PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OF PSYCHOLOGISTS: TRANSATLANTIC DIFFERENCES AND TRAINING IN CYPRUS
At a time when international exchange of ideas and movement of professionals across national and international borders are a global trend, professional psychologists continue to face challenges in achieving true mobility. This appears to reflect the profession’s continuous struggle to define itself and its distinguishing characteristics, and to reach a uniform understanding of its methods and goals. This paper highlights the lack of a shared view of professional psychology by proposing differences in the professional training of psychologists in Europe as compared to that in the North America. These differences appear to be partially due to historical, philosophical, and developmental issues as they relate to professional psychology in the two world regions. Historically, psychology in North America has been a clearly established and independent field of study, existing mostly within schools of social sciences. In contrast, psychology often continues to be considered a specialty within departments of philosophy or education within many European universities and lacks an independent identity or a clear identity as a social science. Philosophical differences among the two world regions are noted in the goals of undergraduate education, relative acceptance of non-specialized psychological practice, and relative emphasis on science based training and practice. In terms of developmental differences, psychological practice in North America has been legally regulated and protected as a profession for many decades. Further, professional training in North America tends to be clearly and uniformly guided by standards issued through the National Professional Associations. To the contrary, although various European states have a long history of training professional psychologists, psychological practice continues to be legally unregulated or poorly regulated in various member states. It is only in recent years that efforts began within the European region to create uniform guidelines of training for professional psychology and uniform legal standards for psychological practice across the European Union. Many European states have only recently attempted to set up professional training for psychologists. We present the experience of one such European state, Cyprus, where efforts to develop professional training programs for psychologists began around 2003. We describe the system of teaching professional psychologists in Cyprus, present the curriculum, content, and methodology of training, and discuss the ongoing challenges faced by educators. In conclusion, we suggest that the professional training of psychologists within Europe should not be the isolated effort of each member state. We propose that there is an urgent need for further discussion among educators of professional psychologists about establishing European guidelines for curriculum and supervised training in professional psychology, creation and accreditation of training facilities, and uniform legalization of the profession that will allow for quality control of the training, for collectivity of resources, and for exchange opportunities of clinical training and ideas. In concluding, although the cultural, historical, and educational contexts in the European region differ from those in North America, there is much room for the exchange of ideas and training opportunities, and for learning from lessons of the past.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev