Area of practice endorsement (AoPE) identifies psychologists who have completed an approved postgraduate qualification and supervised training in an area of practice, and who can use a protected title associated with that area of practice. AoPE is a regulatory mechanism and is represented as a notation on a psychologist’s record on the public register of practitioners.

Psychologists with general registration can be endorsed in one or more of the following approved areas of practice:

  • clinical neuropsychology 
  • clinical psychology 
  • community psychology 
  • counselling psychology 
  • educational and developmental psychology 
  • forensic psychology 
  • health psychology 
  • organisational psychology, and 
  • sport and exercise psychology.

To check if a registered psychologist has an endorsement, review their registration details on the online Register of Practitioners.

To find out more about what is required to obtain an area of practice endorsement, see Pathways to endorsement. Detailed information about AoPE requirements are set out in the Area of practice endorsement registration standard and supporting information is provided in the Guidelines for area of practice endorsement.

We appreciate that understanding how regulation of AoPE works in practice can be complicated. It is important to think about it in context of health practitioner regulation more generally. To assist, we have provided responses to some of the questions the Board commonly receives in relation to AoPE.

There are no restricted interventions that only a Psychologist can provide. 

Restrictions on the practice of a health profession are only imposed where a clear risk to the public has been identified that requires additional regulation. The National Law only restricts the scope of health professionals in relation to a small number of specific interventions, such as 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 should be mindful to provide evidenced-based interventions and services within their competence when working with clients.

The Board ensures 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 AoPE competence is met by completing a Board approved education and training sequence after achieving general registration. Experience and continuing professional development maintain competence and is therefore not comparable to the education and training sequence specified in the Area of practice endorsement registration standard
The difference between area of practice endorsement and specialist registration as regulatory tools is about the level of risk to the public. Specialisation is considered to pose a higher level of risk to the public than endorsement.

An endorsement is a notation on general registration and published on the National Register while specialist registration is a separate register and requires a higher level of regulatory oversight.

Only three health professions have specialist registration in Australia – medicine (e.g. anaesthesia, surgery), dentistry (e.g. orthodontics, oral surgery), and podiatry (e.g. podiatric surgery).

Area of practice endorsement builds on general registration and allows psychologists one or more AoPE allowing for flexibility in work. Health practitioners who are on the specialist register typically work in a specific and defined specialist area, and only work in that specialist area. For example, a medical practitioner on the specialist register might work as an anaesthetist or a neuro-surgeon, but not usually as both.
The practice of psychology is diverse, with psychologists practicing across all sectors. It has been identified that further training following general registration benefits the public in ensuring that the profession can continue to provide contemporary, safe, and sustainable services.

The registration standards outline the different qualifications and competencies for general registration and for endorsement. The competencies required for general registration and area of practice endorsement are different. From a training and regulatory perspective, AoPE competency can only be developed after general competency has been achieved as it focuses on being able to provide services in contexts of increasing complexity or specificity. Therefore, endorsement is sometimes referred to as an ‘advanced competency’.

Ministerial Council has determined that there is public benefit in having access to psychologists who choose to undertake additional formal education. These practitioners can demonstrate to the public they have advanced competencies by the AoPE notation on the register.
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.
Psychologists must ensure they only provide services where they can demonstrate their current competence.

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, and work experience.

An individual’s scope of practice includes a combination of both formal qualifications through a Board approved program of study and supervised practice and experience.
Page reviewed 2/12/2019