Barriers to Provision of External Clinical Psychology Student Placements
Objective: With increasing focus on the treatment of mental health problems the need for clinical psychologists is expanding, driving strong demand for postgraduate clinical psychology training programs. Although the number of training places in Australia has increased, the availability of external placements appears to have lagged behind, causing significant challenges to students. Using a survey of clinical psychologists in New South Wales, Australia, this study evaluated the capacity for placements and explored issues that may impact on field placement capacity. Method: A survey was developed in order to identify potential student placement capacity and factors that may prevent potential supervisors from offering placements to students. The survey was distributed electronically through clinical psychology networks targeting those employed in NSW. Results: One hundred and forty endorsed clinical psychologists completed the survey. Of these, 42% stated they felt unable to offer field placements to students within the next 12 months. The most commonly cited barriers to offering a placement included a lack of time (21%); not being a PsyBA supervisor (18%); being employed part-time (18%) and the concern that clinical supervision time did not attract funding under the current public health funding model (16%). Conclusion: The study provides an estimate of clinical field placement capacity in NSW. The results suggest that the capacity in the existing clinical psychology workforce could meet clinical field placement demand. The authors discuss reasons why anecdotally, this does not appear to reflect the reality of field placement coordinators and students. The authors provide possible strategies for addressing the issues raised.