Members of the public are entitled to receive fair, accurate and unbiased information about the qualifications and services of a psychologist. Fundamental to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law) is the protection of titles, including 'psychologist'.
There are penalties that can be applied to people who mislead the public to believe they are a psychologist when they are not registered, with fines of up to $30,000. Similarly, employers, courts, schools and universities, Medicare, insurance companies and others rely upon the services of psychologists, and expect that appropriate, safe and effective services are provided by appropriately qualified people.
Current registration provides the public with assurance that a person on the register has legitimate qualifications and meets the current standards of the profession. Similarly, only psychologists who have an endorsement listed on the public register may use a relevant prescribed title (e.g. 'clinical psychologist'), communicating to the public and employers that they hold additional accredited qualifications and supervision endorsed in that area of practice.
The endorsed titles that are protected are clinical psychology, counselling, forensic, clinical neuropsychology, organisational, sport and exercise, educational and developmental, health and community psychology. The Board's advertising guidelines also protect the descriptive title of 'Dr', restricting this to only those who possess PhD, DPhil, DPsyc or PsyD qualifications.
Practitioners are encouraged to ensure their psychology degrees listed on the national register are accurate and complete, and may amend them using form RAAQ-76 available on the Board's website.
In advertising a psychological service, practitioners must ensure information is factual and accurate. Practices that may mislead, such as testimonials from clients about the quality of service, risk creating unrealistic expectations of benefit and may distort the public's judgement with regard to the choice of a practitioner. Testimonials and other claims of superior benefit are prohibited, and may lead to prosecution or disciplinary action. The Board-endorsed APS Code of ethics reinforces these principles, including that psychologists must 'take reasonable steps to correct any misconceptions held by a client about the psychologist’s professional competencies' (principle C.2.5).
Psychologists should be aware of particular risks with social media, particularly when content is under the psychologist's control. More information is available in the Board's advertising guidelines.
People seeking psychological services are often vunerable. Adherence to these standards, guidelines and codes is one way to maintain public confidence in the profession.
Professor Brin Grenyer
Chair, Psychology Board of Australia
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In December the Board welcomed its newly appointed practitioner member from Tasmania to her first meeting of the Psychology Board of Australia. Jennifer Scott is a psychologist who has worked for two decades with patients coping with serious illness and the people close to them. She has previous experience with the regulation of psychology, serving as the immediate past interim Chair of the regional ACT, Tasmania and Victoria Board of the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) since 2010, and before that on the Psychology Board of Tasmania since 2007.
Jenn is currently Professor of Clinical Psychology and Associate Head (Psychology), University of Tasmania, where she also heads up the clinical psychology training program. Her focus and passion is in training and mentoring the next generation of psychologists. She regards such clinical training as an apprenticeship and stresses the importance of life-long learning and continuing professional development.
Her applied research has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Research Council (ARC), Commonwealth and state governments, non-profit organisations and by the National Cancer Institute (USA). Her current work is on developing and evaluating new media- based interventions for families coping with chronic illnesses or mental health problems. She aims to design programs that can be easily accessed by people, especially those in remote and rural settings.
New Board-approved supervisor training programs are available.
In 2013, the Board invited applications from suitably qualified and experienced individuals and organisations to deliver supervisor training programs across Australia. Multiple training providers have been approved by the Board to facilitate delivery of supervisor training nationally. A complete range of supervisor training is now available in both urban and regional areas in every state and territory.
These programs have approval for five years (until 31 December 2018).
The Board has approved the following twelve supervisor training programs:
Note*: Full training consists of three components: 1=knowledge/preparatory reading; 2=skills training; and 3=competency-based assessment and evaluation.
Note**: With the exception of three universities, all providers have agreed to provide supervisor training in both regional and urban areas; many providers have indicated that they will provide additional workshops in regional/rural areas on request.
Board-approved training programs provide both:
The purpose of Board-approved supervisor training is to equip supervisors with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide competency-based supervision to supervisees undertaking:
The general supervisory competencies required of supervisors apply in all pathways, regardless of the specific pathway that their supervisees are enrolled in.
The Board has introduced this competency-based training framework for supervisors to ensure provisional psychologists and psychologists receive quality supervision consistent with the Board’s standards. The framework and its requirements are explained in the Guidelines for supervisors and supervisor training providers.
For more information on:
visit the Supervisor page on the Board’s website.
The Board has released its new Guidelines for the 5+1 internship program.
Provisional psychologists who have been undertaking the internship year of the program under transition provisions are now required to complete their internship under the new guidelines for the 5+1 internship program. Given the more flexible model, it is expected that 5+1 provisional psychologists will find the change to the new guidelines advantageous.
The Board has also released a suite of user-friendly reporting and recording forms to support the new 5+1 guidelines. The Board consulted widely with the profession and the community on the development of the Guidelines for the 5+1 internship program. Feedback from provisional psychologists, supervisors, employers, professional associations, consumers and other stakeholders has been invaluable and is now being used to inform work on the new guideline for 4+2 internship programs. A public consultation paper on the 4+2 will be released in 2014.
Revised guidelines and codes of conduct, and a new social media policy, containing important information for all registered health practitioners including psychologists have recently been released. Psychologists need to familiarise themselves with this guidance to ensure their practice meets Board expectations from mid-March.
