Should we stay or leave?

Member: I support Dr Jones’ notion of staying within the APS because the APS has been able (via our support unfortunately) to apparently gain some status/recognition by government departments and media; and that a splinter group would reinforce the clinical strong-hold and leave us unrepresented. I cannot believe that the spill eventuated the way it did; however, this eventuation would suggest evidence that an attempt to form a separate body would result in an autonomous and voiceless minority group.

I also support Dr Jones’ notion of research in this area; however, believe it folly that we are in this situation because the basis of the Clinical Psychologists being paid higher is on a perception (face-value bias; Barnum-effect) rather than the hard-evidence that the Clinical Psychologists are supposed to be the ‘champions’ of.

I believe it is unethical for the APS to allow this deception to continue, and that it is of utmost ethical importance that the government and Australian society be made aware of the false-perception that has been allowed to develop.

24 thoughts on “Should we stay or leave?

  1. Well I for one am going to leave the APS as soon as possible. It is clear to me, at least that we can’t achieve anything within the APS as it exists now, without an adequate voice or representation – they’ll just take our money and go on their merry way destroying the profession.
    I think its possible there could be another representing body of the profession started up – we just need to start effective lobbying to be included in government negotiations. We could start somewhere – if it fails, well it it fails, but I think it’s worth trying – not giving up before we have begun?
    Maybe its not that simple to start up such a thing – I know it would be a massive undertaking and a risk. Nothing risked nothing gained though….
    And ultimately I think this is the only way I can communicate with the APS through leaving. If their income stream dries up – if a lot of psychologists walk away -they will have to take a cut in pay, or maybe cut services. I may be cynical but I think I’m being realistic here. That’s the only thing (loss of money from memberships) they would feel and maybe, just maybe, they might then realise the implications of their actions. To stay is just foolish – throwing away good money after bad. Reinforcing their unacceptable behaviour.
    I say we have nothing to lose, anyway, by leaving and nothing to gain from staying. You can always join up again at any time in the future. It is of course up to everyone to make their own decisions for their own reasons.

  2. I have joined the Australian Association of Psychologists. I will stay with the APS as well, at least for a year, however I believe the Board in its current form will not have the motivation to address the inequities. They will be motivated to protect their unwarranted privileged position.
    I have been registered for a year and I am shocked at the lack of transparency in the APS. The fact that a College that has 20% of the membership has gained almost full control of the Board is unconscionable.

    Also, in case you don’t know about the new 4+2 format. It is extremely arduous. Most of us were working full time as provisional psychologists while completing a very heavy load of assignments. I won’t list them all because it would be a really long list. At the end we had to complete 6 case studies and have 3 passed by the Board. If a case study was failed we had to do an additional one on top of the 6. And then at the end of it we had to pass an exam – actually we had to get 75%. Most of us burnt out. A few had to take a break because they were working with trauma clients and were immersed in the trauma material due to the assignments. This cost about $12k a year due to the cost of supervision or private college. We were trained for over 2 years to diagnose, prepare treatment plans, write reports, complete psychometric tests and more. I am writing this so that you don’t assume we are less trained.

    1. Yes the so called easy option for me was just over 3, 200 supervised clinical hours, with 2 hours of wonderful supervision each week,plus an additional peer group supervision at work.

      Four placements including an awesome one lasting 2.5 years, training me in longer term work for complex trauma and personality disorders, 18 months at ADHC in a specialist all ages support team doing assessments and behaviour interventions as well as counselling, (fantastic skilled supervision with assessment psychologists used to assessing the most complex cases), plus another shorter placement in org psych.

      I participated in a program that insisted I did many hours across each age group and across many broad areas of psychology. At the time one of my mates doing a Master’s of Clinical Psych said to me my assessment training was more than what she got.

      On top of that I also did a post graduate psych course at Macquarie uni – for what is now recognised as the year 5 in the 5 plus 1 program.

