4 Steps to Becoming a Counselling Psychologist in Australia

Are you a fresh high school graduate with high grades in psychology? Or maybe you are a senior psychology undergrad student trying to figure out your future? If you the sort of person that people approach when they have problems and or whom they share their secrets with, you should seriously consider becoming a counselling psychologist, as you’ve got the basic skills required of it.

Becoming a counselling psychologist is hard work, but is extremely rewarding. When you become a counselling psychologist, you’ll get a chance to help people deal with mental, economical and emotional challenges. A great place to practice this profession is in Australia, where the average can earn up to AU$100,000 annually (Info referenced from PayScale Australia).

If you’re wondering how long does it take to become a psychologist in Australia, don’t worry as we’re here to help. Read on below to find out the four steps you need to take to become a counselling psychologist.

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Step 1: A Bachelors with Psychology Majors

Obtaining an APAC accredited bachelor’s degree in psychology is the first step to becoming a counselling psychologist in Australia. This will take four years of studying.

Step 2: A Psychology Diploma for Graduates without Psychology majors

Undergrad students and graduates who were unable to, or just didn’t choose psychology majors shouldn’t worry. An APAC accredited graduate diploma, consisting of psychology courses has been designed especially for such students. This diploma helps these students gain extensive knowledge of important concepts and core skills, as well as allowing them to expand their knowledge base.

In addition, there are a number of accredited, affordable, online certifications available to prepare you for what lies ahead. These courses are way cheaper as compared to studying in the university or acquiring a bachelor’s degree. Secondly, they are a good way to find out if you’re really ready to become a counselling psychologist without spending thousands of dollars.

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Step 3: Gain General Registration with PsyBA

In order to become a registered practising counselling psychologist, if you have a Bachelor’s Degree or APAC-accredited diploma, you must first register with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). There are currently three different methods on how you can register as a psychologist in PsyBA. These methods will be explained further below.

a. Via 4+2 Internship Program

After successfully completing four years of the APAC-accredited program (or a similar diploma) in psychology, you can apply for a two-year internship program. During these two years, you will be required to perform psychological practise under supervision in an approved workplace. You will also benefit from professional development activities and at the end of the period.

However, the Psychology Board of Australia is about to retire from this program. As per their website, 30th June 2022 is the last date to register and begin the 4+2 Internship Program. Similarly, 30th June 2027 is the last date for 4+2 candidates to apply for general registration.

b. Internship Program

Another means to register yourself in the process of becoming a psychologist is via the 5+1 internship program. Here, candidates who have completed 5 years of APAC accredited studies (instead of 4) are required to undergo an extensive one-year internship program. They are also required to practice under supervision in an approved workplace. At the end of the program, you can also apply to be registered as a psychologist with the PsyBA.

c. Professional post-graduate psychology degree

Your third option is to pursue a two-year, APAC-accredited postgraduate degree such as a Master’s /PhD/ Doctorate degree with coursework, placements, and thesis. You can apply for general registration upon completion of the program.

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Step 4: Registrar program

Finally, you’re already a registered psychologist. However, the training doesn’t stop. You’ll also undergo an advanced supervised practice with the registrar program and to continue professional development. The time period can vary between one to two years depending on your qualifications. After completing the registrar program, you can now be endorsed into your preferred area of practice (i.e. Counselling Psychology).

How Long Does It Take To Become a Psychologist in Australia?

Currently, there are more than 29,000 psychologists in Australia, as compared to just 21,400 in 2012. This just goes to show how much the industry is booming. A huge number of people today is interested in becoming a counselling psychologist, motivated by the 36-hour workweek and AU$50 per hour wage rate. However, not all of them are cut out for the hard work required to achieve the necessary qualifications.

If you are really serious about pursuing a career in counselling psychology in Australia, there are a number of online courses and affordable online certifications you can check out to see if the industry is right for you.

Got questions about our online counselling psychology course? Please don’t hesitate to fill out our enquiry form by clicking the orange button below. Thanks for reading!


Becoming a counselling psychologist in Australia can take up to 7-8 years on average. But if you are almost done with your degree or are a fresh graduate, you would only need to complete 3-4 years more to become a licensed practising psychologist.

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