Australian system of psychological training and registration

Australia is one of the favourite places for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in psychology. This is probably due to the shorter distance and lower cost of programs in Australia, as compared to UK and America. However, a lot of people would still ask on how to become a psychologist. If you have been following this blog, you  should know that just an undergraduate degree is not enough...

This has been written before in a previous post, but this post would be on a more detailed description of how to become a registered psychologist in Australia (general registration), focusing mainly on the below picture. The following information are also available on the APS website.

                                                            (copyright of APS)

STEP 1: Three-year accredited undergraduate psychology sequence
- Make sure you finish your APAC-accredited program! This is the very first step to everything.

STEP 2: Fourth year accredited psychology studies
- This could be in the form of a Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology.

STEP 3: Internship pathway or postgraduate study to general registration
There are currently three pathways to general registration available to fourth year graduates. You may register with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) to have provisional registration as you start on any of the below options.

OPTION ONE: 4 + 2 internship pathway
- The 4+2 pathway requires you to have supervised employment in a psychological role and provisional registration, before you embark on a two-year internship of supervised practice.

OPTION TWO: 5 +1 internship pathway
- The 5+1 pathway requires you to complete a one-year APAC-accredited Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology (5th year) and to have provisional registration, followed by a one-year internship of supervised practice.

OPTION THREE: APAC-accredited postgraduate professional psychology degree
- This is the most common option
- Current types of APAC-accredited professional postgraduate degrees are Masters, Doctorate and Masters/PhD, involving coursework, placements and a thesis. Degrees are offered in the nine areas of psychological practice. This pathway requires that a candidate undertake a minimum two-year postgraduate degree (fifth and sixth year of study).
- A postgraduate student must hold provisional registration in order to undertake the supervised practice component of the course - otherwise known as a placement, which is usually part of the program.

Upon successful completion of any one of the options, candidates are eligible to apply for general registration as a psychologist with the PsyBA.

STEP 4: PsyBA Registrar Program
- This is to allow you to be get the practice endorsement in your area of speciality. An endorsement on registration indicates that a psychologist has additional training in an advanced area of practice, in addition to the minimum level of psychological training required for general registration. To qualify for an area of practice endorsement a psychologist must have advanced training over and above that which is required for General registration.
- In short, don't worry about it yet, till you get there...

For more details, please visit http://www.psychology.org.au/studentHQ/studying/study-pathways/

    Jobs (Part 6): Why so strict??

    In terms of looking for psychological-related work, most employers tend to be really strict in making sure that your qualifications are of the required levels, and you may be even rejected without an interview, if you do not have the required qualifications in the first place.

    Why is this so?

    From a psychological point of view (rather than from the company's point of view), this should be done and is the right thing to do, i.e. to not employ people without having the right credentials and experiences. This is rather an ethical thing to do for the employers, as they are making sure that no harm be bestowed onto their clients.

    According to the revised APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2010),
    2.01 Boundaries of Competence (a) Psychologists provide services, teach and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study or professional experience.
    So do not provide services beyond what you can do, and if you feel like you are not competent, make sure you can get the appropriate and required training, otherwise make a referral.
    (b) Where scientific or professional knowledge in the discipline of psychology establishes that an understanding of factors associated with age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language or socioeconomic status is essential for effective implementation of their services or research, psychologists have or obtain the training, experience, consultation or supervision necessary to ensure the competence of their services, or they make appropriate referrals
    As for the companies, do not blame them, and try to understand from their point of view..
    (e) In those emerging areas in which generally recognized standards for preparatory training do not yet exist, psychologists nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the competence of their work and to protect clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients and others from harm. 
    In conclusion: Do no harm.

    SGPsychStud: The search for knowledge in psychology

    Many students  (including myself previously) have this misconception that all the knowledge that you need can be found in your textbooks, so chunking on your textbook theories will allow you to become a good professional in the future. However this may not be very true.

    Unlike many other professionals, psychology is still a very young science, having been only around for slightly over 100 years (Yes! 100 years is considered young in science areas). Hence we still require a lot of knowledge, in terms of research to find out more about the human behaviour and mental processes. This knowledge should not be restricted to just reading the textbooks, as they would include talking to your lecturers, reading recent research articles, and even attending psychological events.

    To obtain all the knowledge you need in psychology is quite impossible, and it seems to be a new learning process everyday as you find out more about different aspects of psychology. As a student in psychology, you may find that your textbooks are already very overwhelming due to the amount of content. My advice: Wait till you get to go to a psychology conference! You may find yourself soaked in so much content, that you become so eager to go for the next day of the event. On top of that, you get to meet and listen (or even talk!) to the "superstars" of the psychological area: the main theorists and psychologists who may have came up with the theories in your textbooks (think Phillip ZimbardoElizabeth Loftus, and Martin Seligman)! It is highly possible that they are still alive, seeing that we are such a young science.

    To finish this post, my advice is: Don't just bury yourself in your books. Go out and experience psychology in its real form, in how it has been applied in our everyday lives, and then go back and analyse why it happens like that. Also make sure you get the latest psychological information and knowledge through recent research articles and by attending conferences and events. All this knowledge will definitely help in building up the psychologist in you!