4+2 internship programs FAQ

Proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration

The Board’s proposal is to reduce regulatory burden of psychology training by retiring the 4+2 internship program as a pathway to registration in favour of the 5+1 internship program.

Stakeholders have communicated to the Board that the 4+2 internship pathway is no longer fit-for-purpose as a pathway to registration going forward. The 4+2 internship program is unsustainable as it carries a high regulatory and administrative burden for employers, supervisors, interns, and the regulator. The 4+2 internship is not comparable to international benchmarks for training and registration, and there are significant risks associated with the two-year unaccredited internship.

In comparison, the 5+1 internship has the advantage of an additional year of accreditation that provides interns with a better model of training and learning. In addition, there is an administrative and regulatory advantage of the 5+1 through reduced regulatory costs and costs to employers.

Further information about the Board’s proposal is outlined in the Public consultation paper, available under Current consultations on the Board’s website.

The proposal to retire the 4+2 internship will not affect your general registration as a psychologist.

The aim of the Board’s proposal is to retire the 4+2 internship as a pathway for future new registration only. If the 4+2 internship pathway was recognised as a pathway to registration at the time you were first registered, you will not be affected by retirement of the 4+2, even if you have had a period of non-practicing registration or your registration has lapsed for a period of time.

You 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.

Yes. The Board is aware that stakeholders would need time to prepare for any retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway.

The Board has outlined three options for transition in the public consultation paper. Depending on overall stakeholder preference during the consultation period, the last enrolment to begin a 4+2 internship program will either be 30 June 2019, 30 June 2020 or 30 June 2021.

Regardless of which of the three transition deadlines are preferred by stakeholders, all of them include a future date for retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway. This means that current 4+2 interns will not be affected by the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway because they have already commenced the internship. Students who are currently undertaking a 4th year program will have time to complete their studies and enrol in the internship before the deadline.

The proposed transition timeframes also allows for the maximum time permitted in the Guidelines for the 4+2 internship program (five years) for the internship to be completed. The Board is committed to ensure equity for those students who need to study or work part-time or take a leave of absence due to family, medical, or maternity reasons. By allowing the maximum timeframe for completion of the internship, the Board is able to promote equity within reasonable retirement timeframes.

If you are considering undertaking the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration, but are not enrolled in the fourth year of psychology study, you may be affected by the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway. This will depend on whether you can complete the fourth year, and enrol in the 4+2 internship pathway by the deadline.

The Board has proposed a future date for retirement of the 4+2 internship to give adequate notice of the change. Depending on stakeholder feedback, the last enrolment to begin a 4+2 internship program will be either: 30 June 2019, 30 June 2020 or 30 June 2021.

If you have not successfully enrolled to begin the 4+2 internship pathway by the deadline, you will not be included in the final cohort of the two-year internship. In this case, there remain several other pathways to obtain general registration. Two of the alternative pathways to registration, the 5+1 internship and the standard higher degree pathway take the same time to complete as the 4+2 internship – six years.

The Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration will not result in any changes to the application timeframes, application process, or to the Board’s transitional program for applicants with overseas qualifications.

Since there is no international equivalent of the 4+2 internship, the Board’s proposal would result in
Australian registration requirements becoming aligned with international standards.

Moving from a two-year internship requirement to a one-year internship requirement is expected to have a positive impact on employers and supervisors by reducing administrative costs, resourcing requirements, and regulatory burden. Less on the job supervision is required for a one-year compared with a two-year internship, and there is expected to be less risk in supervising interns that have already undertaken placements as part of their educational training.

While there will be fewer two-year interns to supervise there will be more one-year interns. There is no current workforce shortage for psychology, and retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway is not expected to alter the overall number of provisional psychologists.

Should the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship be supported, organisations will need to prepare to transition to supervise or employ 5+1 interns. The Board does not require additional training for supervisors to supervise 5+1 interns. Retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway would require employers and supervisors to encourage their current 4+2 interns to finish requirements in a timely manner.

Moving from a two-year internship requirement to a one-year internship requirement is expected to have a positive impact on educational providers. There is an increased opportunity for training providers to add fifth year training, or to transition an internship registration course into an accredited fifth year qualification. Based on current registration data, it would be expected that 800 to 1000 new interns would seek placement in a fifth year approved program of study if the 4+2 internship pathway was retired. Currently there are 17 education providers offering fifth year training programs nationally.

