Self and Peer Assessment [S&PA] makes a very effective contribution to the problem of embracing diversity of practice and attainment in a psycho-practitioner accreditation process. It takes the value base that most psychotherapists, counsellors and facilitator practitioners would support, 'power with' others, and gives it form, discipline and rigor.
Especially, it values and gives form to the junction between the personal, individual knowledge only I can have of my practice, and the political, social need for accountability, i.e. that clients can have confidence in my practice. Not least, S&PA has the capacity to integrate prior life experience and learning, with present interpersonal, emotional and practitioner competence.
I make a prior assumption for this particular S&PA process, that in employing it, you are part of a group that has 'formed'. That is to say there has been thorough exploration of the group's intentions, limitations, and interpersonal and organisational agendas.
Self Assessment Phase
I begin the process by collecting and/or devising my/our criteria for competence for the particular occupation that we're attending to, in this case, our version of psychotherapy/counselling/facilitation.
I exchange/discuss these criteria with the other members of my S&PA group and we agree core criteria that we will all address in our assessment.
If the group is large enough, at this point I ask someone in it to be my 'support person' in this process, and a 'rattle and shake person' for me is appointed by the group.
As the name implies, the 'support person's' role is to point out any omissions or under-statements in the self assessment and to generally help me ensure that the statement fully represents the extent and depth of my competence.
The 'rattle and shake person' looks at the draft assessment, queries, challenges and confronts what is written, and also attempts to bring to light anything relevant that might be being denied, or hidden, or forgotten.
Now I draft my self assessment.
I comprehensively list my specific abilities, skills, competencies, values, orientation. etc.
I may include an ethical statement and any other documents that I give to clients. I include details of training, experience and the client population with whom I claim competence to work. etc. I may include a portfolio of supporting statements from clients, supervisors, employers etc.
I list, so far as I can, my deficiencies, shadow areas, tripwires and any areas of the occupation where I do not regard myself as competent or where I do not intend to work. I say something about how I manage these deficiencies and what I am doing to eliminate/resolve them.
I may also include a text for a parallel 'statement of accreditation' that gathers and summarises the range and components of my practice. A 'statement of accreditation' is a public document conveying the essential ingredients of the self and peer assessment, and thu forming the basis of the contract between me and a client.
I give a copy of my self assessment to the 'rattle'n shake' person and my support person' who read it and discuss it with me. On the basis of these conversations, or feedback, I may amend the self assessment.
The rattle'n shake person prepares a summary of what they have had to say to me and sends it to the other members of my group for the peer assessment phase.
I issue/publish, my self assessment and accreditation statement to the other members of my group, maybe accompanied by a portfolio of supporting statements.
The overall intention of this part of the process is to balance support and valuing with challenge and searching appraisal of competence and relevance.
This process that has been used in Institute for Institute for the Development of Human Potential [IDHP] for facilitator accreditation for twenty years or more. In a very small group, where contact is frequent and deep, it would be possible to dispense with the 'rattle 'n shake' and 'support persons' without compromising the outcome.
Peer Assessment Phase
The peer assessment process has several stages and gains from holding to agreements about time limits on each stage, which, as outlined here, are upper limits. If I submit a statement of accreditation, this is looked separately, as an addendum to the main S&PA process.
The peer assessment phase deals with one person at a time, and you will need to allow about ninety minutes per person. Here is what it looks like on the day:
- Reading time for S&PA participants to re-familiarise themselves with my S&PA text and/or to read the rattle'n shake person's report. 10 mins.
- A time for me to give a verbal introduction and/or add to the self assessment statement. 10 mins.
- Clarification questions to me from the others in the group. 20 mins
- Feedback to me from the group. Someone takes notes on this for me, or I record it. 20 mins
- Conferring time with me absent. 20 mins
- Announcement of the decision which may be in the form of:
accept with reservations.
accept with non-negotiable caveats.
- Feedback from the participant and the group on the process, identify any improvements, alterations etc. that could be incorporated.
- Inform others of the decision.