Registered psychology professionals - Psychologists

Article Index


Training of psychologists

Psychologists have to complete an accredited Master's degree which includes a research dissertation. Accredited Masters degrees have to meet standards set by the Board to ensure that they provide the students with the correct academic exposure and practical training and supervision. Places are extremely limited and a very small proportion of applicants are admitted to the Masters courses. Psychologists in training must also undergo an internship of 12 months. Not all Masters degrees are accredited. Candidates have to apply for selection to these courses and only a small proportion of applicants are admitted.  The internship is often unpaid, or the intern earns a low salary. After completion of the internship, the candidate needs to pass the National Examination for Psychologists and register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. If they lose their registration, they may not practice as psychologists.

Categories of psychologists

Psychologists register in different categories, and each category has a scope of practice.

  • Clinical Psychologists assess, diagnose and treat persons with development problems, psychological distress and psychopathology.
  • Counselling Psychologists  assess, diagnose and intervene in clients dealing with life challenges and developmental problems to optimise psychological wellbeing and adjustment.
  • Industrial Psychologists use principles of psychology in the workplace in order to understand, modify and enhance individual, group and organisational behaviour effectively.
  • Educational Psychologists work to optimise learning and development - not only in formal educational settings, but throughout the lifespan.
  • Research Psychologists conduct research in psychology and are not involved in rendering psychological service to the public (except in a research context).
  • Forensic Psychologists are a new category. They work in a legal context.
  • Neuro-psychologists are also a new category, and they work with clients where the functioning of the nervous system may be compromised.

There are many activities that are common to the different categories of psychologist. All psychologists are trained to use tests, and can make a contribution to the development of psychological tests.  All psychologists have to demonstrate competence in research during the course of their training.