, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 136-144
Date: 09 Jan 2014

Evaluating Competence in Psychotherapy

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Background: The Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Psychiatry has recently charged psychiatry training programs with developing methods to demonstrate competence of trainees in five areas of psychotherapy. Each program must decide what specific skills are essential for competence in each of the five listed psychotherapies. This requires determining whether those skills that are necessary are also sufficient for effective psychotherapy and whether additional specific skills are required for each one. Method: Two lists of general skills for psychotherapy are compared, one from the perspective of specific “schools” of psychotherapy and one from a more eclectic “integrative” approach. The issue of measuring competence is addressed by placing ratings of “competent” midway on a continuum from “novice” to “expert.” Thirteen methods for measuring competence from the Accreditation Council for Graduate medical Education (ACGME) “tool-box” are described and reviewed with respect to applicability to psychotherapy. Examples of toolbox implementation are described based on a functioning psychotherapy evaluation program at the University of Missouri. Results and Conclusions: The authors found both theoretical as well as practical problems in measuring competence in psychotherapy. We propose that global rather than highly specific assessment methods may be more practical in these early stages of development, and we offer specific suggestions for assessment components that can currently be implemented.

The authors thank Liz Wilding, Ed.D. for her help in extracting ideas and transforming them into words.