Canadian professional standard for counselling and psychotherapy entry-to-practice competency assessment: a mixed methods exploration of the national development process
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Unlicensed, non-credentialed counsellors pose a substantial risk for harm to those seeking counselling in Canada. Professional associations and legislative bodies in Canada are seeking protection of the public through certification and regulation processes that require evidence of professional competence. I examine and discuss the development process for and reliability and validity measures of a prototype for a Canadian standard entry-to-practice counselling competency assessment. Unique to this study is a focus on process orientation. Using a mixed methods approach, I observe and document the steps used by a pan-Canadian test development team to create a prototype for a valid, reliable, credible, and fair national assessment of counselling competency at the entry-to-practice level. Beginning with the formation of a national competency profile that delineates a scope of practice for the counselling profession, I move through the assessment creation process from conceptual foundations and rationale to assessment blueprint, item writing, beta testing, and strategic checks for validation and reliability. The culmination of this study is a replicable process for the creation of fair, valid, and reliable test instruments for the counselling profession in Canada.