PGDipPsychPrac - FAQs

Listed below are some answers to frequently asked questions.

  1. My Master’s degree is from an overseas university. Am I still eligible for this programme?
  2. I did not do a research-based Master’s degree—it was by paper only. Why do you require research experience?
  3. Can the programme find me a suitable internship, or recommend one to save me time?
  4. It seems like this programme could cost me a great deal of money. Will Massey University meet any of my costs, for travel, accommodation, supervision, and so on?
  5. I have a possible supervisor, but he/she lives in another part of the country—is that OK?
  6. What are the benefits for my supervisor?
  7. My possible internship has more than one activity they would like me to engage in, and one of these is supervised by an experienced practitioner who is not a psychologist. Is that acceptable?
  8. Can my internship be the same as my current employment?
  9. What do you really mean by practice being “psychological” in nature?
  10. Do you mean that I need to be seeing clients or working with people directly for 1500 hours?
  11. I have family responsibilities, is the workload manageable?
  12. What sort of jobs can I get with registration under the Psychologist Scope?
  13. I was registered to practice as a psychologist in another country where the requirement for supervised practice was less than 1500 hours.  Can I just make up the difference in the supervised practice hours without having to complete the whole internship programme?
  14. My thesis will be completed in April, can I begin the PGDipPsychPrac mid-year?
  15. I started university straight after finishing school, should I get some work experience before applying for the PGDipPsychPrac?
  16. If the position I already work in is suitable for the internship, can I call myself an Intern Psychologist and begin logging hours as soon as I am accepted into the programme?
  17. If I can complete my 1500 hours before the end of November, can I stop working then?
  18. Our family has planned to take a long vacation this coming year, and I have calculated that it will still be possible to complete the required 1500 hours of supervised practice; that’s OK, isn’t it?
  19. My current employer is keen to offer me an internship but can only support three days a week, it is possible to complete the internship by working two days per week in another organisation?
  20. I’m just starting my Masters, I don’t know any registered psychologists and I’m not really sure what area of psychology I’d like to practice in; how do I meet practitioners and find out about different sorts of work?

Answers to FAQs

1. My Master’s degree is from an overseas university. Am I still eligible for this programme?

Overseas qualifications must be assessed as the equivalent of a New Zealand Master’s degree in Psychology – this assessment must be made prior to you applying for the PGDipPsychPrac programme. For students whose qualifying degree was not completed at an English-speaking University, demonstration of English language competence (equivalent to an overall IELTS score of at least 7.5 with no band lower than 7.0) is required.  For further advice, please contact the Programme Coordinator.

2. I did not do a research-based Master’s degree—it was by paper only. Why do you require research experience?

This qualification is based on a scientist-practitioner model of training. There is a strong emphasis on ensuring that your practice is evidence-based. Masters level research training is considered necessary to ensure that you are able to use the formal literature in psychology as the basis for your practice, and to be able to evaluate your own practice.

3. Can the programme find me a suitable internship, or recommend one to save me time?

No, but we will assist you. The success of this programme is dependent on the students having a reliable and supportive relationship with a suitable agency. In other words your choice of internship setting needs to be based on your prior educational experiences and a good fit between yourself and the agency, as well as your intended subsequent domain of practice.

4. It seems like this programme could cost me a great deal of money. Will Massey University meet any of my costs, for travel, accommodation, supervision, and so on?

No, these costs will be your responsibility and whether or not you receive compensation from your internship will be entirely negotiable between you and the agency involved. By becoming a fee paying postgraduate student, however you will have access to all the academic resources of any postgraduate students, such as library resources both on and off campus, and e-mail and internet access while enrolled.

5. I have a possible supervisor, but he/she lives in another part of the country—is that OK?

No. Supervision must normally include face-to-face meetings, with opportunities for the supervisor to observe and evaluate actual practice. The internship agency can be in any part of New Zealand, but the supervisor must usually be close enough to permit direct contact on at least a weekly basis, as well as being available to guide and support your activities at all other times.  If an appropriate supervisor is available within close proximity, this is the expected arrangement.

6. What are the benefits for my supervisor?

Participating in university-based training is often something that psychologists consider an expected part of professional life. In the future, we will be offering training workshops and other forms of free professional development to supervisors, but they will have no access to University resources as they will not be employees.  Many supervisors however report that they find the experience satisfying, and that they sometimes benefit from interns’ more recent exposure to cutting-edge research, and their currency in conducting sophisticated literature searches.

7. My possible internship has more than one activity they would like me to engage in, and one of these is supervised by an experienced practitioner who is not a psychologist. Is that acceptable?

Yes, we encourage diversity of experiences within the internship and a number of possible “rotations” in different functions of the agency would be desirable. If the day-to-day practical supervision of some part of the internship is carried out by an experienced professional who is not a psychologist, that is acceptable, as long as the overall activities are being supervised by the approved Registered Psychologist. Note that some activities may specifically require supervision from a non-psychologist, such as an experienced cultural advisor.

8. Can my internship be the same as my current employment?

Yes, under three conditions. (a) Time must be allowed you to carry out all the training requirements of the programme; (b) your activities meet all of the definitions of supervised psychological practice; (c) if you currently carry a particular case-load in a paraprofessional role, it is likely that, at least initially, your workload will need to be reduced as you learn to work as a psychologist.

9. What do you really mean by practice being “psychological” in nature?

Your internship activities need to be grounded in the discipline of psychology, use psychological concepts, and have an evidence-base from the psychological literature.

Fortunately this gives opportunity for a very wide range of innovative practices as well as more conventional psychological activities.

