Educational Psychology Association of South Africa
P. O. Box 924
Tel: 011 885 2237
22 November 2016
The Scope of Practice of Educational Psychologists:
Comment on Settlement Agreement made an Order of Court
The Educational Psychology Association of South Africa (EPASSA) notes that regulations pertaining to different categories of psychologists that were promulgated by the Minister of Health in 2011 are vague. Moreover, the Minister of Health recently conceded that the regulations followed an unlawful process of promulgation and are invalid.
Following this concession by the Minister, a settlement agreement was reached between the Minister and an organisation known as the Recognition of Prior Learning Action Group. The agreement, which was recently made an order of court, effectively provides that the current regulations will continue to operate for the next two years, during which time the Minister has an opportunity to promulgate regulations in a procedurally correct manner.
Given that the regulations will continue to operate for a while, EPASSA would like to clarify the scope of practice of educational psychologists, which is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. There has been no effective change in the scope of practice since its promulgation in 2011 and the court settlement that was reached last week, on 14 September 2016.
The current situation is that there is significant overlap in the training and skills of all psychologists. In no regulation is it stated that any one category of psychology can treat any condition that another category cannot. So long as they have the requisite training, skills, knowledge and experience, all psychologists, no matter their category of registration, are legally entitled to evaluate behaviour, mental processes or personality adjustments; to use psychotherapeutic procedures to relieve or change personality, emotional, behavioural or adjustment problems or mental deficiencies; and to use psychological methods to prevent such problems or mental illnesses. In addition, educational psychologists are particularly skilled in the areas of learning and development.
Most educational psychologists are well trained in working with children and families. Some educational psychologists have advanced skills in such fields as family therapy, adult psychotherapy, psycho-legal work, personality problems and the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders and conditions.
When it comes to the categories of counselling, clinical and educational psychology, there is no reason for medical schemes to pay for the services of some psychologists and not others. Members of the public who find their medical schemes doing so should complain.