Psychology general FAQ

Frequently asked questions are available on the following topics:

As soon as you are granted general registration as a psychologist you can practise in Australia.

Provisional psychologists can start practising as soon as provisional registration is granted but only in positions that are supervised, i.e. a placement as part of an accredited higher degree or in an internship role approved by the Board.

To practise as a psychologist and use the title ‘psychologist’ in Australia, it is mandatory to be registered with the Board (AHPRA supports the Board in achieving its functions). Becoming a member of a professional association is optional.

The Board is appointed by Government Health Minsters with the primary objective to protect the health and safety of the public. Professional associations, on the other hand, represent the interests of the psychology profession or specific groups of psychologists.

The interests of the profession and the public are often aligned, so the Board and professional associations can have common goals. For example, having minimum standards of practice keeps the public safe and also upholds the reputation of the profession.

To be recognised for registration, psychology qualifications must be accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and approved by the Psychology Board of Australia. These programs can be found on the approved programs of study list.

An online search is available for inactive programs of study that are no longer delivered by an educational provider. If a program was on the list of approved programs when you completed it, it will still be recognised by the Board for registration.

You can also submit a request for historical course information  on the APAC website if you need to verify the accreditation status of a program that is no longer offered.

  • Psychologists with general registration have unrestricted rights to use the title Psychologist or Registered Psychologist and may undertake any work using that title.
  • Psychologists with an endorsement may use the title associated with that area of practice e.g. Forensic Psychologist.
  • Provisionally registered psychologists undertaking a Board-approved internship or higher degree must only use the title Provisional Psychologist.
  • Candidates undertaking a Doctoral Degree or combined Masters/PhD who have general registration but do not yet have an endorsement may only refer to themselves as a Psychologist or Registered Psychologist.
  • A psychologist enrolled in a Board registrar program leading to an endorsement may use the title Registrar along with the area of practice e.g. Clinical Psychology Registrar.
  • If your registration lapses, or is suspended or cancelled, you must not use the title Psychologist. There are penalties and other consequences for false use of titles.
  • If you hold non-practicing registration you may use the title Psychologist but you must not practice the profession of psychology (for the definition of ‘practice’, see the Board’s non-practicing registration).

A generally registered psychologist may use descriptors in combination with the title “psychologist” if:

  • the title does not knowingly or recklessly claim or induce a belief that the psychologist has an endorsement in an approved area of practice that the psychologist does not hold
  • the title does not knowingly or recklessly claim that the psychologist is a specialist health practitioner, e.g. “specialist clinical psychologist”, “specialist psychologist”
  • the title does not mislead the public, that is, makes claim to knowledge, skill or qualifications that the psychologist does not hold.

Titles not specifically associated with an approved area of practice such as ‘school psychologist’, ‘consultant psychologist’, ‘occupational psychologist’, or ‘consumer psychologist’ are acceptable provided that the psychologist does not breach the Code of Ethics by over-representing their area of expertise or practising outside their scope of competence.

For more information, refer to the Guidelines for advertising regulated health service.

The Board recognises that in some states and territories public sector industrial awards enable the employment of a psychologist in a position that has a title approved under an industrial award – i.e. clinical psychologist – despite the psychologist not meeting the requirements of the Board’s Area of practice endorsements registration standard.

In such cases, the psychologist must not use the title in a way that may induce a belief that the psychologist holds an endorsement in that approved area of practice. It must be clear to the public that the title relates specifically to the position being held, and the psychologist must not use this title outside the context of their employment e.g. in private practice.

Psychologists are encouraged to apply for an area of practice endorsement to overcome this difficulty.

The Board expects that psychologists:

  • providing psychological services to clients located in Australia will be registered with the Board regardless of where the psychologist is located
  • comply with the requirements of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and the Board’s registration standards, codes and guidelines, including the Professional Indemnity Insurance Registration Standard which requires that a psychologist is covered for all aspects of their psychology practice
  • ensure that their patients are informed in relation to billing arrangements for consultations and whether the patient will be able to access Medicare or private health insurance rebates
  • who conduct technology-based (e.g. videoconference) consultations with a client who is outside Australia establish whether they are required to be registered by the psychology regulator in that jurisdiction
  • consider the appropriateness of a technology-based consultation for each client’s circumstances.

