The Application of the Community Psychology Practice Competencies for Community Consulting Practice in the U.S

Abstract

This article describes many of the competencies used for consulting with communities in the United States. It includes a description of each competency, how each is used, and tips for developing them. The article begins with a definition of community psychology consulting and how it is different from business or other forms of consulting. The different levels of competence and the interdisciplinary nature of the competencies needed for working in communities are discussed. The article maintains that all community psychology consultants need expertise in foundational competencies such as sociocultural and cross- cultural competence and commitment to improving public welfare and social and racial justice. The extent to which community psychology consultants need expertise in other competencies, such as community program development and management, community and social change, and community research, depends upon the type of consulting practice they will have. There is considerable overlap in competencies required for community psychology practice and those required for social work, public health, public administration, and other fields. Therefore, community psychologists interested in pursuing a career in community consulting might take courses or get additional training in other fields.

Introduction

In 2012, the Society for Community Research and Action’s Task Group on Defining Practice Competencies presented a set of 18 community psychology practice competencies (Dalton & Wolfe, 2012). They described three levels of competence – exposure, experience, and expertise – and suggested that graduate students should at least be exposed to all the competencies during their training. Furthermore, the task group recognized that graduate programs would likely vary as to which competencies they emphasized. In 2015, Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice was published (Scott & Wolfe, 2015). The book describes many of the competencies and their application and provides recommendations for developing them. This article will include information about developing and using competencies commonly employed in community consulting in the United States. We derived the competencies from literature and our own and other community psychology consultants’ (CP consultants) experiences.

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