A member discusses “the discriminatory divide in psychology”

Dear RAPS Team

Thank you for all your efforts to date. Your emails are like breaths of fresh air and very much appreciated.

I was appalled to learn of the treatment of Board Members Jill Wright and Felicity Allen by the APS President. Thank you Jill, Felicity and ReformAPS for your courage and interest in we psychologists who have been relegated to the lower echelons of psychology including the lower tier of Medicare rebates.

The discriminatory divide in psychology became evident to me and some of my colleagues in the year 2000.  My letters regarding the same and responses by the APS and the Psychologists Board of Queensland at the time are attached for your information. In the letter dated 16 January 2001 the Psychologists Board of Queensland states that neither the existing Psychologists Act or the proposed Psychologists Registration Bill 2000 make any legal distinction between the four years of study plus two years of supervision or the six years of study.

For the past 17 years I have been raising the issue of discrimination against any psychologist other than a ‘clinical’ psychologist at multiple APS forums and provided feedback in surveys. All has fallen on deaf ears in spite of my loyalty to the APS and paying membership fees for over twenty years.

Members of the Australian public who would like psychological intervention are the losers here. We have seen the numbers of psychological sessions covered by Medicare rebates reduced from 18 to 12 to 10 per calendar year, yet other mental health specialists get 50.

Private practice noticeably diminishes when clients discover they can be reimbursed forty odd dollars more by seeing a ‘clinical’ psychologist when both psychologists charge above the Medicare rebate. In addition many of my highly experienced colleagues who could afford to pursue other avenues have left psychology and a few could afford to complete a Masters in Clinical Psychology.

My hope is that psychologists who have been relegated to the lower tier of Medicare rebate will receive equal payment, respect, value and recognition for the contribution they make to the Australians who require psychological intervention. Like you I am sick of the attempts by the APS to be seen as if they are acting for all Members while doing nothing to end the disparity between psychologists in Australia.

After twenty odd years paying APS Membership fees I have reassessed the impact of non-reciprocal loyalty. I wonder where the APS would be if all non-clinical psychologists discontinue their membership? Would you consider starting up an independent psychology professional body?

Friend and follower,

Josephine Combe

2 thoughts on “A member discusses “the discriminatory divide in psychology”

  1. I completely agree with this and have commented in a previous blog. This campaign is just highlighting exactly how little difference there is between the clinical and non clinical psychs. As a generalist this is what I was trained to do and these exact competencies had to be signed off in my internship. In addition to my internship, like many generalists, I also have other post grad degrees and qualifications which have further developed my skills and practice. We are continually portrayed as poorly qualified. In terms of actions I think we need to take a few. Writing on a blog is not enough. I think of the following:
    (1) write to the APS and express how let down and mis-represented we feel by the campaign.
    (2) I am actually seriously thinking of not renewing my membership this year. I say this with sadness as I do feel the APS offers benefits in terms of some resources and I am sure there are hard working staff there. It’s the leadership and advocacy that I feel are letting us down.
    (3) Perhaps we need a new society – one which really represents us. Perhaps the APS should just be the society for Clinical Psychologists and the other society can be for everyone else.
    (4) Write to health ministers, local members etc expressing our concerns. We now have to lobby directly as our society does not represent us.

  2. If you still believe that the APS is genuinely wanting to support ALL of it’s Members Google their promotion of us in believeinchange.com.
    To see how the divide is continuing check out the Areas of Psychology on the bottom right hand corner. Specifically look at General Practising Psychologists and Clinical Psychology. Everything I as a so called ‘generalist’ and I have no doubt all of my colleagues have been doing in consultations as a psychologist with four plus two years supervision under Better Access and prior e.g.
    * Discussing the issues of concern for the client.
    * Assessing the client’s emotional, cognitive and behavioural functioning.
    * Exploring the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the client and tracing their origins.
    *Helping the client to develop effective ways of controlling and coping with these difficulties.
    *Helping the client to implement changes that enhance wellbeing and awareness, and alleviate the presenting problems.
    Yet the APS goes into the above detail for Clinical Psychologists and fails to mention any of the above under their heading General Practising Psychologists.
    More of the same ignorance and head in the sand behaviours that foster believeinbullsh…com.

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