How To Become A Registered Psychologist In South Africa

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Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour of humans and there are many different career options in the psychology field. Here is how you can become a registered psychologist in South Africa.

Psychology in recent years has two dominant theoretical perspectives of how the brain functions, this includes the structuralism and functionalism approach.

The structuralism approach focuses on analysing the components in the mind and how these components can work together to form a complex experience and how it corresponds to physical events.

The functionalist approach focuses on the mental thought processes in a systematic and structured manner and the purpose of consciousness and the behaviour of humans. 

What is a psychologist?

A psychologist is an expert that specialises in the study and treatment of factors that affects a patient's behaviour and mental state. They seek to understand the emotions, thought processes, feelings, and behavior of humans.

Psychologists use various techniques such as observation, assessments and experimentation to identify the beliefs and feelings that influence an individual.

Once they have assessed their patients, they gather information and evaluate their behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis or psychotherapy. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events that have occured, and they use this information when identifying the causes of the problem or when treating patients.

The duties of a psychologist includes:

  • Scientific study of factors that affect human behavior
  • Evaluate and identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organisational issues and diagnose disorders
  • Provide counselling 
  • Conduct tests for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
  • Develop treatment plans.
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and help educate others
  • Supervise interns, clinicians, and counseling professionals

What is the procedure of becoming a registered psychologist in South Africa?

In South Africa, you need a bachelor’s degree in psychology and to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). You can register with the HPCSA in the following nine categories:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Counselling psychologist
  • Educational psychologist
  • Industrial or organisational psychologist
  • Research psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Registered counsellor
  • Psychometrist

All of the above subdisciplines of psychology require a bachelor's qualification that is approved by the HPCSA. Upon completing your qualifications, you are required to complete either an internship or 720 hours of practicums. After your internship has been completed, students must successfully complete the National Examination of the Professional Board for Psychology in the relevant registered category. 

Once students have graduated, students are required to think of the type of environment they want to work in. In order to determine which industry to choose, it is all dependent on your educational qualification, training and licensing requirements of your major.

Many students may want to open up their own practice but some may want to pursue a career working in government, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, schools, universities and many more.

If you are passionate about helping people to live a happy and positive life, then the career path of a psychologist may just be the job for you.

Click here for a list of institutions that offer psychology courses.

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Post-Matric Options


After completing your matric certificate exams, you are faced with a multitude of post-matric options that can shape your future paths.

These options range from pursuing higher education at universities or colleges, entering vocational training programs, joining the workforce, or even considering entrepreneurial ventures, each offering unique opportunities for personal and professional growth.

You've probably been contemplating the next chapter of your life all throughout the year asking yourself, 'what am I going to study after I finish completing my matric certificate exams?', 'am I going to study? What else can I do when I pass'? Well, we can help.


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Matric is a high-pressure year, and the emphasis that is placed on learners’ academic outcomes is immense. As a result, it is likely that learner stress and anxiety levels will be much higher during exam periods than they would under normal circumstances.