Fact sheet: Focussed Psychological Strategies continuing professional development

This fact sheet provides information on the implementation of continuing professional development requirements for providers of focussed psychological strategies services.

Page last updated: August 2016

Date of publication: May 2011

Implementation of continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for providers of Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) services: 2009-10 budget measure

This fact sheet provides information relevant to ensuring your continued eligibility to provide Medicare rebatable services under the Better Access initiative.

Key points
Background to budget measure
Questions and answers on the eligibility criteria

Key points

From 1 July 2011, eligibility criteria for Better Access require providers to have completed 10 hours FPS CPD since 1 July 2009, and then annually, to remain eligible to provide FPS Medicare services.

This requirement from 1 July 2011 was announced in the 2009-10 federal budget.

The eligibility requirements are based on self report and providers must keep records of their FPS CPD for a period of two years.

From 1 July 2011 providers who have not completed the ten hours of FPS CPD will no longer be eligible to provide FPS Medicare services.

A series of online one hour FPS CPD modules were available from the Australian Psychological Society, the Australian Association of Social Workers and Occupational Therapy Australia websites from 18 May 2011 to assist providers complete their FPS CPD requirements. Access to these modules was free up to 30 June 2011 for regional, rural and remote providers and then available on a cost recovery basis. From 18 May 2011 modules were available on a cost recovery basis for all other providers. Top of page

Background to the budget measure

The 2009-10 budget included the introduction of mandatory CPD requirements for registered psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists providing FPS services under the Better Access initiative.

Under this measure, from 1 July 2011 any allied mental health professional registered with Medicare Australia to provide FPS services who has not undertaken the required 10 hours of CPD is no longer be eligible to attract Medicare rebates for their FPS services.

This proposal is designed to ensure that mandatory CPD standards for allied mental health professionals align with similar programs, and that government funding supports best practice standards. It promotes good clinical practice for the large number of Medicare registered Better Access providers, and is an important step to ensure Commonwealth-funded mental health services are of a suitably high quality.

This requirement provides a quality assurance mechanism for consumers who will know that all Better Access services subsidised through Medicare are delivered by highly qualified practitioners who have maintained their clinical skills and knowledge base.

The budget measure is designed to ensure that accredited CPD activities become uniform across each profession so there is consistency in the quality of services provided by all providers of FPS services and the CPD activities meet the needs of all professions who provide FPS services.Top of page

Questions and answers on the eligibility criteria

Q: What does this mean for me? What do I have to do?

A: If you were registered with Medicare as an eligible provider of Better Access Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) services you needed to have completed 10 hours of FPS continuing professional development (CPD) before 1 July 2011 to maintain your eligibility to provide these services. You also need to do 10 hours of FPS CPD each year after that.

You must also make a record of your CPD activities and provide them when requested for audit purposes. Records of CPD activities must be maintained for two years. These are ongoing annual requirements.Top of page

Q: What are Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) services?

A: A range of evidence-based strategies has been approved for use by allied mental health professionals utilising the FPS Medicare items. As outlined in the MBS book, these are:
  1. Psycho-education (including motivational interviewing)
  2. Cognitive-behavioural therapy including:
    • Behavioural interventions
    • Behaviour modification
    • Exposure techniques
    • Activity scheduliling
    • Cognitive interventions
    • Cognitive therapy
  3. Relaxation strategies
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Controlled breathing
  4. Skills training
    • Problem solving skills and training
    • Anger management
    • Social skills training
    • Communication training
    • Stress management
    • Parent management training
  5. Interpersonal therapy (especially for depression)
There is also flexibility to include narrative therapy for clients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.Top of page

Q: What do the CPD requirements involve?

A: Recognising that allied mental health professionals provide a range of psychological services, and that not all the services they provide are FPS related, as a minimum the mental health CPD requirements include 10 hours of FPS related CPD activities per year. The cycle runs annually from 1 July to 30 June each year.

FPS CPD requirements count from the time the provider is registered with Medicare Australia, or from 1 July 2009, whichever is the later.

Part-time providers are required to have 10 hours of FPS related CPD, the same as full-time providers.

For providers who are registered during the course of the CPD year, their obligation to undertake CPD is on a pro rata basis. The amount of units is calculated from the 1st of the month immediately succeeding the month they obtained initial registration. The obligation is one-twelfth of the yearly requirement for each month.Top of page

Q: What type of activities are covered under the CPD requirements?

