Health service psychology education and training in the time of COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities

Debora J. Bell*, Mariella M. Self, Claytie Davis, Francine Conway, Jason J. Washburn, Franci Crepeau-Hobson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to health service psychology (HSP) education and training but also presents tremendous opportunities for growth that will persist well past the resolution of this public health crisis. The present article addresses three aims in understanding the challenges and opportunities faced by the HSP education and training community. First, it describes challenges to HSP education and training created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need to maintain the integrity of training; facilitate trainee progress; continue clinical service delivery; manage the safety and wellbeing of trainees, faculty, staff, and clients/patients; and adhere to national and local emergency orders. Second, the article summarizes guidance from training organization leadership regarding training program and clinical site responses to these challenges. Several principle-based recommendations called upon training programs to prioritize trainees and their training needs, while urging balance and flexibility in meeting the multiple demands of training programs, institutions, and the public. Third, the article discusses key opportunities for improvement in HSP education and training, including more effective use of competency evaluations; distance technologies in therapy, supervision, and admissions; and reconsideration of internship and degree timing and HSP's identity as a health care profession; and the potential for comprehensive review and redesign of HSP education and training. Embracing these opportunities may help ensure that HSP education and training is preparing its graduates to meet the psychological health care needs of the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-932
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Education and training
  • Health service psychology
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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