Frameworks, Principles, & Definitions

CAP defines competence as a multidimensional construct that is generally considered to be comprised of knowledge, skill, judgement, and diligence. Competence is determined by the entrance to practice requirements and then maintained through participation in CAP's Continuing Competence Program (CCP). 

CAP’s CCP has three main purposes:

  1. Meet the Health Professions Act (HPA) Section 50(1) requirement regarding continuing competence for regulated health professionals.
  2. Contribute to public protection by ensuring the public receives safe, ethical, and competent professional services.
  3. Elevate the profession’s reputation by promoting the pursuit of excellence in professional practice. 

Throughout this section, "HPA" refers to the Health Professions Act. The HPA can be accessed from the Alberta King's Printer website.

Throughout this section, "CCP" refers to CAP's Continuing Competence Program.

Throughout this section "psychologists" refers to psychologists and provisional psychologists.

CAP Regulatory Frameworks


Standards of Practice (College of Alberta Psychologists)

CAP's Standards of Practice contains a section with standards especially relevant to competence, including information about limits on practice, adding new areas of practice, maintaining competence, and more. In particular, under Maintaining Competence, the CCP is standardized as a requirement for CAP members. For further information on the CCP as it is outlined in the Standards of Practice, see section 4.


Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (Canadian Psychological Association)

The Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists also contains principles relevant to continuing competence, particularly regarding each of the four competence areas and the Indigenous-focused training component:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) graphic Professional Knowledge & Skills (Area 1)

Keep up to date with a broad range of relevant knowledge, research methods, techniques, and technologies, and their impact on individuals and groups (e.g., couples, families, organizations, communities, and peoples), through the reading of relevant literature, peer consultation, and continuing education activities, so that their practice, teaching, supervision, and research activities will benefit and not harm others. (II.9)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) graphic Ethics & Jurisprudence Knowledge & Practice (Area 2)

Familiarize themselves with their discipline’s rules and regulations, and abide by them, unless abiding by them would be seriously detrimental to the moral rights or welfare of others as demonstrated in the Principles of Respect for the Dignity of Persons and Peoples, or Responsible Caring. (III.33)

Familiarize themselves with and take into account their discipline’s guidelines and best practices for their area(s) of activity and demonstrate commitment to maintaining the standards of their discipline. (III.34)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) graphic Professional Engagement (Area 3)

Participate in and contribute to formative and continuing education and to the professional and scientific growth of self, students, trainees, colleagues, collaborators, and the members of other disciplines as appropriate. (IV.4)

Help develop, promote, and participate in accountability processes and procedures related to their work, including but not limited to: continuous improvement activities; program or sector accreditation activities; and registration with appropriate licensing and credentialing bodies. (IV.9)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) graphic Wellness (Area 4)

Engage in self-care activities that help to avoid conditions (e.g., burnout, addictions) that could result in impaired judgement and interfere with their ability to benefit and not harm others. (III.12)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) graphic Indigenous-Focused Training

Be sufficiently sensitive to and knowledgeable about individual and group characteristics, culture, and vulnerabilities to discern what will benefit and not harm the individuals and groups (e.g., couples, families, organizations, communities, peoples) involved in their activities. (II.14)

Acquire an adequate knowledge of the culture, social structure, history, customs, and laws or policies of organizations, communities, and peoples before beginning any major work there, obtaining guidance from appropriate members of the organization, community, or people as needed. (IV.15)

If their work is related to societal issues, be especially careful to keep well informed of social, cultural, historical, economic, institutional, legal, and political context issues through relevant reading, peer consultation, and continuing education. (IV.21)

Foundational CCP Design Principles

CAP's CCP was shaped by the following principles:


As a regulated health professional, a psychologist bears the ultimate responsibility for maintaining and demonstrating competence (as guided by the CAP Standards of Practice, CPA Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, and CAP Practice Guidelines for Psychologists).

Lifelong Continuous Learning

Self-reflection, self-assessment, and evaluation are intrinsic to a psychologist’s role in quality assurance and professional self-care. There is also a need to keep abreast of evolving fields of knowledge as the discipline of psychology moves forward.

Competence requires continuous maintenance over the course of a career. Psychologists are to adapt to ongoing changes in the field and the evolution of knowledge and skills as applied to practice.


There are many appropriate ways to maintain competence. The range of activities selected will vary according to individual preferences, identified needs, timing, availability, and context. Other life experiences may also contribute to professional competence. It is important that any continuing competence program be easy to follow, understand, and be economical for members.


The CCP is designed to be easily completed with real-world applications appropriate to a psychologist’s professional tasks and roles. A straightforward and easy-to-use interface that is mobile-friendly will make completing the CCP easy and economical.


Competence Definition

CAP defines competence as a multidimensional construct that is generally considered to be comprised of four major components: knowledge, skill, judgement, and diligence.


Knowledge involves absorbing and understanding a body of information sufficient to understand and conceptualize the range of professional issues that we can reasonably expect to encounter. Knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient foundation for competence. In Alberta, basic knowledge is initially demonstrated by completing a graduate degree program in psychology, with a certain set of required courses, and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and the Law and Ethics for Alberta Psychologists examination. Knowledge can be understood as covering a continuum from basic information that all psychologists should know, such as ethics, to specific knowledge necessary for specialized areas of practice, such as neuropsychology.


Skill is the ability to effectively apply knowledge in actual practice. As with knowledge, skill covers a continuum from basic practice skills of listening and interviewing to technical proficiency for specific psychological professional activities such as assessments.


Judgement involves knowing when to apply which skills under what circumstances. It also involves self-reflection regarding how personal and professional values, attitudes, experiences, and social context influence actions, interpretations, choices, and recommendations. Good judgement includes increasing the probability that professional activities will benefit and not harm individuals, families, groups, and communities receiving psychological services.


Diligence involves consistently attending to one’s knowledge, skills, and judgement as they are applied in professional activities and being careful to consider client needs. Diligence involves a willingness to work hard to provide the best service possible for each and every client, honestly evaluating one's skills, and seeking additional training when appropriate. A diligent psychologist seeks out professional standards and guidelines that identify the knowledge, skills, and judgement essential to practice. Being diligent also incorporates self-awareness of any circumstances that might diminish one’s competence.


In summary, the above components are required for achieving the minimum level of performance expected of a psychologist. The knowledge, skills, judgement, and diligence considered basic to being minimally competent are not static. Keeping abreast of new developments in psychology in order to maintain competence is critical. Equally important is that psychologists as people are not static. Knowledge, values, and attitudes also change as a function of aging and life/professional experience. One must continually evaluate how these changes affect our competence.

Psychologists must continually monitor their practice relative to the state of the profession. When developments occur that “raise the bar,” the extent of the gap between current knowledge, skills, judgement, and professional activities must be repeatedly reviewed. It is also necessary to continually self-monitor to assess how changes affect one’s skills and judgement, and take appropriate steps to maintain competence or limit one's practice.

Copyright 2024 by College of Alberta Psychologists


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Registration and Renewal

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Concerns About a Psychologist

This section provides information and resources to address concerns about the conduct of a psychologist. 


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Professional Guidance

CAP communicates with members, providing regulatory information and guidance. Regulated members are welcome to contact CAP for professional guidance related to regulatory information.

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About CAP

Learn more about CAP and its mandated responsibiliites under the Health Professions Act. 

Resources & Regulatory Information

A number of documents govern the regulation of the profession of psychology and documents and resources are developed in order to promote competent and ethical practice and to guide its members. 

Sexual Abuse/Misconduct

Addressing and Preventing Sexual Abuse and Misconduct for Psychologists