Speaking of Education

In January I attended four midwinter meetings of training councils in professional psychology. I was especially pleased to be invited to these meetings, as for many years I was a member of those communities. Visits bring back fond memories and have a rejuvenating effect. The commitment and dedication of our program directors to quality education and training is palpable. This year, each council addressed the articulation and assessment of competencies, as well as issues of diversity in graduate education.

Boosting quality

The theme for the National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) was "Advancing the Multicultural Agenda: From Aspiration to Actualization." Under the leadership of President James Dobbins, PhD, participants addressed how the curriculum can perpetuate a reductionistic view of diversity. We need a more integrative diversity approach that takes into account the complex multicultural and relational dynamics associated with the social construction of identity; our graduates must be competent to affirm people in their multiple identities. There were also valuable discussions of teaching techniques for the classroom and the clinic, and of programmatic issues in advancing the multicultural agenda.

Two training councils shared programming at a joint meeting. The theme for the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP) and the Association of Directors of Psychology Training Clinics (ADPTC) was "Current Issues in Practicum Training." The meeting was co-chaired by Frank Collins, PhD, of CUDCP, and Erica Wise, PhD, of ADPTC, and participants focused on the articulation of practicum competencies at different levels of doctoral training addressing issues in their assessment.Theory and research on supervision was the topic of the keynote by Rodney Goodyear, PhD, professor and associate dean for faculty, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.

At the meeting, ADPTC also addressed the role of psychology training clinics in university and community crises. They highlighted the need for close communication with college counseling center colleagues in disaster-plan development and implementation. CUDCP also hosted its annual "Diversifying Clinical Psychology" reception where ethnic-minority undergraduates from local programs meet individually with program directors from across the nation. This has become an annual event to enhance recruitment, and has been supported in part by APA.

I was most pleased to be invited to address each organization regarding APA advocacy efforts on behalf of education and training. For the first time I represented the Education Advocacy Trust at these meetings, and thus could more fully describe psychology's need for their participation in the advocacy process.

Clinical health psychology evolves

Another first was the inaugural midwinter meeting of the Council of Clinical Health Psychology Training Programs (CCHPTP) under the leadership of CCHPTP chair Kevin Larkin, PhD. Although established in the early 1980s after the Arden House conference on education and training in health psychology, the council met primarily during APA conventions and had not offered its own programming until this year when it addressed "New Directions: Competencies in Clinical Health Psychology." Approximately 50 program directors reviewed competencies for entry to practice in this specialty. I was pleased to give the keynote address on the history of education and training in clinical health psychology, and I had the sense that I was witnessing yet another historic event in its evolution. An important feature of CCHPTP is its inclusion of multiple levels of education and training programs; doctoral, internship and postdoctoral program directors really benefit from being in the same room discussing shared concerns.

It was also apparent that core curriculum areas related to health and disease, health research, health policy and interdisciplinary functioning proposed more than 25 years ago at Arden House remain valued today. For example, while a clinical psychology program may include a core component related to biological bases of behavior, health psychologists have promoted the need for that foundation plus its integration with knowledge of the biological bases of health and disease.

When health psychology was formalizing in the 1970s, clinical and counseling psychology were primarily focused on mental health. But things have changed, and many clinical and counseling programs take a broader approach to education and training today, with opportunities in health psychology expanding. For years I have speculated whether we will see a figure ground reversal, where mental health is but one subset in the domain of education and training for all health service psychologists. I have not yet seen that, but I have seen an increased emphasis on psychology as a health profession and the need to adequately prepare our students for careers in health care as well as research. In that context I wonder why all such programs, not just clinical health psychology programs, should not address the biological, social, cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects of health and disease and health policy, and provide experiences working with other health-care disciplines.

Note from APA: The appearance of advertisements for educational programs on this site does not constitute endorsement by APA. Programs that describe themselves as accredited may be accredited by another body, but are not accredited by APA unless so stated.