The National Law protects the public through protecting the title of Psychologist. This means that only individuals who have completed a Board approved education and training sequence and are registered by the Board are eligible to call themselves a psychologist. When a member of the public receives services from a registered psychologist, they can be assured that the psychologist meets the threshold competency requirements to be able to practice safely in Australia. The competencies for general registration are set out in the Board’s General registration standard.
The National Board and Ahpra enforce compliance with the title protection requirements in the National Law in the public interest. It is an offence to use the title ‘psychologist’ unless you are a registered psychologist. Only those psychologists who hold an area of practice endorsement can use the titles associated with the relevant practice endorsement.
An individual’s scope of practice is determined by their formal qualifications through a Board approved program of study and the required supervised practice. Competence must be demonstrated upon initial application to meet a registration standard, such as the general registration standard. Competency must also be demonstrated throughout a practitioner’s career, and is achieved through supervision and reflective practice, continuing professional development (CPD), and work experience (including meeting the Recency of practice registration standard).
An individual’s scope of practice can narrow and change over time based on their vocational choices, and career paths. Therefore, it is important for each psychologist to review their CPD requirements annually and reflect on what services can be competently provided.
The Board does not place restrictions on an individual’s scope of practice. There are no restricted interventions that only a psychologist can provide. The National Law only restricts scope of practice in four defined areas where there has been an identified risk to public safety such as for certain dental acts, prescription of optical appliances, and spinal manipulation. This restriction means that only specified professions are permitted to practice the restricted interventions.
Even though there are no services that are restricted to being provided by psychologists, this does not mean that psychologists can provide any service they wish. Psychologists must ensure they only provide services where they can demonstrate their current competence.