Becoming a Member

Psychotherapists joining the Association bring with them vital energy, creating new opportunities for individuals and the Association to flourish. We continue to search for balance between the wish to welcome new members and our concern to protect the standards which contribute to the value and meaning of membership.

Comprehensive training in psychotherapy has become increasingly available in tertiary institutions in New Zealand since the 1990s. Before that time, training could only be obtained through private courses, through practice under the guidance of an experienced psycho therapist, or by training abroad.

For many potential members, the interest and career in psychotherapy grows out of a foundation profession, such as psychology, medicine, nursing or social work.

Provisional members come with a variety of experience. Some look to the Association for professional development, some have completed their structured training and have started practising psychotherapy, while others are already senior practitioners, often with overseas qualifications and experience.

The Admission Committee is responsible for managing the process and setting the standard which governs the transition from provisional to ordinary membership. Its Chairperson is elected by Council and its members are appointed to include a range of skills, experience, and regional representation. The Assessment Policy and Procedures (also known as the Orange Book) gives guidance and details of the requirements of provisional members in their preparation and presentation for ordinary membership.

Admission to ordinary membership is based on the careful assessment of each candidate’s written work and an interview by an assessment panel. The written therapeutic study and work practice description, as well as the panel assessment are opportunities for candidates to demonstrate and discuss their clinical work, theoretical base and use of supervision. Candidates are asked to show that they are competent in the practice of psychotherapy and that they practise with integrity and safety. In addition, they will have an opportunity to show their individual and personal style of relating during the assessment interview.

Eligibility for Membership

Anyone who practises or is beginning to practise psychotherapy and has formal training in psychotherapy or has equivalent training to be approved by the regional interviewing panel may apply for admission to the Association. The Association is an inclusive organisation, and membership is based on concern for competent, safe and ethical practice, rather than adherence to any particular school of psychotherapy.

Although the professional requirements for membership are designed to enhance provisional members’ psychotherapeutic skills, the process of attaining ordinary membership is not intended to provide a complete training in psychotherapy, since provisional members are expected to have had training and experience as psychotherapists before applying to join the Association.

Application Procedure

Information for inquirers (PDF) may be obtained from the Association’s Executive Officer. The document sent out invites inquirers to consider whether joining the Association is something that best suits their interests and involvement in psychotherapy and is intended to provide a clear guide to help make that decision.

Those who wish to proceed may then request an application pack and complete the documentation which leads to an invitation to meet a panel of senior local members of the Association. This is an opportunity to discuss any questions that both parties may have and to engage in consideration of clinical work and experience.

After being accepted by the local panel, a provisional member is asked to under take (or continue) regular supervision with an ordinary member of the Association and perhaps ongoing personal psychotherapy to prepare for the requirements of ordinary membership. Provisional members are warmly encouraged to come to their local branch meetings, to get to know and be known by colleagues, and to benefit from the interest, support and learning opportunities provided there.

Time Frame

The time needed to graduate from provisional membership to ordinary membership will depend on experience and qualifications. However, it is normally expected that a provisional member will complete the admission process within five years of becoming a provisional member. The process may be much shorter. For an extension of time beyond five years, the provisional member should, in consultation with the supervisor, make application to the Training Supervisors’ Group, with an explanation of the situation. Such approvals are usually considered and made at local level.

There is no minimum time which must pass between becoming a provisional member and gaining ordinary membership of the Association. A provisional member will be guided by his or her supervisor about readiness to proceed.

Senior Practitioners

It may be appropriate for a senior psychotherapist to undergo a modified assessment process. Such practitioners would usually have a recognised post-graduate qualification in psychotherapy and ten years’ post-qualification clinical psychotherapy experience. Details of this process are published in the Orange Book. Irrespective of what concessions might be granted, a senior and experienced practitioner, like all provisional members, will be invited to attend an assessment interview as part of the process of achieving ordinary membership.