Registered Psychologist vs Clinical Psychologist

What is the difference between a Registered Psychologist and a Clinical Psychologist? 

We’re all more or less familiar with what a psychologist is. As professionals trained in the science of the human mind and peoples’ behaviour, they pursue the field in many different ways. While some go into academe, education, corporate, or healthcare, you might be curious about what kind of psychologist to see. 

There are many terms being thrown around when talking about psychologists. Maybe some of your loved ones have been to see a clinical psychologist, while a friend might have gone to a registered psychologist. You might have read these words in an article or heard them in a video. 

But what is the difference between a registered psychologist and a clinical psychologist? How do we make the distinction, and which one of them should you see?

What is a Registered Psychologist?

A registered psychologist is someone that has completed their 4 years of undergraduate studies in psychology, as well as either 2 years of internship, or 1 year of Masters and 1 year of internship. If you’ve heard the term “provisional psychologist” or “provisionally registered psychologist”, that just refers to a psychologist that is practicing as part of their internship. 

Being registered means that they have been recognized to practice psychology on a professional level. Possession of a general registration means that they can assess, diagnose, and treat patients with a relatively broad spectrum of mental health concerns. They can work in psychological assessment, healthcare, education, forensics, legal settings, government, and others. 

What is a Clinical Psychologist? 

A clinical psychologist is someone that has completed 4 years of undergraduate studies in psychology, after which they have completed a 2 year Master of Clinical Psychology program. They hold the same general registration as other psychologists, but, they will have had to complete an endorsement program in clinical psychology afterwards. This consists of practice in the professional setting as well as various other professional development activities. 

Clinical psychologists are specialised professionals whose expertise lies in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. They have a wide array of skills for handling the mental health concerns of their patients.

Clinical psychologists are also involved in research. This is one of the things that sets them apart as clinical psychologists. They may be involved in evaluation or design of therapeutic approaches to mental disorders. 

What kind of psychologist should I see? 

When it comes to seeing patients, the things that a clinical psychologist does mostly overlaps with what a registered psychologist does, except in special cases. What’s important for you when choosing a psychologist is actually more of:

  • Are they accessible to me in terms of proximity and cost? You can ask about their rates, whether they offer Medicare rebates, where they are located, and how soon they can see you by contacting them directly. 
  • Does the psychologist have experience in the problem that I need help with? You can also find this out by calling their office / clinic and inquiring with them. 
  • Do I feel comfortable with and confident in them? This one mostly comes after you’ve actually seen them. Is your relationship with them condusive to the treatment you’re receiving? Do you feel like you’re making progress through the sessions? Do you feel like you’re the right fit? Are you happy with what the two of you are doing? If you feel like you’d want to explore other options, then it can’t hurt to look around some more. 

All psychologists that practice locally are registered with the Austrlian Board of Psychology, and continuously meet their standards. Psychologists have to keep up with the requirements set by the board for education, training, and continued development. 

whether  you decide to choose a registered psychologist or a clinical psychologist, you can expect the same level of ethics, professionalism, and standard of care from any and all of them. 


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