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  5. Clinical Neuropsychology Synarchy (CNS)

Clinical Neuropsychology Synarchy (CNS)

APPCN participates in the Clinical Neuropsychology Synarchy (CNS) and endorses its role in facilitating the achievement of goals that are beneficial to the specialty.

The CNS is composed of representatives of the major organizations in clinical neuropsychology. Originally, it was formed to provide a forum in which organizations in clinical neuropsychology could exchange information and seek common ground in specialty matters that were of inter-organizational interest. It was hoped that such an informational exchange would facilitate the coordination of policies among its member organizations to whatever extent is possible and to reduce duplicative efforts and the associated waste of resources. An aspirational goal of the CNS is to obtain full integration of all components of the specialty within professional psychology so as to achieve coherence in standards and policies so that the integrity of the specialty can be maintained and defended. Developing a uniform voice in the specialty will go a long way in being able to address national professional issues. Thus, the formation of the CNS was by design a communal attempt to develop a means for gaining consensus on policy matters of the specialty.

The impetus for development of the CNS was in part based on the recognition of clinical neuropsychology as a specialty by the American Psychological Association (APA) and in part a decree of the Inter-organizational Council for Accreditation of Postdoctoral Programs in Psychology (IOC), an organization composed of all the regulatory bodies in professional psychology in North America and representatives of the specialties. Both of these organizations recognized that, as new specialties developed and were recognized in psychology, a consensus voice of the specialty would be needed to foster standards of education and credentialing. Thus, development of a “synarchy,” which means governance through joint sovereignty, was encouraged for each specialty. While the CNS has served this purpose for clinical neuropsychology, similar synarchies or specialty councils have now been developed in counseling psychology, school psychology, psychoanalysis in psychology, clinical health psychology, and family psychology. The remaining specialties are in the process of forming their specialty councils.

The inaugural meeting of the CNS was held on 9 February 1995. It is composed of two representatives each from American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN), the Association for Doctoral Education in Clinical Neuropsychology (ADECN), the Association for Internship Training in Clinical Neuropsychology (AITCN), the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN), Division 40 of APA (Clinical Neuropsychology), and the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN). The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) also sends an observer to CNS meetings, but does not consider itself a participating member of CNS since it is a scientific (rather than professional) organization and it is not discipline specific in its membership (rather its membership is multidisciplinary). Typically summit meetings of the representatives are held two or three times annually. To date the organization has decided not to develop bylaws, and decision-making has been by consensus.The CNS aims to serve many functions for the specialty of clinical neuropsychology and to represent its interests in professional psychology as a whole. When clinical neuropsychology was first recognized as a specialty in 1996, there was risk of considerable fractionation in the specialty with regard to education and training standards. Recognizing this risk and seeking to establish a consensus in the specialty on education and training, the CNS organized the Houston Conference on Specialty Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology. This conference produced a consensus document on an integrated model of education and training in the specialty that spans doctoral, internship, and postdoctoral programs (the first fully integrated model in any psychological specialty; see Archives of Neuropsychology, 1998, 13, 160-166).

The CNS also has a voice on national efforts to develop accreditation standards for specialties. The CNS sends a representative for clinical neuropsychology to the Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology (CoS). The CoS is composed of representatives of the specialty councils or synarchies within each APA or ABPP recognized specialty. The CoA sends two liaisons to the meetings of the CoS.

The CoS serves as the spokesman for specialization and the collective body of specialty organizations in professional psychology. The CoS certifies specialty education and training standards for use by the APA Committee on Accreditation (CoA). It is developing a centralized forum for practice standards and guidelines. In turn, the CoS sends a representative to the Council of Credentialing Organizations in Professional Psychology (CCOPP). Part of the mission of CCOPP is to coordinate and integrate policies and procedures among the regulatory agencies in North America. The CoS also is recognized by the APA’s Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP) as representing the broad, integrative interests of the specialties. Thus, through CNS representation on the CoS, clinical neuropsychology has a voice in national policies of professional regulation.

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