How to become a provisional psychologist: your questions answered



So you've studied hard in your psychology degree and you're now ready to enter the world of professional psychology. This means you need to get a provisional registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Navigating this can be tricky at best, so let's break down how to become a provisional psychologist.

What is a provisional psychologist?

If you're a psychology grad in Australia, you're required to complete a provisionally registered period as you enter your career. You'll have a supervisor who oversees your work, allowing you to gain some more hands-on experience without the full load of responsibility that a fully registered psychologist will have.

This supervisor will be a mentor to you and guide you in different psychology techniques, principles, and ethics you need to adhere to as you progress in your career. This is strictly outlined by AHPRA.

To become a fully registered psychologist, you're required to complete six years of combined study and provisional supervision, after which you'll need to complete the National Psychology Exam. This exam ensures that everybody applying for general registration has obtained the minimum level of professional knowledge within the psychology field.

What's the difference between a professional psychologist and a provisional psychologist?

So, a provisional psychologist is simply a psychology grad who is completing a supervised training period. They have a number of hours to complete in different areas, including psychological practice with direct client contact, supervision, and professional development.

During the supervision component, provisional psychologists have the opportunity to talk with their supervisor about their clients to ensure they are delivering the right level of care and meeting the needs and requirements of their patients.

Provisional psychologists are fully qualified and highly skilled - they are simply receiving the required supervision needed before general registration. It's essentially a one- or two year internship program designed to give registered provisional psychologists experience and further training.

How the APM Graduate Program supports you

We're passionate about helping graduates reach their goals and meet their provisional registration requirements. Psychology grads who are part of the APM Graduate Program can be linked with potential provisional supervisors to ensure they’re getting the supervised practice and professional development they need to kickstart your career.

Curious about how it works? No problem. We've compiled some of our most frequently asked questions here to cover all bases and leave you feeling ready to tackle your provisional registration as part of our graduate program.

Will working at APM allow me to complete all components of my provisional registration?

Yes, absolutely. We're with you for the entire duration of your provisional registration.

Do I need to find my own supervisor?

Generally, it is up to you to find your own supervisor, but if you're struggling, APM may be able to provide you with some assistance.

How do I find a supervisor?

The Psychology Board has a list of approved supervisors. Check out this link to search for approved supervisors in your area.

If you're having issues, don't stress. Reach out to the team at APM if you require further assistance and we may be able to provide you with a list of supervisors for you to contact.

Are there organisations that provide supervision?

Yes, there are a couple of organisations that provide supervision, including the College of Professional Psychology (COPP) and the Provisional Psychologist Hub.

COPP has a monthly info session where further info is provided to those who want to learn more.

Does APM fund all of the supervision sessions?

APM will fund up to a maximum of 80 hours of individual supervision sessions up to $150 per hour. Group supervision sessions are not funded under the scheme.

Does APM pay my supervisor directly?

No, we don't. Under this scheme, the provisionally registered psychologist pays their supervisor directly and then submits the invoice through the APM employee reimbursement process.

Do I have time to study for the National Psychology Exam during work?

There is an allowance of one study leave day for the exam, and this is to take the exam. This needs to be approved by your manager, with a minimum of four weeks' notice required.

Will APM cover the cost of the exam?

No, the cost of the exam is not covered by APM.

Will APM pay for any renewals of my provisional registration?

At this stage, no, the scheme does not cover the renewal of your registration.

Can I do my supervision during work time?

There is an expectation that you will prioritise work during core business hours. There may be some opportunity to complete some of your supervision requirements during work hours, however, this will be discussed with your team leader or manager on commencement with APM.

Will APM help me with my professional development requirements?

Yes, APM will provide some professional development opportunities.

The provisional registration application form requires a letter from the employer to approve external supervision. Will APM provide this letter prior to commencement of employment?

We can definitely help with that. Graduates enrolled in the program can request the required documentation from the Graduate Program Manager.

Want to learn more?

Hopefully, you’re now feeling prepared and ready to take on your provisional registration. Leaving behind your studies and beginning your psychology career can be nerve-wracking, but also incredibly exciting. Here at APM, we love seeing our psychology grads flourish in their provisional roles, and we can’t wait to see what you can do.

If you want to find out more about provisional registration requirements, check out the links below.

Published on Jan 5, 2022

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