Practising post-internship

With regard to intern psychologists who want to continue to practise post-internship; the 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 (e.g. 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 do not complete their practical training in advance of other substantial requirements for their qualifications.

The Board believe that this approach is necessary to meet its obligation to protect members of the public.

University takes responsibility

Universities 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 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 an 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 and wishes to remain in the Intern Psychologist scope of practice must provide the Board with a letter from the course Director stating that the university will continue to take overall responsibility for supervision, and that the intern’s ongoing practice is considered part of the course’s internship requirements (e.g. to consolidate or maintain competence while completing the qualification).

University does not take responsibility

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 their registration be cancelled.

An application to be registered as an NZ-trained applicant can only be made once all of the required qualifications have been completed and their qualification has been awarded.

The former intern then must arrange with an employer to practise as something other than a psychologist (e.g. a mental health therapist, counsellor, performance coach, employment consultant, etc).

Note that practising as a psychologist while not on the Register is unlawful. This may attract a fine and may compromise any future application to become registered.

If you have any questions, please contact the Board.