The mission of the American Board of Professional Psychology is to increase consumer protection through the examination and certification of psychologists who demonstrate competence in approved specialty areas in professional psychology.
ABPP serves the public need by providing oversight certifying psychologists competent to deliver high quality services in various specialty areas of psychology. Board certification (awarding of a Diploma in a specialty) assures the public that specialists designated by the ABPP have successfully completed the educational, training, and experience requirements of the specialty, including an examination designed to assess the competencies required to provide quality services in that specialty.
The American Board of Professional Psychology was incorporated in 1947 with the support of the American Psychological Association. The ABPP is a unitary governing body of separately incorporated specialty examining boards which assures the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of specialty standards and examinations by its member boards. Through it's Central Office, a wide range of administrative support services are provided to ABPP Boards, Board Certified Specialists, and the public.
Specialty is a defined area in the practice of psychology that connotes special competency acquired through an organized sequence of formal education, training, and experience. In order to qualify as a specialty affiliated with the ABPP, a specialty must be represented by an examining board which is stable, national in scope, and reflects the current development of the specialty. A specialty board is accepted for affiliation following an intensive self-study and a favorable review by the ABPP affirming that the standards for affiliation have been met. These standards include a thorough description of the area of practice and the pattern of competencies required therein as well as requirements for education, training, experience, research bases of the specialty, practice guidelines, and a demonstrated capacity to examine candidates for the specialty on a national level.
Subspecialty is an identifiable area of practice that requires special educational, training, and/or professional experiences. A subspecialty may involve specific (1) problems, (2) populations, and/or (3) methods. A subspecialty is a concentrated area of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that is a focus within at least one existing specialty area. ABPP has not yet approved any subspecialties for recognition. The process for establishing recognition of a subspecialty is described in the document The Subspecialty Application Process.
Specialist in a Subspecialty: The specialist in a subspecialty demonstrates competence through focused knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the subspecialty. To qualify as a subspecialist, the psychologist must be certified by a specialty board of the American Board of Professional Psychology and devote a significant portion of time to the subspecialty.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs): Special interest groups may be self-defined by board certified psychologists who share mutual interest in problems, populations, or methods within an existing specialty or across several existing specialties. Membership in a special interest group shall not imply special competency, merely interest. Any formal mechanisms for meeting or communication should be proposed to at least one specialty board, and receive the board’s support. SIG’s may be formed within an existing SB to discern the need for development of a subspecialty.