An examination of accreditation standards between Australian and US/Canadian doctoral programs in clinical psychology

Peter J. Norton, Melissa M. Norberg, Kristin Naragon-Gainey, Brett J. Deacon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Clinical psychology involves the integration of clinical science and clinical practice, and the application of this integrated knowledge for the purpose of alleviating human distress. Method: The best way to train these competencies has been a matter of debate. In this editorial, we compare the standards of three accreditation bodies: the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), and the American Psychological Association (APA). Results: Although the three accreditation standards are similar in terms of required coursework for core clinical psychology competencies, research output, and clinically supervised placement hours, the APA/CPA standards involved more coursework in statistics, research methodology, and topics highly relevant to clinical psychology that elucidate for whom and under what circumstances a treatment may be helpful (e.g., developmental and social psychology). The APA/CPA standards also required coursework on the history of psychology, which provides the opportunity for students to learn about and better appreciate the developments and influences on current knowledge and practice. The APA/CPA accreditation standards also required more clinically supervised placement hours to be obtained prior to graduation than did the APAC standards. Conclusions: Unfortunately, data do not directly support one training system over another. We therefore urge psychology programs to routinely monitor their students’ clinical practice effectiveness after graduation so that accreditation standards can be reenvisaged if needed. What is already known about this topic: (1) Accreditation of degree programs leading to the practice of clinical psychology is overseenby regulatory bodies in Australia, the US, and Canada. (2) Greater synchronization with international competencies is a stated goal of the Psychology Board of Australia. (3) No prior comparisons of accreditation standards between Australia and Canada/US has been published. What this topic adds: (1) APA/CPA and APAC accredited programs tend to have very similar coursework in clinical psychology. (2) APA/CPA programs tend to require substantially greater training in research methods/statistics and other domains of psychology such as social and cognitive psychology. (3) An individual with an APA/CPA-accredited degree would be close to meeting Australian psychology registration requirements, while an individual with an APAC accredited degreewould require substantial additional coursework if wishing to become licensed/registered as a psychologist in the US or Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2022


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