Background: The “competency movement” has become increasingly prominent
in the education, training and supervision of professional psychologists.
Method: This article reviews the origins of that movement.
Results: With its roots in behaviourism, the WWII aviation industry and the
vocational training sector, the limitations of the approach for application to
professional psychology, where practitioners must demonstrate proficiency in
a wide array of clinical and often “higher-order” skills, are discussed.
Conclusions: Although the competency movement is taking firm hold in an
Australian context, the review of the literature highlights potential difficulties
associated with uncritical acceptance of the approach and discuss directions
for future development. Irrespective of the directions ultimately taken, the
education, training and supervision of professional psychologists must be
based in the availability of psychometrically sound and ecologically valid
competence assessment tools.