It takes roughly 7 years to become a Psychologist in South Africa. In order to be a Psychologist you will need to complete the following; Undergraduate Degree (3 years), Honours Degree (1 or 2 years), Masters Degree (1 or 2 years), Internship (1 year), and Community Service – if you are taking the Clinical Route (1 year). For more information on this topic, please CLICK HERE.
Almost all the universities in South Africa offer Psychology at an undergraduate level. Most undergraduate Psychology qualifications fall under the faculty of Humanities and will therefore be a Bachelor of Arts degree, but it can also be a BSc or BSocSci.
Yes, up to a point. Undergraduate and Honours programmes can be done online or part-time, however students will need to do professional practical training under supervision at some point in their journey. This typically happens at a Masters level and therefore this qualification can only be offered as a full-time, on campus programme.
No. In order to become a Psychologist and register with the HPCSA, graduates need to have completed a professional Masters degree in one of the six categories of Psychology. These are Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Industrial, Neuro, and Research Psychology.
No. In order to become a Registered Counsellor students need to complete a BPsych or BPsych Equivalent. These are professional programmes that include a 720 hour supervised practicum that will allow the student to apply to write their HPCSA board exam. To read more on becoming a Registered Counsellor, please CLICK HERE.
No. Both BPsych Equivalent programmes include a 720-hour supervised practicum, which is essential in assisting the Registered Counsellor or Psychometrist in developing the ethical competency to work in their respective areas. It's crucial to note that the 720-hour practicum integral to these programmes cannot be undertaken independently or outside of university affiliation. Students must be officially enrolled in a BPsych Equivalent programme to participate in this practicum. Attempting to accumulate practicum hours privately, without enrollment in a recognized programme, will not meet the standards set by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and will not fulfill any internship requirements
No. Internships are reserved specifically for students in professional training. An Honours degree is purely academic and does not adequately equip a student to enter into an internship. In order to do an internship, students need to be completing either a BPsych (or BPsych Equivalent) or a professional Masters degree. To find out more about the limitations of academic qualification, please CLICK HERE.
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is a purely academic qualification (3 years) that gives students a theoretical understanding of Psychology, while creating an opportunity for higher levels of study (Honours & Masters). A Bachelor of Psychology (BPsych) is a professional qualification (4 years) that not only gives students a theoretical understanding of Psychology, but also a practical understanding. This is achieved through a 720 hour supervised practicum whereby the students will be monitored by HPCSA registered Psychologists. To read more on this subject, please CLICK HERE.
Professional qualifications are university programmes that provide practical training. This means that students will be monitored and supervised as they practice using psychological interventions on clients. Professional qualifications cannot be done online or part-time and require students to be on campus for supervision. To read more on the differences between professional and academic programmes, please CLICK HERE.
In South Africa, the profession of Psychology is regulated by the HPCSA. The HPCSA regulate the training of Psychologists according to global standards in order to protect the public from harm. An undergraduate and honours degree are insufficient in preparing students to successfully meet these global standards as these qualifications are purely academic and do not provide practical training. A Masters degree is an intensive year (or two) of practical training that meets the necessary standards of professionalism for a Psychologist.
Unfortunately mental healthcare is significantly under-funded and under-resourced in South Africa. Less than 5% of the annual healthcare budget is allocated to mental healthcare. This means that there are not enough funds and/or resources to build mental health hospitals and psychiatric wings in existing hospitals. This has an accordion effect on the number of Psychologists that can be trained as there are limited spaces for internship placements, as well as limited funds to pay supervisors within those placements. Each university can only train 6 - 12 students per category per year because there is simply no places for additional students to complete their internships.
This varies from 1 year to upwards of 7 years. Some students get into Masters the first year they apply, others wait years before they are given the opportunity just to interview. Realistically, the number of spaces are limited and the competition is extremely tough.
Yes. These are fields that a student can study in South Africa, however they are not HPCSA recognized categories and therefore students will not be able to receive a professional registration in these categories. Should a student be interested in Forensic Psychology, it would be best to follow the Clinical or Counselling Psychology routes and focus research topics on the field of forensics.
These are fields that fall under the field of Psychology, however they are not recognized categories in South Africa. Individuals wishing to pursue a career in these fields would need to follow the recognized routes to registration as a Psychologist (Clinical, Counselling, Educational) and focus their research interests on these fields. Additionally, once you are a registered Psychologist, you can do additional courses in these fields to better suit your therapeutic style.
Students that take the BPsych or BPsych Equivalent route can go one of two ways; the first is to become a Registered Counsellor. This is an 18 month professional programme that includes a 720 hour supervised practicum. The other route allows students to register as a Psychometrist. This is a 6 month professional programme that also includes the 720 hour supervised practicum. The Psychometric BPsych Equivalent can only be done after an academic Honours, whereas the Regsitered Counsellor BPsych Equivalent can be done straight after an undergraduate degree. To read more about the Registered Counsellor or Psychometric BPsych Equivalents, please click the links above.
According to the HPCSA, an internship is an accredited 12 month structured programme that consists of practical, competence-based activities under the supervision of a registered professional, for Psychologists in training. An internship can also be associated with the professional training of Registered Counsellors and Psychometrists and cannot be less than 720 hours. Internships are reserved specifically for students and interns in professional training programmes, such as a Masters degree or BPsych.
Yes. As we work to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, the benefits of therapy are becoming increasingly more understood by the general public. This creates a need in societies and therefore there can be opportunities for the abovementioned professionals. this being said, South Africa has an extremely tough job market and finding employment (even with a registration) is not guaranteed. However, the benefit of having a professional registration means that Psychologists and other mental health professionals can have their own independent practices and work for themselves.
Yes, this is possible. Students must keep in mind that in order to study in another country and return to South Africa, the HPCSA will need to conduct a qualification assessment to determine the suitability of the overseas qualification for the population of South Africa. This means that the overseas qualification needs to be similar in format to those offered in South Africa; 1 or 2 years of full-time study, practical on-campus training, under supervision of registered Psychologists, 1 year internship included and allows for professional registration in the country of origin. In many countries, the professional training is only offered at a Doctoral level, meaning that students studying in those countries would need to complete a Doctorate (Psy.D) before returning to South Africa.
A Masters by Dissertation is an academic Masters degree that is based solely on research and does not lead to a professional registration with the HPCSA. There are significant benefits to completing a Masters by Dissertation as it can open opportunities to work in the tertiary and academic settings. These qualifications give students the opportunity to improve their Honours level aggregates that could help them stand out when applying for a professional Masters programme. To learn more about a Masters by Dissertation, please CLICK HERE.
No. Although there are groups advocating for prescription privileges, this is not something that is allowed currently in South Africa. Only those individuals with professional training in the field of medicine may prescribe medication. Psychologists should refer any clients in need of medication to Psychiatrists or General Practitioners.
All mental health professionals must be registered with the HPCSA and this can be checked by visiting the HPCSA iRegister website.
Lay Counsellors are individuals that volunteer in a counselling capacity within NGO's and NPO's. Lay Counsellors are trained within a specific organization and conduct their duties under the supervision of a registered professional. Lay Counsellors may not work in a private practice or outside of the supervised environment of the organization.

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