Perspectives: The ABPP and the Specialty Academies
The American Board of Professional Psychology came into being in 1947
with three core specialties. School Psychology was added in 1968 and several
more Specialty Boards (SBs) became affiliated in the 1980’s and
1990’s. By the early 1990’s, the BOT as a governance body
with a regional structure was becoming unwieldy. A process of restructuring
took place which resulted in the establishment of a national in scope
SB for each ABPP specialty, eliminating the multiple specialty regional
board structure. Each specialty has an elected Trustee which contributes
to the Board of Trustees as the overall governance group of the ABPP.
The role and function of the SBs and the Central Office were clarified.
Each Specialty Board assumes the responsibility for developing and carrying
out the ABPP Specialty examinations. The Central Office continues to function
in areas of generic candidacy verification, record keeping, development
and maintenance of an ABPP Directory, development and currency of the
ABPP Web site, monitoring the organization relative to ethical/legal issues,
and general administrative support.
There were, however, a number of activities not believed to be in the
purview of the BOT, Central Office, or the Specialty Boards. Some of these
include a number of membership services, continuing education, mentoring,
candidate recruitment, and advocacy. To meet these needs, the reorganization
effort of the early 1990’s called for the establishment of an Academy
for each Specialty. Each Academy would serve as a membership organization
for the specialty and fulfill a number of the needs which were not appropriate
for the BOT, Specialty Boards, or Central Office. Since the reorganization
effort began, Academies have been gradually established across the specialty
spectrum. At present, almost all specialties have active Academies which
vary relative to organization, structure, governance, activities, and
In 1994, the Council of Presidents of Psychology Specialty Academies
(CPPSA) was formed, as a means of coordinating the efforts of the various
Specialty Academies and as a vehicle for the Academies to speak with a
unified voice on matters of mutual interest. All specialties have an Academy
and representation on the CPPSA.
While the overall reorganization effort has been successfully achieved,
there have been some inevitable issues and clarifications in need of resolution,
as the four bodies developed in a somewhat autonomous fashion with the
BOT, Specialty Boards, and Central Office part of the unitary ABPP corporation,
and the Academies and CPPSA independent as organizational bodies independent
of the ABPP. In the last several years there has been a deepening awareness
that the four groups need to cooperate and collaborate in the best interest
of practitioners across all specialties. At a joint meeting of the BOT
and CPPSA (reported in 1998), interorganizational roles and relationships
The early, initial distant relationship between ABPP and the Academies
has been replaced with an evolving close, mutually helpful relationship
with the goal of close communication and coordination of roles for the
benefit of the public and specialization.
What follows are several tables clarifying the structure and function
of the Academies, BOT, SBs, and CO.
A. BOT and CPPSA: The structure and general function of the Academies,
BOT, SBs, and CO.
Trustees proposed by each Specialty Board and appointed
by the BOT.
Officers and Executive Committee
National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
Council of Presidents of Psychology Specialty Academies
Mission Statement (Purposes)
To serve the public and the profession by certifying that
psychologists in various specialty areas of psychology have
completed the educational, training, and experience requirements
of a specialty, including an examination designed to assess
the competencies required to provide quality services in the
specialty, and who maintain high ethical standards.
To function as a unitary organization of affiliated, incorporated
specialty boards through a Board of Trustees which includes
representation from its Member Boards and the public
To establish and monitor standards of specialty board certification
in psychology and through its affiliated specialty boards
support the development, validation, and administration of
qualifications and examinations leading to certification in
a specialty area recognized by the Corporation.
To maintain a central registry for the public dissemination
of information about the board certification status of all
those psychologists certified by Member Boards.
To establish relationships with the public and the profession,
particularly organizations which identify psychologists with
board certified credentials as providers of service.
To assist in improving the quality of research, education,
and training in specialties of professional psychology, including
those approving programs for specialty.
To conduct information and education programs designed to
make information about the specialty certification process
and the status of its board certified psychologists available
to the public and the profession.
Presidents of each Specialty Academy
Mission Statement: To act cooperatively on issues that affect
different psychology specialties, such as Educational and Health
Care Reform. The rationale for CPPSA existence is that ABPP, as
an examining and credentialing body cannot be involved in political
action. Because of this, Academies independent of ABPP were created.
CPPSA gives each Academy the strength in numbers and unity in
matters that concern several or all specialties. CPPSA was created
because of the urgent need to present a solid, professional front
to the public and to the U.S. Congress, since ABPP provides the
acceptable indicator of board certification in a psychology specialty.
Bylaws (currently being drafted)
Sample of Activities:
Provide technical assistance to Academies at various stages
of organizational development.
Participate with other interorganizational groups in the
process of seamless credentialing for psychologists throughout
Meet the needs of various Academies as these arise so long
as these are consistent with the mission of the Council.
Respond and advocate for both individual Diplomates as well
as Academies on matters which are relevant to the organization
as a whole, or challenge the viability of any single group.
Improve inter-academy communication and provide networking
opportunities for executive officers and committee chairs
across all academies.
B. Structure and Range of Functions of Specialty Boards and
Select or appoint SB Directors as agreed by Academy/SB.
Plans, organizes, and implements, with support of CO, effective
and fair examinations and credential review.
Relates to profession, applicant pool, the Academy and its
board certified specialists.
Demonstrates a commitment to excellence through self-study
and its relationship to the ABPP Standards Committee.
Board certified members (Fellows)
Select or appoint SB Directors as agreed by Academy/SB.
Functions as a membership body for each specialty area.
Provides BOT and SB feedback from a broader board certified
specialist base and the public.
Provide leadership in the recruitment of candidates and
the value of board certification.
Present programs of continuing education.
Identifies potential, eligible examiners for the SB.
Serves as liaison with professional groups.
Provide advocacy with professional, service systems, and
Chief Executive Officer
Consultants (legal, computer, other)
Day to day support of the ABPP by providing information to the profession, public and the organization.
Keeps relevant records of Diplomas issued, official minutes, and financial transactions.
Coordinates financial matters with the Treasurer.
Keeps minutes, policies, and procedures, and coordinates correspondence.
Represents the organization as appropriate.
Verify common generic requirements for all applicants and coordinates the examination process.
Acts on behalf of the corporation as directed.
Most generally, provides Executive Officer and administrative support for the ABPP organization, including a coordinating function with the Academies.