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Professional psychology draws upon areas of the discipline of psychology, including human development, perception, attention, memory, language, decision making, learning, motivation, emotion, personality, behaviour, social relations and communication. Professional psychology engages the human condition directly and assumes a biopsychosocial model, where the biological, social and psychological characteristics of an individual are understood to be dynamically interrelated. Professional psychology focuses on identifying and addressing needs of clients, and is evidence-based, drawing on theoretical concepts and heuristics, relevant research findings, collective professional experience and individual practitioner experience in order to assist clients to improve their function and experience.

The aim of the ACAP Master of Psychology (Clinical) [MPsych(Clin)] program is to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills, attributes and competencies to be able to undertake professional practice in a range of clinical settings with diverse client populations. The program is based on the scientist-practitioner model that integrates knowledge of the discipline of psychology, psychological research, professional training, and professional practice. It is designed to develop skills in observation and in formulating hypotheses that can be empirically examined, and in selecting and evaluating clinical assessments and interventions that are based on defensible theoretical perspectives and informed by evidence of effectiveness. The hypothetico-deductive approach is applied to critically evaluating evidence from the literature, to conducting independent research, and to working with clients.

Professional psychologists are held to high standards of ethical practice requiring:

(a)    a knowledge of evidence-based interventions and assessment tools;

(b)   awareness of relevant legislation;

(c)    adherence to professional standards and codes of conduct;

(d)   ability to objectively evaluate and reflect on professional work.

The ACAP MPsych(Clin) profiles these essential elements of professional practice throughout the program, aiming to develop life-long professional practice of personal and shared reflection through utilising supervision and peer consultation.

Professional psychology is a dynamic field, and as well as equipping graduates with skills in using well-established paradigms and approaches, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, the program aims to develop skills for critically evaluating new approaches and methodologies to support life-long professional development.

Professional psychologists practice in work environments, where changes in health and social policy impact on professional practice. The program seeks to equip graduates with skills for understanding and responding to the broad policy and legislative frameworks that impact on professional practice.

Professional psychology is an intrinsically collaborative and interactive field, and the ACAP MPsych(Clin) program seeks to develop skills for practicing within a multidisciplinary model of service provision.

Graduates of the MPsych(Clin) are eligible for general registration as psychologists, and, with an additional two years of approved supervised full-time equivalent practice with a Board-approved supervisor, graduates may be eligible for endorsement by the Psychology Board of Australia as clinical psychologists.