleted. He was probably advised by a lawyer to keep the exact items private for now.
    – user11643
    Jan 7, 2023 at 18:13
  • 2
    Peterson's release has been posted on Scribd and I also have the copy I downloaded from his Twitter. I need to gather the time and energy and fortitude to wade through it; it's mostly images.
    – Schwern
    Jan 8, 2023 at 3:25
  • 2
    @fredsbend If he loses his license, he cannot refer to himself as a Clinical Psychologist. "Clinical Psychologists must be registered with a provincial psychological regulatory organization in order to call themselves Psychologists and to practice in that province" per the Canadian Psychological Association. They also reiterate "Clinical Psychologists must accept and conform to the Code of Ethics established by their provincial regulatory organization"
    – Schwern
    Jan 9, 2023 at 3:06
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Assuming this is the same Jordan Peterson, his profile on the College of Psychologists of Ontario does confirm that he is being required to take a communications program.


In a decision released on November 22, 2022, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee decided to require Dr. Jordan Peterson to successfully complete a prescribed Specified Continuing Education or Remedial Program (SCERP). The substance of the SCERP is a Coaching Program to address issues regarding professionalism in public statements.

Dr. Peterson has filed a Notice of Application for Judicial Review with the Ontario Divisional Court.


Definitions:

Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee

The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) investigates concerns about the conduct and competence of members. It is also responsible for health and capacity inquiries. The ICRC is a screening committee, and does not make findings of fact or credibility. The ICRC may refer allegations to the Discipline or Fitness to Practice Committees for a full hearing. The ICRC may also ask or order a member to take steps to improve their conduct or practice.

Specified Continuing Education or Remedial Program (SCERP)

A SCERP is an outcome available to the ICRC after considering a complaint or report. It is an education or remedial program the ICRC orders the member to complete to address conduct or practice concerns. The public register must contain a notation of every SCERP ordered by a panel of the ICRC. Once the SCERP is completed, the fact of the completion is added to the notation on the public register.        

A SCERP is not a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence. A SCERP does not affect a member’s ability to practice or their registration status. Once a SCERP is completed, unless otherwise noted, the matter leading to the SCERP is considered closed. 

Coaching Program

A one-on-one educational or remedial program specified by the ICRC or Discipline Committees to address concerns. A coaching program can be ordered or agreed to by the member.


No details have been provided about what exactly caused this decision, but to answer your questions:

Can collages in Canada demand affiliated persons to attend communication retraining?

Per the definition of SCERP, it appears that they can

Has Ontario College of Psychologists demanded Jordan to attend 'communication retaining'?

Per his profile, he's being required to attend a coaching program to "address issues regarding professionalism in public statements".

[C]an they suspend the clinical psychologist license if he declines?

Per the SCERP definition above, "A SCERP is not a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence. A SCERP does not affect a member’s ability to practice or their registration status."

2
  • 1
    The other answer says "Yes, they can revoke or suspend his license if he refuses."
    – user76284
    Jan 5, 2023 at 3:01
  • 8
    Your last paragraph doesn't answer the question quoted above it.
    – user11643
    Jan 5, 2023 at 5:33

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