Mental Health
Sep 15, 2021

Psychologists or Clinical Psychologists - What’s the deal or the difference?

Question:

What’s the difference between a registered psychologist and a clinical psychologist? And, would there be any specific reason to see one over the other?

Dr. McKenzie Says:

Becoming a registered psychologist in Australia involves training up to a masters level or equivalent (e.g., an extended supervised clinical internship which can occur outside of a university program but is approved by the Psychology Board of Australia). After this training all psychologists are regarded by the board as having general registration.

After completing core training to become a registered psychologist, some psychologists complete an additional period of supervised practice and assessment which result in them obtaining what is called a clinical endorsement. These psychologists are referred to as clinical psychologists and Medicare provides a higher rebate to clients that see these (clinical) psychologists. In working out if there is any financial advantage here for you as a consumer of psychological services, you want to take into account the overall fee that the clinician charges which you will be required to pay and then deduct the Medicare rebate for that psychologist which you will get back after paying the full fee. This will give you information about the clinician’s ‘gap fee’ or the cost that you will be ‘out of pocket’ for each session.

Since psychologists and clinical psychologists have the same core training, all are qualified to provide you with services that may be helpful for you. However, many psychologists and clinical psychologists have specific clinical experience working with certain clinical presentations (the challenges the client comes to therapy to work on) or additional training in specific types of therapy. Therefore, it is reasonable for consumers of services to seek out clinicians that may have more focused interest, experience and/or training in areas that may suit their needs. Many psychologists have written profiles that provide information about these focal areas; however, you should always feel comfortable speaking with your clinician about their specific experience and asking questions about what may be right for you.

Finally, within Australia there are some services which require that formal reports and other documents be completed by a clinical psychologist specifically. It is important to clarify with your service or organisation whether reports or documents can be completed by any registered psychologist or only by clinical psychologists. Making sure you have the right information can save you time, money and a lot of stress in getting your requirements met.

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