By Julie Fortier
The Conseil interprofessionnel du Québec (CIQ) has awarded one of its 2009 Prix Mérite to Dr. Sharon Bond, assistant professor at the School of Social Work, and Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Director of Couple and Family Therapy, Department of Psychiatry, Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital.
The CIQ, which includes 45 professional orders, awards a Prix Mérite every year to one person from each order who has made a significant contribution to the development of that profession.
“It is a great honour to have been selected for a Prix Mérite,” Prof. Bond said at the June 19 ceremony. “My whole career has been devoted to promoting the recognition of couple and family therapy.”
Dr. Bond’s 32-year career in social work has been dedicated to the integration of academic excellence, specifically couple and family therapeutic principles, into frontline social work practice. Working at the provincial level with the Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux du Québec (OPTSQ) and with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), she has helped establish standards for practice locally and internationally.
The CIQ ceremony was held one day after the Quebec government adopted Bill 21 on the modernization of professional practices in mental health and human relations. This new law provides for tighter regulations on mental health practices and requires that certain practices be handled only by couple and family therapists.
This new legislation represents an important step in the increased recognition of the work performed by couple and family therapists. In 2001, the Quebec government adopted a decree which recognized couple and family therapy as a profession of reserved title, regulated under the Professional Code. As of that date couple and family therapists were integrated into the Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux du Québec (OPTSQ). On June 18, 2009 the professional order was renamed Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec.
McGill’s School of Social Work and Prof. Bond continue to be instrumental in advancing recognition of couple and family therapy recognition. The School has been developing a Master’s degree program for this specialty (M.Sc. (Applied) in Couple and Family Therapy), which it hopes to launch in the fall of 2010. There is currently no university program in couple and family therapy in Quebec, a gap that needs to be addressed, according to the expert committee report serving as the basis for Bill 21. There are also no Master’s degrees in Couple and Family Therapy currently being offered in schools of social work at any university in Canada.
“It’s like having a medical profession without one single faculty of medicine,” says Dr. Bond, who has been leading this initiative. “There needs to be a university-based program.”