Information for prospective applicants to PGDipPsychPrac

Programme structure

The PGDipPP is a full-time, extramural, postgraduate programme comprised of four courses, each worth 30 credits.  Two of these courses (175.851 and 175.852) carry the requirements for relevant formal academic work and evaluation, and two of them (175.853 and 175.854) cover the basic supervised practice.

Both of the 851 and 852 courses have a compulsory Contact Workshop, one week (5 days) long that will occur in Palmerston North early each semester (late Feburary and July). 

Together these 4 courses require 6 written assignments (3000 words each), a weekly log of practical experience, reports of supervision and a final oral (viva) examination.   The examination is held late November/early December.

In addition, a four-day pre-internship workshop is offered in December.  This workshop provides an opportunity to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the internship process
  • Hone the basic skills you will need to begin working with clients as a psychologist
  • Begin to shape your personal internship plan

Attendance at this workshop is most strongly recommended.  For students who have relatively little experience in working with clients, the workshop will better equip you to begin, and ensure that you get your internship off to a good start in your placement.  For students who may have been working for many years in a role related to that of a psychologist, this workshop will assist you to more rapidly begin finding your professional identity as an intern psychologist.

The practice setting

The setting in which you will carry out your supervised practice will be an agency, organisation, or programme that provides services, at least part of which are psychological in nature. The agency might be involved in a wide range of services and activities, but the component that you will be involved in must be psychological. Your psychological practice activities in the agency will be called an internship, and your position will be that of intern (or intern psychologist - for which you must be registered with the Psychologists Board). Intern psychologists must be enrolled in an appropriate university programme and work under close supervision. The internship requires a minimum of 1500 hours of supervised practice.

Ideally, there will be other Registered Psychologists working within the agency.  Regular interaction with other psychologists is important to your development as a practicing psychologist. In some instances where this is not possible, the University may still approve a proposed internship; such decisions are made on a case by case basis.

The internship, with the associated university course work, occurs within one calendar year. The option to complete over two consecutive years (part-time) is not yet available. No other distribution of practice time is permitted. There are two reasons for this.   Firstly, being part of a cohort of students who progress through their internship at similar rates is fundamental to the way the learning is structured and supported in the PGDipPP. Secondly, the internship is a training experience in which you are learning all the skills and responsibilities necessary to later be able to practice psychology independently; in other words you will be functioning as a professional psychologist, but under close supervision.  Learning how these all fit into a work week is a necessary part of the package, even if in the future, you choose to work part-time, a work structure which is often quite different from full-time.

Supervision

Your activities in the practice setting agency, the internship, must be supervised by a Registered Psychologist (who has appropriate expertise). This supervisor will be known as the “field supervisor” to differentiate this individual from the university supervisor. The field supervisor must be approved by the University to be your supervisor, prior to commencing your internship. Ideally, the field supervisor will be a professional employee of the agency. However not all suitable agencies have Registered Psychologists on their staff, and sometimes it is not appropriate for other psychologists employed by the agency to undertake intern supervision. In these circumstances, the agency will need to contract appropriate supervision from a Registered Psychologist, and the contract should guarantee that the supervisor is able to direct and evaluate the activities of the intern in the internship. There also needs to be a contract for supervision, or agreement that an employee may supervise, between the agency and the supervisor. This is to avoid any conflict of interest and to ensure that interns are not arranging or paying for, their own supervision. The normative expectation is that such a supervisor, particularly if contracted from outside the agency, would be experienced in supervising interns.

A second supervisor, called the university supervisor, will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the practical work that you are doing and ensuring that all the requirements of the programme are being fulfilled. The university supervisor will liaise closely with your field supervisor, visit your internship agency, and problem-solve any difficulties, issues, or needs that arise in the course of the internship.

More information

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