Core Competencies for Behavioral Health Providers Working in Primary Care

The Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine assembled stakeholders from across Colorado to reach consensus on the core competencies for licensed behavioral health providers working in primary care. The process involved a review of published competencies, two online surveys to solicit feedback and revisions, and a day-long meeting to arrive at a set of eight competencies. The competencies are written to apply broadly across a continuum of care from prevention to illness, across the lifespan, across generations, across a biopsychosocial continuum, to be person-centered and culturally sensitive, and to support highly integrated practices with onsite behavioral health providers as members of the primary care team.

The eight competencies are listed below. More details and practical examples are included in the full competencies document (PDF - 859.29 KB) .

  1. Identify and assess behavioral health needs as part of a primary care team.
  2. Engage and activate patients in their care.
  3. Work as a primary care team member to create and implement care plans that address behavioral health factors.
  4. Help observe and improve care team function and relationships.
  5. Communicate effectively with other providers, staff, and patients.
  6. Provide efficient and effective care delivery that meets the needs of the population of the primary care setting.
  7. Provide culturally responsive, whole-person and family-oriented care.
  8. Understand, value, and adapt to the diverse professional cultures of an integrated care team.

Dr. Benjamin Miller led the project while NIAC members Dr. Alexander Blount served as consultant for behavioral health competencies and training and Dr. C.J. Peek served as consultant to facilitate the consensus process and help synthesize resulting content.

The final product, funded by five Colorado foundations and supported by the Colorado State Innovation Model leadership, can be useful to providers, educators, foundations, and payers. The final set of competencies (PDF - 859.29 KB) is now available on the Farley Health Policy Center website. 


Posted March 2016