Provisional registration better represents the training pathways of psychologists than student registration. Student registration is used in other health professions for individuals in undergraduate programs, where students are closely supervised in group placements and do not work independently in a practical environment. This does not apply to the 5th and 6th year of psychology training which require trainees to operate autonomously, usually in one-on-one consultations, where supervision does not occur in real time.

Psychology trainees in all training pathways undertake substantial periods of supervised practice in workplace placements and are therefore deemed fall into the provisional registration provisions of the National Law rather than the student registration provisions. In addition, it is not unusual for trainees to obtain paid workplace training positions or obtain further paid work performing duties as a provisional psychologist under supervision (subject to Board approval). Student registration would not allow psychology interns or postgraduate students to obtain these paid work roles.

For information on gaining approval to undertake work in addition to university placements refer to the Board’s Policy on working in addition to placements.

The Board has determined that the first four years of psychology education do not require student registration as there is no practical training and no contact with the public.  

 

Endorsements

Endorsement is a regulatory mechanism under the National Law. It enables a notation to be included on the public register to identify practitioners who have completed an approved academic qualification and supervised experience in an advanced area of practice. This advanced training is in addition to the minimum level of training required for general registration.

Area of practice endorsement is only available for psychologists who have general registration and who meet the Area of practice endorsement registration standard. For further information and more FAQ, see the Board's endorsement webpage.

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

To be eligible for endorsement in one of the approved areas of practice a registered psychologist must complete a postgraduate qualification that is accredited and approved by the Board for endorsement in that area of practice. The psychologist must then work in that area of practice under the supervision of an endorsed supervisor in a Board-approved registrar program. See the Guidelines on area of practice endorsements for details on the types of qualifications and corresponding registrar program requirements.

The application forms for area of practice endorsement are available on the Board’s website on the Forms page under Endorsement of registration.

If you meet the qualification requirements and have completed a Board-approved registrar program use form AECR-76.

If you meet the qualification requirements but have not yet completed a registrar program, apply to commence a registrar program using form AEAP-76.

If you completed equivalent training overseas, or if you completed an accredited Australian doctorate under transition provisions, refer to information about the non-standard pathway and use form AEAT-76 when you are ready to apply for endorsement.

In order to use a protected title associated with one of the Board’s nine areas of practice endorsement (e.g. Health Psychologist) you must complete a Board-approved qualification relevant to the endorsement and a period of supervised practice in a Board-approved registrar program. This is a requirement under the National Law.

Becoming a member of the APS and joining one of nine APS Colleges is optional. You may be able to complete a supervised practice program that meets the requirements for both area of practice endorsement and APS College Fellow concurrently. However, the Board and the APS are separate organisations and completion of the requirements for one will not automatically meet the requirements for the other.

The Board’s requirements for endorsement are explained in the Area of practice endorsements registration standard and the Guidelines on area of practice endorsements.

Information about APS college membership is available on the APS website.

To be endorsed in more than one area of practice you must have completed a Board-approved qualification and a period of approved supervised practice for each area of practice (or were granted endorsement under transition provisions at the start of the National Scheme). To maintain endorsement in two (or more) areas of practice you must meet annual continuing professional development (CPD) requirements in each area of practice (see the Board’s CPD guidelines for details).

 

Professional indemnity insurance

The requirement for current PII only applies to practising psychologists, including provisional psychologists. If you practise as a registered psychologist for part of the year you must hold PII for the period of practice. If you don’t have current insurance you will be required to declare on annual renewal of registration that you have not practised and will not practise without PII. Annual renewal declarations will be subject to audit.

If you are not currently practising as a psychologist but have done so in the past you must ensure you have adequate run-off cover or equivalent in accordance with the PII arrangements registration standard. If you do not practice psychology you should consider switching to non-practicing registration, which will exempt you from the PII and CPD requirements. Refer to the PII registration standard for a definition of practice.

If your work does not include the practice of psychology you don’t need to have PII that meets the Board’s requirements. If you are a registered psychologist and undertake any psychology practice, even if the job title is not ‘Psychologist’, you must be covered by your own PII or by an employer’s professional PII. Refer to the PII registration standard for a definition of practice.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 20/09/2019