General Exposure to Aging in Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programs

Jacqueline Olthoff (2010)

In 1992 an APA inter-divisional task force identified three levels of competency for professional practice with older adults: Exposure, Experience, and Expertise. It was recommended that all generalist programs provide their students with at least the first level of competency. However, most enter the field with little-to-no academic or clinical training in aging. The current study surveyed core faculty in generalist Clinical and Counseling Psychology graduate programs. The survey was internet-based and included Palmore’s (1998) Facts on Aging and Mental Health Quiz (FAMHQ) to assess the amount of course time spent on issues of aging as well as faculty knowledge and bias in this area. The overarching purpose of this study was to (a) provide an updated snapshot of the current state of geropsychology integration into APA-accredited generalist clinical and counseling psychology programs; (b) determine if programs were meeting Level 1 requirements for competent practice with older adults; and (c) determine if there were significant relationships between the percentage of course time spent on issues of aging and faculty course type, knowledge, and bias. According to faculty self-report, programs are meeting Level 1 requirements irrespective of course type, faculty bias, and faculty knowledge on issues of aging. The method of participant recruitment as well as the low response rate inherent in internet surveys may have affected the study outcome and provided an inaccurate representation of faculty nationwide. However, assuming the validity of the FAMHQ scores, results suggest that faculty knowledge on issues of aging is poor at best.