COMPETENCES AND COMPETENCE PROFILING

This part defines the major competences that professional psychologists should develop and demonstrate before being admitted to independent practice. These competences relate to aspects of the process by which psychologists render services to their clients.

Competences of psychologists

The overall purpose of practising as a professional psychologist is to develop and apply psychological principles, knowledge, models and methods in an ethical and scientific way in order to promote the development, well-being and effectiveness of individuals, groups, organisations and society.

There are two main groups of competences, (i) those relating to the psychological content of the professional practice process (primary competences) and (ii) those enabling the practitioner to render their services effectively (enabling competences). The primary competences are unique for the psychological profession in terms of their content and the knowledge and skills required for their performance. The enabling ones are shared with other professions and providers of services. Both primary and enabling competences are essential for rendering services in a professionally acceptable way.

The competences provide a description of the various roles psychologists perform. These roles are performed in one or more of a variety of occupational contexts and in relation to a variety of types of client. Competences are based on knowledge, understanding and skills applied and practised ethically. The competent practitioner is not only able to demonstrate the necessary skills but also attitudes appropriate to the proper practice of their profession. Attitudes are considered to be of special importance, since they define the unique nature of the psychological profession. While some knowledge and skill is general in its applicability, much of it is context-related. Thus, the psychologist who has demonstrated professional competence in one field of practice with one client group cannot be assumed to be competent in other fields of practice or with other client groups in the same one.

Each holder of the EuroPsy Certificate will have a profile defining the contexts within which they have demonstrated competence to practise independently from the time at which the Certificate is awarded.

A distinction is made between four broad fields of practice, designated as:

  • Clinical & Health
  • Education
  • Work & Organisations
  • Other

For the purpose of describing qualifications to practise, a broad categorization in fields of practice is deemed to be sufficient. For those professional activities that cannot be assigned to any of these three categories, a fourth category, designated as ‘Other’ is used and a specification of the particular field (e.g. forensic, sport, traffic etc.) should be given.

The descriptions of these competences are intended to be generic and applicable to most or all types of psychologists’ professional work, although they are implemented in specific ways in different fields of practice.

Primary competences

There are 20 primary competences that any psychologist should be able to demonstrate; these can be grouped into six functional categories, which relate to professional activities. These functions are designated as:

  1. goal specification
  2. assessment
  3. development
  4. intervention
  5. evaluation
  6. communication

The competences are described below:

Primary competences of psychologists

Primary competences Description
A. Goal specification Interacting with the client for the purpose of defining the goals of the intervention or service that will be provided
1. Needs analysis Gathering information about the client’s needs by means of appropriate methods, clarifying and analysing the needs to a point where meaningful further action can be taken.
2. Goal setting Proposing and negotiating goals with the client, establishing acceptable and feasible goals, and specifying criteria for evaluating goal fulfilment at a later time.
B. Assessment Establishing relevant characteristics of individuals, groups, organisations, and situations by means of appropriate methods
3. Individual assessment Carrying out assessment by means of interviewing, testing and observation of individuals in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
4. Group assessment Carrying out assessment by means of interviewing, testing and observation of groups in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
5. Organisational assessment Carrying out assessment by means of interviews, surveys, and other methods and techniques which are appropriate for studying organisations in a setting that is relevant for the service demanded.
6. Situational assessment Carrying out assessment by means of interviews, surveys, and other methods and techniques which are appropriate for studying situations in a setting that is relevant for the service demanded.
C. Development Developing interventions, services or products on the basis of psychological theory and methods for use by the clients or psychologists.
7. Service or product definition & requirements analysis Defining the purpose of the service or product, identifying relevant stakeholders, analysing requirements and constraints, and drawing up specifications for the product or service, taking into consideration the setting in which the service or product is to be used.
8. Service or product design Designing or adapting services or products in accordance with the requirements and constraints, taking into consideration the setting in which the service or product is to be used.
9. Service or product testing Testing the service or product and assessing its feasibility, reliability, validity and other characteristics, taking into consideration the setting in which the service or product is to be used.
10. Service or product evaluation Evaluating the service or product with respect to utility, client satisfaction, user friendliness, costs and other aspects which are relevant in the setting in which the service or product is to be used.
D. Intervention Identifying, preparing and carrying out interventions which are appropriate for reaching the set goals, using the results of assessment and development activities.
11. Intervention planning Developing an intervention plan that is appropriate for reaching the set goals in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
12. Direct person-oriented intervention Applying intervention methods that directly affect one or more individuals in accordance with the intervention plan, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
13. Direct situation-oriented intervention Applying intervention methods that directly affect selected aspects of the situation in accordance with the intervention plan, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
14. Indirect intervention Applying intervention methods that enable individuals, groups or organisations to learn and take decisions in their own interest, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
15. Service or product implementation Introducing services or products and promoting their proper use by clients or other psychologists.
E. Evaluation Establishing the adequacy of interventions in terms of adherence to the intervention plan and the achievement of set goals.
16. Evaluation planning Designing a plan for the evaluation of an intervention, including criteria derived from the intervention plan and the set goals, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
17. Evaluation measurement Selecting and applying measurement techniques that are appropriate for effecting the evaluation plan, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
18. Evaluation analysis Conducting analyses in accordance with the evaluation plan, and drawing conclusions on the effectiveness of interventions in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
F. Communication Providing information to clients in a way that is adequate to fulfil the clients’ needs and expectations.
19. Giving feedback Providing feedback to clients, using appropriate oral and/or audio-visual means, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.
20. Report writing Writing reports as to inform clients about the results of assessment, service or product development, interventions, and/or evaluations, in a setting relevant for the service demanded.

