Psychology Board of Australia - March 2018
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March 2018


Issue 22 - March 2018

From the Chair

Fire and ice: The psychology of change and transition

Herakleitos (Heraclitus, 535BC-475BC) the early Greek philosopher developed the 'doctrine of flux' within the context of the Delphic precept to 'know thyself'. A thorough examination of change shows the central transitions: night to day, summer to winter, sleeping to waking, life to death. The most famous surviving fragment of his writing is the statement that 'you cannot step twice into the same river' ‒ because it is constantly flowing and changing. His core principle is that only one thing is constant ‒ change.

Psychologists help individuals and groups to manage stages of change. We focus on psychosocial development, behaviour modification, emotional growth, supporting life transitions, cognitive restructuring, developing insight and reframing, changing narratives, and reaching turning points. We all recognise how change can create anxiety, be threatening, and yet also be enriching and positive when it is well managed and things improve.

I'm personally facing change. After nine years as Chair of the Psychology Board of Australia, my Ministerial Appointment concludes this August. I'm not alone: other retirements over the coming months include the APS Executive Director, the Chair of the Heads of Schools of Psychology Association, President of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association, and the Chair of the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council. New leaders will bring new ideas and energy to carry on the development of the profession. In every workplace and organisation there are small and large changes occurring all the time. On change actor Steve Martin recounted, ‘I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change one word. The word they didn't change was on page 87’.

Over the past nine years the Psychology Board of Australia supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has facilitated significant change. We have managed the transition from a state-based to a national registration scheme with a single national register. The Board has introduced a range of initiatives including protected titles for area of practice endorsements, recognition of supervisors, new national standards and examinations, innovation in professional development including recognition of peer consultation, standards for professional indemnity, obligations for mandatory notifications, and new advertising standards. We are grateful for the support of the profession.

Wide-ranging consultation and proper planning produce positive change. The Board is now consulting on simplifying the pathway to general registration ‒ which may involve the retirement of the 4+2 training model. Other areas of debate for the coming years include modifications to the Board approved code of ethics, options for changing scopes of practice including the possible role of prescribing, and international agreements on standards to align with the growth in global e-therapies and the international mobility of psychology practice.

Professor Brin Grenyer
Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Consultation on the proposed retirement of the 4+2 pathway to general registration

The Board has begun consultation on the proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration.
Psychologists holding general registration, who had previously gained general registration on the basis of completion of the 4+2 internship program, will not be affected by the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship.

The Board considers education and training reform an important next step in the development of the regulatory environment for the psychology profession in Australia. One of the main areas of reform is the Board’s proposal to reduce regulatory burden and complexity of psychology training by retiring the 4+2 internship program as a pathway to general registration in favour of the 5+1 internship program.

The 4+2 internship program has a long history of serving the profession and employers well. The 4+2 internship program has many positive features and has produced high quality psychologists.

However, more questions are being asked about the sustainability of the 4+2 internship both now and into the future. Stakeholders have told the Board that the 4+2 internship pathway is no longer fit for purpose as a pathway to registration due to the:

  • regulatory burden of this pathway
  • complexity and red tape associated with compliance with the 4+2 requirements
  • lack of suitable paid placements that allow for consistent development of all competencies
  • burden of this pathway on both employers and supervisors
  • mismatch of this pathway with international benchmarks, and
  • availability of alternative training pathways.

It is the Board’s view that retiring the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration would result in many positive benefits for employers, supervisors, interns and consumers.

Special message to fourth year students and current interns

The Board understands that if stakeholders support the retirement of the 4+2 internship, registrants, educational providers, supervisors and employers would need time to prepare.

Current fourth year students, 4+2 interns and their supervisors should know that a suitable transition period will be proposed in this consultation paper, which would allow for completion of the internship in the maximum allowable period.

A future date for retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway will be proposed to ensure that current fourth year students are not affected by any retirement.

