NCSPP “Model” and Standards for Education

NCSPP “Model” and Standards for Education in Professional Psychology
Roger L. Peterson, Ph. D., Antioch New England Graduate School


Over the past 15 years, the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP) has devoted itself to the systematic, intentional, and reflective examination of standards for the education and training of professional psychologists, via a series of conferences. The conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology 1: Reflection and Integration” (Cancun, Mexico, January 1994) integrated this work and brought together the common elements of the NCSPP vision and model. Dr. Roger L. Peterson, Antioch New England Graduate School

This summary is a condensed version of a longer paper by myself, D. R. Peterson, and J. C. Abrams that both distills and includes the integrated resolutions and will be a chapter of a book being prepared. I am hopeful that the work of NCSPP, presented in this very abbreviated form, not be seen as oversimplified or off the mark either by those who were part of the careful and systematic intellectual work or by others who have had no contact with the rest of the material.

As a scholarly note, the majority of the quotations refer to the as yet unpublished Standards. Because of space limitations, many of the explicit references have been eliminated with the exception of the NCSPP books, conference summary papers, and quoted materials.

The Conferences of NCSPP

Here are the NCSPP conferences from which the Standards are drawn, along with the volumes that arose from each of them:

  • “Quality in Professional Psychology Training,” First La Jolla, 1981 (Callan, 1994): Quality in Professional Psychology Training: A National Conference and Self-Study (Callan et al., 1986) Click here for more information about this book.
  • “Standards and Evaluation in the Education and Training of Professional Psychologists,” Mission Bay Conference, 1986 (Bourg et al., 1989): Standards and Evaluation in the Education and Training of Professional Psychologists: Knowledge. Attitudes, and Skills (Bourg et al., 1987)
  • “Ethnic Diversification in Psychology Education and Training,” Puerto Rico Conference, (Davis-Russell, 1994): Toward Ethnic Diversification in Psychology Education and Training (Stricker et al., 1990). Click here for more information about this book.
  • “The Core Curriculum in Professional Psychology,” San Antonio, 1990 (R. L. Peterson et al., 1994): The Core Curriculum in Professional Psychology (R. L. Peterson et al., 1992). Click here for more information about this book.
  • “Women’s Issues in Professional Psychology,” Tucson Conference, 1991 (Magidson et al., 1994).
  • “Evaluation in Professional Psychology,” Bahamas Conference, 1992 (Grip, 1994).
  • “Clinical Training in Professional Psychology,” Second La Jolla Conference, 1993 (Forbes et al., 1994).


NCSPP’s Vision of Professional Psychology Education

Purpose and Values of Educational for Professional Psychology
“The primary purpose of education for professional psychology is preparation for the delivery of human services in a manner that is effective and responsive to individual and societal needs, which recognizes and values human diversity” (Standards, in press). This NCSPP statement is an unambiguous and unambivalent endorsement of education for practice.

Professional Core Competency Areas
NCSPP has identified six core professional competency areas: relationship, assessment, intervention, research and evaluation, consultation and education, and management and supervision (Bourg et al., 1987; Bourg et al., 1989; R. L. Peterson et al., 1992; R. L. Peterson et al., 1994). Historically, the core curriculum reflected the discipline and the traditional areas of university psychological science; that content also appears in programs based on this professional model. This professional core was derived from and organized around an analysis of the social circumstances, and the needs and demands of psychological practice – what professional psychologists actually do.

Diversity and Gender
Concerns of diversity including gender, physical status, spirituality/religion, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability/disability, and age are fundamental elements of human experience and should be integrated throughout the education and training of professional psychologists, the science itself, and the organizations in which the education and training occurs. The issues relevant to ethnic and racial diversity (Stricker et al., 1990; Davis-Russell, 1994) and to women (Magidson et al., 1994) demand systematic focus, attention, and the responsible use of and education about power, oppression, authority, and sociopolitical structures. The conferences on ethnic diversification and on women indelibly changed NCSPP as an organization by bringing ethnic and gender diversity into the somewhat larger program delegations and to the Executive Committee. For more information about the Diversity Competency, please click here.

Social Nature of Professional Psychology
Professional psychology is fundamentally social as apparent in the socially situated role of psychologists, the relationship competency, historical social influences on the curriculum in professional psychology, the development of the competency areas, the attention to diversity, explicitly directed attention to the organizational contexts and cultures in which education occurs, the interpersonal nature of reflective education, and a broad-based definition of social responsibility. Education must be socially responsive and responsible.

Multiple Ways of Knowing
“Psychological science is a systematic mode of inquiry involving problem identification and the acquisition, organization, and interpretation of informa- tion pertaining to psychological phenomena. It strives to make that information consensually verifiable, replicable, and universally communicable. In this context, science is defined by its broad-based array of continually developing methods, not its content” (Standards, in press) and by scholarly, disciplined, reflective thought. Study of the philosophical foundations of inquiry (including, for example, epistemological and theoretical assumptions and implicit values) is therefore important in the education of professional psychologists. The areas of knowledge seen as relevant to professional psychology are greatly expanded. There is a strong movement away from narrow and doctrinaire conceptualizations of psychological science.

