Background: In the past few decades, the demand for clinical psychological services in Hong Kong has been on the rise. Unfortunately, due to the dire shortage of clinical psychologists in Hong Kong, the general public suffers from inadequate services in the face of escalating mental health needs. The wait time for government-funded mental health programs is typically 1 to 2 years. NGOs are in a similarly difficult situation when it comes to allocating services provided by clinical psychologists.
In response to this mental health crisis, The Hong Kong Association of Doctors of Clinical Psychology (HKADCP) has put forth great effort in supporting the Pilot Scheme of the Accredited Register for Healthcare Professionals (Clinical Psychologist).
The Hong Kong Association of Doctors of Clinical Psychology believes that:
The Pilot Scheme of the Accredited Register for Healthcare Professional is advantageous to the clinical psychology profession as well as to the public because the Scheme will provide a regulatory function to ensure the quality and competence of accredited clinical psychologists in the provision of mental health services to the community.
The clinical psychology profession, similar to any other professions, should undergo continuous professional development and should benchmark its best practices against those endorsed by international clinical psychology professions.
Clinical psychology is a scientific discipline focusing on human behaviours and problems. This serious discipline requires practitioners to possess a high level of competence and a solid foundation of knowledge in scientific inquiries at the doctoral level. The current Hong Kong standard of having a master’s level of education and training as a minimum academic requirement for clinical psychologists is common in under-developed or developing countries. This requirement in Hong Kong should be gradually elevated to the doctoral standard so as to align with the trend in developed countries.
Prior to the implementation of local statutory regulations to govern the practice of the clinical psychology profession, and until to the establishment of a local professional council whose standards are benchmarked against well-established systems in other developed countries, qualifications for clinical psychologists should be based on/or substantiated by professional memberships in, licensures of, or registrations at recognized Psychological Boards, National Colleges and/or Professional Associations in developed countries, such as the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Apart from setting the long-term goal of elevating the local professional standard to require a doctoral level of training as the minimum academic requirement for clinical psychologists, professional qualifications for clinical psychologists should be assessed by relevant independent third party panels and/or institutions which hold international expertise in the clinical psychology profession.
Inclusiveness, equity, and professionalism provide fundamental tenets of a fair Accredited Register Scheme that will best protect the public interests. It will also safeguard the protection of the clinical psychology profession from the prejudicial influences of favouritism and protectionism which puts public interests at risk.