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Board Certification in Clinical Psychology: Demystifying the ABPP Process


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Title: Board Certification in Clinical Psychology: Demystifying the ABPP Process

Board Certification in Clinical Psychology
Demystifying the ABPP Process
  • M. Victoria Ingram, Psy.D., ABPP
  • President, American Board of Clinical Psychology
  • ABCP Director, Mideast Region and Uniformed
  • ABPP Board of Trustees

  • If your primary care doc said You need to see a
    Cardiologist, would you want to see a Board
    Certified Cardiologist or a Non-Board Certified
  • Answer
  • X Board Certified Cardiologist
  • ____ Non-Board Certified Cardiologist

  • If your primary care doc said You need to see a
    Psychologist, would you want to see a Board
    Certified Psychologist or a Non-Board Certified
  • Answer
  • ? Board Certified Psychologist
  • __?_ Non-Board Certified Psychologist

The General Public
  • Knows that Board Certified is better than
    Non-Board Certified
  • Does not know the difference between
    psychologists and physicians

Hallmarks of a Profession
  • Practitioners provide services perceived by the
    public as valuable and necessary
  • Services are based on a body of knowledge
  • The methods, techniques, and procedures used by
    practitioners derive from the knowledge base
  • Society recognizes the profession through
    legislative action and enactment of licensing or
    certification statutes
  • The profession voluntarily develops
    self-regulatory mechanisms (accreditation of
    training programs, ethical codes, board
    certification of specialists)

The Credentialing Continuum
Professional Certification
  • To certify something as true, accurate, or
    genuine connotes that a standard has been met and
    that evidence exists supporting this conclusion
  • Board certified connotes practitioners with
    documented competence skills in defined areas of
    professional practice
  • This certification is voluntary and presumes that
    basic skills have already been recognized via
    statutory licensing

Examples of Board Certification in Related
  • Medicine has a history of board certification
    dating from the early 20th Century and the
    American Board of Medical Specialties has 24
    affiliated specialty examining boards
  • In 1999, the ABMS reported that 89 of licensed
    physicians were certified in one or more medical
    specialties (compared to less than 5 of
    psychologists in 2007)

Examples of Board Certification in Related
  • The National Board for Certified Counselors
    offers certification in mental health counseling,
    school counseling, and addictions counseling
  • In 1998, Social Work board certification was
    established through the Office of Quality
    Assurance of NASW with certificates in case
    management alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
    school social work and advanced clinical practice

Specialty Certification in Psychology
  • The American Board of Examiners in Professional
    Psychology was established in 1947 with the
    support of the American Psychological Association
  • Three fields of certification were identified
  • Clinical Psychology
  • PersonnelIndustrial Psychology (no longer a
    board but there is Organization and Business)
  • PersonnelEducational Psychology (no longer a
    board but there is School)

Specialty Certification in Psychology
  • In 1968 the name was shortened to the American
    Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), and
    School Psychology was recognized as a fourth
  • In 1984 and 1985, the American Boards of Clinical
    Neuropsychology and Forensic Psychology were
    accepted under an enlarging ABPP umbrella

Specialty Certification in Psychology
  • ABPP expanded rapidly during the 1990s and into
    the 21st Century with the recognition and
    affiliation of a number of different boards

Specialty Certification in Psychology
  • ABPP
  • Exists through its Board of Trustees as a unitary
    governing body coordinating the efforts of 13
    affiliated specialty examining boards
  • Assures the establishment, implementation, and
    maintenance of specialty standards and
    examinations by its member boards
  • Serves the public needs by providing oversight
    certifying psychologists competent to deliver
    high quality services in various specialty areas
    of psychology

13 Recognized Specialties in ABPP, 2010
  • Clinical Child and Adolescent
  • Clinical
  • Clinical Health
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Cognitive and Behavioral
  • Counseling
  • Couples and Family
  • Forensic
  • Group
  • Organization and Business
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Rehabilitation
  • School