The Practitioner as “Local Clinical Scientist”
Speaking to the relationship of psychological science and practice, the Standards characterize the ways in which the professional continues to be a scientist. Professional psychologists systematically acquire and organize information about psychological phenomena, and often engage in the general practice of science. This requires selection, modification, and construction of the most rigorous attainable methods for investigating the local conditions with which each inquiry is concerned. Nonetheless, it is recognized that, because of the particular conditions that frequently limit inquiry in the local contexts of professional psychological practice (e. g., nonrepeatability of phenomena in time, privacy, etc.), the scientific goals of consensual verifiability, replicability, and universal communicability are attainable more in principle than in practice (Standards, in press). By adopting Trierweiler and Stricker’s (1992) vision of the “local clinical scientist,” NCSPP see professional psychologists as “critical investigators of local (as opposed to universal) realities… ” (p. 104). Research training is viewed as essential for developing and enhancing critical thinking in students. In this context, the view that professional psychologists narrowly apply the findings of their experimental colleagues from mainline universities seems oversimplified, antique, and in several important ways inaccurate.

Multiple and Expanding Roles
“The primary task of education in professional psychology is preparation for effective functioning in the multiple roles graduates will fill during the course of their careers” (Standards, in press). Conceptually, a broad understanding of the idea of competencies is closely related to the idea of professional roles. Professional training programs need to greatly enhance education for the final two competencies, consultation and education, and management and supervision. Education, training, and credentialing should be sufficiently flexible to prepare for, permit, and promote new roles and an expanding scope of practice in new settings so as to be responsive to emerging social issues.

The Self of the Professional Psychologist and Reflective Practice
“Preparation in professional psychology involves education of the personal and professional selves of students” (Standards, in press) so as to develop the habits of reflective practice, self and interpersonal awareness, and life-long learning. The creation and nurturance of respectful, collegial, and empowering relationships with students are of central importance. Professional socialization experiences should help students to examine how their personal and professional selves affect and are affected by their professional relationships, their profession, their training, the culture of their programs, and their clinical work. The knowledge of how inequalities of power and authority determine the nature of relationships, and the promotion of responsible use of power and authority, are critical elements of this experience

Practicum and Internship Training
A diversity of practicum training models within professional psychology was strongly supported along with the desirability of integrative service, inquiry, and teaching. Licensure should require a supervised postdoctoral year, but not a formal, accredited postdoctoral residency, because the number of years of education necessary to obtain full professional status should not be increased. Conferees stated that professional “psychology programs should continue to require an organized predoctoral internship, within the bounds of the programs and maintained as a component of their integrated sequences of training, as a requirement for graduation… ” (Standards, in press), and reaffirmed independent internships as well as those employing a variety of models, time frames, and settings.

Systematic Evaluation
There was general affirmation of the need for systematic evaluation of our students, programs (including faculty and supervisors), and traditional and alternative services. Critical to an institution’s ability to vouch for the quality of its graduates, NCSPP endorses a competency-based examination to assess competence relevant to professional practice. In addition to attending to academic progress, professional psychology programs are responsible for evaluating students with regard to personal and interpersonal fitness. NCSPP has made a strong commitment to the systematic self-study of its member programs.

References

     Bourg, E. F., Bent, R. J., Callan, J. E., Jones, N. F., McHolland, J. D., and Stricker, G. (Eds.) (1987). Standards and evaluation in the education and training of professional psychologists: Knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Norman, OK: Transcript Press.

Bourg, E. F., Bent, R. J., McHolland, J. D., and Stricker, G. (1989). Standards and evaluation in the education and training of professional psychologists: The National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology Mission Bay Conference. American Psychologist, 44, 66-72.

Callan, J. E. (1994, January). Quality in professional psychology training: A national conference and self study. The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology La Jolla Conference, 1981. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico.

Callan, J. E., Peterson, D. R., and Stricker, G. (Eds.) (1986). Quality in professional psychology training: A national conference and self-study. Norman, OK: Transcript Press. Click here for more information about this book.

Davis-Russell, E. (1994, January). Ethnic diversification in psychology education and training: The Naional Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Puerto Rico Conference, 1989. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico. Click here for more information about this book.

Forbes, W., Dutton, M. A., Farber, P. D., Polite, K., and Tan, S. Y. (1994, January). Clinical training in professional psychology: The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology second La Jolla Conference, 1993. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico.

Grip, J. C. (1994, January). Evaluation in professional psychology: The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Bahamas Conference, 1992. Reflections on the midwinter conference. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico.

Magidson, E., Edwall, G. E., Kenkel, M. B., and Jackson, J. (1994, January). Women’s issues in professional psychology: The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Tucson Conference, 1991. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico.

Peterson, R. L., McHolland, J. D., Bent, R. J., Davis-Russell, E., Edwall, G. E., Magidson, E., Polite, K., Singer, D. L., and Stricker, G. (Eds.) (1992). The core curriculum in professional psychology. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association and National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology. Click here for more information about this book.

Peterson, R. L., McHolland,J. D., Bent, R. J., Davis-Russell, E., Edwall, G. E., Polite, K., Singer, D. L., and Stricker, G. (1994, January). The core curriculum in professional psychology: The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology San Antonio Conference, 1990. Paper presented at the National Council of Schools and Programs of Profesional Psychology Midwinter Conference on “Standards for Education in Professional Psychology: Reflection and Integration,” Cancun, Mexico.

Stricker, G., Davis-Russell, E., Bourg, E., Duran, E., Hammond, W. R., McHolland. J., Polite, K., and Vaughn, B. E. (Eds.) (1990). Toward ethnic diversification in psychology education and training. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Trierweiler, S. J., and Stricker, G. (1992). Research and evaluation competency: Training the local clinical scientist. In R. L. Peterson, J. McHolland, R. J. Bent, E. Davis-Russell, G. E. Edwall, E. Magidson, K. Polite, D. L. Singer, and G. Stricker (Eds.) The core curriculum in professional psychology (pp. 103-113). Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association and National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology.


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