By Mick Symons MAPS, Manager, Member Services

For the past seven years, the APS Psychologist Referral Service has been providing a useful and efficient way for the public, GPs, other psychologists, and agencies to find a psychologist in private practice who deals with a particular problem and is located in a specific geographical location; this has been done via phone, email and fax requests made to the Society’s National Office. The average number of daily referral requests has gradually increased during this time. Two years ago we were receiving just over 30 requests per day. We are currently receiving over 40 requests per day.

In order to provide a service that is more flexible and that can keep up with the increasing demand, we will soon be launching an online version of the Referral Service to complement our existing means of access. The online system will be accessible on the APS website.

A comprehensive marketing campaign is being prepared to ensure current and potential users are aware of the new service. A number of target groups have been identified and will be reached in a variety of ways, including via the media, newsletter articles and the distribution of promotional material.

Users of the APS Referral Service will be able to find the information they need by visiting our website and conducting their own search by following the prompts. It will be fast, efficient and easy to use. We expect GPs to be the most prominent users of the new online service, as it will give them instant access to the names and contact details of APS psychologists practising in their area. You can also run your own searches when looking to refer a client.

To ensure the search process is easy and simple to use, we have created an online system free from technical jargon. The Client Issues section now appears under the 10 categories of Mental Health, General Health, Personal, Trauma/Harm, Relationships, Assessments, Addictions, Educational, Work/Community, and Legal.

Last year, just over 1700 APS members were listed on the Referral Service. For the first nine months of the last financial year, the overall average number of times a member’s name was given out was 11.3. This incorporated a range of 5.6 in the Northern Territory up to 14.1 in Queensland. With the expansion of the Referral Service to an online system, there is a great opportunity to have your name and practice even more accessible to the public and your referral sources.

If you are not sure how the Referral Service works, you will be able to log on and see for yourself. Web searches have been constructed so that all Members who meet the search criteria will have their names, practice address(es) and contact details displayed in the search results.

If you are an Honorary Fellow, Fellow or Member and offer private psychology services in Australia, hold full State/Territory Psychologist Registration, and wish to be included on the Referral Service for the 12 months commencing 1 June 2004, please complete the Referral Service form which was included in your subscription package and return it to the APS National Office, along with payment for the non-refundable amount of $88 (including GST), which in most cases is recouped by your first referral.

If you have any queries, please contact Mick Symons, Manager, Member Services, at the APS National Office on (03) 8662 3300 from Melbourne, or toll free on 1800 333 497 from elsewhere, or by email m.symons@psychsociety.com.au.