There is particular opportunity in NSW and Qld - jurisdictions with the most number of 4+2 interns who would be looking to train via the 5+1 pathway- and in ACT, NT and SA, where there are currently no fifth year programs offered.

There is a particular need for programs that are offered in distance education mode to ensure national availability of programs, and to support regional and rural workforce development.

Public safety is at the heart of the National Scheme. The public can be confident that their psychologist is suitably trained and qualified to practice in a competent and ethical manner.

There will be no affect on cost of sessions or availability of psychologists as a result of the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 pathway to general registration.

The Board’s proposal for retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway is outlined in: Public consultation paper 31: Reducing regulatory burden: Retiring the 4+2 pathway to general registration. The consultation paper is available under Current consultations and the Board will accept submissions until close of business (AEST) Friday 1 June 2018.

Further information about the proposal can be found on the Board’s website including information on:

The Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration means that the Guidelines for the 4+2 internship will be in place for at least seven more years.

As a matter of course, the Board reviews all its standards, guidelines and policies every three to five years. Previous consultations on the 4+2 internship were held in 2009 and 2014. Implementing updated 4+2 guidelines were timely and necessary, regardless of any work on the proposal to retire the 4+2 internship pathway.

The Board published a new Provisional registration standard and Guidelines for the 4+2 internship effective 1 June 2017. The updated 4+2 internship is outcome-focused and competency based. A range of new flexibilities were introduced in the 4+2 internship guideline, including

  • more flexible supervision arrangements
  • promotion of simulated learning activities
  • increased supervisor responsibilities
  • retirement of the limited work role policy, and
  • more flexibility to demonstrate achievement of the core competencies in different ways.

These flexibilities will assist interns complete their internship more easily, and will support the transition to retirement of the 4+2 internship. If the Board’s proposal to retire the 4+2 internship is supported, it is recommended that there are no further changes to the 4+2 internship program.


The new 4+2 internship program

The new provisional registration standard and guidelines for the 4+2 internship came into effect from 1 June 2017. The Board had a three-month transition period where it was still accepting general registration applications and case studies/reports meeting the requirements in the old (interim) guidelines.

The transition period has now ended and all 4+2 pathway provisional psychologists finishing their internship and applying for general registration after 1 September 2017 must meet the requirements of the new guidelines, and all case reports and progress reports must use the new format. The Board has made available fact sheets and other resources to assist provisional psychologists and supervisors transition to the new guidelines. You can find these on the 4+2 internship page.

The Board’s Policy for 4+2 internship program limited work role was retired on 1 June 2017 as relevant information was moved into the new 4+2 guidelines that started on 1 June 2017.

Work roles still need to be psychological in nature and provide a breadth of experience that allows all the core competencies and key requirements of the internship to be developed and demonstrated. In particular work roles must enable you to develop skills using a range of psychological tests and instruments and intervention strategies – either all in one work role or over two or more work roles. Therefore most limited work roles will not be affected by the new guidelines.

If your work role is limited in relation to the lifespan competency then the specific requirement for 770 hours in each broad lifespan stage no longer applies. You still need to achieve the competency but there is now more flexibility to develop and demonstrate the competency in different ways. Therefore you may choose to revise your internship plan to have fewer client contact hours in a lifespan stage and more time spent on other activities that develop this competency – such as professional development and simulated learning activities.

If you are adjusting your lifespan hours you don’t need Board approval; your supervisor can approve the change if they are confident that they will still be able to assess your achievement of this competency. The supervisor has ultimate responsibility for assessing competence and therefore has discretion to introduce requirements such as extra tasks or specific foci for case reports that are additional to the Board’s minimum requirements, if necessary for them to make a confident assessment of your competence.

For more information refer to the new guidelines and the fact sheet for transitioning to the new guidelines on the 4+2 internship page.

All applications for approval of an internship are considered on their individual merits and your work role will be considered together with other aspects of your internship plan that will contribute to your development of the eight core competencies.

A work role needs to enable you to develop and demonstrate all of the competencies required by the guidelines and as detailed in the national psychology examination curriculum. In particular your work role/s for the internship must give you experience using a wide range of assessment and intervention techniques and allow you to:

  • record at least 1000 hours of direct client contact (up to 150 hours may be simulated client contact)
  • develop your skills and demonstrate competency in administering, scoring, interpreting and reporting on nine different psychological tests and instruments as required by the guidelines and the six selected tests that are tested by the national psychology examination
  • develop your skills using a range of assessment and interview techniques and applying a range of intervention strategies across a broad spectrum of functioning
  • complete eight case reports that are based on your real clients and with each based on a different presenting problem and meeting all the requirements for case reports set out in the guidelines

For further guidance on the range of skills and knowledge that are expected to be completed by the end of the internship refer to the national psychology examination curriculum.