Specialty Certification in Psychology
  • A Specialty is a defined area in the practice of
    psychology that connotes specialty competency
    acquired through an organized sequence of formal
    education, training, and experience
  • The practice activities in any specialty seldom
    are exclusive to the specialty and most practice
    activities are shared with the general practice
    of professional psychology
  • The pattern of practice activities, including
    limiting the scope of practice, and focusing upon
    more complex or unique problems or technologies
    is more relevant in defining a specialty together
    with advanced education, training, and experience

Ongoing Growth Development
  • Development of the Subspecialty
  • - Child Neuropsychology
  • - Military Psychology??
  • - Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • - ??
  • YOU
  • Task Force on Special Considerations Regarding
    ABPP Exams for Psychologists in the Military or
    Recently Returned

Vanity Boards, Quasi Certification, and
Separating theWheat from the Chaff
  • All professions suffer from this problem, some
    more than others
  • Psychologys frontier mentality has facilitated
    the phenomenon
  • There are nine principles for identifying
    legitimate and bona fide psychology specialty

Vanity Boards, Quasi Certification, and
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
  • 1. The specialty is represented by an
    independently incorporated examining board that
    has a stable history, is national in scope, and
    reflects the current development of the specialty
  • 2. The specialty examining board is affiliated
    with a multi-board credentialing organization
    that is national in scope and representative of
    the broader profession
  • 3. The examining board has a history of
    association and interaction with recognized
    general and specialty-specific professional
    organizations relevant to the practice of the

Vanity Boards, Quasi Certification, and
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
  • 4. Several psychologists serve on the board who
    are licensed and credentialed in the specialty
    and whose credentials are open to inspection by
    the public
  • 5. Professional peer review permeates all of
    the boards procedures for evaluating applicants
    qualifications (e.g., reviews of applicant
    credentials, evaluation of professional work
    samples, conduct of competency examinations
  • 6. The prerequisite education, training, and
    experience standards necessary for specialty
    practice are defined clearly and implemented

Vanity Boards, Quasi Certification, and
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
  • 7. Candidates are required to submit work
    products and samples of professional practice in
    the specialty that are evaluated by professional
    peers with documented expertise in the specialty
  • 8. All candidates complete written and/or oral
    examinations of substance and credibility that
    are conducted by board certified professional
    peers where competence in the practice of the
    specialty is demonstrated
  • 9. Bona fide specialty examination boards do
    not employ grandparenting procedures that allow
    waiver of examination or work sample evaluations,
    nor do they have histories of repeated extensions
    of grandparenting waivers

  • Board Certification through the American Board of
    Professional Psychology (ABPP) provides peer and
    public recognition of demonstrated competence in
    one of it's thirteen affiliated specialty areas.
    Additionally, Board Certification through ABPP
    provides the professional with increased
    opportunities for career growth, including
    employability, mobility, and financial

Why Get Board Certified in Psychology?
  • Preparing for and participation in the board
    certification process provides people
  • the opportunity to consolidate own learning and
  • the chance to articulate own views and
    perspectives in a more advanced and sophisticated
  • a structure to facilitate self-assessment
  • an important continuing professional education
    opportunity (CE credits actually awarded)
  • more mobility opportunities

Why is Certification Necessary and Essential in
  • The generic nature of psychology licensing in
    North America presumes additional professional
    self-regulation of specialty practice
  • The exponential growth of psychological knowledge
    leaves no alternative but specialization
  • Our work environments impel us to specialize

Why is Certification Necessary and Essential in
  • Our professional context reinforces the need for
  • Protecting the public from charlatans and the
    ill-prepared requires personal and professional
  • Credential is understood by other professionals
    and the public
  • Support the profession

Why Get Board Certified in Psychology?
  • Highest credential for a psychologist and denotes
    an advanced level of competence (knowledge,
    skills, attitudes)
  • Final examination" that gives our students, the
    profession, and the public that extra confidence
    one gets when being referred to as a
    board-certified specialist

American Board of Clinical Psychology (ABCP)
  • Specialty board of ABPP
  • Examination in Clinical Psychology, for Board
    Certification by ABCP certifies that the
    successful candidate has completed the
    educational, training, and experience
    requirements of the specialty, including an
    examination assessing the competencies required
    to provide quality service in clinical psychology