10. Do you mean that I need to be seeing clients or working with people directly for 1500 hours?

No, some types of psychological practice requires only very little direct contact with conventional “clients”—communities, organisations, groups, etc., can also be clients.

“Supervised practice” could include planning a programme of psychological services, attending professional meetings, writing reports, observing in a home or school, offering a workshop to other professionals, iwi development activities, designing an applied research project—in fact any of the activities that could be expected of a psychologist employed in an agency providing psychological services. Your log book will document the distribution of your time across these various functions of good practice.  It is however critical that, over the course of the internship, the breadth of competencies specified for the Psychologist scope as they apply in the particular sub-field of psychology are evident in your experience.  For example, it may be appropriate in a particular setting for an intern to begin in conducting assessments, but you also need to demonstrate competence in appropriate intervention.

11. I have family responsibilities, is the workload manageable?

Yes . . . provided you are very organised and disciplined.  Any internship year is very intensive.  An intern is not only learning a new job with professional responsibilities, but is also learning how to apply their discipline’s knowledge to meet their clients’ needs.  In the PGDipPsychPrac, the academic assignments support this process by focusing on the application of the Core Competencies (specified by the Psychologists Board), both to psychological practice in general and as particularised for the type of work and setting in which the intern is practicing.  Most interns who have completed this programme had family responsibilities, as do most practicing psychologists; it is important to learn how to achieve work-life balance and meet both personal and professional responsibilities. 

12. What sort of jobs can I get with registration under the Psychologist Scope?

A broad range of psychological roles fall under the Psychologist Scope.  It is helpful to read the statement provided by the Psychologists Board http://www.psychologistsboard.org.nz/scopes-of-practice2 explaining the nature of these scopes of practice. PGDipPsychPrac graduates have won psychologist positions including: working in Brief Therapy, Child Assessment, with abused children, at-risk youth, adults with disability, adults with chronic health conditions, enhancing performance in the workplace.  Employers include Corrections, CYFS, particular roles in some DHBs, MOE and a range of non-profit organisations.  The jobs that any individual secures is very much dependent on the specifics of their academic preparation and the internship they completed as well as availability in a given location, and other experience and personal attributes they might bring to the position.

13. I was registered to practice as a psychologist in another country where the requirement for supervised practice was less than 1500 hours.  Can I just make up the difference in the supervised practice hours without having to complete the whole internship programme? 

Unfortunately, that is not possible in the PGDipPsychPrac.  The university cannot grant the qualification on the basis of some work having been completed overseas; the internship is specifically in the practice of psychology in New Zealand.  However, there have been some other students in your position and, having completed the PGDipPsychPrac, their feedback was that it was a valuable learning experience and has provided them with a solid grounding in what is expected of a psychologist in New Zealand.

14. My thesis will be completed in April, can I begin the PGDipPsychPrac mid-year?

No, so far, the PGDipPsychPrac has only one intake each calendar year.

15. I started university straight after finishing school, should I get some work experience before applying for the PGDipPsychPrac? 

It is usually better to have had some relevant work experience prior to applying to the PGDipPsychPrac.  The type of experience depends to some extent on the area of psychology in which you wish to work.  Volunteer experience can also be valuable – and gives you the opportunity to sample different types of work to see what is the best fit for you. 

16. If the position I already work in is suitable for the internship, can I call myself an Intern Psychologist and begin logging hours as soon as I am accepted into the programme? 

Absolutely not!  You must first be legally registered as an Intern Psychologist and fully enrolled with Massey University in the PGDipPsychPrac.  You apply to the university for enrolment, then you apply to the Psychologists Board for registration as an intern (advising them that you have provisional acceptance into the PGDipPsychPrac); when the Board provide you with a letter confirming your registration, you need to provide a copy to the University (via the Academic Administrator).  Then, when you receive confirmation that your enrolment has been completed, provided your internhip and supervision agreements are finalised, you may begin working as an Intern Psychologist and logging hours.

NB: It is illegal to refer to yourself as an Intern Psychologist before you are properly registered and enrolled.

17. If I can complete my 1500 hours before the end of November, can I stop working then? 

The 1500 hours is a minimum requirement and although unusual, it is possible that the examiners may require any intern to undertake a period of additional practice.  It is therefore unwise to structure an employment agreement on the basis of the bare 1500 hours, or to resign from your internship position on completion of 1500 hours. 

18.  Our family has planned to take a long vacation this coming year, and I have calculated that it will still be possible to complete the required 1500 hours of supervised practice; that’s OK, isn’t it?

You should discuss this with the coordinator.  Although it may be appropriate to schedule short breaks during the year, it is not usually a good idea to plan to take a long holiday during the internship year. 

19.  My current employer is keen to offer me an internship but can only support three days a week, it is possible to complete the internship by working two days per week in another organisation?

Under some circumstances, this is possible.  On the down-side, it is more demanding because you need to learn, and learn to work in, two sets of policies and procedures, and perhaps even with somewhat different clients.  On the up-side, this makes for a very rich learning experience, allowing you to experience first-hand, how the competencies apply in different settings.  Once you have some ideas, you should discuss this with the Coordinator.

20. I’m just starting my Masters, I don’t know any registered psychologists and I’m not really sure what area of psychology I’d like to practice in; how do I meet practitioners and find out about different sorts of work?

One option is to join the NZ Psychology Society – they make it really easy for students.  Check out their information linked below.
NZPsS_PG_Handbook.pdf (1,267 KB)

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 contact@massey.ac.nz Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey