Clinical Psychology

The American Board of Clinical Psychology (ABCP) is a member board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). The ABPP oversees and authorizes the credentialing activities of thirteen specialty boards. The ABCP is responsible for establishing criteria related to the definition and requirements for education, training, competencies, and the examination, which leads to Board Certification in Clinical Psychology. The ABCP is governed by a Board of Directors who are certified in Clinical Psychology and are representative of the specialty on a national basis.


The Board, in association with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), is responsible for conducting Board examinations in the specialty of Clinical Psychology, mentoring and training examiners, and awarding the Diploma in Clinical Psychology. Board Certification by ABCP, is intended to certify that the successful candidate has completed the educational, training and experience requirements of the specialty, including an examination designed to assess the competencies required to provide quality services in the specialty of Clinical Psychology. The primary objective of the ABCP Board Certification process is to recognize, certify, and promote competence in the specialty.



Clinical Psychology is both a general practice and a health service provider specialty in professional psychology. Clinical Psychologists provide professional services for the diagnosis, assessment, evaluation, treatment and prevention of psychological, emotional, psychophysiological and behavioral disorders across the lifespan. These services include procedures for understanding, predicting, and alleviating intellectual, emotional, physical, and psychological distress, social and behavioral maladjustment, and mental illness, as well as other forms of discomfort. In addition, clinical psychology includes services for the enhancement of functioning in all of these areas. Clinical psychologists may provide services directly or support and facilitate the provision of services through supervision, teaching, management, administration, advocacy and similar roles.

Individual and cultural diversity recognizes the broad scope of factors such as race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, class status, education, religion/spiritual orientation, and other cultural dimensions.1In this Manual, the terms “multicultural” and “individual and cultural diversity” are used interchangeably. It is expected that Clinical Psychologists demonstrate sensitivity to and skills in working with culturally diverse populations.


1American Psychological Association (2002).Guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. American Psychologist, 58 (5) 377-402.



The ABCP examination process encompasses the inter-related competency domains required by the specialty of Clinical Psychology. The American Psychological Association and the American Board of Professional Psychology have adopted an educational and training matrix based on a theoretical Foundational and Functional competencies, which can be applied to any theoretical framework. ABCP Candidates should be familiar with the competency model as referenced by these organizations.

A successful Candidate demonstrates knowledge, skills, competencies, attitudes/values within each of the domains and the experience necessary to provide specialty level services in the practice of Clinical Psychology.





A successful Candidate demonstrates sensitivity to the welfare, rights, and dignity of others and an ability to relate to individuals, groups and communities in ways that enhance the effectiveness of services provided. Successful Candidates must be aware of their own impact on others and maintain effective relationships with a wide-range of clients, recipients of service, colleagues, and the public.

Behavioral anchors include effective negotiation of conflictual relationships, demonstration of understanding of diverse views in complicated interactions, a non-defensive posture in the receipt, evaluation and implementation of feedback from others, and effective and clear communication in both verbal and written interactions.



A successful Candidate demonstrates knowledge, sensitivity and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities representative of all aspects of individual and cultural diversity (e.g., ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability status, and special populations). A successful Candidate articulates how interactions between and among individuals and communities are shaped by diversity variables.

Behavioral anchors include awareness of his/her own individual and cultural diversity characteristics as these influence his/her functioning across competency domains and interpersonal interactions, pursuit of consultation when unsure about diversity issues with others, and selection/utilization of culturally appropriate skills and techniques in clinical practice.



A successful Candidate is aware of: (1) current ethical principles and practice standards of the APA; (2) current statutory and regulatory provisions applicable to professional practice; and (3) implications of these principles to protect clients/patients, the profession, and society.

Behavioral anchors include the utilization of an ethical decision making model, routine ethical practice, identification of ethical dilemmas versus routine ethical practice, pro-active management of complex ethical and legal issues, and application of ethical concepts in all professional activities, including research, teaching, intervention, supervision, consultation, public and/or popular presentation of psychological issues and other professional activities.



A successful Candidate demonstrates professional values, attitudes and behaviors that represent integrity, personal responsibility, and adherence to professional standards.

Behavioral anchors include deportment and accountability, concern for the welfare of others, and identification as a clinical psychologist who is knowledgeable regarding issues that are integral to the profession. The Candidate pursues continuing professional education commensurate with licensure requirements and professional development in the specialty of Clinical Psychology, seeks consultation and supervision when necessary, and demonstrates professionalism and awareness of professional standards in the presentation of the written Practice Sample submission (e.g., appropriate use of APA format, attention to editing demands, etc.).



A successful Candidate engages in ongoing self-reflection and in routine assessment of professional practice outcomes. A successful candidate practices with personal and professional self-awareness, practices within the boundaries of professional and clinical competencies, demonstrates evidence of continued development based on self-reflection and self-assessment, and engages in appropriate self-care.

Behavioral anchors include ongoing self-assessment of one’s strengths, weaknesses, and competency in practice, recognizing when new or improved competencies are required for effective practice, and anticipating and self-identifying disruptions in functioning and intervening at an early stage.



A successful Candidate is aware of and conversant with scientific and scholarly developments in Psychology and applies them in professional practice. A successful Candidate demonstrates an understanding of and ability to critically discuss research methodology and findings and scientifically derived constructs that inform his/her clinical practice.

Behavioral anchors include demonstration of an advanced level of understanding of the scientific explanations of the basis of human behavior and behavioral change, habitual inquiry from current scholarly literature regarding the efficacy of clinical work, and application of scientific knowledge to clinical work through the utilization of evidence based practice.



A successful Candidate demonstrates awareness of relevant issues and constructs within related disciplines and organizations. A successful Candidate possesses an understanding of key interactions with other agencies, settings, disciplines, and professionals.

