APA Observation Standards

American Psychological Association Implementing Regulations related to Standards of Accreditation

C-14 D. Direct Observation (Commission on Accreditation, November 2015)

This Implementing Regulation is intended to clarify the expectations of CoA with regard to “direct observation” as described in doctoral Standards of Accreditation (SOA) as follows:

Standard II.B.3.d

“As part of a program’s ongoing commitment to ensuring the quality of their graduates, each practicum evaluation must be based in part on direct observation (either live or electronically).”

Definitions and Guidelines:

Direct observation provides essential information regarding trainees’ development of competencies, as well as the quality of the services provided, that cannot be obtained through other methods. This allows supervisors to provide a more accurate assessment and evaluation of observable aspects of trainees’ competency development regarding one or more profession-wide and program-specific competencies associated with that training experience.

Direct observation includes in-person observation (e.g., in room or one-way mirror observation of client contact an intake or test feedback session), live video streaming, or video recording. Programs may utilize audio recording, but audio recording alone is not sufficient to meet the requirements of direct observation. In the rare event or special circumstances where audio recording is the only feasible method of meeting this requirement, the program must explain any the unique circumstances (e.g., supervisor with visual impairment) and why direct observation as defined above is not possible, as well as how the observation being performed is consistent with the spirit of this IR.

To these ends, all accredited programs must verify that direct observation is conducted by the immediate supervisor responsible for the activity or experience being evaluated.

As indicated in the SoA (Standard II.B.3.d), a doctoral program must utilize direct observation as part of practicum evaluation. Each separately evaluated practicum is considered a unique or separate training experience and thus requires direct observation as part of the evaluation process.

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards Supervision Guidelines

(Click the phrase above to open a tab for the 59 page pdf of the 2015 guidelines.)