address conflicts between trainee beliefs and professional
psychology’s commitment to offering culturally responsive
services to everyone.
The document explains that training programs must
commit to creating a supportive training environment;
ensuring transparency in educational expectations, policies and
procedures; and establishing and maintaining standards for
professional competence to protect the public.
“The working group has worked very hard to create a
statement that welcomes all students and encourages trainers
to work respectfully with all students, helping them learn how
to see clients who are different from them or present difficult
challenges for their belief systems,” says Forrest. “We want
trainers to treat students with sincerely held religious beliefs
with great respect; our job as trainers is to help these students
in a developmental manner to learn how to serve all different
types of clients in a noninjurious, beneficial manner.”
The working group has also developed a flow chart that
guides training programs on the steps they need to take to
prevent and respond to conflicts between trainee beliefs and
program policies. The steps include adopting a policy for
working with clients who have beliefs that differ from trainees’
own, providing informed consent to trainees, integrating
the policy into education and training, and maintaining
consistent and respectful expectations of competence. The
flow chart also offers advice on what to do if a conflict isn’t
resolved. Recommendations include documenting the trainee’s
unwillingness to attain required competencies and consulting
institutional leaders and legal counsel, for example.
Rebecca A. Clay is a writer in Washington, D.C.