A psychologist should gain each of these competences as far as applicable within a particular field of practice. In order to obtain the EuroPsy the competence must be such that the psychologist can be expected to perform each of the six main functions in an adequate manner and independently.

Enabling competences

There are eight enabling competences which relate to professional activity in general and which the practitioner psychologist should demonstrate in addition to the primary competences.

Enabling competences of psychologists

Enabling competences Definition
1. Professional strategy Choosing an appropriate strategy for dealing with the problem(s) posed, based on a reflection on the professional situation and one’s own primary competences.
2. Continuing professional development Updating and developing one’s primary and enabling competences, knowledge and skills in accordance with changes in the field and the standards and requirements of the psychological profession, national and European EFPA Regulations on EuroPsy.
3. Professional relations Establishing and maintaining relationships with other professionals, as well as relevant organisations.
4. Research and development Developing new interventions, services and products that have the potential of fulfilling current or future clients’ needs and generating new forms of professional activity or business.
5. Marketing & sales Bringing current and new products and services to the attention of actual or potential clients, contacting clients, making business offers, selling services, providing after-sales services.
6. Account management Establishing and maintaining relationships with (potential) clients, monitoring clients’ needs and satisfactions, identifying opportunities for expanding professional activity or business.
7. Practice management Designing and managing the practice from which services are rendered, whether as a small business or as part of a larger private or public organisation, including financial, personnel, and operational aspects, providing leadership to employees.
8. Quality assurance Establishing and maintaining a system for quality assurance for the practice as a whole.
9. Self reflection Critical self reflection on own practice and competence is a key feature of professional competence.

In developing and assessing competences account must be taken of the fact that the actual content of the services offered is different, depending on the field within which the psychologist is practising.

This is a direct consequence of the fact that psychologists perform different roles in society and deal with different types of clients, problems, methods, etc. As noted above, four broad fields of practice are distinguished for the EuroPsy:

  • Clinical & Health
  • Education
  • Work & Organisations
  • Other

The fourth general category (Other) is used to encompass other more specific applications that do not fall within these generally recognised fields.

Procedures for EuroPsy Profiling

Assessment categories

Supervisors will make formative and summative assessments of psychologists’ achievements according to rules and traditions that are specific for the particular field of practice and/or national context. These assessments are to be used for or supplemented by assessments of the primary competences mentioned above. It is recommended that the assessment distinguishes between the following levels of competence.

1 2 3 4
Basic knowledge and skill present, but competence insufficiently developed Competence for performing tasks but requiring guidance and supervision Competence for performing basic tasks without guidance or supervision Competence for performing complex tasks without guidance or supervision

The most important distinction to be made by the assessor is between levels 2 and 3. At the end of the supervision period sufficient competences should be present at level 3 or 4 to enable the individual to practise independently within one or more fields, with one or more client groups. Assessment guidelines will be issued by the European Awarding Committee.

The award of the EuroPsy should be dependent upon a final synoptic assessment of the practitioner’s ability to integrate knowledge, skills and competences into a single process of providing a professional service to their client, at the same time taking account of ethical principles.

In the final assessment the Supervisor should summarize the available information and indicate whether, on the basis of the available evidence, the candidate can be expected to adequately and independently perform the six primary roles under which the 20 competences were grouped. The Supervisor’s judgement should be expressed as a judgement of ‘competent’ or ‘not yet competent’. In addition, the Supervisor should give an overall evaluation of the enabling competences, again in terms of whether the person is ‘competent’ or ‘not yet competent’. The candidate should provide evidence to satisfy their Supervisor of their competence for the six primary competences, as well as on the total of the enabling competences.

The results of the evaluation shall be summarized in a tabular form, as indicated in the example below.

Fields of Practice Clinical & Health Education Work & Organisations Other (specify)
Competences      
A. goal definition yes      
B. assessment yes yes yes  
C. development yes      
D. intervention yes      
E. evaluation yes   yes  
F. communication yes   yes  
Enabling competences yes   yes  

This psychologist has competences mainly in the area of health and clinical psychology, and his/her competences have been attested by the supervisor. This means that he/she is competent to practise in the field of clinical psychology. However, he/she also has competence in assessment in the educational and work and organizational field, and some additional competences in the field of work and organization. These latter might be built on to contribute to subsequent overall competence in this field.