EPPP2: Honing in on Assessment and Intervention

In March 2016, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) announced the plan to develop a second portion to the EPPP in order to assess the practical competency of Psychology candidates. Originally planned to be a mandatory aspect of the EPPP starting in January 2020 for all candidates, in October 2018, the ASPPB rescinded the decision and gave the state boards the opportunity to determine whether they would adopt the updated exam or maintain the current version of the EPPP. States that determine to adopt the updated exam format will start implementation beginning January 2020.

In order to help you understand what exactly will be included in the updated version of the EPPP, also known as the EPPP2, we want to look at each content area focused on the exam and breakdown what it entails.  This month, we are looking at the Assessment and Intervention component of the EPPP2.

The second major domain of the EPPP2 (The Enhanced EPPP) is the set of “Assessment and Intervention” domain of competencies. To better approach this domain, let’s explore what is meant by assessments and interventions. Assessment here refers to the implementation and review of psychological assessments, including: norm-referenced tests, clinical interviews, observations, and informal assessments. Interventions, on the other hand, have a wide range of modalities and forms that they can take. Working from your own particular treatment modality, you could encounter any range of therapeutic interventions from a mood log to a skills-development group. Therapeutic interventions are simply the effort made by both members of the therapeutic dyad to improve the well-being of the client. 

Under the broad domain of Assessment and Intervention, the EPPP2 will assess a range of competencies. These competencies rely not only on the aspiring psychologists’ knowledge of psychological assessments, psychometrics, and other psychological examinations as well as the range of psychological intervention services that can be provided within the scope of licensure.

The first competency that will be assessed by this domain diversity factors as they apply in assessment and diagnosis. The test-taker will be expected to employ knowledge that they are given about a client’s background, demographic infomration, and other cultural factors when interpreting assessment results and formulating diagnoses. Additionally, you will have to use your knowledge of certain populations to select appropriate assessments, standards, and normed data to best serve diverse populations. Finally, you will need to be able to speak to the limitations of certain assessments and how they may not be accurate representations of different populations. Although they are referring largely to norm-referenced assessments, diversity-based questions will also be applied to informal assessments and observations portions of assessment as well. In sum, the budding psychologist will be expected to ensure that their professional opinions and recommendations are directly reflective of the individual’s considerations on a myriad of levels.

The second competency is to demonstrate effective interviewing skills. Interviewing skills here refer to clinical interviewing skills, rather than job interview or other professional interviewing skills. Specifically, the clinician will be expected to consider contextual information and cues in order to effectively communicate with the client in a therapeutic way. As you may remember, this is one of the four major components of psychological assessment. Again, the EPPP2 will be including considerations based on diversity factors, especially the clinician’s ability to adapt questions and interview styles to best address the interviewee. The EPPP2 will also be assessing one’s ability to be flexible and empathic to the client. As I’m sure you already know, there is no cut-and-dried way to approach every single client. This portion of the exam attempts to broach that, but specifically with respect to your clinical interviewing flexibility empathy. Overall, this competency relies heavily on your clinical intuition and your integration of contextual factors and information to be a flexible, empathic, and effective clinician. For this portion you may want to brush up on some of your less-used interview techniques.

The third competency assessed by this domain is the ability to administer and score the instruments according to the current published guidelines and research. It is unclear if you will need to score an assessment protocol during the exam, but you will definitely be required to interpret the scores given to you based on the proper guidelines and cultural considerations. You will also likely be required to communicate these results to the examiner in a way that could be understood by a lay audience. The takeaway for this competency is your ability to administer and score psychological assessments with respect to the proper norms and guidelines.

Next, your competency to interpret and synthesize information from multiple sources will be assessed. This is to say that you will be presented with information from several different sources, including assessments, clinical data, collateral sources of information, written documentation, etc., about a singular client. From this information, you will be asked to integrate all of this information into your clinical picture of the client. This picture will include the client’s strengths and weaknesses, what limitations may be present in the data, for what else you may wish to assess, explaining differences or discrepancies between data points, and ultimately create an overarching hypothesis about the client. This hypothesis, naturally, should include cultural and diversity factors.

The logical next step is to assess your ability to develop and communicate such diagnoses and hypotheses to other professionals. Since our field is so often interdisciplinary, we will likely need to communicate diagnoses and recommendations to other professionals within psychology as well as others that may not be as fluent in professional-psychology-speak. These diagnoses and recommendations should be based on current taxonomies, as well as involve the appropriate contextual and cultural factors.

Based on these diagnoses, the ASPPB also would like to determine your competency in selecting the appropriate interventions for clients. As we mentioned before, there are innumerable intervention options for your clients. Within this competency, AATBS wants to see if you will be able to select proper interventions for your clients when given enough background information. Furthermore, you may be expected to assimilate information from research and literature for this particular situation. You will also be required to integrate client or other interested parties’ opinions and preferences, as well as the client’s stage of change.

Finally, you will be assessed on your competency to apply and modify these interventions as you are presented with relevant research and continued assessment of the client. These intervention modifications could also be based on the individual differences of the client, the situation, or any other unaccounted-for environmental factor. Modifying certain interventions can be a major step in clinical practice, and as such you will be required to provide evidence-based rationale for all of these choices and any recommendations or opinions that would be provided for the client. In order to ensure best practices for our clients and the preservation of excellent service in the field, such evidence is necessary. Within this competency, you will also be assessed on your ability and readiness to consult with qualified colleagues or peers when you must act in an unfamiliar situation.

In sum, this domain is the second largest, and will focus entirely on the proper intervention tactics and appropriate assessment methods and interpretations. This domain will encompass ethical and diversity concerns, as most other portions of this exam will as well. Generally speaking, this will be how you will prove your competency in assessment and therapeutic interventions at the point of licensure. Make sure to keep checking back with our blog for more in-depth investigations of the other major domains assessed by the EPPP2!