Clinical Psychology in Australia

Why Study Clinical Psychology At University and Where Can It Lead You?

Clinical Psychology is a very popular topic in Australian Universities, and many undergraduates start Psychology degrees thinking that they would like to become clinical psychologists. Of course, a Psychology degree from an Australian university offers many employment pathways, as it helps every student develop skills for critical thinking and analysis, which a variety of potential employers find to be an important attribute in graduates. Clinical psychology is only one of many pathways to employment. It is a challenging pathway, as it currently requires a four-year undergraduate degree (including Honours), followed by either a two-year Masters degree or a 3-4 year PhD. After graduation, you are then required to be supervised in your clinical practice for up to two years before you can be considered able to receive a clinical endorsement from the Psychology Board of Australia. Entry to Honours and postgraduate training is fiercely competitive and available to only the best performing students.

So why choose this pathway? Clearly clinical psychology is a fascinating topic, informing our understanding of abnormal behaviour. It involves training with both children and adults, in assessment and interventions. Australian universities, in particular, subscribe to the scientist-practitioner model, which means that we train students in evidence-based practice, and train them to evaluate their own practice to ensure that what they do with clients is ethical, effective and suited to the circumstances of that individual. The training for clinical psychology in Australia is moving more to a skills acquisition model, which means that students get plenty of hands-on practice with skills, including completion of three clinical placements. These placements are planned to provide the student with a diverse experience across client groups and issues, so that you graduate with experience across a number of areas. Most clinical psychology courses in Australia consist of relatively small groups of students, so you have a chance to form enduring relationships that will offer you support as you complete your training and go out to work as a clinical psychologist. This peer-support and collaboration is a key to surviving and excelling in a challenging training program.

clinical psychology

Clinical psychology involves training with both children and adults, in assessment and interventions

Where can a speciality in clinical psychology lead you? All of our graduates seem to have no problems with gaining employment. Our Master's graduates typically work for the government across a number of settings, including child welfare, health, community psychiatry, and education. They can also work with private practices, which have expanded astronomically in Australia over the last 10 years due to increased access for psychological services in the Medicare system. At Flinders University we offer a PhD in Clinical Psychology and this can lead you either to clinical practice or a research career or a combination of both! It is also more flexible in terms of being acceptable in other countries if you wish to work as a clinical psychologist outside of Australia. It is important to remember, that in many ways, your real training begins once you start practising psychology in the workplace, with good supervision in place. In this environment, the building blocks that you acquire through university will form a fantastic foundation for you to become a skilled and helpful psychologist who can make a real difference in peoples’ lives.

Article contributed by Professor Tracey Wade, Dean of the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia. View her bio and contact details on