      Then I did hundreds of hours of professional development. Oh yes and I remember the endless documentation, log books, reflections, case studies, diagnostic assessments. (Weird how we keep getting told we are not meant to diagnose yet we actually have to pass competencies in differential Dx). And the list goes on and on.

      Remember all the other team meetings and other work we had to do in jobs – and how it’s not allowed to be counted in your log books meaning our actual work hours were even higher. Remember how we did all this without the support of a uni to assist us or provide any structure or support for placements and learning plans. And we couldn’t get a HECS/Fee-HELP assistance as we are not officially uni students. Until I got a paid placement I was working nights as well!

      i am really grateful for my internship.It was hard training but I got good training in a wide variety of areas. Of course, just like those who finish their clinical psych degree, I did not consider myself fully trained but went onto work with steady and constant supervision, just as they have to do.

      I also have a Masters degree and the internship was harder. I like study and would love to do a relevant and applied post graduate degree in psychology – but where are they and where are the degrees targeted at us who are already qualified and experienced?


      1. Hi Kate,

        You describe the experience perfectly. I am also grateful for it. I completely dismissed the belief we were not supposed to diagnose. How ridiculous given we spent 2 years learning how to do this. My internship included clients in domestic violence situations, childhood sexual assault and all other forms of traumas, adult sexual assault, people with personality disorders, bi-polar, schizophrenia, PTSD just to name some of the more difficult presentations.

        There will always be psychologists who are better/worse than others regardless of whether they trained at university or through the provisional programs.

      2. Hi Kate

        Thank you so much for posting this and thank you also to Shocked and frustrated for posting about your experience. There is nothing like being faced with entirely valid information to perhaps cause a re-think or, unfortunately, even stronger adversarial response. The experience, in the 4+2, that both of you describe isn’t unusual. It is rather sad to read a recent post that merely dismisses, and quite condescendingly so, your collective experience as ‘on the job training’. You must be enormously insulted by such statements.

        I have personally maintained the position for many years that the 4+2 should never have been coined the 4+2. Instead it should have been called a Masters and that title conferred upon everyone who has completed it.

        If I draw a line and label the left end Academic Masters and the right Practitioner Masters, I would have to locate what you have described as shifted more toward Practitioner Masters than the current Clinical Masters degrees I have looked at.

        There are certainly improvements that could be made to both that would shift them further toward Practitioner Masters.

        Current Clinical Masters, I have looked at, are actually lacking in important aspects of practitioner education/experience, There is much room for improvement but the ‘academics’ who have become imbedded in the process would need to listen. In my experience that would be quite a task for both practitioner and academic. I can also note that the +2 can be improved and a similar problem exists there.

        The theories and practice of Chris Argyris and Donald Schon tell us that there is often little relationship between what people say about themselves and what they actually do (Espoused Theory Vs Theory in Use) and that there are large blind spots contained in the gap. More standard academic approaches to evaluation of practice still seem to largely miss this point … at least this would be my assumption when I see a large weighting toward examination, in many forms, of ‘content knowledge’.

        Kate and ‘Shocked and frustrated’ you describe a more skilful way towards education for practice. If you review your 4+2 experience which aspects of it do you consider valid and helpful for practice and which aspects somewhat less so?

        Kind Regards


        1. Thank you Peter for your comments. I know I am only one person (and it would be good if the other person answered you as well so you get different views) but for me I think one of the valuable things about the internship was that it gave me opportunity to train in longer term work which is what I now use in my practice – the challenges of keeping people engaged and progressing when they have complex trauma, dissociation or personality disorders. Unfortunately the uni system only trains in short term placements.
          I liked the insistence that the Board has in making sure we cover all ages and competencies -I am sure this also applies to clin psychs too.
          On the other hand I really like research and would enjoy the chance to do another thesis.
          I also think that I would like the chance to do more academic study in neuropsych as that area has changed a lot in recent years.
          I also think that the internship is a little unfair in that it requires people to structure and organise everything without much support. My friends at uni had things like placement coordinators, staff to support them etc. It makes you assertive and strong but is very stressful. I am an older woman who has worked in mental health and community services in many roles before registering – but I think it would be very overwhelming for a younger person straight out of honours. I found it overwhelming enough!
          I like your continuum concept and can see the pros and cons of both approaches and yes, perhaps something more in the middle would be great.
          Kindest Regards


