Psychologist Kaimātai Hinengaro

Psychologists diagnose, treat, and work to prevent a range of psychological problems that affect people's behaviour, thoughts and emotions. 

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Psychologists need to be registered with New Zealand Psychologists Board.

They also need a current Annual Practising Certificate, unless they are only teaching psychology, or doing research.

Psychologists who work with individual clients may do some or all of the following:

  • assess clients' problems and strengths through interviews and observation
  • carry out tests that measure mental performance and personality type
  • develop treatment plans to help clients with self-development and overcoming problems
  • help clients understand themselves, their needs and their motivations
  • provide treatment by carrying out psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Psychologists who work with groups and for organisations may do some or all of the following:

  • develop, evaluate, or run group therapy programmes such as anger-management workshops
  • provide counselling and advice to people or organisations
  • provide expert opinion to courts
  • assess children and parents on behalf of government agencies
  • design and run programmes to reduce criminal offending
  • be part of rehabilitation teams working with people who have brain injuries or neurological disorders.

Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)

To gain the international qualification of Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst from the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board, you need:

  • a postgraduate qualification in psychology – usually a Master’s degree – and a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Behaviour Analysis, available from the Universities of Auckland and Waikato
  • to pass the relevant exam to become a board-certified behaviour analyst.

Clinical Psychologist

To become a clinical psychologist you need a:

  • Master's degree in psychology
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, or a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Educational and Developmental Psychologist

To become an educational and developmental psychologist you need a:

  • Masters in education, psychology, or educational psychology
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Psychology, which is available at Massey and Victoria Universities.

Teachers who wish to complete a Masters in educational psychology while working may apply for a Special Teaching Needs Study Award from the Ministry of Education.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists wishing to work at the Department of Corrections need to follow their Master's degree in psychology with some additional training. This could be either of:

  • the Department of Corrections' supervision-to-registration programme, which involves 18 months of supervised practice
  • a postgraduate diploma or Doctorate in clinical psychology.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for psychologists includes work with:

  • community groups and recovering mental health clients living in the community
  • criminal offenders 
  • support agencies such as Samaritans Aotearoa/New Zealand or Youthline.

Other useful experience includes: 

  • social work, court, or probation services  
  • teaching or research in related fields.

Personal Qualities

Psychologists need to be:

  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
  • caring, patient and non-judgemental
  • adaptable
  • able to influence others
  • able to keep information private
  • able to work well under pressure
  • good at making decisions.


Psychologists need to have knowledge of:

  • human behaviour and thought patterns
  • psychological assessment and intervention methods
  • social and cultural issues affecting their clients, families and communities
  • research methods and statistics 
  • counselling and dispute resolution
  • theories and research in their specialised field of psychology
  • relevant laws, court procedures and professional ethics.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to work evenings and weekends
  • work in a range of places, including offices, hospitals and health care facilities, schools and universities, prisons, and private clinics
  • may work in emotionally draining and stressful circumstances
  • may travel locally to visit clients, or nationally to attend workshops and conferences.

Psychologists can earn around $60K-$64K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Psychologist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for psychologists varies depending on their specialisation, experience and employer.

Psychologists at Te Whatu Ora Health NZ (former DBHs)

  • Trainee psychologists usually earn $60,000 to $64,000 a year.
  • Qualified psychologists usually earn $77,000 to $108,000 a year.
  • Senior psychologists, who may also supervise staff, can earn $111,000 to $136,000 a year.

Psychologists in private practice may earn more, but this depends on the success of their business.

Source: Apex and District Health Boards, 'Psychologists Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA), 1 June 2021 - 31 May 2023'.

Psychologists can move into research, teaching, policy development, clinical, advisory, or managerial roles.

Psychologists can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people's behavioural and mental health problems.
Community Psychologist
Community psychologists assess and improve the ways people and their communities affect each other.
Educational and Developmental Psychologist
Educational and developmental psychologists work with students, parents, educators and mental health services to develop supportive environments for students with learning difficulties.
Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychologists provide assessment, intervention, research and opinions in legal and criminal court proceedings. They also assess and treat prisoners.
Health Psychologist
Health psychologists assist people to manage diseases they suffer from and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Organisational Psychologist
Organisational psychologists help organisations to achieve their goals through areas such as staff recruitment and development, safety and wellbeing, conflict resolution and workforce planning.
Psychologist and Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)
Psychologist and board-certified behaviour analysts work to reduce challenging behaviours, or to increase skills to improve a person’s quality of life.
Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists work with sportspeople to help them succeed in their sport.

Years Of Training

6-7 years of training required.

To become a psychologist you need:

  • a Master's or higher degree in psychology
  • 1,500 hours of closely supervised practice, approved and evaluated by the New Zealand Psychologists Board 
  • to be registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.