A: For the purposes of accessing Medicare items, the CPD only covers training for delivering evidence based therapies as outlined in the MBS book.

In addition to CPD activities to enable delivery of the FPS treatments listed under Medicare, it is important that practitioners have the required skills to undertake a full assessment of a patient in order to form a diagnosis and commence treatment planning. Therefore, CPD in these clinical skills also counts towards the minimum CPD requirements. Relevant training in psychopathology of these disorders also counts towards CPD requirements.

CPD activities must be relevant to delivering FPS Medicare items and must be able to be justified. Acceptable CPD activities where the content is related to FPS can include formal postgraduate education, workshops, seminars, lectures, journal reading, writing papers, receipt of supervision and peer consultation, and online training programs.

There is flexibility in the CPD activities that can be undertaken to meet individual professional needs and their practice/client base and client needs. For example, activities could also include assessment and treatment of specific disorders and client types such as youth, or different modalities and delivery such as working with groups.Top of page

Q: How can I find out what CPD activities are available in my area?

A: There are a number of ways to find available CPD courses. You could contact the following professional bodies for further information:

The Australian Psychological Society (APS)
Australian Psychological Society website
Phone: (03) 8662 3300

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
AASW website
Phone: (03) 9642 2519
AASW email

Occupational Therapy Australia
Occupational Therapy Australia website
Phone: 03 9414 2900
Occupational Therapy Australia email Top of page

Q: How do I record my CPD activities, and when and where do I provide the record?

A: Providers must keep their own records of their completed FPS CPD. There is no obligation to report on the completion of FPS CPD but auditing of providers' CPD activities will be undertaken and so records must be kept for two years. The onus is on individuals to maintain their own records of CPD participation and provide these when requested.

Q: Will I be audited, and what documentation will I need to keep?

A: There will be ongoing auditing of providers' CPD activities with Medicare FPS providers required to retain proof of participation in all FPS related CPD activities in order to satisfy the audit requirements. Records must be kept for two years.

Those providers who are deemed to have not met the requirements will be removed by Medicare Australia as an eligible provider of Medicare FPS services.Top of page

Q: How do I request a review of a decision that I have not complied with the CPD requirements?

A: A reconsideration mechanism will allow for providers to request either a further 28 days to complete the 10 hours of FPS CPD or apply for internal review of a decision that the provider has not achieved the required FPS CPD.

Providers who are removed from the approved provider list by Medicare Australia can be placed back on the list once they meet the FPS related CPD requirements for the previous cycle (total of 10 hours) and will be required to meet the requirements for the new cycle in full by 30 June each year.

Q: What if I do not want to meet the CPD requirements?

A: All allied mental health professionals will have the opportunity to meet the CPD requirements to continue to provide FPS services, or provide other psychological services to their clients outside of Medicare.

All allied mental health professionals are able to continue to provide FPS and other psychological services to their clients outside of Medicare if they do not wish to meet the CPD requirements.

Services provided outside of Medicare do not attract a Medicare rebate. Therefore those who choose not to undertake the CPD requirements will no longer be eligible to provide MBS rebated services under Better Access.Top of page

Q: How does this relate to requirements for registration/accreditation?

A: All allied mental health professionals providing services under the Better Access initiative need to maintain registration/accreditation with the relevant professional body. The completion of FPS CPD requirements is not a substitute for professional registration/accreditation.Top of page

Q: What if I have difficulty accessing the training?

A: It is recognised that rural and remote providers of FPS may have difficulties in accessing face to face CPD activities. Accredited CPD activities may include the use and development of online courses in order to reach people in remote locations and to link them with each other in support groups and peer consultation networks.

The APS, in conjunction with AASW and Occupational Therapy Australia, have made available an online training module in CBT for all providers of FPS to meet this requirement. This online training was available online from 18 May 2011. CBT training is one of the CPD activities that can be undertaken to enhance the skills required to deliver the FPS treatments as listed in the MBS. To access this, training providers of FPS are able to enrol on-line via a designated link that is prominent on APS, AASW and Occupational Therapy Australia websites, as referenced on this fact sheet.

If you have any further queries regarding the implementation of CPD requirements for providers of FPS services, please email the Department of Health.

Page last reviewed: 15 August 2014

Mental health programs: