Educational Psychologists and Scope of Practice – Opinion

The Educational Psychology Association of South Africa has long maintained that educational psychologists are discriminated against with regard to scope of practice issues. The law on scope of practice issues is clear:

  • All psychologists may perform acts contemplated by the Regulations Defining the Scope of the Profession of Psychology (GN R993 in GG31433 of 16 September 2008).

  • Each psychologist must limit his or her practice to areas within the boundaries of his or her competency based on his or her formal education, training, supervised experience and / or appropriate professional experience.

  • A communication sent out by the Professional Board for Psychology, which communication is supported by the Clinical Psychology Forum (CPF) on the CPF’s website, and which states that psychologists are required to be guided by the Minimum Standards for the Education and Training of the different categories of psychological practitioners, is wrong.

EPASSA has obtained legal opinion that corroborates this. The opinion, which is comprehensive, can be found using this link. We hope that this communication will help to stop ongoing discrimination against educational psychologists. An edited opinion is being prepared and will be sent to the Professional Board for Psychology.

Recently, educational psychologists were pivotally involved in helping to ensure that a certain medical aid will pay all eligible psychologists in full for telepsychology. The threat that medical aids would pay only 65% of the usual rate caused an outcry. This issue sensitized some (but probably not enough) psychologists to what educational psychologists have had to endure for years with far greater severity.

EPASSA calls on all psychologists, associations, private practitioners and policy makers to stop the discrimination that is rife in our profession. Discrimination against educational psychologists brings our profession into disrepute. Despite what some claim, there  is no one representative association of psychology, there is not only one category of psychologists that can treat psychopathology, no body of psychology should make unlawful pronouncements regarding scope of practice, and no individuals or associations should discriminate or tacitly collude with such discrimination.

The Educational Psychology Association of South Africa (EPASSA) was established to provide a forum for educational psychologists to share ideas, promote their work, maintain and protect the interests of the profession and strive for contextually appropriate service delivery. The provision of excellent and accessible mental health resources to infants, children, adolescents, individuals, families and groups is an aspiration high on the agenda of EPASSA.  We value and acknowledge the roles and contributions of all mental health practitioners.  South Africa has limited resources to meet the mental health needs of its population. We strive to collaborate with colleagues in the medical and allied professions and all branches of psychology in order to provide appropriate services to the community as a whole.

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Educational psychologists, Rule 21 and scope of practice – OPINION