          1. Hi Kate

            Thanks for your reply. You are obviously very intellectually robust and enjoy a whole range of different educational experiences. I was recently reading the requirements for a Clinical Masters on the University of Queensland’s web site. One of those requirements was 1,000 hours of supervised placements. You say you did 3,200 hours of supervised placements. That seems like a huge number to me. I must re-read the requirements for the 4+2. Did you just get way too enthusiastic and do more hours than required or did your placements actually require the 3,200 hours you state?

            To further my point about the continuum, I doubt that trying to locate education in the middle is the best approach to produce practitioners, at least if the goal is to produce practitioners who can be real change agents for their clients. Once again bearing in mind your intellectual robustness I would like to ask what you, from reflecting upon your own practitioner experience, consider the relationship to be between type/style of education and type/style of practitioner produced by the education. I do realise that’s a huge question and probably a few lines on a web blog won’t be able to do it much justice. However, I do have a very strong interest in this area … please forgive the question!

            Kind Regards


            1. Hi Peter,

              We had to complete 1,114 hours face to face, 1670 client related activity eg writing reports, preparing treatment plans – so 2784 total (the face to face hours were reduced as it was originally about 3200 total). These hours had to be documented in a log that included a journal of our reflective practice. You had to work with clients across two lifespans eg children and adults, adults and elderly etc. We also had to attend 120 hours of supervision of which most had to be individual, and complete 120 hours of professional development.

              On top of this we had to produce 2 assessment and 2 therapy videos of us working with our clients every 6 months for review by our supervisors; complete 6 case studies based on our clients; research and present DSM5 criteria, assessment, interventions for 6 target problems (eg anxiety, depression etc); document 6 ethical and 6 professional dilemmas we encountered with clients; complete a literature review of a target problem; administer and write reports for 5 WISC/WAIS, 5 PAIs, 5 WMS-IV, and 4 other assessment tools selected from a list prepared by the Board; we had to present 12 written communications for review (case notes, letters to doctors etc); complete a number of mental status exams; complete three different forms of interviewing styles; And then we had to pass (75% or above) an exam run by the Board which covered a broad range of areas including ethics, diagnostics, interventions, details of psychomentric tests, psychopharmacology which we had to know backwards, and more.

              I believe this is equivalent to the course work in a Clinical Masters. The only thing we didn’t do was complete a research project. And to be honest, unless you are going to specialise in a particular area and your research is in that area, the research would not add a lot to your clinical skills.

              I attended a College which provided the structure that Kate didn’t get. It was well worth it. At the end I received a Diploma of Professional Practice. The Board registered us and the APS gave us full membership because we sat the exam (I only found out about this by accident). Not much recognition.

              If I was now expected to do a Masters I would just be repeating what I’ve already completed.

              And so I remain shocked that the Board and the APS would demand this level of study in the 4+2 and then claim we are inferior to the Clinicals. And how ethical is it that we are supposed to do focussed psychological strategies when clearly we have been trained for far more than this. My professional development included completing Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Domestic Violence training, trauma seminars, and workshops on CBT, ACT, IPT, psychodynamic, Narative etc, ethics, case note and report writing, development across the lifespan and so on… I use the appropriate intervention that my client’s presentation demands. I believe it would be unethical to do otherwise.

              And so I remain frustrated.

              1. Hi Shocked and frustrated

                After reading that and what Kate has written I think I need to join your S&F club! It appears that you have done more than what students in a clinical masters do, at least comparing your description to the Clinical Masters at the University of Queensland.

                I can identify things you did in your course which I consider pretty much a waste of time, effort and money i.e. if you want to become a psychologist who has the potential to be a real agent of change. I’m sorry to present it this way as you have invested a lot in what you did. I do make real effort to keep an open mind so am always able, in that sense, to be convinced otherwise. I have put essentially the same question to Kate. What are your thoughts on this?

                Kind Regards


                1. I find it confusing how the prevailing view on this site seems to be that it is people with clinical tertiary qualifications who are demeaning those who undertook alternate pathways to registration when in reality, the majority of contributions to this site on the topic actively go out of their way to portrays clinical qualifications as inferior, from Peter’s comments above about how a single anecdotal report from a generalist proves they “have done more than what students in a clinical masters do” to Gregory Goodluck’s description of young clinical students as “bumbling fools stumbling over their textbooks” and “overly intellectualising and excessively analytical with too much emphasis on cognitive factors to the detriment of affective, sensorimotor and somatic aspects and completely ignorant matters of the Soul“. For a group that keeps emphasizing how their life experience gives them added empathy in dealing with clients, there seems to be precious little awareness of how these comments may affect students entering the field and realizing this is how their established generalist peers see them.

                  1. Hi J Dwyer,
                    I think it is sad that psychologists have become so divided. It should not matter how we were trained. We are all psychologists. When nurses transferred from in-hospital training to university trained, the hospital trained nurses were not paid less. In fact, registered nurses were just registered nurses no matter how they were trained. In-hospital training was gradually stopped so that now all nurses are university trained. If AHPRA decide that psychologists should all be university trained then they should follow a similar path. If they had done this in the first place we wouldn’t have this division that is causing so much damage to our profession.
                    What I find really unacceptable is that the President of the APS has written a submission about the APAC accreditation standards that demeans all psychologists who have not received Clinical training. This has most likely impacted the reputation of non-clinical psychologists at the government level and with other professionals eg GPs. This submission should have made him ineligible to hold a position in the APS that requires him to act in the best interests of all of us. It is people like this that have caused division rather than develop a plan to unite and improve psychology as a profession.
                    We are all being affected by this and the division is no doubt impacting all students.

                  2. Hi J Dwyer

                    If what you have written above is your understanding of my recent posts then I can understand how you would be confused, perhaps I have presented things in an unclear way? If so I do apologise, regardless can I ask you to please not put words in my mouth or present my words in a selective context … you state “from Peter’s comments above about how a single anecdotal report from a generalist proves they “have done more than what students in a clinical masters do”.

                    I didn’t use the word proves nor would I ever suggest this. If you re-read what I posted you will notice that I was specifically referring to the placement hours and more specifically to the description, on their web site, of the Clinical Masters at the University Of Qld which states 1000 placement hours. Kate posted that she did 3200 hours and I asked her for more detail about that. Shocked and frustrated provided more detail of their experience with regard to placement hours and I once again replied that, ” It appears that you have done more than what students in a clinical masters do, at least comparing your description to the Clinical Masters at the University of Queensland”.

                    J. Dwyer … I value participative organisation and collaborative process enormously. I am unlikely to as you say, “the majority of contributions to this site on the topic actively go out of their way to portrays clinical qualifications as inferior”. Please do not lump me in that camp. If you read all of my posts on this Blog you will, I sincerely hope, not find one where I have done what you state above.

                    I have certainly made comment about how all educational process/learning designs could be improved and that they can be improved.

                    I am sorry if what I posted above has been unclear to you and I do hope that it somewhat clearer now. I acknowledge that communication on the net lacks a number of important dimensions and assumptions can be made. It is usually best to label assumptions as such.

                    I hope we are OK now, I cannot speak for Gregory.

                    Kind Regards


                  3. JD. nice attempt to misrepresent me by taking things out of context again. You seem to miss the point that a subgroup doesnt represent the supraordinate category. I am certain many excellent recent graduates are embarrassed by the over confident minority of their cohorts who arrogantly assert their superiority over seasoned psychologists.
                    Similarly I donot speak for RAPS as a contributer to these threads any more than you do. And neither do you represent the APS any more than I do. This is a discussion forum. If you dont like RAPS then go away.

