Pikes Peak Model is geropsychology first
Colorado Springs, Colorado
than taking an occasional continuing education course or reading
journal articles or textbooks on aging, “generalist”
psychologists who want to become proficient in working with older
adults have had no specific model to follow…until very recently.
leaders in research and practice of clinical geropsychology met at a
national training conference here to create the Pikes Peak model
that resulted in multiple pathways that lead to “gero-competence.”
conference organizer, Michele Karel, Ph.D. (V.A. Boston Health Care
System), said a key element that emerged was that continuing
education courses alone are insufficient to ensure proficiency.
model recommends combining didactic training and consultation with
an expert on the phone or in person for psychologists with no formal
academic background. A controversial and unresolved issue is whether
psychologists should submit audio or videotaped examples of their
work with older adults.
consensus was reached as to how much training is necessary.
Practitioners are urged to self-assess of their current knowledge
based upon APA’s guidelines for psychological practice with older
adults published in The American Psychologist in 2004.
Knight, Ph.D., (University of Southern California), another
conference organizer, said it is rare for a national conference to
attempt to set a model of training for already licensed clinicians.
explained that the goal of the conference was to develop
aspirational, not mandated, models that recognize an essential core
of good training without creating barriers for psychologists to
enter the profession. “Nothing we are proposing will place demands
on people. The best we can do is to offer a more systematic array of
upon knowledge from conferences in 1981 and 1992 (Older Boulder I
and II), delegates identified the knowledge and skills necessary for
proficiency at a mid level of competence across doctoral,
internship, post-doctoral and post-licensure levels of training.
committee member, Michael Duffy, Ph.D., (College Station, Texas)
said, “There was a tension in this conference between a concern
for quality and competence and the strategic concern to be inclusive
in a way that will attract already licensed practitioners to enhance
Casciani, Ph.D., delegate at large and president of VeriCare that
employs 320 practitioners in long-term care settings in eight
states, said, “There are hundreds if not thousands of
psychologists already doing this work with older adults but who have
no formal academic training in geropsychology. Our profession needs
to recognize the services by these practitioners and carefully offer
avenues for additional training in an inclusionary, not exclusionary
way. It is possible to raise the bar without creating barriers to
was general consensus that training on understanding Medicare
regulations, the concept of medical necessity, coding, and
documentation is imperative in order to work ethically with older
adults. An area of disagreement is whether this information should
be taught pre- or post-licensure.
didactic methods open to post licensure professionals include
workshops such as those offered through the Maryland Psychological
Association or University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, courses
offered through hospitals or universities, and web-based or distance
learning opportunities such as courses through the Fielding
Institute or the American Society on Aging. A resource yet to be
developed is a clearinghouse of courses and reading material.
years ago APA’s section on clinical geropsychology (Division 12,
section 2) identified a list of experts interested in consulting
with practitioners on a range of content and professional practice
areas and posted them on the website, www.geropsych.org.
potential outcomes of the conference include a permanent
geropsychology training council, expansion of training programs and
resources at all levels and the development of a self-assessment
the conference Forrest Scogin, Ph.D., (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
addressed the pragmatic side of the recommendations. “Until we
come up with different ways to fund these programs, then our ideas
are just aspirations, not reality.”
the development of the conference was denial of a petition in 2004
by APA’s Commission on the Recognition of Specialties and
Proficiencies in Professional Psychology for recognizing
geropsychology as a specialty area because of the lack of a clear
training model. Funding for the Pikes Peak conference came from the
Retirement Research Foundation and several divisions within APA, as
well as Psychologists in Long Term Care and the Council of
University Directors of Clinical Psychology.
two-hour symposium is scheduled at the APA convention on Friday Aug.
11 describing the Pike’s Peak model.
Paula Hartman-Stein, Ph.D. is a consultant in
private practice in Kent, Ohio and former president of the APA
section on clinical geropsychology. She served on the planning
committee of the Pikes Peak training conference and can be reached
through her website, www.centerforhealthyaging.com.