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Defining Practitioner Competencies Required for Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

The basis for workforce development is to develop practitioner competencies in co-occurring disorder treatment. Some states have found that it is helpful to define basic, intermediate, and advanced competencies.

A workgroup can be created to tackle this task. Workgroup representation may include service agency administrators, practitioners, individuals with co-occurring disorders and other key stakeholders. A workgroup can be charged with developing guidelines and/or competency checklists. Available competency lists for co-occurring disorders can be used as a reference for beginning the process. Examples include:

The purpose of a competency checklist is to provide a tool for clinical supervision that determines the proficiency of practitioners who provide integrated services. The competency checklist provides guidance for assessing performance.

Defined competencies can be incorporated into:

  • Existing job descriptions
  • Training plans
  • Supervision meetings
  • Personnel evaluation
  • Credentialing and licensure

The goal is for all practitioners to attain basic competencies to serve individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Set an expectation that all practitioners can provide basic services such as conducting integrated screening for co-occurring disorders and providing coordinated care.

Intermediate and advance competencies include skills for providing evidence-based interventions and knowledge of psychotropic medications. Clearly defining competencies and practitioner roles creates a common language and a common framework for collaborative work when working across systems.

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