Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Three Decades of Professional Psychology: Reflections and Future Challenges

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Three Decades of Professional Psychology: Reflections and Future Challenges

Article excerpt

CPA Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology as a Profession (1999) -- Prix de la SCP pour contribution remarquable a la psychologie en tant que profession (1999)

Abstract

This paper addresses observations, from both a public and personal viewpoint, on those factors and events that have affected professional psychology in Canada. The personal viewpoint has been gained from over 30 years of professional practice as a scientist practitioner. During this same time, I was a psychology department head in an adult general then a pediatric hospital. Concomitant with this experience I held academic and clinical appointments first in a department of Psychiatry at McMaster University then in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa with a cross appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. The public viewpoint has been gained from experience with provincial and federal granting agencies, from governance issues with service on the Board of Directors of CPA and with issues of accreditation, licensure and credentialing. There are lessons to be drawn from the experience. Within the same personal and public perspective, a number of issues as diverse as the unification of psychology as a discipline and a profession, academic entry level requirements, psychology's place in the health care system and mobility are identified and discussed. As we approach the 21st century, opportunities for major advancement of the profession and the public interest are explored.

Introduction

When asked to prepare an address, I took it as an opportunity to share my experiences as a psychologist from two viewpoints. The first is personal, reflecting my understanding of where the profession has been and where we are going. The second is public and more disciplined, representing my experience in governance, credentialing, licensure and standards of practice. My focus from the professional perspective will be on those very broad issues that have been of concern to me throughout my career. I know that many in the field of psychology share these concerns. I will also touch on some of the recent historical events that have shaped our discipline and our profession. There are a large number of factors that impact the profession of psychology but they are too numerous to be covered in this address. Instead, I have selected some of what I consider to be significant issues for us. The disunity of the discipline and the profession continues to present a major challenge. Legislation, licensure, and masters-level registration takes up a great deal of attention. Changes in practice -- the shift from mental health to health care -- and the change in the administrative structure of psychology within health care institutions has had a significant impact and presents a unique challenge. Issues of standardization, credentialing, and mobility are very significant topics for psychology regulatory boards and provincial and federal governments. What lessons can we learn from our history and our current experiences that will help us develop strategies for the future? What are the strengths in the profession and what are our vulnerabilities?

My experience has been in clinical psychology and my work has been with adults, children, and families. However, clinical psychology is not synonymous with professional psychology. It is a subset along with school psychology, counseling psychology, forensic-correctional psychology, neuropsychology, rehabilitation psychology, and industrial organizational psychology. While there is overlap among the subsets, each has its own unique features. My clinical perspective will no doubt bring some bias to this presentation but hopefully the professional issues will be seen as providing some commonality.

BACKGROUND

Before I discuss the professional issues, it may be useful to briefly describe my professional experiences. I have spent the past 30 years working in general hospitals and almost all of those years were as a director or department head of psychology. …

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