Glossary of terms

There are many terms used with respect to counselling, separation/divorce, parenting, and dispute resolution. Hopefully, the following list (mostly to do with Psychology in Alberta) helps to explain some of the more frequently used terms.

Registered Psychologists must complete a master’s degree in psychology, 1,600 hours of supervised practice and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and Oral Examinations to become registered in the province of Alberta. For further details on any of these areas please reference visit

Mediation is performed by mediators who act as impartial third parties and manage the process of communication between parties so as to allow them to discover mutually agreed upon solutions to their disagreements. Mediators do not recommend outcomes but create and manage a respectful environment.

Parenting Coordination is performed by Parenting Coordinators (PC), experts with advanced knowledge of child development and parenting issues. The primary role of a PC is to guide and direct parents experiencing high levels of conflict in co-parenting their children. PCs are appointed by a consent court order and some provide arbitration as a means of deciding matters the parents are unable to resolve.

Arbitration occurs when parties agree to abide by the decision of an impartial third party as a way of resolving a dispute. The arbitrator provides a written decision to parties. These awards are binding and can be registered in court.

Provincial Court of Alberta – Family Court is where parties can bring applications such as Guardianship, Parenting, Contact, and Child Support under the Family Law Act (FLA). Civil Court is commonly known as Small Claims Court. Parties can file a Statement of Claim or a Dispute Note for claims of up to CAD$25,000. These applications include landlord/tenant disputes, wrongful dismissal and unpaid accounts. Many parties attend court-directed mediation as part of the court process.

Family Court Counsellors work for Family Justice Services and provide assistance to individuals both inside and outside of court with applications made under the Family Law Act in Provincial Court.

College of Alberta Psychologists has a mandate to serve the interests of the public and guide the profession of psychology. Information on this legislation, the processes of registration, Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, Professional Guidelines for Psychologists and member registry are available at

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) is an interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through the resolution of family conflict. The launch of the Alberta Chapter of the AFCC occurred in Calgary on May 3rd, 2012.

Community Education Service is an Alberta Health Services program providing parents/caregivers and other community members with opportunities to access free, evidence-informed education sessions and resource materials to address child, youth and family health and mental needs.

Alberta Justice is the branch of the provincial government responsible for overseeing and managing all aspects of the legal system. Further information is available at

Psychologist’s Association of Alberta (PAA) recommends the fee schedule upon which most psychologists base their costs for the services they provide. The PAA’s mission is to advance the science-based profession of psychology and to promote the well-being and potential of all Albertans. Further information is available at

Counselling psychology is defined by The Canadian Psychological Association as a broad specialization, within professional psychology, concerned with using psychological principles to enhance and promote the positive growth, well-being, and mental health of individuals, families, groups, and the broader community. Counselling psychologists bring a collaborative, developmental, multicultural and wellness perspective to their research and practice.

Parenting Coaches provide a non-critical, non-judgemental approach to guiding parents in teaching their children important life skills to help them reach appropriate developmental goals. Parenting coaching is particularly helpful for parents whose parenting role has changed as a result of separation, divorce or the loss of a parenting partner.