Inherent requirements for the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology Practice

The statements below specify the course requirements of the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology Practice for student admission and progression. The statements are clustered under eight domains consisting of ethical behaviour, behavioural stability, legal, communication, cognition, relational skills, reflective skills and sustainable performance.

Many of the activities associated with the professional practice of a registered psychologist are time sensitive, where the capacity to perform certain activities within specified time limits is required to reduce or avoid risks to patient safety and wellbeing. The safety and wellbeing of you and others is always of paramount importance. They should be read in conjunction with other course information, the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council Rules and Standards, and the codes, guidelines and policies of the PsyBA.

What is it like to do this course?

It may be helpful for you to understand what it is like to complete the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology Practice, which includes both coursework and placement components. Further information about the course is available in the course guide and we recommend you familiarise yourself with the information there.

What about when I finish my course?

After graduating from this course, you will have completed extensive hands-on psychological practice, received individual and group supervision, and acquired the professional skills to meet the requirements for the ‘5+1’ internship pathway to registration. Once you have achieved general registration as a psychologist, you can work in any area of psychology that is within your scope of competence and uses the title 'psychologist'.

Inherent requirements domains

There are nine domains of inherent requirements in the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology.

  • Ethical behaviour
  • Behavioural stability
  • Legal compliance
  • Communication
  • Cognition
  • Relational skills
  • Reflective skills
  • Sensory abilities
  • Sustainable performance

 Ethical behaviour

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates knowledge of, and engages in ethical behaviour in practice.
  2. Professional psychology is a profession governed by the codes, guidelines and policies of the Psychology Board of Australia (opens in new window) where professional psychologists are both accountable and responsible for ensuring professional behaviour in all contexts. Students should demonstrate knowledge of and engage in ethical behaviour in practice.
  3. Why is ethical behaviour an inherent requirement?
    Compliance with the codes, guidelines and policies facilitates safe, competent interactions and relationships for students and/or the people with whom they engage. This ensures the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the individual is not placed at risk.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the ethical behaviour requirement must not compromise the codes, guidelines and policies of the Psychology Board of Australia or result in unethical behaviour.
  5. Examples of ways in which ethical behaviour applies to this course
    Complying with conduct required to maintain provisional registration as a psychologist.
 Behavioural stability

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates behavioural stability to work constructively in a diverse and changing academic and professional environment, which may at times be challenging and unpredictable.
  2. Behavioural stability is required to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in a demanding role.
  3. Why is behavioural stability an inherent requirement?
    Behavioural stability is required to work individually and in teams in diverse and changing environments. Students will be exposed to situations that are challenging and unpredictable, and will be required to have the behavioural stability to manage these objectively and professionally.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the behavioural stability requirement must support stable, effective and professional behaviour in both academic and professional settings.
  5. Examples of ways in which behavioural stability applies to this course
    Being receptive and responding appropriately to constructive feedback.
    Managing own emotional state in order to be able to develop and maintain an appropriate relationship with a diverse range of clients.
 Legal compliance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates knowledge and compliance with relevant laws and professional regulations. 
  2. Professional psychology practice is mandated by specific legislation to enable the safe delivery of care.
  3. Why is legal compliance an inherent requirement?
    Knowledge, understanding and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements are necessary pre-requisites to supervised placements in order to reduce the risk of harm to self and others. 
    Compliance with these regulations and the law ensures that students are both responsible and accountable for their practice.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the legal compliance requirement must be consistent with legal and regulatory requirements.
  5. Examples of ways in which legal compliance applies to this course
    Complying with legal requirements regarding all aspects of practice.
    Complying with the requirement for student registration with the Australian Health Professional Registration Authority (AHPRA).
 Communication

This course requires effective, verbal, non-verbal and written communication.

Verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately and in a timely manner.
    The ability to provide clear instructions in the context of a situation.
    Timely clear feedback and reporting.
  2. Effective and efficient verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe delivery of professional psychology care.
  3. Why is verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    The practice of professional psychology depends on effective verbal communication with clients and members of the professional team.
    Speed and accuracy of communication may be critical for individual safety or treatment.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the verbal communication requirement must address effectiveness, timeliness, clarity, and accuracy issues to ensure safety.
  5. Examples of ways in which verbal communication applies to this course
    Collecting information from clients by asking questions during assessments.
    Explaining a treatment plan to a client.
    Discussing the client's progress with other professionals.

Non-verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to behavioural cues.
    Consistent and appropriate awareness of own behaviours.
    Sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.
  2. Effective non-verbal communication is fundamental to professional psychology and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, honest and non-judgemental.
  3. Why is non-verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues assists with building rapport with people and gaining their trust and respect in academic and professional relationships. 
    Displaying consistent and appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, being mindful of space, time boundaries and body movements and gestures promotes trust in academic and professional relationships. 
    Being sensitive to individual and cultural differences demonstrates respect and empathy, and permits the development of trusting relationships required to work with clients during supervised placements. 
    The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues is essential for safe and effective observation of clients' symptoms and reactions as part of their assessment and treatment.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet non-verbal communication requirements must enable the recognition, interpretation and appropriate response to non-verbal cues as well as initiation of effective non-verbal communication in a timely and appropriate manner.
  5. Examples of ways in which non-verbal communication applies to this course
    Recognising and responding to non-verbal cues indicating a change in the emotional state of a client during supervised placements.
    Recognising and responding to non-verbal cues in classroom situations.

Written

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates capacity to construct coherent written communication appropriate to the circumstances.
  2. Effective written communication is a fundamental professional psychology responsibility with professional and legal ramifications.
  3. Why is written communication an inherent requirement?
    Construction of text based assessment tasks to reflect the required academic standards are necessary to convey knowledge and understanding of relevant subject matter for professional practice. Accurate written communication for a range of purposes and audiences is vital to provide consistent and safe patient care.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the written communication requirements must not compromise the necessary standards of clarity, accuracy and accessibility to ensure effective recording and transmission of information in both academic and professional settings.
  5. Examples of ways in which written communication applies to this course
    Constructing an essay to required academic standards including appropriate referencing of sources.
    Preparing psychological reports that are appropriate to the purpose and audience and completed in a timely manner.
 Cognition

This course requires knowledge of theory and the skills of cognition, literacy and numeracy.

Knowledge and cognitive skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to locate appropriate and relevant information.
    The ability to process information relevant to practice.
    The ability to integrate and implement knowledge in practice.
  2. Consistent and effective knowledge and cognitive skills must be demonstrated to undertake safe and competent professional psychology practice.
  3. Why are knowledge and cognitive skills inherent requirements?
    Satisfactory performance on supervised placements requires identifying and accurately extracting and understanding information from a range of sources, which must also be applied appropriately.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet knowledge and cognitive skills requirements must not compromise or impede student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable level of knowledge and cognitive skill required to practice safely.
  5. Examples of ways in which knowledge and cognitive skills apply to this course
    Ability to apply academic knowledge to practice during supervised placements, for example through developing and testing hypotheses, developing treatment plans and then conducting individual sessions for clients based upon informed assessments and other findings.

Literacy (language)

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to accurately acquire information and convey appropriate, effective messages.
    The ability to read and comprehend a range of literature and information.
    The capacity to understand and implement academic conventions to construct written text in a scholarly manner.
  2. Competent literacy skills are essential to permit safe and effective practice of professional psychology during supervised placements.
  3. Why is literacy (language) an inherent requirement?
    The ability to acquire information and to accurately convey messages is fundamental to ensure safe and effective assessment, treatment and delivery of care. 
    The ability to read, decode, interpret and comprehend multiple sources of information is fundamental for safe and effective conduct during supervised placements.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet literacy (language) requirements must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable capacity to effectively acquire, comprehend, apply and communicate accurate information.
  5. Examples of ways in which literacy (language) applies to this course
    Conveying a spoken message accurately and effectively in a professional setting during supervised placements.
    Paraphrasing, summarising and referencing in accordance with the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (opens in new window) conventions.
    Producing accurate, concise and clear documentation while on supervised placement in the professional setting that meets legal and professional requirements.