Standards for Award of Board Certification by ABCP
  • ABCP expects that most clinical psychologists
    should qualify for board certification
  • Requirements are reasonable and reachable with a
    modest amount of effort

Eligibility RequirementsDegree (Generic)
  • A doctoral degree from a program in professional
    psychology which at the time the degree was
    granted, was accredited by the APA or the
    Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), OR
  • A doctoral which at the time the degree was
    granted was from a program listed in the
    publication Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting
    Designated Criteria

  • The applicant is credentialed as a health service
    provider in the current Directory of the National
    Register of Health Service Providers in
    Psychology (NRHSPP), or the current Canadian
    Register of Health Service Providers in
    Psychology (CRHSPP), OR
  • The applicant holds a current Certificate of
    Professional Qualifications in Psychology (CPQ)
    from the Association of State and Provincial
  • Boards (ASPPB), OR
  • The applicant holds a doctoral degree in
    psychology and has subsequently been certified as
    completing the requirements of a formal, doctoral
    level, professional program that meets the APA
    accreditation requirements in clinical,
    counseling, or school psychology
    (re-education-often referred to as
  • The applicant qualifies for an individualized
    exception review. Individualized exception
    reviews are available for degrees granted outside
    the U.S. or Canada, doctoral degrees granted
    prior to 1983, or for applicants claiming
    equivalent doctoral degree and program
    requirements. Such exceptions are coordinated
    through the ABPP Executive Office and the
    appropriate specialty board.

Eligibility RequirementsDegree (Clinical
  • In addition to the generic foundation
    requirements delineated above, the Clinical
    Psychology specialty requires completion of an
    organized doctoral education and training program
    in Clinical Psychology, which includes an
    internship. The specialty also requires
    postdoctoral supervised practice and experience
    in the specialty. The specialtys specific
    program requirements are met if
  • The doctoral degree program was in Clinical
    Psychology from a program accredited by the APA
    or CPA.
  • The doctoral degree program qualifies as
    equivalent to an APA or CPA accredited program in
    clinical psychology as determined by the ABCP.
  • The doctoral degree is from a nonprofessional
    program in psychology, with an additional
    certification that the applicant has completed at
    least a two year doctoral level re-education
    program (including an internship) designed to
    meet APA or CPA accreditation requirements in
    Clinical Psychology.
  • The doctoral degree program was in a counseling
    or school psychology program accredited by the
    APA or CPA (see additional experience
    requirements E.2.)

Eligibility RequirementsLicensure (Generic)
  • The Applicant must be licensed or certified as a
    psychologist at the independent practice level by
    the State, Province, or Territory of the U.S. or
    Canada in which the psychologist practices.
  • Exceptions for the above are recognized for (a)
    active duty federal uniformed service
    psychologists when practicing in those roles, or
    (b) organizational and business consulting
    psychologists (I/O) if the specialtys scope of
    practice is excluded from statutory licensure or

Eligibility RequirementsInternship (Clinical
  • A one year full-time or two year half-time
    internship program is required. The internship
    requirement is met if
  • Accredited by the APA or CPA
  • Listed in the Association of Psychology
    Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC)
    Directory for the year the internship was
  • The applicant is listed in the NRHSPP or CRHSPP
    Directory or holds the CPQ

Eligibility RequirementsPostdoctoral Experience
and Supervision (Specialty)
  • The postdoctoral requirements include the
    following for individuals whose degree is from an
    APA or CPA accredited program in Clinical
  • One year of post-doctoral supervision in Clinical
    Psychology in a
  • successfully completed, post-doctoral training
    program in Professional
  • Psychology that is accredited by the APA or CPA
    or from an APPIC
  • member program
  • OR
  • Two years total of postdoctoral experience, one
    of which was supervised (minimum of one hour per
    week of supervision was conducted face-to-face by
    a licensed psychologist)
  • Any variance from this requirement will be
    decided on a case-by-case basis.

