Educational Psychology Association of South Africa
P. O. Box 924
19 May 2019
In 2011, a Scope of Practice for psychologists was published in the Government Gazette, as Regulation 704 (GNR 704). Legal action was instituted by a group called RelPAG to declare Regulation 704 of 2011 invalid. EPASSA deposed to an affidavit supporting that the 2011 regulation should fall.
The Minister of Health conceded that the 2011 regulation was invalid on procedural grounds and the Cape High Court ruled that the Minister must fix the regulation within two years (by 14 November 2018), from when it would no longer operate. The Minister later obtained an extension for another six months. Those six months have now lapsed.
We do not know when the Minister will promulgate a new regulation on the scope of our profession. There has been stiff opposition from some psychology associations, including EPASSA, to a draft regulation that the Minister indicated it was his intention to promulgate. In the interim, EPASSA regards it as a relief that the 2011 Regulation is no longer operative. However, this relief may be short-lived, as the Minister, advised by the Professional Board for Psychology, may be at an advanced stage in promulgating a regulation that we regard as vague and discriminatory.
Where does that leave our membership and psychologists today?
There are two regulations that EPASSA believes currently impacting positively on the scope of practice of all psychologists: Regulation 993 of 16 September 2008 and Regulation R717 of 2006.
Regulation 993 of 2008 stipulates that psychologists may evaluate, diagnose and treat behaviour, mental processes, emotions and personality, and may engage in the following psychological acts reserved for psychologists:
- The evaluation of behaviour or mental processes or personality adjustments or adjustments of individuals or of groups of persons, through the use or interpretation of any psychological test, questionnaire, instrument, apparatus, device or similar method for the determination of intellectual abilities, aptitude, interests, personality make-up or personality functioning, and the diagnosis or measurement of personality and emotional functions, neuropsychological disorders and mental functioning deficiencies according to a recognised scientific system for the
classification of mental deficiencies;
- The use of any psychological method or practice aimed at aiding persons or groups of persons in the adjustment of personality, emotional or behavioural problems or the promotion of positive personality change, growth and development, and the identification and evaluation of personality dynamics and personality functioning according to scientific psychological methods;
- The evaluation of emotional, behavioural and cognitive processes or adjustment of personality of individuals or groups of persons by the usage and interpretation of psychological questionnaires, tests, projections, or other techniques or any apparatus, whether of South African origin or imported, for the determination of intellectual abilities, aptitude, personality make-up, personality functioning, psycho-physiological functioning or psychopathology;
- The exercising of control over prescribed psychological questionnaires or tests or prescribed techniques, apparatus or instruments for the determination of intellectual abilities, aptitude, personality make-up, personality functioning, psychophysiological functioning or psychopathology;
- The development of and control over the development of psychological
questionnaires, tests, techniques, apparatus or instruments for the determination of intellectual abilities, aptitude, personality make-up, personality functioning, psychophysiological functioning or psychopathology;
- The use of any psychological questionnaire, test, prescribed techniques, instrument, apparatus, device or similar method for the determination of intellectual abilities, aptitude, personality make-up, personality functioning, temperament, psychophysiological functioning, psycho-pathology or
personnel career selection;
- The use of hypnotherapy;
- The use of any psychotherapeutic method, technique or procedure to rectify, relieve or change personality, emotional, behavioural or adjustment problems or mental deficiencies of individuals or groups of people; and
- The use of any psychological method or psychological counselling to prevent personality, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and adjustment problems or mental illnesses of individuals or groups of people.
(It is the above-mentioned regulation, R993 of 2008, that the Minister has indicated he intends replacing. Regulation 704 of 2011, which was effectively an appendix to Regulation 993 of 2008, has already fallen away. However, for at least the time being, R993 of 2008 continues to operate.)
The second regulation currently impacting positively on the scope of practice of all psychologists is Regulation R717 of 2006 (the Ethical Rules of Conduct for Practitioners Registered under the Health Professions Act). R717 requires that a psychologist shall 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.
There is therefore, at present, no legal regulation that stipulates what one category of psychologist may do and another may not. (In fact, there never was a clear document explicating this, even when the 2011 regulation operated). The test of whether a psychologist is acting lawfully is now, as it should be, based on competence—and competence is evaluated according to each psychologist’s formal education, training, supervised experience and/or appropriate professional experience.
In summary, the 2011 regulation on the Scope of Practice that the Cape High Court declared invalid, but that had to be kept in place until the Minister had time to correct them, has lapsed. The current situation is that the 2006 and 2008 regulations stand, and the 2011 regulation is dead. This is exactly the situation that EPASSA has been advocating for. However, the current situation is likely to be only a temporary reprieve. The Minister may be about to promulgate a new regulation. EPASSA members will only know whether our objections to the proposed 2018 Draft regulation has been heeded when the regulation is released. If our objections have been disregarded, we
may take the new regulation to judicial review.
EPASSA; Head of Advocacy