About the NCPA Colleague Assistance Committee

The Colleague Assistance Committee is charged with developing education, peer consultation, and other resources to facilitate the optimal functioning of psychologists in North Carolina who are members of NCPA.

The purposes of this committee include prevention and amelioration of professional distress and impairment and their consequences among psychologists. These are achieved through the following services, offered to all NCPA Members:

Peer Consultation
The scope of this service includes:

  • Personal well-being issues (ranging from self-care to impairment due to substance use, all as related to providing best practice);
  • Professional stressors as they relate to client/patient work;
  • Management of relationships with colleagues; and
  • Other work setting issues.

Articles and Presentations
Presentations are related to the prevention and amelioration of professional distress. They are offered in the following contexts:

  • To Academic Programs on topics related to Self-Care and Colleague Assistance
  • At NCPA conferences
  • As “stand-alone” workshops

Articles on topics of self-care and psychologist stress/distress/impairment are published on a regular basis in the North Carolina Psychologist.

Self Assessment
Find out how well you are taking care of yourself through our available articles and Healthy Lifestyle Self-Assessment quiz.

Graduate Students
We are committed to helping future psychologists find ways to prevent professional distress and impairment as they progress in their training through promotion and education of self-care strategies and outreach activities. Check out our Healthy Lifestyle Self-Assessment!

Our History

Additional Services
Additional services are offered as the need arises as approved or recommended by the NCPA Board.

What’s a CAC?!?

In the March-April 2006 NCPA newsletter I offered a series of questions psychologists may find useful in evaluating their practices. At the end of the article I mentioned the Colleague Assistance Task Force, a resource for NCPA members.

In July of 2007 the Colleague Assistance Task Force became the Colleague Assistance Committee (CAC) upon approval by the NCPA membership. This enhanced standing reflects, in part, a change in the group’s focus since our inception. It also recognizes our profession’s increased acknowledgment that ours is a risky business and that our ethical imperative is for great self-care. When the Colleague Assistance Task Force was proposed to NCPA in 1999 by Betsy Kimrey, Sam Simono, and Missy Simpson its focus was on offering assistance to psychologists whose work was impaired by substances. The Task Force maintained a telephone “helpline” and was able to offer assistance to psychologists who were concerned about their substance use or abuse. Since 2004 four of us – Missy Simpson, Steve Mullinix, Kris Herfkens, and I – have expanded the scope of our work. Following extensive research into what other state associations offer their members we began to conceive of colleague assistance as proactive as well as reactive. We believe we can be of best service to NCPA members by helping them to establish and enhance their emotional well-being in the face of unavoidable stressors, in hopes of avoiding distress and impairment. A meeting with the NC Psychology Board confirmed our suspicion that for those psychologists who get into trouble, issues had sometimes been apparent as far back as graduate school. How much pain might have been avoided if a resource had been available to these colleagues early in their careers?

CAC’s mission statement reads, in part:

The Colleague Assistance Committee is charged with developing education, peer consultation, and other resources to facilitate the optimal functioning of psychologists in North Carolina. The purpose of this committee includes prevention and amelioration of professional distress and impairment and their consequences among psychologists.

The scope of our concerns includes:

  • Personal well-being issues (ranging from self-care to impairment due to substance use, all as related to providing best practice);
  • Professional stressors as they relate to client/patient work;
  • Management of relationships with colleagues;
  • Other work setting issues.

For the past two years CAC has been offering presentations to undergraduate and graduate programs, workshops at conferences, articles in this newsletter, and a Peer Consultation Service.

…and how do I use it?

Here are some examples of situations in which the CAC’s Peer Consultation Service could be consulted:

A psychologist has been working with a patient for only a couple of weeks. The patient has a history of abandonment, starting at the age of six when his mother dropped him with a babysitter and left town, putting him into the foster care system for many years. After the second session, the patient has a job transfer to a different branch of his company and is now administrative assistant to the psychologist’s wife.

A psychologist is obtaining medical treatment at a local hospital which is expanding into small, rural communities around its hub. One of her clients is a physician who is a specialist in one of those towns, and often brings concerns about the pressure of increasing competition by the local hospital. At some point the psychologist realizes that her physician was the competitor trying to drive her client out of business.

A psychologist is seeing a client who is a trial attorney. He has strong issues of trust regarding women, and has just begun to form a bond with her. He is working specifically on feeling entitled to succeed in life. At some point she realizes his current case is a lawsuit that could cost her husband his job if he wins.

In each of the above scenarios the psychologist will experience stress and possibly distress. The Peer Consultation Service can help by providing supportive listening and suggestions for personal self-care; recommendations that the caller seek additional consultation (perhaps with an attorney, a specialist, or supervisor) when appropriate; and encouragement and resources so that the caller can set up a peer consultation team for him/herself.