                    1. I am sure the majority of psychology graduates are intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive with appropriate humilty to learn from their elders and contribute to bilateral learnings. Their are however otgers who do not represent tve majority of graduates who have been misinformed that they are too cool for school to learn from their predecessors.

        2. Thank you Peter for the perfect solution!!! After completing a 4+2, we should automatically have a Masters of Professional Psychology, recognising the actual world training that we had. Then after two years of practice with clinical clients or in a clinical practice, we can then be granted a Masters of Clinical Psychology, and received our well-deserved higher rebate. I am sure the Ivory Tower Academics in their Leafy Suburbs will fume at this idea, afraid their Clinical Junta’s hold on OUR professions will be destroyed. But this is the only Fair and Equitable way to recognise the importance of hard earned experience over textbook theories.

      3. During my supervised practicum as a Provisional Registrant I worked in a local unit of a large national QANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non Government Agency), that at one stage was being audited by the funding provider. The acting manager kept running up-stairs to get my Psychology Practicum log books because the standard of evidence within them was superior to any other documents in the unit of the agency, on certain criteria around that counselling service, to show they were meeting government funding guidelines, which are extremely stringent.
        That is the standard of the plus 2 practicum. It was right up there with commonwealth funding guidelines details.
        My primary supervisor was external and excellent. The unit was run by a Psychologist, until he was given his marching orders by a new and inexperienced CEO just prior to the audit (stupidly) for being too successful in creating income streams not dependent on government (the unit was the only aspect of the organisation that was in the black!). I was given the title of Senior Counsellor, saved their butts then left because I was making twice as much for 4 days a month flying out to a remote mine doing EAP as the entire rest of the month in the dysfunctional QANGO that failed to understand…. anything really. This was all as an ‘intern’ doing my plus 2 and the accountability process was very very stringent. Enough to bail out a flailing QANGO.
        I hear they have sorted themselves out now and survived their rudderless days caused by the impulsive queen of hearts type CEO.
        We are grossly undervalued as 4 plus 2 Psychologists.

        1. I too was promoted not only to senior psychologist for many years across different regions in Vic but also a team leader/manager of specialist program areas and coordinator of supervision and training and then senior adviser in gov program areas because of my level of expertise and was asked to provide a consultancy role across three huge departments due to my DEMONSTRATED expertise… which i declined to focus on family and private practice….I have been valued in public and private practice industries and organizations


          1. Yes. And do you have to endure some inexperienced Masters graduates strutting their superior attitudes because they can do the work denied us now by the commonwealth?

  3. I tend to think that the APS executive would be glad to get of us, which is precisely why I think we should stay. A breakaway professional society is likely to have far less clout with government, at least initially, and take a significant amount of time to build awareness within the psychology profession.

    As a postgraduate student I have only recently become aware of the ACPA and AAPI, the latter of which I continue to struggle to find in google. Leaving the APS, while starving the Society of considerable funds, would enable the executive’s decisions to go largely unchallenged and relieve them of addressing the concerns of an increasingly vocal group of justifiable angry members. I say we continue to advocate for change from within and if that means bringing a spill motion to every AGM until our concerns are met, then so be it.

    Incidentally, I recently read an article about the campaign within the APA to outlaw psychologists’ participation in torture.

    The issue has become an uphill battle for members pushing for policy change with one association president condeming dissident voices as “opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars” and another advising to “turn down the temperature on outrage.” Clearly all psychology associations have their own issues, which are not always best served by a member exodus.

  4. I attended the AGM in Brisbane (7/10/2017). I noticed that possibly the least political savvy of the board members revealed something that didn’t surprise me but did surprise me to hear it spoken. This board member stated that what concerns him about the equivalency (i.e. of outcomes) argument is studies that show people with 10 hours of training can produce ‘equivalent’ outcomes. He then when on to suggest that clinical psychology has many similarities to psychiatry, which is an accepted specialty, so the best way forward for psychology is to push that model. So he said he wants to “Stamp the word clinical on the foreheads of as many psychologists as he can”.

