I came to psychology later in life.
This was after many years working in a very large, high-profile airline in Australia.
After a workplace injury and attending several psychologists for assistance, my vocation was found.
I worked full time and studied full time to achieve this profession (with a Masters in Counselling Psychology).
Along the journey of study I discovered the wide variety and knowledge in psychology.
The psychology profession to me was such a magnificent cornucopia of styles and manners, of individuals providing psychological training, support, theory guidance and help, in a variety of styles and manners.
I became a proud member of the profession that had been in existence for a very long time. I understood that individual clients could have their different needs, and that different psychologists would have a variety of styles, using the psychological theory that was required for their clients. As we have a restriction on the term psychologists (as opposed to counsellor), only psychologists registered and qualified with the appropriate authorities could provide psychological services – but at least we were all psychologists.
Imagine my horror when thousands of my colleagues, and me, were relegated to second class citizens in 2006 with the introduction of the two tier Medicare rebate.
More importantly, I now see so many clients often waiting a long time to see clinical psychologists, simply because the rebate is higher for clients of clinical psychologists. Yet we non-clinical psychologists, many of whom do have qualifications of equivalent standard (Masters in Counselling), and in many cases higher, are relegated to the bottom of the two-tier rebate arrangement.
And our peak industry body (the APS) has done what to bring all psychologists into line? NOTHING
And has our peak industry body (the APS) at least advocated for ALL psychologists? NO.
Yet, as a little aside, the APS has taken the same fees from all psychologists, not a higher ‘rebate’/fee from the clinical psychologists.
The APS has been in existence for over 50 years. For a very long time it represented the interests of all psychologists, and psychology in Australia. However, with the submission to Medicare in 2006 for the two tier, and no advocating for other psychologists since, and entrenching and augmenting the support for clinicals since, the APS has blatantly represented one group only.
Essentially, the APS and the Board, when asked to consider and represent non-clinicals, their reduced income and business, the reduction in variety of psychology courses and styles, and many Australians not accessing timely services provided by all psychologists, stand as Rhett Butler did (‘Gone with the Wind’) and glared “I don’t give a damn”.
The APS did not provide adequate evidence for a submission to government about clinical psychologists having superior abilities and has not done so since.
Yet a MAJORITY of psychologists in Australia (34,414 registered psychologists with the Psychology Board of Australia, of which 7,744 are clinical endorsed [PsyBA report 31 March 2017]), are not really represented by the APS and the Board.
I am adamant I want to change this. To keep our profession diverse, to keep our profession respectful and to keep our profession progressive. To ensure that ALL psychologists are represented by the APS.
I am very concerned that the ‘peak’ awareness of the psychology area is Psychology week, in October. Yet Australians need to be aware of the variety of work psychologists do the whole year round, since psychological issues occur 365 days per year. The APS needs to make the psychology profession and psychologists the go to for psychological information, opinion and assistance.
Yet it appears the mantle has been passed to Beyond Blue – not our peak body.
The AMA represents doctors, and is referred to at least weekly for opinions, suggestions and information, on behalf of doctors. Who publicly represents psychologists in the public’s eye? They think it is Beyond Blue
I am still shocked that there are many people I speak with who do not know what psychologists do. In 2017, so many people call us counsellors. Many in the population do not know the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. The APS has been asleep at the wheel in promoting our profession.
There are so many opportunities for the APS and psychologists, to develop awareness of our great profession. We need to be approached for comment, knowledge, advice and public opinion for workplace issues (bullying, WorkCover and workplace injuries), for social issues, for health issues, for education issues, for relationship issues – yet the APS has not promoted this for ALL to promote our profession. The go to body has become Beyond Blue – not the APS.
My firm belief is that the APS must represent ALL qualified and registered psychologists. It must definitely represent all members, not a small group. If the APS was more inclusive, we may well increase our membership.
I would like to emphasise the ‘APS’ stands for Australian Psychological Society – not the Australian CLINICAL Psychology Society. Yet since 2006, it has represented the interests of one group. I wish to represent ALL Australian psychologists in the APS.
When I see politicians wearing their Queensland, Victorian, NSW or other state badges, I am always filled with sadness. I believe that Australia is the focus, not just states. Yet each State is diverse, with its own style, needs, quirks, and opportunities, to provide its resources and people to make one country.
I believe the same in psychology.
We are all psychologists, with different styles, educational history, passion and knowledge, willing to be a part of one big profession – not just individuals (clinicals). The profession existed prior to 2006 with the different styles. It must be allowed to become a multidisciplinary profession again.
And our peak body must allow this to occur through representation and advocacy as a peak body to government and government agencies.
At this point, I am reminded of a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Brian stood on the balcony of his chamber and, addressing a crowd, exclaimed,
“You are all individuals”. In unison, the crowd replied, “YES! We are all individuals”. Then one voice yelled out “I’m not”.
The APS must be the one body representing all individual and unique psychologists. I would be honoured to be given the opportunity by you to make the APS our truly representative body.