Special message to psychologists with general registration who trained via the 4+2 internship pathway

The Board reiterates that psychologists holding general registration, who had previously gained general registration on the basis of completion of the 4+2 internship program, will not be affected by the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship.

These registrants will continue to be eligible for general registration under section 53(d) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

If a psychologist was previously registered on the basis of holding a 4+2 qualification, then such a person can remain registered, even if, for example, they have had a period of non-practising registration or have let their registration lapse for a period of time. The aim is to retire the 4+2 internship as a pathway for future new registration only. Psychologists who are four-year trained (and even those who gained registration, for example, in the 1950s and 1960s with three years of training) will not have their registration status affected by the Board’s proposal.

Opportunities to hear more and to provide feedback:

There will be three opportunities to hear more about the Board’s proposal, and to provide feedback:

Write a submission to our consultation

The consultation paper is published on the Board’s website.

Attend our forum in Sydney

The Board will be hosting a forum in Sydney on 24 May 2018. We invite registrants who live in the Sydney area to hear Board members speak about the rationale for the proposal to retire the 4+2 internship, and to ask questions.

For more information and to attend the forum, you need to register.

Attend our webinar

Registrants who are interested in hearing about the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship who cannot attend the Sydney forum are invited to attend a national webinar on the evening of Thursday 17 May. This webinar is for all psychologists no matter where you live.

Invitations to the webinar will be published on the Board’s website shortly.

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Consultation paper released: supervisor guidelines

The Board has published Consultation paper 29: Revised guidelines for supervisors and supervisor training providers. The current supervisor guidelines were introduced in 2013 and the Board committed to review them every three to five years. The aim of this review is to streamline the Board’s supervision documents, ensure continued relevance of the requirements for supervisors and for supervisor training providers, and identify opportunities for improvement.

The Board is not proposing any major changes the supervisor training requirements. Psychologists will still need to complete full training to become a Board-approved supervisor (BAS) and at least one master class every five years to maintain BAS status.

The Board wishes to simplify the arrangements for supervisors by merging most of the current BAS categories and their differing qualifying requirements. Under this proposal, all psychologists will need to have held general registration for three years before applying for BAS status. They will then be able to supervise anyone completing:

  • an internship (as either a secondary or principal supervisor)
  • a higher degree (including work in addition to placements
  • a registrar program (as a secondary supervisor only)
  • a transitional program, or
  • a re-entry program.

‘Registrar program principal supervisor’ will remain a separate BAS category as these supervisors will still be required to have endorsement in the relevant area of practice. Higher degree providers are required to meet any supervision requirements set out in the psychology accreditation standards.

The Board considers that the requirements for supervisors continue to protect the public, by ensuring that new and developing psychologists are supervised by appropriately trained professionals with sufficient experience in their field of practice.

Have your say

The Board is seeking feedback on the proposed new Guidelines for supervisors and separate Guidelines for supervisor training providers. You can find the consultation paper and proposed guidelines under Current Consultations on the Board’s website.

The Board is accepting submissions until 5.00pm (AEST), Friday 27 April. Please send submissions in Word format to [email protected], subject line: ‘Consultation – Supervisor guidelines’.

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Supervisor refresher training reminder

Half of the Board’s 10,000 Board-approved supervisors (BAS) are due to complete refresher training by 30 June 2018. If this is you, you need to complete training and apply to AHPRA to maintain BAS status before 30 June 2018 or your BAS status will lapse and your name will be removed from the list of Board-approved supervisors. Any supervision you provide after this will not be recognised by the Board as suitable supervision in the various pathways to registration or endorsement. To reinstate your BAS status after it lapses you will need to complete a Board-approved full training program.

What is my BAS expiry date?

Your supervisor approval expiry date is five years from the date you last completed an approved supervisor training program. If you transitioned to the National Scheme as an approved supervisor in 2010 or you became a Board-approved supervisor before July 2013, your expiry date is 30 June 2018 (unless you have already completed refresher training and provided the certificate of completion to AHPRA).

