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Urgent review of regulation process for psychologists must happen now – Currie

7th March 2023 - Emer Currie

Children, families and people accessing psychological services will remain vulnerable to potentially unqualified psychologists until a full review of the regulation process for practitioners and clinicians takes place, a Fine Gael Senator has stated.

Fine Gael and Dublin West based Senator Emer Currie said: “The RTE Investigates programme that aired last night was distressing for anyone who has put their trust in a psychologist.

“It detailed how psychologists, in both the public and private sector, are not regulated. Anyone is free to call themselves a psychologist and start operating as one, without any training or verification. The title of psychologist is not protected.

“The programme even went so far as to show how one individual practicing as a psychologist for over a decade, publicly and privately, even giving expert evidence in the High Court, was not qualified in the field.

“This is an utterly unacceptable disregard for professional standards and ethics and has led to the gross violation of personal and sensitive information and circumstances.

“CORU is the professional body which is responsible for the regulation of health and social care professionals.  The Psychologists Registration Board (PSRB) was set up in 2017 to do just that.

“However, after a public consultation on standards, the Board; in agreement with the Minister for Health, agreed to take a dual-stream and phased approach whereby specific psychology specialisms would be prioritised, based on the greatest risk to public safety, while the wider work of protecting the title “psychologist” would continue in the long-term, meaning, those that are practicing are suitably qualified.

“This approach needs to be reviewed because it could have serious consequences for many families.  The broad and open-house nature of psychology means that prioritising specialisms will continue to leave major gaps in regulation. Qualifying as a psychologist takes great commitment, time and study and we are trying to attract more people to the profession to deal with demand for services.

“It is incumbent on CORU and the Minister for Health to provide a timeline for a full review of the regulation processes for all strands of psychology, identifying and rectifying failings, so that those accessing therapy can be confident in their practitioner’s credentials and expertise.”

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