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Types of Psychologists

What is the difference between a provisional psychologist, psychologist, clinical psychology registrar and clinical psychologist?

Confused about the difference between all these fancy titles? You’re not alone! There are so many different titles floating about, it can be hard to know how to get help and which option might be best for you.

All four of the titles – provisional psychologist, psychologist, clinical psychology registrar and clinical psychologist are psychologists. Unlike other titles (e.g. therapist, counsellor) the title ‘psychologist’ is protected under the law, in that you cannot use the title unless you have at least four years of undergraduate training in psychology. The same way that surgeons, dermatologists or GP’s are all doctors after 4-6 years of med school.

But, just like the amount of postgraduate training and specialisation required for doctors is different, so is the training for all four practitioners. Here’s a quick summary of the most important differences:

Provisional Psychologists:

Provisional psychologists require:

  • at least 4 years of undergraduate psychology training

  • AND are currently doing their internship.


Psychologists require

  • at least 4 years of undergraduate training in psychology WITH 2 years of internship

  • OR 4 years of undergraduate training, 1 year of postgraduate Masters and 1 year of internship.

Clinical Psychology Registrars:

Clinical Psychology Registrars are required to have

  • 4 years of undergraduate training (including Honours) in psychology.

  • AND Specialised postgraduate Clinical Psychology Masters. This means that the psychologist has undertaken coursework with a specific focus on research and evidence-based interventions and at least 3 long-term placements across hospitals, community and specialisations

  • AND are completing the endorsement program (2 years) required to progress to the Clinical Psychologist title. This is similar to medical registrars that complete their programs in a specialisation (e.g., gynaecology). The endorsement program requires registrars to do continuous training, supervision, reflection and professional development and submit reports to the body that governs registration.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists have completed all of the above training that registrars complete and finished the endorsement program. They hold at least 8 years of training with either a Clinical Psychology Masters, Clinical Psychology Doctorate or a PhD (Clinical Psychology).

All Psychologists

In addition to this training, holding your registration requires ongoing compliance with clinical supervision, continuous development and training every year. Lots of psychologists also undertake their own therapy in line with best practice principles.

What does this mean for me?

Your GP can refer you to either of the four professionals. However, the rebate that you receive for each professional is different. You are eligible for Medicare rebates when you see a psychologist, clinical psychology registrar and a clinical psychologist. However, you receive a higher rebate when you see a clinical psychologist compared to the other 2 clinicians. You receive $88.25 back for a 50-minute appointment with psychologists and $129.55 back for the same appointment with a clinical psychologist.

Have any other questions about this? Give us a ring on (02) 8091 7867 or shoot us an email at Alternatively you can book an appointment online here. Our mission is to help people understand the differences and empower them with information and evidenced-based treatment.


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