Board Certification in Clinical Psychology

Dr. Zelig is board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology in both Clinical Psychology and Forensic Psychology.  What is the significance of achieving board certification in these areas?


The following is copied verbatim from a brochure published by the American Academy of Clinical Psychology:

In psychology, just as in medicine, Board Certification indicates an advanced level of competence. Whether you need a family medicine doctor or an oncologist, you want to be sure that you get the best services that you can get, so you look to see whether your doctor is Board Certified. It is the same with your Clinical Psychologist. Whether you need general help or a specialist, Board Certification gives you the assurance of getting  competent help. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) was established in 1947 as a credentialing organization for psychology practitioners. The American Board of Clinical Psychology is the examining board within ABPP that certifies competence in the specialty of Clinical Psychology. Board Certified Clinical Psychologists are tested to be at a higher level of competence than other licensed psychologists.


• The Board Certified Clinical Psychologist has been examined in assessment, psychotherapy, and professional ethics by a committee of nationally respected peers and has been awarded Board Certified status.

• The Board Certified Clinical Psychologist has become a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology.

• The Board Certified Clinical Psychologist has achieved one of the highest recognitions of achievement afforded by the specialty and the profession.

• By successfully completing the rigorous, postdoctoral examination process and by becoming Board Certified and a Fellow in the Academy, the Board Certified Clinical Psychologist has demonstrated a commitment to continued professional development and learning, to providing you with the best possible care, and to treating you in the most responsible and ethical manner.


There is a three-step process to become Board Certified in Clinical Psychology.

First, the psychologist’s qualifications and credentials are verified by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Next, video recorded samples of actual services are evaluated by a panel of the American Board of Clinical Psychology (ABCP). Finally, a lengthy oral examination ensures that the psychologist is clinically and ethically qualified to provide services at the Board Certified level. With Board certification, the psychologist is eligible to become a Fellow in the American Academy of Clinical Psychology (AACP).


• Completion of an approved graduate or professional school program to earn a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. It usually takes a minimum of five years of graduate study beyond the baccalaureate to achieve a doctorate.
• Completion of an approved one-year internship in Clinical Psychology. This period of full-time supervised practical experience is concentrated on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness, psychological distress, and related behavioral problems.
• Completion of a postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Psychology, or two years of supervised postdoctoral experience.
• Licensure as a psychologist in the State in which the psychologist practices.

What is the significance of board certification in forensic psychology? The following is copied verbatim from a brochure published by the American Board of Forensic Psychology:

Forensic Psychology is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. The word “forensic” comes from the Latin word “forensis,” meaning “of the forum,” where the law courts of ancient Rome were held. Today forensic refers to the application of scientific principles and practices to the adversary process where specially knowledgeable scientists play a role.

The Diplomate in Forensic Psychology

The receipt of the Diploma in Forensic Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) attests to the fact that an established organization of peers has certified the Diplomate as possessing a high level of professional competence and maturity, with the ability to articulate an explicit and coherent rationale for his or her work in forensic psychology.

The ABPP diploma has been recognized by judicial decisions, regulations, and statutes in some jurisdictions as the standard of professional competence in forensic psychology.

The Diploma awarded by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) is the only post-doctoral specialty certification recognized in the American Psychological Association Directory. ABPP has been incorporated since 1947, and ABPP has rigorous standard for the credentials, work review and oral examination of applicants for three hours by a panel of three psychologists who hold the Forensic Diplomate. No candidates are exempt from the examination or “grandfathered.”

The Practice of Forensic Psychology Includes:

•  Psychological evaluation and expert testimony regarding criminal forensic issues such as trial competency, waiver of Miranda rights, criminal responsibility, death penalty mitigation, battered woman syndrome, domestic violence, drug dependence, and sexual disorders
•  Testimony and evaluation regarding civil issues such as personal injury, child custody, employment discrimination, mental disability, product liability, professional malpractice, civil commitment and guardianship
• Assessment, treatment and consultation regarding individuals with a high risk for aggressive behavior in the community, in the workplace, in treatment settings and in correctional facilities
• Research, testimony and consultation on psychological issues impacting on the legal process, such as eyewitness testimony, jury selection, children’s testimony, repressed memories and pretrial publicity
• Specialized treatment service to individuals involved with the legal system
• Consultation to lawmakers about public policy issues with psychological implications
• Consultation and training to law enforcement, criminal justice and correctional systems
• Consultation and training to mental health systems and practitioners on forensic issues
• Analysis of issues related to human performance, product liability and safety
• Court-appointed monitoring of compliance with settlements in class-action suits affecting mental health or criminal justice settings
• Mediation and conflict resolution
• Policy and program development in the psychology-law arena
• Teaching, training and supervision of graduate students, psychology, and psychiatry interns/residents, and law students

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