A Message From the President
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The Value of Board Certification       
            Similar to other professions (e.g., medicine, education), the practice of professional psychology has become complex. There are now many specialty areas of expertise required for the wide range of professional services we provide. The most responsible way for a psychologist to represent herself/himself as a specialist to the public, third-party payers, legislative jurisdictions, and the profession, is to be certified through an organized peer process. ABPP has been awarding such certification in psychology specialties for over 60 years. Moreover, as the national umbrella organization for its 13 specialty boards, the ABPP Board of Trustees has been diligent in the development of standards, policies, examination procedures, and ongoing self-study to insure the quality of its certification process. As a result, ABPP has distinguished itself as a high quality professional certification that inspires public and professional confidence.        
            In addition to board certification providing peer and public recognition of demonstrated specialty competence, there are additional professional advantages to being board certified. One advantage is mobility. There are now many jurisdictions that recognize ABPP as a credential that can significantly ease the path to licensure when moving to a new location.  As such, it is becoming a valuable source for practice mobility, with additional jurisdictions getting involved each year. Finally, board certification through ABPP provides the professional with increased opportunities for career growth, including employability and financial compensation. For example, there is increasing recognition of the importance of the ABPP credential by health system employers such as the Mayo Clinic, and organizations, such as the U. S. Public Health Service, the U. S. Department of Defense, and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Consistent with the broad range of specialty practice areas in professional psychology, increasing numbers of psychologists will be seeking board certification as a final important and necessary step in demonstrating their professional competence to both peers and the pubic. 
            The ABPP board certification process takes several months to finish and involves several stages of candidacy. As such, it can be viewed as daunting to both the emerging and seasoned specialist, as it involves multiple steps to complete, including general credentialing in professional psychology, documentation of specialty training, submission of professional practice samples, and demonstration of competency in relevant assessment and treatment areas through a live, face-to-face peer examination. As such, our certified specialists are often eager to mentor, nurture and encourage their colleagues to apply and to share their own experiences, including the value they received through the credentialing process.
            In order to make this process more inviting and user-friendly, we will be publishing our “first-ever” ABPP book this year entitled Becoming Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), co-edited by myself, and past presidents Drs. Al Finch and Norma Simon, and published by Oxford University Press. Many of our prominent board-certified specialists from various specialties contributed voluntarily to the project. We anticipate its release by the APA 2009 convention and also plan to make it available on a “bookstore” section of our new web page. The book will be dedicated to Dr. Russ Bent, the previous Executive Director of ABPP, who passed away last August.
            We are actively planning or implementing many new initiatives, as a function of our recent Board of Trustees meeting. For example, we developed an action plan for marketing, recruitment, and continuing education, including the initial plans for an ABPP-wide conference in 2010. We also developed an action plan and timeline for disseminating our early application procedures, developed guidelines for procedures for considerations of subspecialties, reviewed and made recommendations concerning the functions and relations between academies and boards, and wrestled with possible models to adopt that would allow academies and boards to structure their activities in ways that best fit with their specialty. I appointed a new task force to focus on ways to support our candidates from the military and develop policies that are respectful of any possible limitations or considerations related to the requirements of active duty.
            Also at last month’s meeting, we approved a change of status from a diversity task force to a standing committee. This was done in order to better guide us concerning how to achieve our potential for organizational leadership in diversity and multiculturalism. We will participate as both sponsors and presenters at the January 2009 National Multicultural Conference and Summit. 
            Finally, our Board of Trustees considered ways in which ABPP can adapt to future changes in the professional psychology landscape and remain fiscally responsible as we continue to support all of our 13 specialties and consider applications from emerging specialties.
            We have established a strong presence in the profession with many different liaison organizations. Our reputation for self-study and continued improvement is growing among these liaison partners including the Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and the Department of Veteran Affairs.        
            Our organization is striving to grow in number, increase our accessibility and customer service to board certified professionals, potential candidates, and the people and institutions that seek our professional consultation and services.  As always, we are always eager to learn of new ideas and suggestions regarding actualization of these goals. In this regard, please know that I am eager to hear from you.  I wish to extend my best wishes for a Happy New Year and anticipate an exciting year ahead for ABPP in 2009.


Executive Officer Report - Winter 2008/2009
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Inter-organizational Efforts

I have continued involvement with a number of committees and organizations within the field of professional psychology: Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology (COS), Committee for the Advancement of Professional Psychology (CAPP), Board of Professional Affairs (BPA), Board of Educational Affairs (BEA), the Association of State and Professional Psychology Boards (ASPPB), Psychology Executive Roundtable (PER), Trilateral (now merged with PER), Council of Credentialing Organizations in Professional Psychology (CCOPP), National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) and others. Although the American Psychological Association Task Force on Taxonomy was not budgeted for 2008 (in APA) that group did hold a teleconference and make recommendations to CRSPPP, the group that will be continuing work in that area within APA.


ABPP and ASPPB continue to have a very strong working relationship as Organizations.  This past year the formal institution of the ABPP and ASPPB reciprocal discount program occurred (it had been verbally agreed to in 2007). Psychologists who have a CPQ will be granted a $100 discount on the usual $125 ABPP application fee. Psychologists who have ABPP will be granted a $100 discount on the usual $200 fee for CPQ.

Maintenance of Certification

ABPP has begun initial discussions and exploration of maintenance of certification (MOC) issues. While there is not an expectation that any implementation will be conducted in the very near future, it is something that our profession, and therefore ABPP, needs to be considering given current trends in health care.

Florida Legislative and Rules Update

My column in the Summer 2008 The Specialist referenced so me of the proceedings regarding the Florida Board of Psychology (BOP) board certification issues. Of note is that on November 14, 2008 The State of Florida Administrative Weekly published notice that: “The Board proposes to review the existing language in this rule to determine whether changes are necessary.” This is expected to be taken up at the January 23, 2009 meeting.  I have had conversations with The Florida Psychological Association, ASPPB and APA, each of whom expressed considerable concern about the current Florida status.

State Affiliate Initiatives

ABPP Specialists in Florida and New York have each taken on initiatives to start, or revive (in the case of Florida), groups of ABPP board certified psychologists with the state.

Early Entry Option

The ABPP Early Entry Program continues to be a welcome addition to our boards. Several institutions, including professional school and university programs, have agreed to sponsor their students in this fashion. This program appears to be serving us, and early career psychologists quite well. In 2007, we had 24 Early Entry applications; through October 2008 we had 133 Early Entry Applications. As well, we are already seeing many of the EE applicants convert to candidacy!

As an aside – in 2007 we had 220 applications total (including EE apps); through October 2008 we had 320. All of you recruiters are doing a great job! Thanks!

Periodic Comprehensive Review Update

This year we completed the Periodic Comprehensive Review (PCR) of the American Board of Couples & Family Psychology (ABCFP) and the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP).  At this point, the following boards have undergone review: Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Couples & Family, and Forensic. The Cognitive & Behavioral board and Psychoanalysis in Psychology board will be reviewed in 2009.

Recognition with the Department of Veterans Affairs & the United States Military

Most of you know that the Department of Veterans Affairs has explicitly and exclusively recognized ABPP as the only psychology board certification organization eligible for salary grade increases.

Signed into law in October was a bill that allows for an accession bonus (“signing bonus”) of up to $400,000 for ABPP board-certified psychologists who enlist in the military.  No, that is not a typo – the law permits up to $100,000 per year over a 4 year period!

I had the honor of presenting to roughly 20 psychologists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this year, as well as to a similar number of Navy psychologists at Navy Day in Boston during APA Convention. The latter presentation was at the invitation of the Admiral over psychologists in the Navy, who wanted to specifically recognize those who had become ABPP board certified and provide encouragement to others.


Updates on Central Office

CO Staff Updates

Nancy McDonald is staying on as an employee full-time and indefinitely. Nancy has been commuting periodically to Chapel Hill, where she stays in a corporate apartment (this costs us less per month than 5 or 6 days in a hotel). She has been staying 1-2 weeks at a time, and works from her home in the Savannah area otherwise. So far this is working very well for all of us and we are happy that she is staying with us!

Lanette Melville has joined our staff as the “keeper of the applications”. Lanette works ½ time and does a fantastic job of processing applications, responding to telephone and email queries and the like. She is very efficient; applications that are complete are often provided to me for review and completed within the same day. On average, completed applications (those for which we have all of the materials required of the applicant to submit) take no longer than 3-5 days to move on the next phase (e.g., Specialty Board review).

CO Tasks

We are also working on the initial phases of implementing the charitable arm of ABPP – the 501(c)( 3). Al Finch is heading this up and we should have it in place shortly. 

Despite costs incurred with the relocation (which we kept as low as possible) we have managed effectively and come in under budget for the year. This was accomplished by consciously managing tasks and personnel, in a fashion that allowed us to thoroughly review the processes whereby applications move through the organization, and then matching the skills of personnel and organizational needs. Nancy and I have had long discussions about these areas, how they have worked (or not) in the past and feel very good about how Central Office is working presently, as well as hopeful regarding future growth of services that Central Office can provide.

We are looking at alternative avenues for generating revenue that include a “book shop” (ABPP and Oxford University Press do have a book coming out on becoming board certified, from which all royalties will go directly to ABPP), continuing education programs (perhaps through affiliating with existing journals as one means) and others. Your ideas along these lines are welcomed.

Lastly, but by no means least, ABPP has experienced the loss of a number of significant people in the recent past. Most notably, of course, is the loss of Russ Bent, who contributed so much to this organization and professional psychology. In his honor, we are establishing a memorial scholarship program within ABPP. Details of how that will work are being established, but I certainly want us all to be mindful of the invaluable contributions made by Russ and others we have lost recently. Their leadership and personalities are missed greatly.

David R. Cox, Ph.D., ABPP
Executive Officer