Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Toward Uniform Competency Standards in Telepsychology: A Proposed Framework for Canadian Psychologists

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Toward Uniform Competency Standards in Telepsychology: A Proposed Framework for Canadian Psychologists

Article excerpt

As Canadian psychologists increasingly incorporate Internet-based technologies into their practice, they are reminded that telepsychology-the application of technologies for the delivery of distance psycho- logical services-requires special skills, knowledge, and judgment that extend beyond the core require- ments of professional practice. However, what constitutes competence in both face-to-face and telepsy- chology practice is still evolving in Canada. This article explores how the existing framework for Canadian psychologist competence found in the Mutual Recognition Agreement of the Regulatory Bodies for Professional Psychologists in Canada (Council of Provincial Associations of Psychologists, 2001/ 2004), along with current research and other supporting documents in distance mental health, may serve as a useful foundation for the development of uniform telepsychology competency standards across Canada.

Keywords: competence, telepsychology, Canadian psychologists, Mutual Recognition Agreement, pro- fessional practice

Résumé

Tandis que les psychologues canadiens augmentent leur utilisation de technologies offertes par Internet dans leur pratique, ils pren- nent conscience que la télépsychologie - le recours à des tech- nologies pour la prestation de services de psychologie à distance - requiert des compétences particulières, des connaissances et un jugement qui dépassent les exigences de base de la pratique professionnelle. Toutefois, la définition de ce que constitue une compétence, à la fois pour les séances en personne et de télépsy- chologie, est en pleine évolution au pays. Le présent article exam- ine en quoi le cadre actuel de compétences du psychologue cana- dien, tel que défini dans Y Accord de reconnaissance mutuelle des organismes réglementaires pour les psychologues professionnels au Canada (Conseil des sociétés provinciales de psychologues, 2001, 2004), ainsi que dans la recherche actuelle et divers docu- ments connexes sur les soins de santé mentale à distance, peuvent servir de fondements à l'établissement de normes de compétence uniformes en télépsychologie pour l'ensemble du Canada.

Mots-clés : compétences, télépsychologie, psychologues canadiens, accord de reconnaissance mutuelle, pratique professionnelle.

The use of technologies by psychologists to deliver tailored psychological services and information over distance, also known as telepsychology, is now seen as a viable alternative to traditional face-to-face (F2F) therapy, and has generated a growing body of research (Mallen & Vogel, 2005a) and increasing professional consideration (Association of Canadian Psychology Regulatory Organisations [ACPRO], 2011; Joint Task Force for the Develop- ment of Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychologists [JTF], 2013). Mental health professionals who practice telepsychology are now combining evidence-based psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with both traditional distance platforms (e.g., telephony, King, Bambling, Reid, & Thomas, 2006; videoconferencing, Simms, Gibson, & O'Donnell, 2011) and newer mobile health (mHealth) smart technologies that can have synchronous (e.g., chat, cell phone), asynchronous (e.g., e-mail), social media, and videoconferencing capabilities all within the same device (JTF, 2013; D. M. Kaplan, Wade, Conteh, & Martz, 2011; Luxton, McCann, Bush, Mishkind, & Reger, 2011; Maheu, Pulier, McMenamin, & Posen, 2012). Other emerging technologies such as cloud computing and virtual reality (VR) are also now starting to appear in telepsychology interventions (Maheu et ah, 2012) to help clients from diverse cultural back- grounds (Choi et al., 2012) with a range of presenting issues (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder, E. Andersson et ah, 2012; depres- sion, G. Andersson & Cuijpers, 2009). Although F2F counselling still remains the preferred medium of delivery for psychological services (JTF, 2013; Kraus, 2010a), telepsychology is now seen as a useful adjunct to F2F therapy (e. …

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