Numeracy

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates the ability to interpret and correctly apply numerical data, measurement and numerical criteria in the execution of professional psychology practice, including while on supervised placement.
  2. Competent and accurate numeracy skills are essential to provide safe and effective demonstration of professional psychology practice skills.
  3. Why is numeracy an inherent requirement?
    As professional psychology practice relies in part on collecting data in a numerical form, for example psychometric assessments, students must be able to accurately record and manage numerical data and to interpret their findings.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet numeracy requirements must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable capacity to manage and interpret numerical data.
  5. Examples of ways in which numeracy applies to this course
    Accurately scoring and interpreting psychological test data while on supervised placement.
 Relational skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to make and maintain rapport with clients.
    The ability to engage in effective counselling skills.
    Appropriate empathy.
  2. Professional psychology practice requires the ability to make and maintain strong relationships with a wide range of clients, often under stressful circumstances.
  3. Why are relational skills inherent requirements?
    Highly developed relational skills are a cornerstone of effective therapeutic relationships that permit effective assessment and intervention.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet relational skills requirements must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate minimal acceptable level of effective relational skills across the range of tasks and populations required to successfully complete their studies.
  5. Examples of ways in which relational skills apply to this course
    Rapidly building rapport with a client in order to engage them in a professional assessment while on supervised placement.
    Effectively managing difficulties arising in the therapeutic relationship while on supervised placement.
 Reflective skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to accurately reflect on their professional performance.
    The ability to accept feedback on their professional practice and respond constructively.
  2. Professional psychology practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflectivity in order to consider the effect of one's own issues, actions, values and behaviours on practice.
  3. Why are reflective skills inherent requirements?
    Participation in supervision is a key teaching strategy in professional psychology training which requires adequate understanding oneself in order to appropriately engage in this activity. 
    Working with clients while on supervised placements and understanding and responding to them requires adequate understanding of oneself and the ability to effectively manage one's reactions to situations that may arise.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet reflective skills requirements must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate an acceptable minimum level of capacity in this area.
  5. Examples of ways in which reflective skills apply to this course
    Identifying when an issue is outside one's scope or expertise, or when one's practice may be affected by an impairment.
 Sensory abilities

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates adequate visual and auditory acuity to permit effective professional psychology practice.
  2. Professional psychology practice requires observation of clients in order to complete a range of core elements of the role.
  3. Why are sensory abilities an inherent requirement?
    Sufficient visual and auditory acuity is required to successfully conduct elements of psychological assessment and treatment, including the use of psychological tests.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the sensory ability requirement must ensure that performance is consistent and effective, and not compromise safety.
  5. Examples of ways in which sensory abilities apply to this course
    Administering intelligence tests.
    Accurately perceiving verbal statements made by clients during assessment.
    Observing the behaviour, affect and speech of a client as part of conducting a mental status examination.
 Sustainable performance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Student demonstrates:
    Consistent and sustained level of physical energy to complete a specific task in a timely manner and over time.
    The ability to perform repetitive activities with a level of concentration that ensures a capacity to focus on the activity until it is completed appropriately.
    The capacity to maintain consistency and quality of performance throughout the designated period of duty.
  2. Professional psychology practice requires both physical and mental stamina at a consistent and sustained level to meet individual needs over time.
  3. Why is sustainable performance an inherent requirement?
    Sufficient physical and mental endurance is an essential requirement needed to perform multiple tasks in an assigned period to provide safe and effective care.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the sustainable performance requirement must ensure that performance is consistent and sustained over a given period.
  5. Examples of ways in which sustainable performance applies to this course
    Participating in the classroom and / or online learning environment as scheduled and for the required duration.
    Remaining focussed and providing consistent responses over a negotiated time frame during supervised placement.