Current 4+2 pathway provisional psychologists automatically transferred to the new guidelines on 1 June 2017. All existing internship plans remain in place; they do not need to be reapproved by the Board. Board approval is only required for new or substantially revised work roles or a new principal supervisor.

You will need to review your current internship plan together with your principal supervisor and make any adjustments to ensure you will meet the new requirements. The Board has provided transition resources to assist with this process. There are also optional changes you can make to take advantage of new flexibilities under the new guidelines.

Once your supervisor has approved the changes to your internship plan, you can start working under your amended plan straight away.

For more information refer to the fact sheet for transitioning to the new guidelines on the 4+2 internship page.

Provisional psychologists whose internship plan was approved before 1 June 2017 need to complete six case studies or case reports and submit three satisfactory case studies or reports to the Board.

All applicants whose provisional registration date is 1 June 2017 or later will be approved under the new guidelines and need to complete eight case reports and submit four to the Board. For interns who have one or two remaining case reports to submit to the Board after 1 June 2017, your supervisor should determine whether your outstanding reports need to be assessment or intervention focused. For interns who have three remaining case reports to submit to the Board after 1 June 2017, you must submit at least one assessment and one intervention case report to the Board.

From 1 September 2017, all case reports submitted to the Board for assessment must be in the new format.

The nine tests that you competently demonstrate to your supervisor twice each must be taken from the national psychology examination curriculum – and can be taken from the list of six tests you will need to know in detail for the exam, or the list of other tests you need to be familiar with for the exam.

You may choose to include all six selected tests from the exam curriculum in the nine you demonstrate competently to your supervisor, plus three more from the list of tests you must be familiar with. However as long as you obtain sufficient experience with the six selected tests to pass the exam, they don’t have to be the same ones you demonstrate competently to your supervisor.

In your work role you may also obtain experience with psychological tests and instruments that are not on the exam curriculum. You should always discuss these with your supervisors to ensure they are genuine psychological tests and instruments accepted by the profession. You can still count time spent using genuine tests that aren’t on the exam curriculum towards your practice hours for the internship, even though you can’t use them to meet the specific psychological testing requirements.


Getting started

If your fourth year qualification (i.e. Honors or equivalent) was completed more than 10 years ago you will need to meet refresher training requirements in order to be eligible to apply for the 4+2 internship.

The Guidelines for the 4+2 internship program outline the Board’s refresher training requirements and process of assessment. See Appendix C: Policy on recency of qualifications for applicants for provisional registration in the 4+2 pathway.

The Policy outlines the topics refresher training should cover. Suitable refresher activities may include: units completed at an accredited higher education provider, professional development activities, internships completed overseas.

Neither the Board or the accreditation authority (APAC) approves or accredits education providers to deliver refresher training courses. Applicants must determine their refresher training needs based on their individual circumstances, for instance any relevant study, training, or professional experience since completing the qualification. The Board cannot provide advice on what topics an individual needs to refresh unless it has assessed this as part of a complete provisional registration application.

Overseas-qualified applicants need to apply for provisional registration and assessment of qualifications. The outcome of that application will determine if you are eligible to commence a 4+2 internship program or other supervised practice program in Australia.

Detailed information about the application process is available on the overseas applicants’ section of the website.

No, the Board does not accredit internship programs – each proposed internship program is assessed individually. Each candidate for provisional registration must arrange his or her own internship including finding suitable work roles and supervisors.

Each individual is responsible for finding their own supervisor and securing work roles/placements for their supervision. To assist with finding a supervisor there is a searchable list of Board-approved supervisors available on the website.

You can use this to search for a supervisor in your area who is eligible to provide the type of supervision you need (i.e. 4+2 internship). If a supervisor is available to be contacted, you can send them an enquiry about supervision using the ‘email supervisor’ option in the search results.

No. The Board and the legislative framework upon which registration is framed stops at the borders of Australia. The Board has no jurisdiction over practice performed outside Australia and cannot approve overseas psychological work for the purposes of an internship program.

However, the Board will consider requests for credit for supervision previously completed overseas with the approval of the relevant registration or licensing authority. These requests will be considered case by case when an application for approval of an internship program in Australia is received.

