What is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is mental health professional who has undertaken a minimum of 6 years of combined university study and applied workplace supervision.

Psychologists work in a range of settings including schools, medical centres, hospitals, organisations and businesses, prisons, community centres and government agencies and apply their knowledge of how people behave, think and learn. They can assist people with a variety of issues including (but not limited to):

  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Stress, panic and/or anxiety
  • Grief and/or loss
  • Victims of violence
  • Personality traits
  • Sleep issues
  • Pain
  • Motivation
  • Life crises
  • Weight issues
  • Sport and exercise
  • Addiction issues
  • Family issues
  • Occupational stress
  • Career development
  • Team dynamics
  • Leadership development
  • Organisational change
  • To use the title psychologists in Australia you must hold registration with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). All registered psychologists can diagnose, assess and treat clients, irrespective of endorsement. 


    Registration allows psychologists to work in any area of psychology that is within their scope of practice and to use the title 'psychologist'. All psychologists registered with the PsyBA must meet a minimum standard of education and training (six years) and have been assessed as a suitable person to hold registration in the profession.

    All psychologists complete a six-year sequence of education and training. All psychologists must complete a four-year APAC-accredited sequence in psychology. To become fully registered and be able to use the title 'psychologist' they must complete one of the following programs:

    • an approved postgraduate degree (such as a two-year Masters) or higher (such as a three or four year Doctorate); or
    • a 5+1 internship program (a fifth year of study and one year of on-the-job supervised practice); or
    • a 4+2 internship program (two years of on-the-job supervised practice). This pathway will cease in 2027. 

    In order to be registered all psychologists must demonstrate the following competencies:

    • knowledge of the discipline;
    • ethical, legal and professional matters;
    • psychological assessment and measurement;
    • intervention strategies;
    • research and evaluation;
    • communication and interpersonal relationships;
    • working with people from diverse groups; and
    • practice across the lifespan.

    What type of psychologist should I see?

    All registered psychologists can assess, diagnose and treat clients within the limits of their competence. Once registration has been completed, psychologists may lean towards an area of interest that will drive their continuing professional development and define the scope of their practice. No psychologist will be able to practice in every area of psychology, although some may have multiple areas of interest or expertise. 

    Examples of areas of interest include:

    • working with children;
    • working with people who have personality disorders;
    • working with people who have trauma;
    • working with people who have acquired and traumatic brain injuries;
    • working with people who have mood disorders;
    • working with people who have chronic illness;
    • working with people in organisational settings;
    • working with communities;
    • working with athletes;
    • working with people with disabilities

    It is important to find a psychologist who you like and feel a connection with. Research shows that the therapist-client relationship is the most important factor in helping you get better. 

    Registered Psychologists use a wide variety of techniques to help explore your current challenges and put in place methods to help you move forward. Your psychologist will take the time to assess your situation and then explain their approach.

    Do I need a referral to see a Psychologist?

    There are a number of different ways to access a psychologist including through Medicare, private health insurance, NDIS and privately. It's best to discuss your options with your GP or a psychologist to find out your options. 

    Do you need mental health support now?

    If you need counselling now, please contact one of the following services or phone 000 in an emergency. 

    Lifeline – call 13 11 14
    For support and advice in a personal crisis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Lifeline also has online chat available from 8pm -midnight seven days a week.

    Suicide Call Back Service – call 1300 659 467
    For free telephone counselling related to suicide prevention and bereavement, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

    Kids Helpline – call 1800 55 1800
    Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.