Eligibility Requirements Postdoctoral Experience
and Supervision (Specialty)
  • Individuals whose degree is from an APA or CPA
    accredited program in Counseling or School
    Psychology or a Combined Program or have a
    doctoral degree in professional psychology from a
    program listed as a designated doctoral program
    in psychology by ASPPB/NRSPP must
  • have had five years post-doctoral experience as a
    Clinical Psychologist. One of the five years must
    have been supervised by a Clinical Psychologist,
    AND demonstrate self-identification as a Clinical
    Psychologist and an expected continued
    identification with the specialty
  • OR
  • successful completion of an APA or CPA accredited
    or APPIC member postdoctoral residency/fellowship
    program in professional psychology

Eligibility Requirements Senior Psychologist
  • 15 years or more post-doctorate experience (years
    count from the receipt of the license)
  • Complete Professional Statement and Practice
    Sample that discuss contribution to clinical
    psychology (clinical practice, publications,
    teaching, training, clinical research project)
  • Submit additional written products that form the
    basis of an interesting discussion among peers
  • Work samples (as described below) are NOT

Application and Review Process
  • Submit Application Form, application fee, and
    credentials to ABPP Central Office who verify
    credentials (Stage I Credentials Review)
  • ABCP Credentials Review Committee conducts
    evaluation for specialty requirements and may ask
    for additional information
  • Notified of approval
  • Begin preparing practice sample 3 copies of
    which must be received within 12 months of
    credentials acceptance and must be accompanied by
    examination fee

Application and Review ProcessPractice Sample
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Professional Statement (read requirements in the
  • Work samples
  • Each provides the Candidate the
    opportunity to communicate about him/her self as
    a Clinical Psychologist and serves as the basis
    for discussion in the opening portion of the Oral
    Examination. Also is used to evaluate the
    performance in COMPENTENCIES.

Application and Review Process
  • Practice sample is reviewed for completeness and
    then forwarded to Regional Board Member
  • Regional Board Member guided by the Professional
    Statement, selects a Chair and together they
    select 2 committee members and inform the
  • The 3 committee members review the practice
    samples (Practice Sample Stage II). If the
    Practice Sample Stage is passed (2 independent
  • Oral examination is held with same 3 member
    committee (Oral Examination -Stage III)

Application and Review Process
  • Notification of outcome by ABPP Central Office
  • Successful Candidates receive a congratulatory
    letter from ABPP and the President of ABCP
  • ABPP Convocation at APA annual convention

Application and Review Process
  • Notification of outcome by ABPP Central Office
  • Candidates who fail receive a report from the
    Examination Committee that documents the outcome
    and rationale, identifies specific areas of
    weakness and suggestions for improvement, and
    identifies specific areas of strength and

Why do some Fail?
  • Failure rates ABCP vs. other Specialty Boards
  • Recent reasons for failure at Practice Sample
  • 1 reason Not reading and following the current
    exam manual directions sloppy attention to
  • Insufficient material in submission to assess
  • Senior sample
  • Breach of confidentiality/Violation of HIPPA
  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Sending in the signed tape release
  • Oral Exam stage
  • A special note on professional appearance of
    work sample

  • 1) Science Base and Application Provide
    evidence for ways you use or contribute to the
    current science base by either (a) evidence base
    that informs your practice, or (b) own
  • 2) Assessment
  • 3) Intervention
  • 4) Consultation
  • 5) Supervision/Teaching/Management (If

  • 6. Interpersonal Interactions
  • 7. Individual and Cultural Diversity
  • 8. Ethical and Legal Foundations
  • 9. Professional Identification
  • Guidelines for professional statement and
    scoring Form are both in the manual!

Work Sample Videotape Samples
  • 2 taped samples of professional work recorded
    in a continuous, unedited 50 minute run at
    standard 2 hour speed both individuals visible!
  • 3 copies of a single cassette/DVD with both
  • Each sample 50 minutes in length
  • Good audio and video quality is essential
  • Typed verbal transcripts (3 copies) if taping

Work Sample Videotape Samples
  • Choose two of the following four
  • Unrehearsed assessment (1st 50 minutes including
    rapport building, not just administration of
  • Unrehearsed intervention
  • Unrehearsed consultation
  • Unrehearsed supervision or management
  • May not use same client/patient or specific
    setting/context for both samples
  • Each written sample should be 1000-1500 words

Practice Sample Videotape Samples
  • Do not need to provide exemplary work or gold
    standard session, just your usual good work
  • Use work samples that reflect the work you
    actually do
  • Work conducted no more than 6 months prior to

Practice Sample Videotapes
  • Must obtain Client/Patient Consent Forms as part
    of the videotape process
  • Remove all identifiers from all materials!!!

