Professor Profiles


Derek Truscott, PhD, RPsych

Professor, Director of Counselling Training


Educational Psychology

About Me

I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Windsor in 1989, and practiced in hospital, community, group home, rehabilitation, and private settings prior to joining the University of Alberta in 1997. I am a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and member of the Canadian Psychological Association.

Theoretical Orientation to Practice

Because all orientations to psychotherapy are equally effective, interventions are helpful only if client and therapist believe them to be so, and the client’s experience of therapy is paramount, I practice from a theoretically pluralistic, technically collaborative, feedback-informed orientation. I first draw from all psychotherapeutic approaches to find a shared understanding of each client’s problem that offers hope. I then propose promising solutions consistent with our shared understanding. At every stage of therapy I seek client feedback on their experience of factors empirically proven to be associated with treatment effectiveness and make adjustments accordingly.

Because no theoretical orientation deserves to be privileged over any other and the therapist’s belief in an approach to psychotherapy is central to being effective, I strive to help students find their own orientation to practice and learn how to adapt it in the service of their clients.


    I am interested in answering the question of what it takes to be a good psychologist. By “good” I mean one who is effective, helpful, influential, and impactful – who is sought out by people suffering from personal problems and to whom other psychologists refer or seek out themselves. I also mean “good” in the sense of one who is ethical, principled, virtuous, and moral – who knows how to do and does the right thing and is sought out by others wanting to do likewise.

    It often seems to me that the secret to becoming a good psychologist lays buried under mounds of facts and opinions. No wonder most of us pursue either research or practice and pay scant attention to the other. Producing more research findings or proposing more practice approaches isn’t going to remedy this situation, and might be making it worse. Having grown up on the Alberta prairies, my response has been to think of myself as a refinery rather than as a pump-jack, synthesizing knowledge from existing research to fuel professional practice.

    I am currently working on two books, The Effective Psychotherapist: On being more helpful more often and the 3rd edition of Ethics for the Practice of Psychology in Canada.