Program Competencies

Professional Competencies

Students are expected to acquire core scientific and intellectual knowledge derived from the scientific discipline of psychology and other disciplines concerned with behavior.  Students are also expected to become competent in the areas identified by NCSPP:  relationship, assessment, intervention, research and evaluation, supervision, and diversity.  Each competency is composed of a body of knowledge, skills, and attitudes appropriate to the competency area.

Relationship Competency:

The relationship competency is defined as the ability to develop and maintain a constructive working alliance with individuals, families, and systems.  The mission of the faculty is to attract and select students with good relationship skills, and further enhance these skills particularly in relating to a wide range of individuals, families and systems that are representative of the cultural diversity of society.

Assessment Competency:

Assessment is conceptualized as an ongoing, interactive process that allows the professional psychologist to describe and conceptualize various aspects of a client.  In our program the assessment competency focuses on conceptualizing the individual within a biopsychosocial systems model.  We consider that assessment is an ongoing process that is foundational for all other aspects of practice.  In a formal sense, assessment involves the use of standardized test materials to ascertain a client’s level of functioning in terms of their intellectual, academic, socioemotional, behavioral, and/or interpersonal skills.  On an informal level, psychologists routinely use their knowledge of research in psychology, critical thinking skills, and clinical acuity to help formulate a picture of a client.  Whether assessments are conducted on an informal or formal basis, there are two critical components that determine the usefulness of an assessment.  First, a psychologist should be able to clearly communicate assessment results to the client and/or other appropriate individuals on a treatment team.  Second, an assessment should serve as a building block to provide or recommend individualized treatment interventions that ultimately serve to increase the quality of a client’s life.  Thus, assessment and intervention are considered intertwined activities that complement one another and occur on an ongoing basis.  Students complete a year-long assessment practicum, six months in a child setting and six months in an adult setting.  The formal assessment goal is to ensure that every student learns the necessary skills in child and adult assessment, and is able to competently and ethically do the following:  choose and administer psychological tests, score and interpret these tests, integrate data, write reports, and share results in understandable language.

Intervention Competency:

Clinical intervention is conceptualized as the activities that will promote, restore, sustain, and/or enhance positive functioning and a sense of well being in clients and organizations through preventative, developmental, and/or remedial services.  The conceptual knowledge base needed for effective interventions at all levels of interaction include biological, psychological, and social systems.  The faculty mission is to ensure that every student learns the necessary therapeutic skills, understands the evidence-base for choosing appropriate interventions, and utilizes foundational theories to be able to conceptualize client issues meaningfully and intervene competently and ethically with diverse populations.

Research and Evaluation Competency:

The psychology programs at Spalding University embrace a view of science as the basis for understanding and effecting change in those with which we come in contact.  As local clinical scientists, students are expected to utilize knowledge of evidence-based treatment, knowledge of client characteristics, and an understanding of the empirical basis for process variables in treatment to choose an implement the most effective psychological treatments for clients.  As described by Stricker and Trierweiler (1995):  “The local clinical scientist brings the attitudes and knowledge base of the scientist to bear on the problems that must be addressed by the clinician in the consulting room.  The problems of inadequate generalizability are reduced by a recognition of the value of local observations and local solutions to problems.  However, these observations and solutions benefit by the scientific attitude of the clinician and are subjected to the same need for verifiability that greets all scientific enterprises.  The clinical setting is viewed as analogous to a scientific laboratory.

Supervision Competency:

The Spalding program in professional psychology has long regarded clinical supervision as a basic and essential skill in the repertoire of all clinical psychologists.  Consequently, over the past decade the program has increasingly focused on the teaching of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required by competent and skillful supervisors.  Training in supervision has employed both formal and informal methods, didactic as well as experienced-based learning.

There has been steady development in the training provided in clinical supervision by the Spalding program over the past decade.  From the initial phase which focused on identifying and securing competent supervision for the practicum student to the relatively sophisticated current training regimen which includes reading and discussion of the professional literature, the weekly practice of clinical supervision, and the weekly videotape review and discussion of the supervision by a small group of fellow supervisors-in-training and a university supervisor.

Supervision is defined as a continuing relationship between an experienced, competent clinician (supervisor) and a less experienced, novice clinician (supervisee) with the relationship focused on reviewing and discussing the latter’s clinical work.  The ultimate goal of the joint endeavor is the development of competency in the supervisee.  The supervisor also has responsibility in the area of professional development of the supervisee which includes socialization into the profession.  Supervisors are also expected to evaluate supervisees.

Even though for training purposes the term ‘supervisor’ is used to define the role, participating practicum students in both roles of supervisor and supervisee are clearly taught the distinction between supervisor and consultant, and both understand that the terms supervision, supervisor and supervisee are used because they are in keeping with the training experience.  Since the student supervisor carries no clinical responsibility for the supervisee’s work and the supervisor’s evaluation of the supervisee is completed only on an informal and unofficial basis, the more correct designation of the supervisor should be clinical consultant.

Diversity Competency:

The Diversity competency requires the ability to identify and understand the individual and cultural differences that impact the practice of professional psychology, such as intervention, assessment, research, and conceptualization.  Important dimensions of diversity include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and social status.  Diversity competence also relates to instilling the attitudes and skills to positively effect change with a wide range of potential clients.