Return to APA Collection Inventory Page
Image file of document
Text of document:
* Principles for the Recognition of Proficiencies in Psychology *
June 27,1994 Draft
Joint Interim Committee for the Identification and Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies
Through a review of documents and discussions about proficiencies in psychology, it has become apparent that psychologists view proficiencies from a variety of perspectives. Thus, the universe” of proficiencies could extend from a potentially unmanageable series of individual micro” skills to considerably more organized and complex near specialties” depending on how a specific array of knowledge and skills is defmed. Any set of principles governing the recognition of proficiencies must be clear in its definition. For purposes of this document, a 1. psychological proficiency is defined as:a) a circumscribed activity included in the practice of professional psychology or one or more of its specialties; b) an activity discriminable by population, or problem, or technology which is its focus; c) an activity for which there is a demonstrated public need; and d) one which has been recognized by the profession. Proficiencies can only be acquired through appropriate education and training focused quite specifically and intensively on defined content. Specialties may include several such proficiencies. While some proficiencies may be unique to only one specialty, others may be shared across specialties or practice generally.In order to be responsive to public need, the profession has the responsibility
to exercise authority over the process of proficiency recognition. The process cannot be abdicated to market forces, to pressures brought by external bodies, or to the self-motivated declaration of small groups of professional psychologists seeking some advantage through declaring the existence of a proficiency for which they wish to assume some responsibility. 3
I. Petitioning organization, endorsement, and support. A petition must be submitted by the board of a national organization of psychologists willing to undertake the administrative and professional management of such matters as recognition, training, and evaluation of providers.
Commentary. The impetus for proficiency recognition is likely to originate from professional psychologists engaged in the activity which is the focus of the petition. In order to ensure the management of the proficiency, having the resources of a national organization willing to assume responsibility is important, so that psychology's scientific and professional integrity can be preserved.
II. Public need. A proficiency shall be recognized if it is clearly responsive to public need.
Commentary.The principle justification for psychology's recognition
of a proficiency is that there exists a compelling public need for such
focused services.Such need may be for improving the applications of psychology
within the extant structures of service settings, for increasing the accessibility
of service providers, for implementing a new application that addresses
a problem more effectively, and/or for attending to underserved populations.Public
need may be identified from a number of sources including those codified
by governmental regulations which establish standards or requirements for
services, reimbursement, creation of job titles or descriptions or other
regulations which impact on the practice of psychology.
III. Parameters of practice. A petition identifies the substantial,
specific, and distinctive psychological knowledge and shills that provide
the bases for service with respect to at least two of the essential parameters
of practice. The parameters to be considered include: a) specific population(s),
b) psychological, biological, or social problem, c) procedure and technology,
and d) the specific setting(s) or the organizational arrangement(s) in
which practice occurs.
IV. Acquisition of knowledge and skills. The petition presents a description of the array of psychological knowledge and skills that comprise the proficiency and specifies how these are acquired.
Commentary. A proficiency may be organized as a component of a doctoral or postdoctoral professional education and training program. Proficiency training may also be attained as an extensive continuing education (CE) sequence and may be submitted toward satisfying CE requirements for licensure renewal. The petition includes such materials as course descriptions, learning objectives, teaching methods, syllabi, bibliographies of books and articles, and descriptions of supervised practice experiences for the acquisition of the knowledge and skills of the proficiency. Particular attention is devoted to how psychology's scientific substrate provides a foundation for the proposed proficiency.
V. Effectiveness. The petition for the recognition of a proficiency presents evidence of the proficiency's effectiveness.
Commentary: Evidence is provided on the scientific evaluations
of the effectiveness of the proficiency service as well as a plan for how
such evaluations will be built into the future evolution of the proficiency.The
public interest requites that a psychologist
practicing this proficiency provide quality service to consumers. The petitioning organization, therefore, continues to seek ways to improve the quality and usefulness of its practitioners' services beyond its original determination of effectiveness. Investigations to improve the quality and usefulness of services take many forms and need not entail a program of research that is funded and directed by the petitioning organization. The petitioning organization ensures that the research and practice literature are regularly reviewed for developments which are relevant to the proficiency's skills and service, and that this information is publicly disseminated.
VI. Distinctiveness. The petition for a proficiency demonstrates how it is different from other proficiencies.
Commentary. While it is recognized that there may be some overlap between the knowledge and skill bases of various proficiencies in psychology, the petition details the proficiency so that it is distinguishable from other proficiencies. The proficiency must add utility to the matrix of psychological skills and techniques of practice.
VII. Continuing professional development and education. The petition describes how the practitioners of the proficiency are provided a broad range of regularly offered opportunities for continuing professional development in the proficiency practice and mechanisms to assess the acquisition of knowledge and skills.
Commentary. With rapidly developing knowledge and professional
applications in psychology, it is increasingly difficult for professionals
to deliver quality services unless they update themselves regularly through
continuing education mechanisms. A variety of mechanisms may be used to
achieve these goals.
(End of text)