Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Quebec Psychologists and Continuing Education

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Quebec Psychologists and Continuing Education

Article excerpt

Continuing education is an integral ingredient in the maintenance and development of essential competencies in professional psychology. However, there is a lack of knowledge and investigation into the continuing education practices, needs, interests, attitudes, and modality preferences among practicing psychologists, particularly those practicing in Canada. Essential aspects of continuing education among a sample of 418 licensed psychologists in clinical practice in Quebec were examined. Professional reading, case discussion groups, and private courses and workshops were the most frequently used continuing education activities. In terms of continuing education needs, skills related to intervention and assessments were rated most frequently, and information pertaining to adult psychopathologies, assessment of mental illness, comorbidity, and medication were the most highly rated continuing education interests. Preferred modalities for continuing education include those that are offered by psychology associations and those offered by the local regulatory body (Ordre des Psychologues du Québec). Findings are discussed in the context of their value to psychology licensing and regulatory boards.

Keywords: continuing education, psychologists, psychology, training, interests

Continued professional education is engrained in the fabric of virtually all helping professions, including medicine, social work, psychiatry, nursing, and psychology. In the behavioural health fields, continuing education is classified as a second wave of education, that of the postlicensing phase, and is "geared toward refinement of existing clinical skills, mastery of changes in the knowledge base and clinical techniques, and development of new skills" (Daniels & Walter, 2002, p. 360). Despite the fact that continuing education and sustained competence have been topics of concern in the psychology research and clinical communities for close to 40 years (Brown & Briley, 1979; Daniels & Walter, 2002; Katahn, 1970; Jensen, 1979; Jones, 1975; Lewinsohn, & Pearlman, 1972; Neimeyer, Taylor, & Wear, 2009; Ross, 1974; VandeCreek, Knapp, & Brace, 1990), and is rooted in both the American Psychological Association's (2002) "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct" and the Canadian Psychological Association's (2001) "Code of Ethics for Psychologists," there has been criticism of its delayed evolution and lack of research investigating continuing education practices, attitudes, and translation into competent clinical practice (Daniels & Walter, 2002; Neimeyer et al., 2009). Although mandatory continuing education credits are now a requirement for licensure renewal in many jurisdictions, this process has developed at a much slower pace in psychology than in other professions (VandeCreek et al., 1990). In Canada, despite continuing education being an important topic within professional psychology, as evidenced in provincial codes of ethics (e.g., the Code of Ethics of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec, Article 39; Ordre des Psychologues du Québec, 2001), mandatory continuing education credits are not required in many of the provinces, and there is a lack of research and documentation of continuing education practices among Canadian psychologists. The current era of ever-expanding technology, clinical techniques, theoretical models, client concerns, and research into evidencebased practices (Hunsley, Dobson, Johnston, & Mikail, 1999) only intensifies and highlights the responsibility that practicing clinicians, as well as their licensing bodies, have in ensuring psychologists are up-to-date in terms of their competencies.

Preferences in Continuing Education

Early research investigating preferences in continuing education participation reveals that the most preferred or valued continuing education activities include professional reading (e.g., reading journal articles or books; Allen, Nelson, & Sheckley, 1987; Brown, Leichtman, Blass, & Fleisher, 1982; Donohoe, Atkinson, Scott, & Lemoine, 1985; McNamara, 1977; Morrow-Bradley & Elliott, 1986), supervision (receiving feedback on cases) or contact with other professionals (e. …

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