Continuing Education Interests of Licensed New York State Psychologists Serving the Zero to Five-Year-Old Population

Article excerpt

Psychology is a field that is constantly evolving. In order to meet the challenges of this increasingly dynamic field, the American Psychological Association (APA) continues to add subspecialties within psychology, into its overall framework. These subcategories become necessary because of advances in technology, communications, research, and industry. Ellis (1992) noted that as subspecialties continue to arise in a profession, gaps in training become more evident and require professionals to learn more on their own. With the significant advances in the practice of psychology, gaps exist in psychologists' basic knowledge of many aspects of professional practice, as well as the evidence that supports this knowledge (Pingitore, Scheffler, Haley, Sentell, & Schwalm, 2001).

Rapid growth in services for infants, young children and their families has stimulated interest and exposed deficits in the skills necessary to provide effective services (Bailey & Wolery, 1989). The passage of Public Laws 94-142 in 1975, 99-457 in 1986, and subsequent reauthorizations intensified these concerns as state agencies, professional organizations and universities sought to develop reasonable standards and effective programs to serve infants, children and their families, and prepare early intervention personnel (Bailey, Simeonsson, Yoder, & Huntington, 1990). This legislation mandated educational and psychological services for special needs infants and young children. However, given the relative lack of training in these areas, many psychologists, as well as other service providers felt ill equipped to provide adequate treatment and intervention (Short, Simeonsson, & Huntington, 1990).

Consequently, it is in the best interest of the public that trained psychologists remain current in their respective areas of practice. Psychologists are one of many professional groups who have, at the very least an ethical, and more often a legal responsibility to keep up to date with the advances in their profession. In addition, many professions require continuing education (CE) in some form as a means of assuring quality control and accountability as well as proof of competence for certification or licensure renewal. VandeCreek, Knapp, and Brace (1990) reported that while experiences, both direct and indirect, may maintain and even improve one's professional competency, psychologists must devote regular attention to remaining cognizant of the ever-developing advances and technological skills required for up-to-date treatment and advancement of the profession. The need for CE, its benefits, and theoretical ties to maintaining one's professional integrity are documented in the literature (Cervero, 2000; Denmark, 1980; Dubin, 1972; Goliger, 2002; Houle, 1980; McNamara & Flanders, 1985; Mott & Daley, 2000; Mowder, Goliger, Sossin, & Rubinson, 2003; VandeCreek & Brace, 1991; VandeCreek et al., 1990; Walker, 1977).

To this end, continuing education (CE) is one of the most viable options to advance professional skills and knowledge. Currently, this process is known interchangeably as continuing education (CE), continuing professional education (CPE), and continuing professional development (CPD) (Davies & Ford, 2001; Livneh & Livneh, 1999; VandeCreek & Brace, 1991). In this article, they are considered equivalent. CE, as defined by the American Psychological Association, "is an ongoing process consisting of formal learning activities that (1) are relevant to psychological practice, education and science; (2) enable psychologists to keep pace with emerging issues and technologies; and (3) allow psychologists to maintain, develop and increase competencies in order to improve services to the public and enhance contributions to the profession" (APA, 2000, p: 2). CE activities include, but are not limited to, reading and contributing to professional journals and books, attending or presenting at psychological association meetings and conferences, conversing with colleagues, college and university teaching, attending or presenting at professional workshops, seminars and colloquia, enrolling in advanced degree classes, and participating in distance learning courses by mail, electronic mail, or other forms of digital media (Fretz, 2001; VandeCreek et al. …