Provisional vs. Registered vs. Clinical Psychologists - What is the difference?

We are lucky to have a diverse range of clinicians and therapists here at Northside Psychology, all bringing different pathways of training and experience to the practice.

Our therapy team is comprised of Provisional Psychologists, Registered Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists and Social Workers who operate through face-to-face therapy and online through Telehealth, providing care to every corner of Australia.

But what does this lingo really mean, and will it affect the level of care I receive?

What is a Provisional Psychologist?

A Provisional Psychologist has completed at least 4-5 years of academic study and is in their final stages of undertaking practical experience before achieving full registration as a Psychologist. During this final stage of training, Provisional Psychologists receive extensive supervision with an experienced fully registered Psychologist and AHPRA Board Approved Supervisor. Senior clinicians oversee the treatment process with the aim of ensuring a high standard of care for every client. This gives Provisional Psychologists an opportunity to draw on the experience from senior clinicians.

As they are fresh to the industry, Provisional Psychologists tend to immerse themselves in the learning experience, and seek knowledge in theories, modalities, and approaches. They tend to be highly passionate about honing these skills and utilising evidence-based psychological approaches in therapy.

What is the difference in cost?

Sessions with Provisional Psychologists do not attract a Medicare rebate. Due to this, practices may offer these sessions at a reduced rate (including us!). Our reduced rate equates to a similar out-of-pocket expense as clients who would see a Registered Psychologist with a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP). However, not everyone is eligible or wishes to seek a Medicare rebate, meaning that sessions with a Provisional Psychologist could be more affordable for these clients, compared to sessions with a fully registered Psychologist*.

See more about our fees here.

What is the difference between a Registered and a Clinical Psychologist?

At our practice, Registered and Clinical Psychologists are not clinically different. They may have undertaken different pathways of study, to get where they are, but they are similarly qualified.

The only difference is the Medicare rebate, which is slightly higher for a Clinical Psychologist. Medicare views the training of Clinical Psychologists differently and pays a higher rebate, therefore upfront costs are often higher. With a Mental Health Treatment Plan, there is no difference in out-of-pocket costs at Northside Psychology.


Choosing a therapist can be tricky, and you may prioritise clinical experience when selecting a therapist. However, these clinicians tend to have longer waitlists, which can delay your access to recieving therapy. Provisional Psychologists might have shorter waitlists, meaning you may be able to access therapy faster.

Interestingly, It is often assumed that psychologists with more experience will achieve better client outcomes, but this is not necessarily the case. Research shows that the best predictor of good client outcomes in therapy is the relationship between the psychologist and the client (Fluckiger et al, 2018). It is important that you are comfortable with your therapist, as this will help you both work towards your goals.

Our team of clinicians are here to support clients all over Australia. Get in touch with us here.

*Clients need to check with their private health, workers compensation or compulsory third-party insurers regarding eligibility for insurance cover for services provided by a Provisional Psychologist.