Scopes of Practice

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Important Clarification re Scopes of Practice

The Board has heard from psychologists and employers that vocational scopes are being used in ways that were never intended. Some employers and funders insist that psychologists hold a given scope as a condition of employment. While that is certainly any employer’s prerogative, it is important that all parties understand the following;

A vocational scope of practice does not “fence off” any area of practice. It only protects use of the scope's title.

A psychologist can perform any activity within the all-encompassing ("Psychologist") scope of practice, as long as they are demonstrably competent to do so, or are doing so under appropriate supervision (for example when training in a new area of practice).

Holding a vocational scope simply provides the practitioner with the additional right to use that scope’s title, and thereby clearly and simply signal to the public (or an employer) their competence in that scope.

In short, practice is not restricted by scope, but by competence. Only title use is restricted by scope.

All psychologists are ethically and legally bound to practise only within the bounds of their competence. Some employers and funders seem to assume that psychologists must have a specific vocational scope in order to competently provide the required service. Given the above clarification this can be seen to be untrue. For example, many highly competent and experienced practitioners working in the Family Court do not qualify for the Clinical Psychologist scope, but it would be a huge loss to the Court and to the families involved if these experts were denied work on that basis.

The Board has brought this clarification to the attention of major employers to ensure that the public continue to have good access to a range of experienced and competent psychologists.

 

Scopes of Practice and Qualifications for Psychologists Registered under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003

Section 11 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act) requires the Board to describe the contents of the profession in terms of one or more scopes of practice.  A scope may be described in any way the Board thinks fit, including (but not limited to) by a name or reference commonly understood by other health practitioners; by reference to an area of science or learning; by reference to tasks commonly undertaken; or by reference to illnesses or conditions to be diagnosed, treated or managed.  The Board must also prescribe the qualifications required to practise within each scope.

Following extensive consultation, the Board has gazetted the following six scopes of practice:

 

“Psychologist” - A psychologist within a general scope is defined as rendering or offering to render to individuals, groups, organisations or the public any psychological service involving the application of psychological knowledge, principles, methods and procedures of understanding, predicting ameliorating or influencing behaviour, affect or cognition.  Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

The following qualifications are prescribed for registration as a psychologist in the general scope of practice:

 A minimum of a Masters degree in Psychology from an accredited1 educational organisation, or an equivalent qualification.  Eligibility for a general scope of practice requires a Board approved practicum or internship involving 1500 hours of supervised practice.

[1. “Accredited” here and in subsequent references means accreditation of the educational organisation, or an educational course, by the New Zealand Psychologists Board for the purpose of registering psychologists.]

 

“Intern Psychologist” - An intern psychologist within a special purpose scope is defined as rendering or offering to render to individuals, groups, organisations or the public any psychological service involving the application of psychological knowledge, principles, methods and procedures of understanding, predicting, ameliorating or influencing behaviour, affect or cognition. Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

An Intern Psychologist scope of practice may be granted to applicants:

- who have completed formal academic studies that have provided them with the foundation competencies required for safe practice in a supervised internship setting and who are enrolled in a Board-accredited post graduate diploma or doctoral course of studies.

 

“Trainee Psychologist” - A trainee psychologist within a special purpose scope is defined as rendering or offering to render to individuals, groups, organisations or the public any psychological service involving the application of psychological knowledge, principles, methods and procedures of understanding, predicting, ameliorating or influencing behaviour, affect or cognition. Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

A Trainee Psychologist scope of practice may be granted to applicants:

-who have completed formal academic qualifications that have provided the foundation competencies required for safe practice in a supervised setting and who are entering board-approved supervised practice for the purpose of achieving full registration.

 

“Clinical Psychologist” - Clinical Psychologists apply psychological knowledge and theory derived from research to the area of mental health and development, to assist children, young persons, adults and their families with emotional, mental, developmental or behavioural problems by using psychological assessment, formulation and diagnosis based on biological, social and psychological factors, and applying therapeutic interventions using a scientist-practitioner approach. Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

The following qualifications have been prescribed for registration as a psychologist in the clinical scope of practice:

A minimum of a Masters degree in Psychology from an accredited educational organisation and an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, or equivalent qualification. Eligibility for a Clinical Psychologist scope of practice shall require a Board approved practicum or internship involving 1500 hours of supervised practice.

 

“Counselling Psychologist” - Counselling Psychologists apply psychological knowledge and theory derived from research to the area of client empowerment and enhancement, to assist children, young persons, adults and their families with personal, social, educational, and vocational functioning by using psychological assessments and interventions, and preventative approaches that acknowledge ecological, developmental and phenomenological dimensions. Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

The following qualifications have been prescribed for registration as a psychologist in the Counselling Psychologist scope of practice:

A minimum of a Master’s degree in psychology from an accredited educational organisation and an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology, or equivalent qualification. Eligibility for a Counselling Psychologist scope of practice shall require a Board approved practicum or internship involving 1500 hours of supervised practice.

 

“Educational Psychologist” - Educational Psychologists apply psychological knowledge and theory derived from research to the area of learning and development, to assist children, young persons, adults and their families regarding their learning, academic performance, behavioural, social and emotional development, by using psychological and educational assessments and applying interventions using systemic, ecological and developmental approaches.  Such practice is undertaken within an individual’s area and level of expertise and with due regard to ethical, legal, and Board-prescribed standards.

The following qualifications have been prescribed for registration as a psychologist in the educational scope of practice;

A minimum of a Masters degree in psychology2 from an accredited educational organisation and an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Psychology, or equivalent qualification. Eligibility for an Educational Psychologist scope of practice shall require a Board approved practicum or internship involving 1500 hours of supervised practice.

[2. A Master’s degree in Education may be considered equivalent to a Master’s degree in psychology where its content is sufficiently educational psychology in nature.]

 

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