In Brief

At the "2002 Competencies Conference: Future Directions in Education and Credentialing in Professional Psychology"--organized under the leadership of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and co-sponsored by APA and other organizations--attendees sought to identify key practice competencies for professional psychologists who provide health and human services and to determine how to train in and assess those competencies. They also called for more "lifelong learning" to maintain in competence throughout one's career. 

"Lifelong learning requires skills in accurate self-assessment of professional competencies," says Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate and a participant on a keynote panel at the November conference. "We need to pay more explicit attention to training in self-assessment in graduate education than has historically been paid. We also must be aware that all health professions are being held more accountable for education and training for competencies in evidence-based practice."

The three-day conference, held in Scottsdale, Ariz., brought together participants with backgrounds in education, training, practice, public interest, research and credentialing from the United States, Canada and Mexico. Attendees examined competencies in areas such as core psychology, assessment, intervention, consultation, professional development, diversity and addressed issues related to developmental sequence and methods of assessment.

Among the themes that emerged is the importance of a comprehensive approach to assessing competencies. "We need to be more creative and innovative in doing that," says Nadine Kaslow, PhD, conference steering committee chair. She cites several possible innovations in assessment--including new computer technologies. "We need 360-degree evaluations and feedback from multiple people regarding our performance," says Kaslow, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine.

Additional themes from the conference included:

  • The need to work collaboratively across different groups in psychology to identify, train in and assess competencies--not forcing consensus but to learn how the groups are similar and how to work through the differences.

  • The need to be more critical and reflective about one's work.

  • The need to find a balance between training in what historically has been the domain of psychology with the new emerging marketplaces in the field.

--M. DITTMANN

Further Reading

For more information, visit www.appic.org/news/3_1_news_Competencies.htm.