Board Certification (Diplomate) in Behavioral Psychology

By Dowd, E. Thomas | The Behavior Analyst Today, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Board Certification (Diplomate) in Behavioral Psychology


Dowd, E. Thomas, The Behavior Analyst Today


This article describes the American Board of Behavioral Psychology (ABBP) and how it can assist you in maximizing your potential as a behaviorally-oriented professional psychologist. The mission of the board is to grant board certification in Behavioral Psychology to qualified behavioral psychologists after a competency-based examination. As a board certified psychologist (Diplomate), you will be on a par with board certified physicians and other similar professionals. Furthermore, possession of the diploma makes it easier for psychologists to be licensed in many other states. Some managed care companies increasingly look for the possession of credentials such as board certification and other employers recognize such specialty credentialing as well. In some employment settings, increased pay schedules may be possible for board certified psychologists. Finally, possession of the diploma informs the professional community that the holder is a recognized specialist in behavioral psychology as demonstrated through a competency-based examination presented by peers. Because of this competency-based assessment, a diploma from ABBP is recognized as the "gold standard" of professional practice in this specialty.

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In order to provide behaviorally-oriented psychologists with the opportunity to demonstrate their specialty competencies, the American Board of Behavioral Psychology was formed in 1987 and incorporated shortly thereafter. After an initial phase of negotiation with and monitoring by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), ABBP was incorporated into ABPP as a specialty member board in 1992. ABPP has been certifying psychological specialists since 1948. I was the first Behavioral Psychology representative to ABPP's Board of Trustees, serving from 1993 through 1996. Dick Suinn, former AABT President and Past President of APA, was the Behavioral Psychology representative from 1997 through 2000. Christine Nezu began her term this year as the third Behavioral Psychology representative.

The General Eligibility Criteria for the Diplomate in Behavioral Psychology are as follows:

1. Psychologists must be of good moral character, scientific integrity, and professional standing. Their conduct must be in accordance with the prevailing ethical principles of the American Psychological Association or the Canadian Psychological Association, as appropriate to the location of their practice.

2. An earned doctorate in psychology is required that is APA accredited or met equivalent standards at the time the degree was awarded.

3. State or regional licensure or certification at the level of independent practice is required in the state in which the psychologist practices.

4. Three years of experience in one or more aspects of behavioral psychology; one of which may be pre-doctoral, as well as appropriate supervision in behavioral psychology is required. The board recognizes that not all of a candidate's experience may be in behavioral psychology.

5. Membership and participation in professional organizations which have identifiable purposes that are congruent with those of ABBP.

The process of acquiring board certification in Behavioral Psychology consists of three phases. In Phase One (Application Phase), the candidate obtains the ABBP application packet from the ABPP Central Office, completes it, and submits it with copies of the following documents:

* Current psychology license

* Current curriculum vita

* Official school transcripts

* Supervisor rating forms from two former supervisors

* Colleague rating forms from two or three current or past colleagues/peers

* Candidates who are members of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Professional Psychology are presumed to have met the General Eligibility Criteria.

In Phase Two (Work Sample Phase), candidates are invited to submit four copies of at least one work sample of his/her typical practice as a behavioral psychologist. …

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