When alumna Olivia Boer (BPsych Hons 2009, MPsych(Clin) 2011) did her Masters in Psychology at the University of Tasmania, she needed to travel back and forth from Launceston to Hobart for the two-year course.
In recent months, postgraduate courses in psychology have expanded into Tasmania’s north, increasing accessibility for the University’s northern psychology graduates. For the first time, psychology alumni will be able to study a Masters in Psychology in Launceston.
But there is another significant benefit, with potentially profound health implications. The expanded Masters program has allowed a new supervised clinic to open to the public in Launceston, enabling more people to access much-needed mental health services closer to home.
Olivia has seen the need for these services first-hand as senior clinical psychologist and director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a practice providing psychology and allied health services.
“We have very long wait lists – there are people who are trying to access services in a timely manner but can’t see a psychologist at the right time for them to get the best help,” Olivia said.
As well as timeliness, Olivia says the other issue is cost. “There is a large proportion of the population that can’t access private psychology services because of the cost,” she said.
She believes the new clinic will help address the unmet need.
With depression the second-highest ranked reason to see a GP in Tasmania, and private psychology clinics having an average wait time of three months, the need for more professionals and services in this space is high state-wide.
The Newnham University Psychology Clinic will see Masters students, who are provisionally registered psychologists, assist clients under supervision of experienced clinical psychologists.
Located at the University’s Newnham Campus, the new clinic began offering appointments from July, and is expected to see 20-30 clients each week. The Launceston clinic is an expansion of the University’s Hobart-based clinic, which provides face-to-face appointments while offering state-wide services via telehealth.
There has been strong take up in the southern clinic too, with 120-150 clients visiting the University Psychology Clinic since it moved to the Old Commerce building in Sandy Bay, up from 20-30 clients per week previously.
“As a university, we are committed to helping our community meet challenges like the continuing high demand for psychological services across Tasmania,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black said.
“We have expanded access to psychology education so we can train more clinical and professional psychologists, which means we can also expand the community’s access to much needed services through this new clinic.”
Only 1.77% of Australian registered psychologists are in Tasmania, the majority located in Hobart.
“The new clinic will provide a vital service to Northern Tasmania and help to continue to grow the mental health workforce in local communities,” Professor Black said.
The University’s Psychology Clinics provide general and clinical psychology services for mental health issues including anxiety, stress and depression. Cognitive assessments are also available.
“The University’s Psychology Clinics are vital in supporting Tasmania’s mental health care workforce,” Professor Lisa Foa, Head of the School of Psychological Sciences, said.
“Anyone who wants to be a practising psychologist has to train via a University Masters program and training in the University Clinics is essential to completing the program.
“Our clinic books are currently open, and we are taking referrals. People can either be referred by a health practitioner, or patients may self-refer for therapy services.”
Health and education professionals are also able to refer people to the University Psychology Clinic for cognitive assessments.
For information on the University’s Psychology Clinic visit University Psychology Clinic - College of Health and Medicine | University of Tasmania (utas.edu.au)
Image: Attending the opening of the new University Psychology Clinic are (from left) Olivia Boer, senior clinical psychologist and director Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, Professor Kimberley Norris, Director of Postgraduate Professional Training Programs, University Psychology Clinic Director Dr Leesa van Niekerk, Master of Psychology (clinical) student Alison Wilkes and Professor Lisa Foa, Head of the School of Psychological Sciences.
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