Behavioral anchors include demonstration of skill in interdisciplinary collaboration and team planning, effective communication across professions and organizations, and respectful appreciation and integration of the contributions and perspectives of other professions.


A successful Candidate demonstrates the capacity to integrate current research literature into clinical practice, research/evaluation, and other functional competency domains where applicable. Behavioral anchors include demonstration of the ability to independently apply knowledge of evidence-based practice, including empirical bases of assessment, intervention, and other psychological applications, clinical expertise, and client/patient preferences.





A successful Candidate demonstrates case conceptualization and diagnostic assessment that is grounded in science-based theory, research and practice. The Candidate conducts assessments that may range from the administration and interpretation of standardized tests to behavioral observations and clinical interviews. Assessment cases may be from any developmental level across the lifespan. In some forms of professional practice, assessment and intervention are integral parts of the same process.

Behavioral anchors include demonstration of in-depth understanding of issues related to the following: choice of assessment methods/ approaches used to address diagnostic issues and/or case formulation; consistency with the Candidate’s theoretical foundation and evidence-base proposed as guiding the assessment work; the value of standardized assessment; an understanding of the construct being assessed; the basic psychometric constructs; and the utilization of appropriate normative data. Attention is paid to relationships, individual and cultural diversity, ethics and legal foundations, and professional identification as related to assessment. Behavioral anchors also include the Candidate’s ability to convey in written reports and articulate verbally the diagnostic, assessment and conceptualization limitations.



A successful Candidate demonstrates knowledge of evidence-based practice and the scientific and theoretical basis of intervention. A successful Candidate performs interventions that take the form of an evidence-based modality of psychotherapy or environmental modification, appropriate to the understanding of the issues. Intervention cases may be from any developmental level across the lifespan.

Behavioral anchors include, but are not limited to, demonstration of in-depth understanding of issues related to the choice of therapeutic or environmental interventions; articulation of how assessment informs the intervention selection; awareness of the evidence-based literature regarding the role of the therapeutic relationship, demonstration of effective delivery of the selected intervention; and demonstration of evaluation of treatment progress and outcome. Attention is paid to relationships, individual and cultural diversity, ethics and legal foundations, and professional identification as related to intervention.



A successful Candidate demonstrates knowledge of the literature and science base relevant to specific consultative methods and processes. A successful Candidate demonstrates the ability to serve as a consultant and communicate and apply his/her knowledge in consultation with others, such as other professionals who provide psychological services, health care professionals from other disciplines, educational personnel, individuals in other institutions and settings, such as social service agencies, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, industry, and legal systems and public policy makers.

Behavioral anchors include the ability to differentiate consultation from clinical and supervisory roles, demonstration of appropriate selection and application of assessment tools, provision of accurate written and verbal feedback to all applicable consultees, and recommendation of appropriate interventions informed by findings. Attention is paid to relationships, individual and cultural diversity, ethics and legal foundations, and professional identification as related to consultation.



This competency domain will only be addressed for those Candidates who engage in research and/or evaluation. Each of these domains can be scored independently for individuals who engage in one activity, but not the other. A successful Candidate engages in research designed to systematically improve the knowledge base of the profession and/or engages in professional practice that evaluates the effectiveness of programs and activities. If applicable, attention is paid to the Candidate’s own scholarly contributions as they inform the practice of clinical psychology.

Behavioral anchors may include engagement in scholarly research using appropriate methods and statistical procedures which demonstrate essential knowledge of the components of the scientific method. Behavioral anchors may alternatively focus on the analysis of practice and/or program effectiveness.



This competency domain will only be addressed for those Candidates who engage in supervision. Specialists who engage in supervision demonstrate the ability to communicate and apply knowledge of the purpose, roles, and procedures in the practice of supervision.

Behavioral anchors include the articulation of a model of supervision that takes into account the level of professional development of the supervisee, implementation of processes for establishing and maintaining ethical supervisory relationships, and demonstration of the impact of self in supervision. Behavioral anchors include demonstration of an understanding of complex dimensions of diversity, an awareness of relevant legal and institutional policies, and professional standards and guidelines relevant to supervision.



This competency domain will only be addressed for those Candidates who engage in teaching. A successful Candidate demonstrates the capacity to effectively provide instruction to others based on the most current research related to the subject matter and to the method of instruction.

Behavioral anchors include the integration of the most current research and literature specific to the subject matter, the implementation of current and specific teaching methods that take into consideration complex dimensions of diversity, the evaluation of teaching effectiveness and the ability to modify material and strategy based on feedback.



This competency domain will only be addressed for those Candidates who engage in management/administration. A successful Candidate engages in effective management and administrative activities of organizations, programs, and/or agencies.

Behavioral anchors include demonstration of leadership that ensures appropriate organizational assessment with measurable outcomes, development and implementation of written policies and procedures, effective communication at all levels in the system, attention to state or provincial guidelines for compliance with mental health statutes, and implementation of effective personnel hiring and management strategies.



This competency domain will only be addressed for those Candidates who engage in Systemic Advocacy designed to impact policy, law, and public reform activities .The successful Candidate engages in activities that publically promote change at the level of institutions, communities or society. Clinical psychologists engage in activities that advocate for or empower the individual recipients of the services they provide.

Behavioral anchors include development of strategic alliances for the purpose of effecting change, organizing diverse affiliates (including institutions and agencies) for the purpose of a common cause, development and implementation of action plans for targeted change or progress toward a social, political, economic or cultural goal and evaluation of the effectiveness of those action plans.


For more information about the American Board of Clinical Psychology, or to apply for board certification, click here.

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