Update on Statutory Regulation of Psychologists
Update July 2023
CORU has made significant progress in its work to introduce regulation to the psychology profession. Following a detailed risk assessment it has been decided that the specialisms of clinical, counselling and educational psychology will be prioritised for regulation. Work is underway to implement this, including the development of the required education and training standards. CORU now expects to open the register for these three divisions by spring 2025.
Psychologists provide care and support to vulnerable people and the introduction of regulation to these three specialisms will provide greater protection to the public. CORU remain fully committed to protecting the title of “psychologist” for the protection of the public and for the benefit of the many professional psychologists working in Ireland.
The protection of the title “psychologist” presents a number of unique challenges that require detailed consideration. An expert panel will be convened in July to consider these complexities in full. Recommendations arising from this process will be made before the end of 2023. Following this a detailed timeline for the introduction of regulation to the psychology profession will be developed.
Update June 2023
CORU is currently preparing to regulate the psychology profession. Psychologists provide care and support to vulnerable people and were designated for regulation under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended).
Regulation has been a positive development for each of the professions CORU has regulated. The vast majority of Ireland’s psychologists are outstanding professionals and statutory regulation sends a powerful message about each psychologist's commitment to consistently deliver to the highest standards.
Most importantly, regulation provides greater protection for the public. Members of the public can have confidence in knowing that a professional's standing and qualifications have been independently verified. They also know that if there is a failure in the delivery of care from a CORU registered professional, CORU will investigate any complaint under our fitness to practise process.
Developing the Regulatory Framework
The Psychologists Registration Board (the Board) was established in 2017. Since then, it has been working to introduce statutory regulation to the psychology profession in Ireland, consistently guided by the principle of delivering public protection.
The establishment of regulation for a new profession is a complex process. This includes establishing the profession specific Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics and standards of performance to which professionals must adhere. As well as assessing, approving and monitoring training courses for that profession, through setting the standards required by the Higher Education Institutions, as well as using the powers to deal with complaints against registrants.
The current legislation requires that there must be one common set of qualification requirements and one register for the entire profession. The Registration Board undertook consultation on a common educational standard to establish a single register and protect the title of psychologist. However, the significant feedback received, confirmed to the Board that this approach would lead to a fundamental and significant change in the psychology profession in Ireland and therefore sought guidance from the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD.
In response the Minister requested that the Board and Council consider a dual stream and phased approach to regulating the profession. This involved consideration of the regulation of specific psychology specialisms, prioritising those which present the greatest risk to public safety while simultaneously continuing to work towards the longer term objective of protection of the title psychologist.
Following a detailed, risk-based analysis, the Board concluded that the specialisms of clinical, counselling and educational psychology should be prioritised for regulation. Its recommendation was finalised at a meeting of the Board on 07 February 2023 and agreed at the Health and Social Care Professional’s Council (Council) meeting on the 23 February 2023.
Following consideration of the Psychologists Registration Board recommendations, the Minister wrote to CORU in April 2023 to welcome the Board’s recommendation to prioritise the regulation of clinical, counselling and education psychology. The Board will now progress the preparatory work required for the regulation of these three specialisms, commencing with the development of tailored standards of proficiency for each.
The Board and Council remain fully committed to protecting the title of “psychologist” for the protection of the public and for the benefit of the many professional psychologists working in Ireland.