Intern Psychologists who want to continue to practise post-internship

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The Psychologists Board has been registering students during their internship year since 2004. Since then we have seen a steady increase in requests from Intern Psychologists (Interns) who want to continue practising in paid employment after they have completed their formal practical training, but before they have completed their full qualification (i.e., Masters and PGDip,or DClinPsych).

This has given rise to a number of problems, and the Board has asked all training courses to consider what steps they can take to ensure that students will not normally complete their practical training in advance of other substantial requirements for their qualification(s). The Board believe that this approach is necessary to meet its obligation to protect members of the public.

However, until the universities can implement changes, we are aware that some students will still be relying on the Board’s past practice of allowing them to work under supervision until they qualify for full registration, and so we have made the following allowance for that in the short term.

University must continue to take overall responsibility for the Intern, and all practice must be considered part of the training course

The special purpose scope of practice for postgraduate psychology students comprises of psychology services undertaken as part of the postgraduate internship on which the application is based. It does not extend to practice or any other activity outside that postgraduate study. Further, registration within the special purpose scope of practice is authorised only for the duration of the postgraduate study.

The standard condition on every Intern Psychologist’s scope of practice states that the Intern:

“…may only practise under close supervision while undertaking the internship requirements for the Board-accredited Post Graduate Diploma or Doctoral course the intern is enrolled in.”

Therefore, an Intern who wishes to continue to practise after completing a course’s formal internship requirements must provide the Board with a letter from the course stating that the university will continue to take overall responsibility for supervision and that the Intern's on-going practice is considered to be part of the course’s internship requirements (perhaps as a means of consolidating or maintaining competence while completing other aspects of their qualifications).

An Intern who will not be practising between the time of finishing the formal internship and his or her full qualification can simply sit idle on the Register as an Intern Psychologist, and can apply to be upgraded to full registration once all of the required qualifications have been completed. (No fee is charged for this upgrade).

What if the Intern wishes to continue to practise, but the university will not agree to continue to take overall responsibility for them?

In this situation the university must inform the Board that the formal internship has come to an end, and that the university will not be taking responsibility for any further practice. The Intern must request that his or her registration be cancelled. [Note: An application to be restored to the Register can be made once all of the required qualifications have been completed.]

The former Intern then must arrange with an employer to practise as something other than a psychologist (perhaps as a Mental Health Therapist, Counsellor, Performance Coach, Employment Consultant, etc.). [NB: Practising as a psychologist while not on the Register is unlawful and may attract a fine and may compromise any future application to become registered.]

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Board's Registrar (Steve Osborne) or Director of Registration (Anne Culver).

We welcome your comments on this website, on your interaction with the Board, or on any other aspect of the work we do.