Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1095-1126


  • Michele J. KarelAffiliated withHarvard Medical School
  • , Gregory A. HinrichsenAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of Medicine


Geropsychology is a growing area of practice within professional psychology. Due to the demographic imperative of an aging population, increasing numbers of psychologists will find themselves working with older adults, their families, and related care systems. They will seek to develop increased competence for work with this historically underserved yet rewarding and challenging clinical population. This chapter reviews the knowledge base and skill competencies for professional geropsychology practice, as defined in the Pikes Peak Model for Training in Professional Geropsychology. Foundational competencies (e.g., ethical issues, diversity, relationships) and functional assessment, intervention, and consultation competencies are defined and elaborated as applied to an older adult population. The chapter includes an overview of common late life clinical problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, dementia, alcohol and substance abuse), strategies for evaluation and efficacy of psychological interventions (e.g., for depression, anxiety, caregiver distress, behavioral problems in dementia, sleep problems), and settings of care for geropsychology practice (e.g., primary, long-term, and end-of-life care). The importance of interdisciplinary care and consultation skills is emphasized. Basic versus expert competencies for geropsychology practice are delineated; basic competencies are important for any psychologist working with older adults while expert competencies are important for psychologists who will serve as geropsychology educators, supervisors, and leaders. Essential components of a geropsychology training program are reviewed, while emphasizing that there are multiple developmental pathways to geropsychology competence. Resources for further information and education in the field are provided.