What psychologists do
Psychologists have expertise in all aspects of psychological functioning, including cognitive, emotional, behavioural, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions. Psychologists assess, advise, and assist people to improve their life adjustment and functioning.
Psychologists apply their expertise to a broad range of issues and clients. Their clients include individuals, families, organisations, and communities.
The settings in which psychologists offer their services are diverse, including schools, health centres and hospitals, community and sports organisations, the workplace, police and defence forces, research institutes, and private clinics.
Scopes of Practice and Specialisations in Psychology
The Board has defined the following scopes of practice for psychologists in New Zealand:
- Intern Psychologist
- Trainee Psychologist
- Clinical Psychologist
- Counselling Psychologist
- Educational Psychologist
You can view more information about each of the psychology scopes of practice here.
Within their scope of practice a psychologist may also specialise. See the New Zealand Psychological Society’s website for descriptions of these specialisations.
How psychologists can help
People consult psychologists for many reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Anxiety, fears, phobias, and panic attacks
- Becoming more confident as parents or teachers
- Career planning, training, and staff development
- Children’s learning, behaviour, and management problems
- Community development
- Grief and loss
- Eating and weight control problems
- Health issues such as migraines and chronic pain
- Improving sports performance
- Marital, family, and relationship problems
- Personal growth
- Sexual difficulties
- Sleeping difficulties
- Improving workplaces and employment selection
- Reviewing organisational structures and practices
- Improving industrial relations and occupational health and safety
- Studying consumer needs
- Personal growth
- Organisational development
- Stress and coping skills
If you are consulting a psychologist
Check the Register of Psychologists to ensure that the practitioner is registered with the Board. NOTE: It is illegal for any person to use the title ‘Psychologist’ if they are not registered with the Board as a Psychologist. [Refer section 7 of the HPCA Act 2003.]
The psychologist must also hold a current Practising Certificate and have specialist expertise which matches with your needs.
You may also wish to review our Consulting a Psychologist information sheet.
This information sheet is also available in:
The New Zealand Psychologists Register
Why do Psychologists have to be registered?
Only practitioners who are currently registered by the New Zealand Psychologists Board can lawfully use the title ’Psychologist’ or any other names, words, titles, initials, abbreviations, or descriptions stating or implying that they are a Psychologist.
Also, no one can claim to be practising psychology as a psychologist or say or do anything that would suggest that they practise psychology unless they are registered by the Psychologists Board and hold a current practising certificate.
These requirements are designed to protect the public by providing assurance over a psychologist’s competence and fitness to practise, and a system for addressing complaints and concerns about practitioners.
How is ‘practise’ defined
Practise means to perform services that fall within the description of the profession. The Board has described the psychology profession in terms of various scopes of practice, the broadest of which is ‘Psychologist’. The Psychologist 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’.
This means that if anyone who offers to see you as a psychologist, or offers you any psychology-related services as part of another service, such as a management consultant or a life coach, they must be registered, they must hold a practising certificate and they must only offer services within their approved scope of practice. This is true even if they offer these services for free.
If you are consulting a psychologist check that they are registered with the Psychologists Board
Before consulting a psychologist, check the Register of Psychologists to make sure that:
- they are registered with us: it is illegal for any person to use the title ‘Psychologist’ if they are not registered with the Board as a Psychologist
- they hold a current Practising Certificate
- their scope of practice matches your needs.
If you are concerned that someone may be falsely claiming to be a psychologist, you can check the Board’s online register to see if he or she has ever been registered by the Board and whether they hold a current practising certificate.
If someone appears to be practising as a psychologist and is not listed on our register or does not have a current practising certificate, please contact us or the Ministry of Health’s Enforcement Team.
Find a Psychologist
The Board is not able to recommend individual psychologists. You can search the web for a psychologist, consult the Yellow Pages, or use one of the following services:
New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists Private Practitioners list
New Zealand Psychological Society’s ‘Find a Psychologist’ feature
We recommend that you check the Board’s online Register to ensure that any psychologist you are considering seeing is properly registered and holds a current practising certificate , and to see if any conditions have been included in their scope of practice.