History of LRPA

Why LRPA Began

LRPA began at a time in which the Conservative Government of Ontario at the time was considering decentralizing health care in the province (Evans 1995). Decentralization would have delegated funds-allocation decisions related to health care to regional health units, such as the Thames Valley District Health Unit. This meant that psychologists would have to lobby regionally for funds and programs and, therefore, needed to be organized regionally.

Additionally, within the London area, the number of psychologists in the area had reached a critical mass (Evans 1995, Ferrari 1995). The profession of psychology saw substantial growth during the 1970's. It was during this growth period that psychologists in the area felt the need and the capability to establish a professional organization. Thus, LRPA's growth mirrored the growth of the profession in the early years. Similar to other professional organisations, LRPA was formed to protect the integrity and standards within the profession in London.

Also with this growth came a need for education. As Psychologists in the area began to establish themselves as a separate profession, the need arose for an organization to represent the new identity. The goal of providing training to London and area psychologists continues to be a foundational pillar for LRPA. Additionally, LRPA was intended to educate the public and the press on matters of concern to psychology. In the 1970's LRPA was poised to demonstrate the distinct capabilities of psychology and the usefulness of the profession to the public.

Another function of LRPA was to provide a social-networking forum for psychologists to interact with their colleagues. Quite intentionally, LRPA provided opportunities for social contact through a relaxed approach, both through membership requirements and constitutional by-laws. The relaxed aspect of the organization that has been recognized as one of the underlying factors contributing to LRPA's longevity (Evans 1994). The social-networking function of LRPA was noted in the first meetings and continues as an important purpose to the members.

The final reason for LRPA's inception was to serve as a bridge between practitioners and academics in psychology (Howe 1995). There are inherent benefits to connecting these two areas of the profession. Practitioners working in private practice or institutions are exposed to the practical needs of psychological theories and able to benefit from current research findings provided by academics. Academics have the means to research topics of current interest to practitioners and can direct their research towards the issues of greatest concern to practitioners. This relationship between academics and practitioners is best reflected in the four founding members, two of whom were professors at the University of Western Ontario and two were Chief psychologists at local psychiatric institutions. Conspicuously absent was a representative from private practice, a significant portion of LRPA's membership today. However, given the time period it would not be such an oversight because there were very few private practices in London at the time (Howe 1995).

How LRPA Began

As a result of the above factors a small group of psychologists began to discuss the possibility and the need for a regional association of psychologists (Evans 1994). During the spring of 1974 the four founders first met to consider forming an association. Once convinced of the need for a psychological association, they gathered many of their colleagues in a meeting to discuss the possible directions, structure and objectives of what was to become the London Regional Psychological Association.

This initial meeting was held December 3, 1974. Present at this meeting were psychologists from as far north as Goderich and East as Waterloo. There was not a representative from Windsor but the regional OPA representative, Dr. Dick, was in attendance. Discussed at the initial meeting was the rationale for a local group and the objectives and concerns it should address. All of the rationale seemed to support a geographically smaller group than what existed (OPA) in order to satisfy the needs of psychologists in the area.

A steering committee comprising Drs. Evans, Lobb, Miller and Shaw was then formed and met December 17, 1974 and again January 7, 1975 to address objectives raised in the initial meeting. The steering committee then developed a written set of by-laws for LRPA.

On January 28, 1975 LRPA held a general meeting at the London Psychiatric Hospital and elected its first executive. The 24 people in attendance at the first general meeting were broken into 3 discussion groups. The discussion groups met for 45 minutes to contemplate the direction LRPA should take and the functions it should serve. An interesting note is that of the issues expressed in these independent groups, all three groups made reference to the issue of whether LRPA should represent the needs of practising psychologists, academic psychologists or both. It is interesting because this issue later developed into one of the few changes the LRPA membership has undergone over the past twenty years. At the time LRPA decided upon an organization that was capable of representing academic psychologists and practitioners. This direction has changed so that LRPA is now mainly an association of practitioners.

In the spring of 1975 the London Regional Psychological Association held its first general meeting at the London Holiday Inn. Invitations were sent to all active clinical psychologists and psychology professors in the area. To the surprise of the organizers, 70 psychologists attended this first meeting (Evans 1995), a significant gathering for an infant organization.

...Continue to Page 2