Originally published in Volume: 1 Issue: 2 of HeadLines
The College doesn’t specify hard borders between age ranges for the different population groups but recognizes that there are not always clear demarcations with respect to population groups, particularly with respect to age. Members are expected to use their professional judgment to determine whether, in all the circumstances, the person’s status is consistent with the status of those for whom they are authorized to provide service. For example, when trying to determine whether a client, at a border age, is an “adult”, “adolescent”, or for that matter a “senior”, it would be important to consider whether the person’s abilities, life circumstances and challenges are consistent with those which would normally be expected within the population groups for which the member is authorized to work.
Originally published in Volume: 1 Issue: 2 of HeadLines
As members know, the College has defined Authorized Areas of Practice. The definitions for the authorized areas of practice focus on the nature of difficulties the services are intended to address, as opposed to the specific type of service offered. In order to answer questions like this it may be most helpful to keep this distinction in mind.
The Practical Application posted with Standard of Professional Conduct, 2017 5.1 states: In deciding whether one is authorized and competent to provide a service, the nature of the client’s presenting difficulties will generally determine whether the member has the appropriate and required authorization. For example, if a client who has suffered a traumatic brain injury has been referred because of a need to assess the nature of their neuropsychological deficits, it is expected that the member providing the assessment would have clinical neuropsychology as an authorized area of practice. If the person was referred because of difficulty performing activities of daily living or occupational requirements, it is expected that the member would be authorized to work in the area of rehabilitation psychology. If the person was referred because of suspected anxiety or depression, then it is expected that the member would be authorized to practice in clinical psychology…
It’s likely that most of what are often called “psychoeducational assessments” are meant to help identify the reason an individual has difficulty learning in an educational environment and to provide information for the purpose of planning for remediation of these difficulties. If there is reason to believe that the nature of difficulties is neuropsychological in nature, then it would appear reasonable for someone with authorization in the area of Clinical Neuropsychology to assess the client.
At the same time, authorization in School Psychology requires certain knowledge not generally required for the practice of Clinical Neuropsychology, including knowledge of:
- academic, instructional and remedial techniques;
- interdisciplinary team approach for case management, program planning and crisis intervention;
- consulting, counselling, and primary, secondary and tertiary intervention programs and techniques;
- systems and group behaviours within, and related to, the school organization, including school climate and culture.
If making specific recommendations which require such knowledge, it’s expected that a member who has not acquired this knowledge would seek the professional guidance of another member who is authorized to practice School Psychology.
The College has not set out specific, concrete age boundaries between the various client populations: children and adolescents; adolescents and adults; adults, and seniors. One usually goes by conventional definitions. That is, children to age 12 or 13; adolescents to age 19 or so; adults to 65 or 70. While age is not an issue when considering providing service to a client who falls within these conventional age groups, problems can arise at the boundary ages, i.e., 12-13; 18-20; 65-70. When determining whether it is within one’s area of competence to provide service to a “boundary age” individual, many things other than just chronological age come must be considered.
The concern that arises should a member, with demonstrated competence in working with adults, decide to provide service to an older, boundary age adolescent is that one may impart to the older adolescent some adult traits, characteristics, or difficulties based on one’s training and experience. Conversely, a member may not recognize some adolescent trait, as one is approaching the client from an "adult" perspective. Issues can also arise with the use of assessment measures and intervention techniques as one may be most familiar with both the objective and subjective norms related to working with adults.
The Registration Regulation (O. Reg. 74/15) requires that members practice the profession only within those areas of the member's competency that are authorized by the College [s. 10 (2) 1.] There is some room at the boundary ages, however, for a member to provide service to a client who might fall, by convention, just outside of one’s authorized population group. Whether a member is practicing within one’s area of competency, as required by the Regulation, is a determination a member must make on a case by case basis, based on the characteristics of the individual client.
A member whose area of competence is Clinical Psychology with adults may occasionally see a boundary age adolescent (18-20 age range), who many might consider a young adult, dependent upon the evaluation of his/her level of development and maturity. It is important to stress however, that should such requests for service become a more regular occurrence, it would be prudent for the member to one consider expanding one’s authorized population groups.
While the above information relates to a boundary age adolescent and a member whose area of competency is with adults, the principles can be applied to a member considering providing psychological service to the other boundary age client groups.
Autonomous practice members wishing to add an area of practice or a client group must undertake training and supervision to achieve competency comparable to other members of the College who are recognized for similar practice.
Members are required to make a written request to the Registration Committee specifying the practice area or client group they wish to add and to provide detailed information about how they have or plan to acquire the knowledge and skills in this new area.
The College’s Guidelines for Change of Area of Practice, outline the process in more detail.
The Registration Committee meets approximately every other month, dates of upcoming meetings are posted on the College’s website.
There have been no changes to the Standards with respect to members limiting their services to their authorized client populations. We have tried, in revising the Standards, to make more members aware of the advice we provide about both the limits to authorized client populations and authorized areas of practice.
Members are still required to limit their services to their authorized populations and areas of practice. The College has never set age cutoffs, with the belief that members will use good judgment to determine whether a person is a child, adolescent, adult, or senior. Those distinctions should be based upon whether, in the member’s judgment, the client’s abilities, life situation, and challenges are consistent with those commonly associated with a particular group. We’ve provided some examples in the Practical Applications to Standard 5.1 contained within the Standards.
If you are not authorized to work with seniors, it would not be appropriate to take on a client facing age-related mental health challenges such as cognitive decline or social isolation.
If deciding whether to continue ongoing treatment with a client who has recently begun to experience the adverse effects of old age, it would be a good idea to refer him or her to someone authorized to work with seniors and, until this has occurred, seek consultation from someone with the specific training, skills and experience and who is authorized to work with seniors.
If an existing client is at a chronological age when age-related difficulties could reasonably be expected but are not yet occurring, it may be reasonable to still consider the client an “adult”. For example, if the client continues to work productively, live independently, has a vigorous fitness routine, is free from age-related health concerns, has meaningful and satisfying close relationships, etc., he or she need not be categorized as a “senior” for the purposes of the Standards, even if his or her age exceeds a commonly applied age marker such as 65.