#38 – Non-Traditional Roles for Psychologists with APS Executive Officer Debbie Hsu

Debbie Hsu is a Clinical Psychologist and the Executive Officer at the Australian Psychological Society (APS).  She was originally enrolled in a Bachelor of Medicine with a plan of becoming a Psychiatrist.  Her plan did not go as “planned” and Debbie became a psychologist instead!

Debbie's esteemed career began in Child Protection, where as a fresh graduate she was catapulted into a senior position, following the departure of her supervisor and the senior psychologist.  Debbie took this in her stride, and not only worked as a clinician but as a supervisor, trainer, researcher, writer and liaison with community organisations.  It was here she also developed a strong interest in systems.  My sense chatting to Debbie is  that she has been courageously rolling with the punches ever since and has had an incredibly successful career as a result!

Some of Debbie's previous roles include:

  • Non-executive Board Director (APS)
  • Executive Director, CAMHS, Child and Adolescent Health Service (Western Australia)
  • Program Manager at North Metropolitan Area Health Service
  • Visiting Clinical Psychologist (i.e. fly in fly out)  at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Mental Health Service,
  • Senior psychologist  at the Swan Valley Cild and Adolescence Mental Health Service
  • Senior psychologist and then Clinic Coordinator at the Bentley Health Service Family Clinic
  • Clinical Psychologist at the Institute for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia

If you're interested in learn more about the workings of the APS and roles for psychologists beyond traditional clinical roles, you will love this interview with Debbie Hsu.

Debbie's Self-Care Tip

  • Mindfulness exercises – Take time out to let it all out.
  • I try not to work on weekends.  It's important to have separation between work and non work.
  • Attending art events which I love.
  • Do something fun every weekend (even if it's checking out a new cafe).
  • Keep strong connections with family and friends.  They're the one's who will let you know if you're out of balance.
  • Work is just a third or your life, don't lets it become all of your life.

Recommended Resources


  • Australian Psychological Society (APS):www.psychology.org.au – of course I have to mention this, but it does contain a lot of information and resources for psychologists at all stages of their career. We have started the process of revamping the website, so it will have a more friendly, welcoming aspect to it in the next 6-12 months.
  • Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG):www.anzsog.edu.au – I did an Executive Master of Public Administration through ANZSOG and it was formative in how I came to view public value and the role of the public sector. This is for people who are considering careers in the public sector, particularly in policy development but also relevant for those in service delivery roles. They also have short courses available.
  • Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM):www.achsm.org.au – when I was working in health service management positions, I joined ACHSM and was able to access the mentor/mentee program. I ended up with a mentor who was a past Director-General of Health, and who in fact is now the National President of ACHSM. It was an amazing experience to be mentored by Neale, who also has had a prominent football administrator career. For those who are seeking to develop a management career in the health sector, I would strongly encourage you to attend some of their professional development events – great for networking if nothing else.



Please leave Debbie or myself a comment or some feedback, we’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond to everyone!

Amy Felman

1 Comment

  1. Teneille on July 29, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Evening, this is perhaps a little unconventional however I happened across this article after I attempted to contact my psychologist from CAHMS from when I was 14yrs old. My psychologist was Debbie and she made such a mark on my life that I found myself needing to let her know, she helped saved my life. In fact, I’ve thrived (ups and downs In tow), and I find myself now a clinician working with adolescents at headspace. I’d love the opportunity to thank Debbie, and if that could be passed on that’d mean the world. Thank you Debbie!

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