There are significant public interest arguments for allowing area of practice endorsement to be used for the regulation of the psychology profession. In approving the nine areas or practice, Ministerial Council agreed with the Board that the public benefit of area of practice endorsements for the psychology profession outweigh the costs of additional regulation.
An endorsement function allows the Board to take an active role in promoting the psychological welfare of the community, through ensuring quality of services and the provision of adequate training and supervision for the psychology profession.
The public benefit in maximising the endorsement mechanism is demonstrated by the following:
Requiring an advanced qualification
Ministerial Council determined that there is public benefit in having access to psychologists who choose to undertake additional formal education in the nine approved areas of practice.
Area of practice endorsement is a regulatory mechanism under the National Law. It enables a notation to be included on the public register to allow the public, employers and others to identify practitioners who have completed an approved qualification and supervised experience in an approved area of practice. The advanced training is in addition to the minimum level of training required for general registration. This additional training may focus on delivery of specific treatments, using more complex techniques, or delivering services that require judgments and carry risk in specified advanced areas. Additional training is required for effective provision of these services.
The National Law covers both registration and accreditation functions. The advanced training must be accredited and then approved by the Board as a qualification for registration. For the psychology profession the Board has delegated the accreditation function to the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).
Determining the required professional competencies
The Board can ensure that the public is protected by determining what professional competencies are required for an area of practice endorsement and how the competencies can be achieved.
The standard for endorsement competence is met by completing a Board approved education and training sequence after achieving general registration. In meeting the Area of practice endorsement registration standard, the Board is able to assure the public that a psychologist has done additional training and supervision in a specific area of practice and has met the competency standard.
Aligning areas of practice endorsement with community need
Consumers and public safety are at the centre of psychology regulation. Aligning areas of practice endorsement with community need and ensuring that each area of practice is fit for purpose as a regulatory tool is one way to protect the public.
Promoting consumer choice, and matching consumer need with help
An area of practice endorsement function provides the public with assurance that psychologists who have advanced qualifications are trained to a consistent and acceptable level of competency. Endorsements in areas of practice promote consumer choice and makes it simpler to match consumer need with the appropriate help. This is particularly important for clients who are seeking help in times of stress or crisis. For example, if a child who was an elite athlete and needed help with confidence during competitions, a sports and exercise psychologist could be selected (or referred to by another health professional) as they have completed advanced training in performance. For a consumer who was suspected to have early onset dementia and needed an assessment, a clinical neuropsychologist could be selected (or referred to) because of their advanced training in psychometric assessment.