ABOUT THE NZPsS \ NZPsS Position Statements

NZPsS Position Statements

The New Zealand Psychological Society's position statements underpin the development of its strategic direction and policies and its responses to Government and other new initiatives and social justice issues, especially those which impact upon the health and welfare of New Zealanders and the provision of psychological services.

The Executive of the Society in consultation with members at the Annual General Meeting and those in NZPsS institutes and divisions determines policy and strategic direction. The views of the Society are promulgated in a variety of ways including in the position statements below as well as in submissions and media releases.

The Society's position on a range of issues is recorded below.  These statements may be changed, added to or refined by the Society over time. 

NZPsS Statement on the DSM-V
Access to Psychological Services    
Cultural Competence
Professional Development for Psychologists      
Psychology Workforce Development 
Social Justice and Responsibility to Society  
Protection of Children      
Reducing Violence in New Zealand


Access to Psychological Services

Every person should be able to access the expertise and services provided by psychologists. Psychologists are qualified and registered professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide services in a wide range of areas. These include

  • Clinical psychology
  • Counselling psychology
  • Developmental/child psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Criminal justice/forensic psychology
  • Health psychology 
  • Community psychology
  • Industrial and organisational psychology 
  • Neuropsychology 
  • Kaupapa Māori psychology 
  • Sports psychology

Psychologists provide services to individuals, family/whanau and communities in a variety of contexts. These services are based on the four ethical principles of the Code of Ethics for psychologists in New Zealand.

  • Respect for the dignity of persons and peoples
  • Responsible caring
  • Integrity of caring
  • Social justice and responsibility in New Zealand

Funding should be sufficient to allow all New Zealanders access to the psychological services they require to reach optimal health and wellbeing. The Society believes that equity of access to psychological services is an important social justice objective which needs to underpin policy, funding and service delivery decisions. These decisions should focus on the provision of high quality, evidence-based psychological interventions and facilitate the development of teamwork amongst service providers.

The Tavistock principles for health care provide a useful basis for funding decisions.


Cultural Competence

The New Zealand Psychological Society recognises cultural competence as a core competency for psychologists. This includes an understanding of the principles of protection, participation and partnership with Māori as tangata whenua. It also includes respect for diversity and a recognition that all people, live and develop within their social cultural and community groups.

The New Zealand Psychologists Board has a responsibility to ensure that cultural competence underpins its role in the protection of the public of New Zealand through the registration of psychologists and the management of competence, conduct and fitness issues. Providers of training and professional development also need to ensure that cultural competence informs the content and delivery of education and training of psychologists.


Professional Development for Psychologists

Life-long learning is essential for psychologists to maintain their professional competence. Individual psychologists whilst able to play an important part in determining their own professional development needs also recognize that others, (e.g. professional peers, clients and society as a whole) have a contribution to make in identifying important issues for professional development.

Effective professional development for psychologists needs to

  • Take into account the breadth and depth of the work of psychologists and the needs of their clients and communities
  • Take into account the self-care needs of psychologists
  • Ensure the maintenance and development of cultural competencies
  • Be based on core competencies and maintain and improve existing skills
  • Foster the development of new skills
  • Be supported and funded by employers

Psychology Workforce Development

New Zealanders' access to psychological services is dependent upon there being sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, registered psychologists available to practice psychology.

Appropriate workforce development strategies need to be in place. This requires the combined effort of Government, the Psychologists Board, educators, employers, consumers, rural communities and psychologists and their professional bodies.

A workforce development strategy needs to address the following

  • Recognition of the skills and expertise that psychologists can contribute to health and wellbeing in New Zealand in a wide range of contexts including primary care, criminal justice, education, rehabilitation settings
  • Recognition of the contribution that psychologists can make to interprofessional delivery of services especially in conjunction with general practice
  • Gathering of objective data on the psychology workforce including projections of workforce need and data on workforce trends
  • Recognition of the shortage of psychologists in a range of areas especially in relation to clinical and educational psychology
  • Acknowledgement of the important contribution that psychologists can make in relation to the primary health care strategy
  • The need for funding for sufficient numbers of places for psychologists to gain undergraduate education and post-graduate qualifications
  • Ensuring sufficient numbers of appropriately funded places for trainee intern psychologists who are gaining practical skills in a range of professional contexts
  • Ensuring that ACC, District Health Boards, Ministries of Education, Justice , Social Development, Department of Corrections and other agencies are funded to employ sufficient numbers of psychologists to meet the service needs of their clients
  • Ensuring that psychologists' positions are not being filled by non-psychologists who are unable to provide the level or quality of psychological services that New Zealanders need or expect 
  • Ensure sufficient funding for research in psychology to support the evidence-based practice of psychology

Social Justice and Responsibility to Society

Psychology functions as a discipline to promote the wellbeing of society. The principle of social justice in relation to psychologists acknowledges the position of power and influence they hold in relation to the individuals, whanau, groups and communities with whom they are involved.

The Treaty of Waitangi is a foundation document of social justice in New Zealand and is the basis for respect and partnership between Maori as tangata whenua and all peoples who live in New Zealand. International agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples also underpin social justice.

Psychologists along with their colleagues in other professions have a responsibility to challenge unjust societal norms, attitudes and behaviours that disempower people at all levels of interaction.

Protection of Children

The New Zealand Psychological Society believes that children, as our most vulnerable members of society need to be protected.  The Society does not believe that hitting and hurting children makes for better parenting nor does it strengthen the family or protect New Zealand Society.  There is considerable research which points to the harmful effects of corporal punishment on children.

The Society supported the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act and notes that the law does not sanction employers hitting and hurting employees or spouses hitting and hurting each other. The Society believes that the Child Discipline Act 2007 should be renamed the "Child Protection Act" to ensure that the purpose of the Act is clear in its intent.


Reducing Violence in New Zealand

The Society considers that reducing the level of violence in New Zealand is a high priority social policy issue. All violence and abuse whether it be physical, emotional, sexual and/or other forms, need to be addressed by a range of policy, economic and funding initiatives. These include the following

  • Ensuring that legislation protects the most vulnerable members of New Zealand Society
  • Reducing poverty and levels of income disparity leading to hardship
  • Ensuring access to psychological and other health and welfare services across all sectors of society
  • Ensuring sufficient funding for the recruitment, retention of the workforce involved in the delivery of programmes aimed at reducing violence
  • Using evidence-based research to inform policy decisions on preventing violence 
  • Ensuring that all policy initiatives are properly evaluated
  • Ensuring that policy initiatives and programmes in relation to violence are, where appropriate, developed and delivered by the communities to whom they are directed 
  • Ensuring that cultural competence underpins policy making and delivery of programmes in relation to violence 
  • Ensuring a more coordinated and collaborative approach amongst government and non-government agencies working in violence prevention