Competence and Scope of Practice: Ethics and Professional Development

J Clin Psychol. 2008 May;64(5):626-37. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20479.


In this article, I discuss the importance of the psychotherapist's capacities and attributes that go beyond formal education and training as they relate to both readiness for clinical training and continued competence throughout one's professional life. Professional development is essential to the maintenance of professional competence as a psychotherapist. Principles and standards from the American Psychological Association's (2002) Ethics Code are reviewed and illustrated with clinical vignettes. In striving to maintain competence, psychotherapists are strongly encouraged to focus on proactive self-care and professional development in addition to complying with the formal continuing education mandated by most states.

MeSH terms

  • Codes of Ethics
  • Education, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Continuing / standards
  • Ethics, Professional*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Professional Impairment / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Professional Impairment / psychology
  • Professional Practice / ethics
  • Professional Practice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Professional Practice / standards*
  • Psychotherapy / education
  • Psychotherapy / ethics*
  • Psychotherapy / standards
  • Societies, Scientific / ethics
  • Societies, Scientific / standards
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States