To check your expiry date, log in to the AHPRA online service portal. Click on ‘Supervisor services’ and then ‘Supervision information’. Your user name and password are the same ones you use when renewing your registration in November each year.

I want to continue supervising

You must complete refresher training before 30 June 2018. There are 17 Board-approved providers of master classes across Australia. Very high demand is expected in the next few months so get in quick for the best chance of securing your preferred provider, location, and master class topic. Contact details and websites of Board-approved providers are available under Supervisor training on the Board’s website.

Once you have completed refresher training you must then apply to maintain Board approval using the MBAS-76 form, located on the Board’s website under Forms. There is no fee for this application and your approval period will be for five years from the date you completed your training.

Many Board-approved providers also offer full training programs for new or returning supervisors. If you have never completed competency-based supervision training before you should consider full training instead of a master class (component two of full training meets refresher training requirements to renew BAS status).

I no longer wish to be a Board-approved supervisor

 recent survey conducted by the Board revealed that two-thirds of Board-approved supervisors were not actively supervising someone completing one of the Board’s pathways to registration or endorsement. You don’t require BAS status to provide supervision in other settings, for example, peer consultation, supervision for CPD purposes, supervision of a research dissertation, or supervision as a line manager. If you no longer wish to be a Board-approved supervisor you don’t need to do anything – your BAS status will lapse on 30 June 2018.

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Advance release of new national psychology examination curriculum

The Board released an advance copy of the new national psychology examination curriculum in January 2018.

The new curriculum will take effect on 1 August 2018. It is important that practitioners understand the new requirements early. By publishing the new curriculum documents six months before they take effect, exam candidates and their supervisors can start to become familiar with the new requirements. The first national psychology exam based on the new curriculum will be the August sitting of the exam (3‒24 August 2018).

The national psychology exam curriculum was reviewed by the Board between 2015 and 2017 to align the curriculum with changes in the profession since 2012, including the new APAC standards and the new International declaration of core competencies in professional psychology (the declaration). This was the first review of the curriculum since the national psychology exam curriculum was first approved by the Board in March 2012. Submissions to the Board’s Public consultation paper 28: National psychology examination curriculum review (CP28) are published on the Past Consultations page.

Following consultation, the main changes include:

More information about the new curriculum and the reasons for the changes are available on the Board’s website, along with the following documents:

  • the update guidelines
  • an advance copy of the new curriculum
  • an advance copy of the new guide, and
  • the new reading list (December 2017).

The Assessment domain additional resources document will remain on the Board’s website until 1 August 2018.

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Describing your registration status

As a registered psychologist it is important that you accurately describe your registration status, and the entity you are registered with, to ensure the information you provide to the public is accurate and not misleading.

As a psychologist, you are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia; therefore if you are describing your registration status, you can refer to being ‘registered with the Psychology Board of Australia’.

The Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) provides support and administrative functions to enable psychologists to register with the Psychology Board. It is therefore not correct to refer to your registration as being ‘registered with AHPRA’.

Remember that since the National Law was established in 2009, the state-based boards ceased to exist and were replaced by the National Board. Therefore, it is important that you no longer refer to your registration with a state-based board. For example you should not make a reference to being ‘registered with the Victorian Psychologists Board’.

The Board is the entity that regulates the profession and so it is not accurate to refer to your registration as membership. Registration is different to belonging to a professional association or group. For example, you can refer to being a member of the Australian Psychological Society or the Australian Clinical Psychology Association.

The Australian Department of Health is a department of the Australian Government and is charged with responsibility for delivering a range of welfare, public aid and other health services to the people of Australia – but it does not regulate the profession – so you should not claim that you are registered by the Department of Health.

Here is a quick reference guide (not exhaustive):

Table -Description of your registration status

We encourage you to regularly review your advertising materials and other documents such as email signatures and resumés to ensure these documents and materials accurately reflect your registration status and memberships.

