Introducing the new stage 2 standards for occupational psychology

The DOP Professional and Educational Qualifications (PEQ) Strategy Group is pleased to announce that the revised stage 2 standards for occupational psychology were officially approved by the Membership Standards Board in October this year.

Background and introduction

As many readers may be aware, the BPS Qualifications Team and the Strategy Group conducted three consultation exercises (in 2014, 2015 and 2016) inviting key stakeholders to share their views on proposed revisions to the stage 2 standards for occupational psychology (NB these standards are the general principles that underpin all future qualifications to inform the content, not the delivery of the qualification or process itself). Now that the standards have been approved, the Occupational Psychology Qualifications Board (OPQB) and the BPS Qualifications Team will begin revising the Society’s Qualification in Occupational Psychology (QOP) to reflect the updated standards. There will therefore be future opportunities for consultation on the development of the Society’s QOP (i.e. the process – how a qualification is delivered and assessed).

The final consultation exercise took place this summer and respondents (including trainees, supervisors, assessors, employers and other key stakeholders) were invited to comment on the proposed standards, which essentially comprise 4 overarching and broad statements that represent the OP profession and underpin what should be expected of autonomous, competent and expert occupational psychology practitioners. Feedback was largely positive and, following some amendments to language and focus, the final standards were presented to the Society’s Partnership and Accreditation Committee (PAC) followed by the Membership Standards Board (MSB). The standards were officially approved in October 2016.

The new standards

The new stage 2 standards are designed to address many of the concerns that key stakeholders had raised in the past e.g. a need for improved clarity and reduced complexity, greater flexibility without compromising on quality, a greater focus on the unique selling points for OP, and driving education providers to develop processes within their qualifications that are more formative and supportive rather than punitive. The new standards also provide a better link to the stage 1 curriculum, they place stronger emphasis on ethical and reflective practice, one of our key unique selling points, and the consultancy cycle has been retained as an underpinning framework for applied practice.

  • Standard 1: competent practice across the five core areas of occupational psychology
  • Standard 2: ethical, reflective and legal practice
  • Standard 3: taking an evidence-based approach
  • Standard 4: trainees need to demonstrate progression of competence to work through the consultancy cycle in a variety of organisational contexts demonstrating evidence-based, reflective and increasingly autonomous practice at each point of the cycle

A brief update article on the revised stage 2 standards can be found in the December 2016 (issue no. 32) publication of OP Matters. The full standards can be accessed through the Society’s standards for the accreditation of Masters’ and Doctoral programmes in occupational psychology. Almuth McDowall, Chair of the DOP PEQ Strategy Group, also presented an update at DOP 2017.

Final steps

As stated above, work is now underway to review the QOP and seek re-accreditation with the HCPC in light of changes to the stage 2 standards. Other education providers may also decide to design a qualification based on these standards. In the meantime, trainees can continue to enroll on the 2012 route. Even if they have completed the new Stage 1 (MSc), which consists of five areas, they will be able to write entries that fit into the eight areas format of the 2012 route. There will be a clear timescale for when the Society’s Qualification stops recruiting onto the 2012 route and starts recruiting to the new one.