Blog Post

Building a digital/hybrid service model doesn't require us to create it from scratch

By: Marco Campana
November 22, 2021

In presentations and meetings about developing digital/hybrid services in the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector, I often point out that we can borrow much from other sectors that have already done far down this path. In particular sectors with regulatory frameworks, where getting it right isn't an option, it is expected. It's based on ethical frameworks and standards, as well as laws around things like personal health information, etc.

And I've also said that discussions around this topic are not new. Constantly evolving, yes. New, no. Here's just one great example to help illustrate that: Interim Ethical Guidelines for Psychologists Providing Psychological Services via Electronic Media, from the Canadian Psychological Association.

Of note:

"The following interim guidelines were developed by the CPA Committee on Ethics. They were approved in principle by the CPA Board in June 2006, and distributed for consultation in draft form. The interim guidelines were provided in March of 2020."

Ethical Guidelines for Psychologists Providing Psychological Services via Electronic Media, from the Canadian Psychological Association

Note (all caps for emphasis): "THEY WERE APPROVED IN PRINCIPLE BY THE CPA BOARD IN JUNE 2006."

Update during and because of COVID? Sure, of course. Like all of us, Psychological Service Providers moved online last year. But not a new conversation. Even better, scroll down to Examples of Other Relevant Guidelines to find links to guidelines from the year 2000.

So, as I say to everyone, cast a wide net, learn from others, figure out what makes sense to bring into our sector, replicate and customize, seek to meet their expectations. Because you cannot tell me that these guideline principles don't fit with our sector as well:

  • Principle I: Respect for Dignity of Persons and Peoples
  • Principle II: Responsible Caring
  • Principle III: Integrity in Relationships
  • Principle IV: Responsibility to Society

As you'll see when you read them. This isn't about technology. It's about clients. It's about serving clients the way they want to be served. Sure, tech is one channel. But the questions we need to ask are if it's the right channel for each one of them.

We don't have to reinvent this. We don't have to look far to figure out how to implement it. We can learn about what investments it takes and took to meet these regulatory frameworks and standards, and meet them ourselves.

From the document:


“Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists. Fourth Edition.” Canadian Psychological Association, 2017,

Examples of Other Relevant Guidelines

“ACPRO Model Standards for Telepsychology Service Delivery.” Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organizations, 2011,

“eHealth Code of Ethics.” eHealth Ethics Initiative, 2000,

“Suggested principles for the online provision of mental health services.” International Society for Mental Health Online, 2000,

“Guidelines for the practice of telepsychology.” Joint Task Force for the Development of Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychologists, 2013,  

“Policy regarding the provision of distance professional services.” National Board for Certified Counselors,2016,

“Draft guidelines: Psychology services delivered via the internet and other electronic media.” Psychologists Board of New Zealand, 2011,

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