Counselling interviews with the Psychology Council - what to expect

When complaints and notifications about a psychologist are made to the Psychology Council of New South Wales – either by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), practitioners (psychological, medical or other) or clients themselves – one of the possible outcomes, and most frequent, is for the psychologist to be requested to attend a Counselling Interview with members of Council, to discuss the complaint. As the cover letter to practitioners indicates:

Counselling does not constitute a disciplinary inquiry, nor is it a reprimand for unproven allegations; rather, it provides an opportunity to address possible areas for improvement. The main purpose of the counselling interview is to remind psychologists of their professional responsibilities and, if needed, to assist them in finding ways to enhance and improve their professional practice.

The counselling includes ‘discussion of the circumstances surrounding the notification’ and focuses on compliance with the Psychology Board of Australia’s registration standards.

To assist the Council’s deliberations, the practitioner is asked, in preparing for the counselling interview, to submit their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record from the past two years, including:

  • Learning Plan(s)
  • CPD Log
  • Supervision Log
  • CPD Journal, and
  • Supervision Journal

All of these documents form part of the annual registration requirements specified by AHPRA. In addition, the practitioner is asked to submit their current, up-to-date curriculum vitae, selfreflection upon the allegations made and any further written responses they may wish to submit.

It has become apparent from several recent counselling interviews that compliance in relation to AHPRA CPD requirements remains sub-optimal (and sometimes totally inadequate). It’s not yet clear whether this reflects a ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ phenomenon, or is localised to those presenting for interview. It is, however, suspected that many in the profession may not be up-to-date in their documentation, in which case we all need to be cognisant of the standards required.

The guidelines for these requirements are spelt out in detail on the AHPRA website and were discussed in a previous article of the Psychology Council newsletter: ‘Remaining Compliant: Psychology Practitioner Audits’.

It is strongly recommended that practitioners review these guidelines as we approach the end of our current (2016-2017) CPD cycle which concludes on 30 November 2017. We are required to keep adequate and accurate records in this area, regardless of whether we’re called for interview (via the Council) or random audit (via AHPRA). The stress of such occurrences can be greatly diminished if records are complete and up-to-date, without the rapid retrospective re-construction which sometimes occurs – and, in any case, is not compliant.

Please review the available compliance material at the following sites: