Clinical Psychologists in Private Practice ‘Overwhelmed’ with Referrals

Clinical Psychologists in private practice report turning away multiple referrals per week and many have closed their waiting lists.

A major survey of clinical psychologists in private practice, undertaken by the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, has shown that the demand for services is significantly outstripping supply.

271 clinical psychologists responded to the survey, with more than 50% reporting having to turn away more than 10 families every month. Many reported having to turn away more- with several indicating they turn away more than 40 clients per month. 

More than half of those surveyed reported that they had completely abandoned offering a wait list, citing difficulties managing the large number of referrals and risks of leaving people with significant mental health issues on a waiting list.

Of those who continued to run a waiting list, more than half indicated that their current wait time was in excess of 3 months- with several indicating the wait was over 12 months. 

This pattern is not surprising, according to Executive Advisor to the NZCCP, Dr Paul Skirrow- “New Zealanders are increasingly realising the benefits of seeing a clinical psychologist but there are now significant barriers to accessing their services via the public system.”

Dr Skirrow continues “Although the demand has increased exponentially over recent years, the number of clinical psychologists trained in New Zealand has definitely not kept pace and we are now facing significant shortages and major inequities in access.”

The He Ara Oranga Mental Health Inquiry report specifically recommended a growth in the Psychology workforce “as a priority” in New Zealand but, since its release, clinical psychology training programmes report only a handful of new training places have been created, with limited access to training ‘internships’ seen as a significant barrier to increasing training numbers.




 For more information, contact: Dr Paul Skirrow,, 04 801 6088