The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists is a professional organisation which sets, examines and maintains specific standards for the safe and ethical practice of psychotherapy in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is organised at national and regional levels with an elected Council.
As a professional body it aims to protect the interests of its members and their clients by a requirement that members maintain a high level of expertise in order to practise safely and effectively. This is achieved by regular supervision, personal psychotherapy as appropriate and the opportunity for contact with, and support from, other practitioners. Opportunities for continuing education and learning are offered at regional and national meetings and conferences.
While the formal requirements for supervision and personal psychotherapy provide valuable ongoing training, for many members the heart of the Association is the regular meetings organised in main centres around the country, each of which has a locally elected convenor. The practice of psychotherapy is often solitary and sometimes stressful, and the chance to meet others who are also dealing with severely troubled people is invaluable.
As well as support, these meetings provide an informal way of hearing from other practitioners about new literature and developments in theory and practice. The annual national conference is held in February, organised and hosted in turn by the regional branches. The Constitution (PDF, 170Kb) and Code of Ethics which offer firm guidelines for the influential and sometimes delicate relationship a psychotherapist has with his or her clients. The Code of Ethics serves a number of purposes:
- It provides a statement of what clients and the general public may expect from the NZAP, its Members and Applicants for Membership.
- It offers a resource for understanding the nature of responsible practice.
- It helps define professional autonomy in relation to employing institution.
A Complaints Procedure exists which allows complaints to be considered carefully and which facilitates the resolution of difficulties arising in therapeutic practice. This ensures that clients have an ordered and official means of expressing concerns, and is designed to benefit both parties.
As an adjunct to this, the Association provides access to a professional indemnity insurance scheme for Members and Applicants.
Why Was The Association Set Up?
The aims of the Association are still substantially the same as those adopted when it was set up in 1947 at a meeting in Christchurch called by Dr Maurice Bevan-Brown. Dr Bevan-Brown had worked at Guys Hospital and Harley Street in London and he was aware of New Zealand’s high rate of in-patient admissions to mental hospitals compared to Britain’s, as well as the lack of recognition of the effects of “war neuroses”. He believed it was “very difficult to be mentally healthy in a mentally unhealthy world” and his desire to promote an understanding of psychoanalysis can be seen as part of a post-war optimism for engineering a better society.
The 26 men and women attending that meeting – all from related professional disciplines such as medicine, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, social work and pastoral counselling – set up an Association with the following aims:
- The protection of the public by the maintenance of high professional standard.
- The promotion of fellowship, understanding and support among psychotherapists in New Zealand.
- The provision of training facilities.
The current aims of the Association are reflected in the The Constitution (PDF) . While there is a focus on training, setting and maintaining competent standards of practice, the Association has not moved to providing training institutions. A notable development in recent years has been a commitment to explore ways in which psychotherapy may be guided by the articles and spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Who May Apply For Membership?
Anyone who is a practising psychotherapist, or who has completed a structured training in psychotherapy or counselling and has had the equivalent of two years full time practice as a psychotherapist or counsellor, may apply for admission to the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists. The NZAP is an inclusive organisation and membership is based on concern for competent, safe and ethical practice. Many pioneering practitioners and theorists have enriched and expanded the profession, and the Association recognises this wealth of learning and experience as the basis of psychotherapeutic knowledge.
The process of achieving and maintaining membership is linked to a demonstrated, continuing commitment to the values and competence required of professional psychotherapists.
How Do You Apply?
An Initial Enquiry form may be obtained from the Association’s Executive Officer. This is intended to establish an applicant’s general suitability.
Applicants who have sufficient qualification and prior experience may proceed through an abridged process which includes an invitation to meet a panel of senior members of the Association. This is an opportunity to discuss the candidate’s clinical practice and professional development.
If accepted, an Applicant is asked to undertake (or continue) supervision and ongoing personal psychotherapy to fulfill the requirements of membership. Admission to full membership is based on assessment of written work and interview. The time needed to graduate from Provisional to Full Member will depend on the Applicant’s previous experience and qualifications. Many of the benefits of membership are available to Applicants once they are accepted.
Inquiries for information about local branch meetings are welcomed, and may be made through the local Convener. The Executive Officer will supply contact details.