Here’s a another disturbing post from an APS member who is concerned about the level of elitism and lack of professional respect and courtesy that has come in to the profession of psychology. We think the APS should address the concerns expressed in this post …
I currently run a registered charity staffed by psychologists that offers options to clients who would probably not access private practice and can’t afford to access other services. We receive no government funding apart from the Medicare rebate for our fully registered psychologists and some block funding from the PHN for providing services in aged care. The rest of our funding comes from fee for service for working with clients from agencies that are funded. Much of our work is pro bono, particularly the work we do with refugees, ATSI children and families, and for 18 months we worked for no charge in a large aged care facility. We see that this offers opportunities to clients that they may not otherwise have, and we also offer opportunities to four year graduates with nowhere to go.
We deliver an internship program with 19 interns and five supervisors and this internship is highly rigorous and demanding both academically and personally. We provided 150 hours of mandated training to cover what we believe the interns need to know to meet the requirements of AHPRA and we offer interns the experience of working both long term and short term with clients from pre-school age to 90+ years old. These interns work with child protection issues, suicide, serious mental health issues, indigenous and CALD clients, significant trauma including child sexual abuse (both children and adults), domestic and family violence and torture. They are also trained to provide mentoring support to indigenous staff, employee assistance to staff of a number of community organisations, design and deliver groups for children who are carers in their own families, provide input into the delivery of a therapeutic playgroup, and deliver a group program for adolescents in alternative education.
Many of our interns have first class honours and none have been able to access Masters programs. Some have been looking for years for a pathway to becoming registered as a psychologist. I have two major issues with our current profession – we are turning out hundreds of fourth year graduates every year who don’t understand that they will probably never get registered because there are very few internships and Masters options. I think this is an ethical and moral issue and it needs to be addressed at multiple levels. The other disturbing aspect of this is that I wonder how many of these graduates turn to social work and occupational therapy as an alternative, and how many psychology jobs have been lost across the country as a result.
The second major issue I have is that I believe the interns we are training will complete their registration process with a wealth of experience and training and yet they seem to be considered second rate psychologists because of completing this pathway. They will undertake more than 1000 hours of client contact with some very difficult and challenging issues and work with some highly marginalised and vulnerable client groups.
I believe the interns who complete our program are very well trained and I am very concerned about the level of elitism and lack of professional respect and courtesy that has come in to the profession of psychology. We seem to have replaced compassion with competition and empathy with judgement. Is this reflective of a values shift in the profession? If so, I wonder how this impacts more broadly on the service system and the clients at the centre of this system.
Julie Aganoff MAPS