Specialties and Proficiencies

The APA has made it clear that the basic degree in professional psychology, whether a PsyD or PhD or EdD, represents a general practice specialty, but may not be sufficient for competent and therefore ethical work in a variety of specialized psychological service areas. APA defines a specialty as “a defined area of psychological practice which requires advanced knowledge and skills acquired through an organized sequence of education and training. The advanced knowledge and skills specific to the specialty are obtained subsequent to the acquisition of core scientific and professional foundations in psychology.”  Specialties are typically recognized through board certification (e.g., clinical, health, clinical neuropsychology, clinical child, family, psychoanalytic, and forensic psychology, etc.).


A proficiency is defined as a circumscribed activity in the general practice of professional psychology or one or more of its specialities that is represented by a distinct procedure, technique or applied skill set used in psychological assessment, treatment, and/or intervention within which one devlops competence.” “Proficiencies can only be acquired through appropriate education and training focused quite specifically and intensively on defined content. Specialties may include several such proficiencies.” Proficiencies include police psychology, psychopharmacology, addictions, and personality assessment, etc.


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