    He just gave the game away and, not surprisingly, no other board member took the opportunity to “correct” what he had said. I ‘kind of’ tested my theory about what had occurred after the meeting had finished. Lyn and the APS General Manager were still behind the bench. I walked up to Lyn to ask her some questions about the introduction of the two-tiers, then I threw in the directors comment about stamping clinical on foreheads. Lyn replied, Yes, I don’t know why he would say that”. The GM said, “Yes I don’t know why he would say that either”.

    So what had that director said and what are its implications? Why did other board members just leave the comment sitting there? Why did Lyn and the GM, in personal communication, say they didn’t understand it?

    There are many things that comment reveals.

    It says, we believe that psychology is best advanced by pushing the accepted myth of academic qualifications and associated technical language and ‘medicalising’ the profession etc.

    We are concerned about psychologists without those “academic qualifications + language” as this lowers the impact of the myth in relation to the standard/perception we are trying to create.

    We don’t really know, at least in the short term, how to resolve this disparity that the strategy has created.

    We believe, because we must believe as a consequence of our actions, that the consumers of our services will be best served by the implementation of our overall strategy.

    The findings of the Better Access study are exceedingly problematic for our strategy as those findings suggest there could be something wrong with our strategy in relation to how to best deliver to the needs of consumers.

    All in all, we see a way forward in relation to the dilemma of the competing needs of the profession of psychology Vs needs of consumers to merely continue with our current strategy.

    There aren’t really that many ‘other endorsed’ psychologists so we could probably find ways of letting them in without placing too many demands upon the medicare pot and invoking to much resistance from other interests who already have that pot.

    If we are to let those others in, that process has to be consistent with our overall strategy of the accepted myth of academic qualifications + technical language. So Recognition of Prior Learning doesn’t taste that well, a bridging course is far more tasty and of course only we could serve that meal … pass the salt please!

    But … what the hell do we do about all those pesky 4+2’s? Who created them anyway … damn it, was that us?

    Sir, did you just say, Artistry, Action Research, Experiential Learning, Process Facilitation, Collaborative Empowerment, Short Cycle Process Evaluation, Meta-Process Design Principles … please resume your seat sir, you are disrupting the meeting.

    OK part fact … part fantasy? (and perhaps a little tongue in cheek) … you decide.

    However don’t discount what the above means for all kinds of immediate and strategic actions on both sides of the dilemma.

    Lastly, there is an old process called option 1 and a half. It involves listing both sides of an argument and then people on opposite sides of that argument taking the best from the ‘others list’ … these best items are used to create an entirely new list which is more acceptable to both sides, the “Option One and a Half” (Opt1&1/2).

    Lyn (and others), I would like to invite you in here. Perhaps an Opt1&1/2 could be achieved? It is a true dialectical process (a process for generating agreement out of disagreement), however it requires valid and honest upfront information from both parties. It will be a lot more difficult now than it would have been 10+ years ago, but worth a shot nevertheless.

    Kind Regards


    PS: Thank you to the board member I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Although I do not agree with your overall strategy your honesty does give us some valid information we can begin to work with.

  5. So Hugh again all we can do is watch and wait over the next year or two and be grateful for what we are given by those peers who know best, our self defined specialists, and if nothing changes for most of us non endorsed psychologists just be grateful we are still accepted by the APS who continue to welcome our membership fees…..

  6. What about the non college members with no masters Hugh? Dont we exist? Are we, and have we alwaus been just revenue fodder for the APS?

  7. I appreciate your disappointment but strongly recommend you watch what hsppens over the next year or so.
    Yez, I am a Clin Psych, but strongly believe that most vollege members need to only complete a mental health competency to get equivalence.
    more importantly, all the college competencies sre more or less equivalent.

    we need to return to specialties: have a hub with specialty spokes extending that includes Sports

Leave a Reply