Australian Psychological Society now a 20,000-strong voice for psychology

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) this month welcomed its 20,000th member, after an increase in membership of an average 1,000 psychologists each year for the past five years, underscoring its pre-eminent position as an authority on psychology in all spheres of Australian life, and an advocate for health and wellbeing throughout the community.

Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the Society, said: "The Australian Psychological Society has thrived throughout its 66-year history, as community demand for the evidence-based expertise of psychologists has grown. From helping troubled individuals to boosting the performance of business leaders, APS members are a force in a huge variety of fields ranging from government services to the corporate world and private practice to academia. This now 20,000-strong voice harnesses the expertise of a vast group of psychologists to enhance the health and wellbeing of Australians, and provides valuable insights on all psychological matters relating to our diverse population.

The Australian Psychological Society is the peak professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, with nine specialist colleges, 40 regional branches and 40 interest groups devoted to various areas of psychology. It demands the highest ethical and professional practice standards of its members.

In the past five years the APS has drawn on its increasing scope and size - and an unprecedented interest in psychology from the Government, other professions and the community - to take a more public role, actively advocating for psychological services and the application of psychologists' expertise to issues of community concern.

As well as promoting psychological understanding and evidence-based approaches to enhance mental health and performance, the Australian Psychological Society actively works to enhance community wellbeing through a range of initiatives. It is a partner in the highly successful Government-funded children's social and emotional wellbeing initiative, KidsMatter, and has conducted community recovery work following natural disasters such as the Black Saturday bushfires and the Queensland floods. As an organisation it conducts research and provides expertise in areas such as the use of restrictive practices in the disability sector and the prevention of chronic disease, while its 20,000 members daily provide an array of psychological services, strategies and insights at the community level.

Professor Littlefield said: "The recent Government evaluation of Medicare-funded psychological services under the Better Access initiative shows the level of demand for the expertise of psychologists and the effectiveness of the evidence-based treatments they offer. Few other health professionals can boast of such proven and cost-effective results, with benefits to the whole health sector, families and the wider community."

The Australian Psychological Society has reached this membership milestone more than six decades after its establishment in 1944 as an overseas branch of the British Psychological Society with just 44 members. Professor Littlefield said: "From the earliest years, psychologists were involved in helping Australians to overcome the trauma that followed the Second World War, navigate relationship problems, and help boost educational and business performance. APS psychologists continue to provide similarly crucial expertise in increasingly diverse and effective ways to this day and we are delighted to reach 20,000 members."

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The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 20,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.