Yes, for the purpose of the 4+2 internship program this type of supervision is regarded as ‘remote’ supervision.

Board permission is not required for remote supervision that uses high quality equipment for real time visual and verbal communication where both the supervisor and the supervisee can clearly hear each other and there is a clear image that allows facial expressions and body language to be seen (e.g. videoconference, web-conference).

The new 4+2 internship that commenced on 1 June 2017 includes provision for up to 40 hours of supervision provided by telephone. Requests for more than 40 hours of telephone supervision must be made in writing and will be considered by the Board on a case by case basis. Written requests can be made using the web enquiry form.

The new 4+2 internship that commenced on 1 June 2017 includes provision for up to 10 hours of indirect supervision which may include providing written feedback on case reports or other aspects of the internship via email. Requests for more than 10 hours of indirect supervision must be made in writing and will be considered by the Board on a case by case basis. Written requests can be made using the web enquiry form.

All practising psychologists - including provisional psychologists - must meet the requirements of the professional indemnity insurance registration standard. There is currently a minimum level of $2 million for any one claim.

Not usually, provided that your practice as a provisional psychologist is covered by your employer’s professional indemnity insurance and this complies with the Board’s requirements.

Provisional psychologists should refer to the PII arrangements registration standard for more information and are also encouraged to seek their own advice about insurance to ensure it is appropriate for their individual practice and meets the Board’s requirements.


Provisional registration and protected title

Yes, if you have completed an APAC accredited four year sequence of study within the last 10 years and you have never been registered as a health practitioner in Australia before you can apply for provisional registration online.

There are three simple steps to applying for provision registration online:

  1. Fill out an online application for provisional registration.
  2. Upload supporting documents as part of the online application.
  3. Wait to be contacted by AHPRA.

Supporting documentation for the 4+2 internship pathway includes a completed internship program plan (form SPPR-76) and position description/s for your work role/s or placement/s. Therefore you must arrange your internship and supervisors before you can finalise your application for provisional registration.

For full details visit Graduate Applications.

Before applying for provisional registration you must ensure you are familiar with the obligations and responsibilities of provisional psychologists, including the Board’s registration standards, the code of ethics, and various guidelines and policies.


Provisional psychologists cannot renew online as details of university enrolment or confirmation of an ongoing 4+2 internship must be provided with the renewal. Therefore provisional renewal forms need to be posted to a local AHPRA office.

System upgrades may make online renewal available for provisional psychologists in the future.

Section 64(3) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law specifically states – ‘Provisional registration may not be renewed more than twice.’ It is not possible for the Board to make any exemptions to this requirement.

Provisional psychologists who do not complete their training within three years must reapply for provisional registration, however there is a special form and a streamlined application process to ensure the supervised practice program is not disrupted. There is no application fee for this type of application, therefore the annual registration fee is paid which is the same as the annual renewal fee so there is no additional cost for the applicant.

If it is within one month of the expiry date, you are within the ‘late period’ and can still renew your registration. Under the National Law you must renew your registration within one month of the expiry date or your registration will lapse.

This means that you have one month after your expiry date to renew, however if your renewal is received during the late period you will incur a late fee. You can still work in this period because you will still be registered.

Your employer or supervisor can review your registration status online. If you have not renewed within one month after the expiry date your registration will lapse and you cannot continue to undertake your internship as a provisional psychologist. If you wish to continue your internship, you will need to make a new application for registration and you may not recommence practice until the new application is approved.

Provisional psychologists undertaking a Board approved 4+2 internship are entitled to use the title ‘Provisional Psychologist’ while engaged in approved supervised practice.

Under the National Law the word ‘provisional’ is not protected but when paired with the word ‘psychologist’ it would constitute a breach of the Act if used by any person who is not registered as a Provisional Psychologist. While the term ‘intern’ is not a protected title under the National Law it should not be used in relation to the title ‘psychologist’.

If your registration expires but you are still within the one month late period you can continue to use the title ‘Provisional Psychologist’, however if your registration lapses you may not continue to use the title Provisional Psychologist or any derivative of that title. There are penalties and other consequences for false use of titles.

Yes, but you must obtain approval from the Board first.

As changing state will usually mean a change of supervisor and/or work role you will have to submit a new supervised practice plan for approval, but the work you have completed before changing states will be recognised for the new plan.

For more information contact the AHPRA office in the state or territory where you are currently working.

More psychology FAQ are available on the Fact sheets and FAQ page on the website.

You can also send in your question using the online enquiry form.

Page reviewed 2/10/2013