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Meeting your obligations – professional indemnity insurance

Psychologists are caring people who want to help people. They do not want to harm others or themselves. However, psychologists sometimes inadvertently do things that harm their clients and those dependent on them and they could therefore be held liable to pay substantial amounts of damages and legal costs. Many psychologists and their families will suffer financially if this happens and some might not be able to pay these awards and legal costs, and that could cause their clients and dependants hardship.

The Board requires all psychologists to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII) with a company that indemnifies them against awards of damages and legal costs if clients sue them. Professional indemnity is not an alternative to good professional practice, but it is a legal-ethical obligation.

However, some psychologists fail to adhere to this registration standard and ethical obligation and one such matter has now been referred to a tribunal. We urge you to make certain you understand the Professional indemnity insurance standard and ensure that your insurance is current and adequate at all times.

Have your say

The Board has opened public consultation on revisions to the Professional indemnity insurance registration standard. Feedback on the current standard indicates it is working well, but the Board wishes to review the requirements for a minimum amount of cover, and has also identified some opportunities to update the language and structure of the PII standard to align it more closely with the PII registration standards of other National Boards.

You are invited to provide feedback by email using the template published with this consultation paper to [email protected] by 5.00pm (AEST), Friday 4 May 2018.

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Regional Board vacancies

Applications are sought from community members and psychologists for the following vacancies on the NT/SA/WA Regional Board and the Queensland Regional Board of the Psychology Board of Australia:

  • South Australia (two practitioner members)
  • Northern Territory (one practitioner member and one community member)
  • Queensland (three practitioner members)

To be eligible for appointment as a practitioner member, you must hold current registration as a psychologist. It is expected that all applicants practise or reside in the jurisdiction for which they are applying.

The National Scheme has a commitment to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply, as are people from rural or regional areas in Australia.

Appointments are made by the Minister for Health in each jurisdiction under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory. Appointments can be for up to three years, with eligibility for reappointment.

More information about the roles, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found in the information guide and application form available from AHPRA’s Statutory appointments page.

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National Scheme news

Self-assessment tool launched to help practitioners and advertisers

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and National Boards have launched a self-assessment tool to help health practitioners, including psychologists, and other advertisers check and correct their advertising.

All registered psychologists need to make sure they meet their professional and legal obligations when advertising psychology services. The tool was developed in consultation with National Boards and with feedback from AHPRA’s Professions Reference Group.

The tool is easy to use and asks users to consider a number of questions about their advertising which can help them understand if it is in breach of the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services, and in turn the National Law.

The self-assessment tool is the latest of a series of advertising resources for practitioners, healthcare providers and other advertisers of regulated health services to use to help them stay in line with the law.

This work is part of a broader strategy ‒ the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme ‒ which started last year. The strategy has met a number of its targets since its launch including clear, concise and helpful correspondence for when AHPRA receives a complaint about advertising and new resources such as:

The self-assessment tool is now available to use on the check, correct and comply section of the AHPRA website.

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National regulation of paramedicine moves a step closer

The national regulation of paramedicine moves a step closer with the appointment of the first Paramedicine Board of Australia.
The federal, state and territory health ministers made the announcement of the nine-person board at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council meeting held on 19 October 2017. Paramedicine will be the first profession to be regulated under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme) since 2012.

Registration of paramedicine is due to start from late 2018. Paramedics will be able to register once and practise anywhere in Australia. The title ‘paramedic’ will also become a ‘protected title’ – only people registered with the Board will be able to call themselves a paramedic.

The Psychology Board of Australia, along with other National Boards, has contributed to the recent public consultation on the national standards that all paramedics will have to meet.

More information, including news about the implementation of the regulation of paramedics and the newly appointed Board members, is available on the Paramedicine Board of Australia’s website.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Psychology Board website for information on the National Scheme and for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
  • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on the bottom of every page.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Prof. Brin Grenyer, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958 Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Connect with AHPRA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to receive information about important topics for your profession and participate in the discussion.

Page reviewed 21/11/2022