Practice Sample Assessment
  • Contextual statement - Date of contacts,
    descriptive information, presenting problem,
    brief history
  • Rationale for procedures used
  • Copies of raw data, protocols, and computer
    printouts (if applicable)
  • Formulation and discussion of problem
  • Diagnoses
  • Recommendations
  • Discussion of diversity and ethical and legal
  • Self-reflective commentary
  • Copy of report

Practice Sample Intervention
  • Contextual statement - Dates of contacts, session
    , non-identifying description and history,
    presenting problem, course of treatment,
  • Rationale for interventions used and intervention
  • Formulation and discussion of intervention
  • Discussion of diversity and ethical and legal
  • Self-reflective commentary
  • Copy of report (if applicable)

Practice Sample Consultation
  • Contextual statement - Dates of consultation
    contacts, non-identifying description of
    consultation context, purpose and goals of
    consultation, brief history of consultation
  • Rationale for consultation activities used
  • Formulation and discussion of consultation
  • Discussion of diversity and ethical and legal
  • Self-reflective commentary
  • Copy of report (if applicable)

Practice Sample Supervision or Management
  • Contextual statement - Dates of contacts,
    description of context, purpose and goals of
    supervision or management activities, brief
    history of supervision or management activities
  • Rationale for supervision or management
    activities used
  • Formulation and discussion of supervision or
    management activities
  • Discussion of diversity and ethical and legal
  • Self-reflective commentary
  • Copy of report (if applicable)

Oral Examination
  • 3 hours scheduled at mutually convenient time and
    place (recently less convenient)
  • Standard structure with some flexibility
  • Significant variations in format and schedule
    must be mutually agreed upon between Candidate
    and Chair and documented in a signed written
    statement stipulating that these will not serve
    as grounds for appeal of failed examination

Oral Examination Summary Schedule
Team Meets Organizes Team Greets Candidate Examination on Curriculum Vitae, Professional Statement (science base and application, assessment, intervention, consultation, supervision/teaching/management the latter if applicable) and Practice Sample associated with the aforementioned competency domains Break Examination on interpersonal interactions, individual and cultural diversity, ethics and legal foundations, and professional identification (includes 10 minutes to review ethical vignettes) Exam wrap-up and Discussion Committee Votes, Completes Forms, Writes Report 10 10 90 10 45 5 10-25
Ethics Vignettes
  • Standardized vignettes are selected at random
  • Given 1 (sometimes 2) standardized vignette to
  • Do not necessarily expect right answer, but a
    presentation of relevant options and a
    demonstration of the ability to thoughtfully
    weigh them in light of APA ethics principles,
    professional practice standards, relevant
  • Vignettes are treated as confidential and

Where From Here
  • Download the Examination Manual from the website
  • Get a mentor I can facilitate this process
  • Form a study group
  • Read the Monitor and the American Psychologist
    and more!

  • Total 825.00
  • Application fee - 125.00
  • Practice examination fee - 250.00
  • Oral examination fee - 450.00
  • For individuals who have an ABPP in another
    specialty, the 125.00 application fee is waived
  • Early entry program!

Scholarship - 2011

  • ABPP (required)
  • 165 regular
  • 35 - retired
  • American Academy of Clinical Psychology
  • Year 1 - 100
  • Subsequent Years - 75

Current Board Certification Pay
  • The monthly rates payable are
  • Less than 10 years of creditable service166.66
  • 10 but less than 12 years of creditable
  • 12 but less than 14 years of creditable
  • 14 but less than 18 years of creditable
  • 18 or more years of creditable service416.66

  • Contact Victoria Ingram, Psy.D., ABPP
    ( with questions
  • Good luck and enjoy the process!!!