International Psychogeriatrics

Special Issue Articles

Development of a tool to evaluate geropsychology knowledge and skill competencies

Michele J. Karela1 c1, Erin E. Emerya2, Victor Molinaria3 and the CoPGTP Task Force on the Assessment of Geropsychology Competencies

a1 VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Brockton, MA, U.S.A.

a2 Geriatric and Rehabilitation Psychology, Rush University Medical Center, and Department of Behavioral Sciences, Rush University, Chicago, IL, U.S.A.

a3 Dept of Aging and Mental Health Disparities, University of South Florida and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Tampa, FL, U.S.A.


Background: Workforce shortages to meet the mental health needs of the world's aging population are well documented. Within the field of professional geropsychology in the U.S.A., a national conference was convened in 2006 to delineate competencies for psychological practice with older adults and a training model for the field. The conference produced the Pikes Peak Model of Geropsychology Training. The Council of Professional Geropsychology Training Programs (CoPGTP) aimed to produce a competency evaluation tool to help individuals define training needs for and evaluate progress in development of the Pikes Peak professional geropsychology competencies.

Methods: A CoPGTP task force worked for one year to adapt the Pikes Peak Model geropsychology attitude, knowledge, and skill competencies into an evaluation tool for use by supervisors, students and professional psychologists at all levels of geropsychology training. The task force developed a competency rating tool, which included delineation of behavioral anchors for each of the Pikes Peak geropsychology knowledge and skill competencies and use of a developmental rating scale. Pilot testing was conducted, with 13 individuals providing feedback on the clarity and feasibility of the tool for evaluation of oneself or students.

Results: The Geropsychology Knowledge and Skills Assessment Tool, Version 1.1, is now posted on the CoPGTP website and is being used by geropsychology training programs in the U.S.A.

Conclusions: The evaluation tool has both strengths and limitations. We discuss future directions for its ongoing validation and professional use.

(Received August 13 2009)

(Revised October 02 2009)

(Revised December 07 2009)

(Accepted December 08 2009)

(Online publication February 12 2010)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Michele J. Karel, PhD, VA Boston Healthcare System, 940 Belmont Street, 3-5-C, Brockton, MA 02301, U.S.A. Phone: +1 774-826-3725. Email: