Returning to practise after an absence

If you wish to return to practise after an absence of three or more years, the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the “Act”), requires the Board to be assured that you are competent to practise before issuing a Practising Certificate (PC).

To meet this obligation the Board requires psychologists who wish to return to practise to complete a Return to Practise application form.

After assessing that application the Board may impose special conditions on your scope of practice or decline to issue a practising certificate until you have fulfilled one or more conditions.

All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Return to Practise policy and framework

The Board has established a Return to Practise policy and framework to meet its statutory obligations to protect the health and safety of members of the public by supporting and facilitating practitioners to make a safe transition back into competent practice. The policy and framework provide guidelines, rather than firm rules, to support the Board to fairly asses the many factors involved in assessing an application to return to practice.

What information will be requested?

Along with the Return to Practise application form you need to provide:

  • A letter stating your return to practice intentions, including the nature of the intended work and, if possible, the intended practice setting.
  • An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae, including professional development and professionally relevant activities undertaken since a PC was last held.
  • Evidence of any relevant practise in another country. This may include registration documents and a reference from a supervisor in that setting.

Factors considered and possible outcomes

The information submitted will be considered to help us decide which of three optional outcomes best applies:

Option 1: Your Return to Practise application is approved and you will be invited to apply for a PC.

Option 2: Your Return to Practise application is approved with a condition placed on the your scope of practice. The condition is likely to be that you must only practise with Board-approved supervision, and the supervisor will be requested to provide three-monthly reports for one year.

Option 3: Your Return to Practise application is declined until further training or retraining is successfully completed.

The following factors may be considered in our decision-making:

Competence-enhancing factors

  • The degree to which knowledge and skills were consolidated after completing professional training.
  • Any relevant experience in a related field of endeavour during the break from holding an APC in New Zealand.
  • Activity which is likely to maintain knowledge and familiarity with current research in psychology.
  • Resuming practice in a field similar to that practised in prior to the break from holding an APC.

Factors which are perceived as increasing the risk of loss of competence

  • An extended period of time away from practice with little or no engagement in activity relevant to professional psychology.
  • Little consolidation of professional training prior to having a break away from the psychology profession.
  • Greater duration of time away from practice as compared to the time spent in practice.
  • An intention to resume practice in a different field of psychology than that practised in previously.

Supervision plan

The reinstatement of regular supervision with a senior and respected member of the profession is regarded by the Board as a key component of ensuring competence and a safe return to practice.

The proposed supervision plan should name the intended supervisor and show the frequency of meetings planned. It is accepted that in some circumstances it may not be possible to identify a named supervisor until an employment situation is established.

If approved by the Board, the supervisor will be asked to provide oversight on our behalf by completing brief reports at three-monthly intervals over the first year of returning to practice. These reports are intended as a communication channel to signal any concerns about competence, but can be kept very brief if there are no competence concerns.

Revision plan

The Board’s CCP is used to provide a structure to the development of the revision plans. The revision plan is expected to include the CCP “starter” documents for the coming year. that is, to include a self-reflective review of current competence, strengths and weaknesses, learning goals, and learning plans to indicate how these goals will be progressed.

It is expected that supervision will offer the platform for returners to complete their CCP structured revision plans to review their training needs and to develop plans for any extra reading, revision, and/or professional development activities.

It is likely that returners will need to undertake extra professional development activities (as compared to the ordinary or routine development activities expected of all active psychologists) to support their revision.

Please note that the Board’s Psychology Advisor can be consulted re the development of your revision plan.

Continuing Competence Programme

The CCP must be completed each year by every psychologist who holds a current APC. The CCP steps provide the structure for a self-directed professional development programme for each practitioner.

For returners, the CCP provides a RTP plan detailing intended remedial action to address any perceived weaknesses, based on an up-to-date appraisal of skills and knowledge as related to the intended area of practice. Your CCP should be developed in conjunction with your supervisor and be countersigned by them.

The CCP instruction booklet and optional templates can be downloaded from the Board’s website.

The supervisor’s role

The Board is reliant on the supervisors of returners to ensure a safe return to practice. The supervisor is expected to give feedback to the returner and to engage in frank discussion about any perceived shortfall in current competencies.

The supervision for returners is likely to be more frequent than that of a psychologist who has practised continually. Should a supervisor have serious misgivings about a returner’s competence, these should promptly be reported to the Board (refer s 34 of the Act).

Contact us

If you wish to return to practice after three or more years, we encourage you to contact the Board early to discuss the process of providing assurance to the Board of your competence and fitness to practise. Please contact us on 0800 471 4580 to speak with the Psychology Advisor or email us.