To Be or Not to Be Board Certified? A Question of Quality and Identification for Psychologists

William N. Robiner, Thyra A. Fossum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Achieving board certification in psychology is an important step in a psychologist's professional development. Board certification serves as a quality indicator for consumers, employers, and other stakeholders while providing enhanced opportunities for psychologists who complete the peer-review process that leads to it. This commentary provides an update on trends in board certification in psychology and explores the roles and benefits of board certification as well as barriers to pursuing board certification. Board certification is an important issue to consider because more mental and physical healthcare clinicians and researchers are now embracing the biopsychosocial model. Board certification could well help with maximizing reimbursement or clinical opportunities, as well as produce a greater understanding of the biobehavioral underpinnings of comorbid mental and physical disorders. Specialist data from the American Board of Professional Psychology and membership data from the American Psychological Association were reviewed across specialty areas. The work was archival and involved no human subjects, and therefore, this study was exempt from review by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Minnesota. There are currently 4,198 board certifications across the 15 boards of the American Board of Professional Psychology. These represent a relatively small proportion (less than 4%) of U.S. licensed psychologists. The numbers correlate positively with membership levels in corresponding APA divisions. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 25.8% increase in the number of board-certified psychologists. Board certification appears to be undergoing a period of rapid growth among psychologists. This trend appears to reflect multiple factors, including an increased number of boards representing expanding areas of specialization in the field, a growing interest in board certification as part of increasing quality emphasis within healthcare, and psychologists' desire to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace. Board certification in diverse areas, including clinical health psychology, affords various professionally and personally rewarding linkages and opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12066
JournalJournal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017

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© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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