The documents were released by the National Boards regulating registered health practitioners in Australia through the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).
The documents relevant to the psychology profession are:
The documents are the result of a scheduled review three years into the National Scheme and are the first set of revised documents to be released this year, with more to come later in 2014.
You can view the documents under Codes, guidelines and policies on the Board’s website.
The guidelines were developed by the National Boards and explain the requirements of the National Law in relation to advertising and the use of testimonials in advertising. The National Law does not allow testimonials to be used when advertising a regulated health service (section 133).
The Board is now considering whether to revise the guidelines to make them clearer about the use of testimonials. In the meantime, complaints about advertising are being managed in line with the information in the FAQ on the revised guidelines, available on the Board's website. As stated in the FAQ, practitioners are not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) unsolicited testimonials published on a website or in social media over which they do not have control.
The examination supports the Board’s General registration standard, which provides that in addition to successfully completing an approved qualification, applicants for general registration as a psychologist in Australia may be required to pass the National Psychology Examination before the Board will accept their applications for general registration.
The first national psychology examination was successfully held on 6 December 2013 and the second was held on 21 February 2014 across Australia. The next date to sit the examination is Friday 23 May 2014 and candidates can enrol through the examination portal. Upcoming examination dates: Friday 23 May 2014, Friday 22 August 2014 and Friday 12 December 2014.
Testing facilities for the exam are provided by Kryterion, which uses a number of testing centres across Australia. You can visit their website to find your nearest centre. When you pay and book for the examination via the examination portal, you can choose the testing centre where you would like to sit your examination. It is not mandatory to sit the examination in the state in which you completed your training.
A confirmation email is sent to candidates which provides all the details of the testing centre and requirements for the examination day. The onus is on you, the candidate, to schedule the examination and present yourself at the required time to the examination centre.
The requirement to pass the National Psychology Examination before applying for general registration comes into effect for internship pathway provisional psychologists on 1 July 2014. Individuals who successfully complete all the requirements of the internship and lodge a complete application for general registration on or before 30 June 2014 are exempt from the exam.
The Board anticipates a high number of applications for general registration in the lead up to the exam exemption deadline, so if you intend to submit yours in May or June please remember that your case studies need to be submitted to the Board, assessed, passed, and returned to you before you can submit your application for general registration.
Additional qualifications can now be added to the National Register. There is a $50 application fee to add each qualification to the National Register but no fee applies to correct a qualification already on the register. Access the form under the Registration/forms tab.
Consultation is an important part of the National Board’s engagement with psychologists and members of the public. The feedback provided is greatly valued, and informs the Board’s development of registration standards, codes, and guidelines. Shortly, the Board will commence public consultation on its general, continuing professional development and recency of practice registration standards and any associated guidelines and policies.
To read new and past consultation papers go to the Board’s website under the News tab.
The 2012/13 annual report of AHPRA and the National Boards of the 14 registered health professions was published on 1 November 2013. This annual report explains the work the Psychology Board does in partnership with AHPRA.
For the psychology profession the report reveals that:
The annual report is published on the AHPRA website under Corporate publications. It includes a detailed report - including data - for the Psychology Board of Australia.
1In NSW the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) receives complaints about registered health practitioners.
Under the National Law, the Psychology Board of Australia and AHPRA work in partnership to implement the National Scheme, each with specific roles, powers and responsibilities set down in the National Law.
The guiding principles of the National Law require the National Scheme to operate in a ‘transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair way’; and for registration fees to be reasonable ‘…having regard to the efficient and effective operation of the scheme’.
Each year the Board and AHPRA publish a health profession agreement that details the services provided by AHPRA that enable the Board to carry out its functions under the National Law.
The Board’s 2013/14 Health Profession Agreement has been released and can be accessed via the About psychology tab.
The first prosecution of an offence under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law has resulted in a guilty verdict and the accused person ordered to pay fines totalling $20,000.
The Magistrates Court of WA handed down judgment in a criminal matter being prosecuted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) against Ms Jayne Walton of Western Australia. Ms Walton, who pleaded guilty to all charges, was found guilty of using the title ‘psychologist’ and claiming to be a registered psychologist when she had not been registered for a number of years, in breach of the National Law.
The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles. The law allows for penalties for falsely using protected titles or holding yourself out to be a registered practitioner. The maximum penalty that a court may impose is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
The finding is an important milestone in the work of the National Scheme, which regulates 605,000 registered health practitioners across 14 professions. All registered health practitioners appear on the national register of practitioners, which is a searchable list that is accessible on the AHPRA website. If a person does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in a regulated health profession in Australia.
From time to time the Board alerts psychologists to research relevant to the Board’s role as a regulator of the profession. A study into the international competency frameworks for clinical supervisors is being conducted at James Cook University by Kirsty Olds within her DPsyc as supervised by Russell Hawkins. To get more information or to take part in the delphi survey, contact Kirsty Olds.
Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has published a series of reports that provide a current workforce snapshot of six selected health occupations, including psychology. Collated workforce data includes age, gender, hours worked, location, years in their particular occupation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. To download the Psychologists in focus workforce report go to the Health Workforce Australia website.