The Certification & Examination Process

The Application Form is to be completed online (fee of $125) and the applicant is to arrange (as soon as possible) to have the doctoral program transcript sent directly to the ABPP Central Office (CO). The CO will verify the applicant’s statutory license/certification and professional standing (disciplinary actions status).


Please note that the application and related materials serve as the foundational information base to determine Candidacy (eligibility) for the examination. The application and related materials are reviewed by the ABPP Executive Officer for compliance with the generic criteria. Upon meeting the generic criteria, the applicant’s file is sent to the specialty’s reviewer(s) for confirmation of the specialty specific criteria. The ABBCP’s review coordinator sends the candidacy decision to the CO via fax whereupon the CO immediately notifies the applicant/candidate by mail of the decision.






The candidate’s application is reviewed by the credentials coordinator to insure that basic requirements for board certification in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology are met. The applicant is then admitted to candidacy.




The written documents are to be submitted to the practice sample coordinator (the written requirements are described below).




Following approval of the written documents, the Examination Coordinator selects a Chair of a three-member Examination Committee. The Exam Coordinator then consults with the Chair to secure two additional committee members. Examinations often occur at the annual conventions of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the American Psychological Association or at various locations mutually convenient to the candidates and the committee members. Please note: If candidates wish to have their examination occur at the ABCT or APA conventions, they should submit all materials to the Practice Sample Coordinator at least two months before these meetings to insure adequate time to review the materials and schedule the exam.




Upon acceptance as a candidate the exam applicant proceeds to the next stage of review which involved submission of the following required written documents: An updated CV, Professional Statement, and Practice Sample. These documents must be submitted within one year from the letter of candidacy notification. All written documents, including the practice sample, are sent (3 copies of all material, including the 3 audiotapes (or CD/DVD’s) to the ABBCP Practice Sample Reviewer and complete the online Practice Sample Registration (fee of $250). Upon receipt of this registration the written materials review moves forward. The decision regarding acceptance or (minor) modification or rejection of the required written documents is made by the practice sample coordinator, with input from the review committee of three Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology Specialists. The practice written documents review decision is sent by Fax to the CO whereupon the decision is immediately forwarded by letter to the candidate.




The Practice Sample should reflect the current specialty practice of the candidate. The sample should also reflect the competencies characteristic of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology. To provide substantive content for the examination, the candidate must present at least one practice sample of his or her customary practice as a Behavioral and Cognitive psychologist. The sample(s) should consist of a written practice sample of professional interactions (such as a behavioral-cognitive psychology session or supervision of a new behavioral and cognitive psychologist) and must be accompanied by an audiotape or CD/DVD. The sample provides the board and the examining committee with concrete examples of the Candidate’s professional practice as a behavioral and cognitive psychologist and should include evidence of cognitive-behavioral assessment and interventions utilized to effect change.




The candidate will also prepare a Professional Statement by responding to the specific questions below. This statement should detail the candidate’s experience in behavioral and cognitive psychology and include the focus of his or her practice orientation, brief discussion of the theorists/researchers who have influenced his or her thinking and practice, and the candidate’s intentions for future work in behavioral and cognitive psychology.




Please answer all questions in five or fewer double spaced, typewritten pages.


1. Describe the professional work in which you are engaged at this time. Be sure to focus on: your current employment and professional activities at the local, state, and national level; continuing professional education activities; long term plans in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology; and reasons for seeking board certification.


2. Provide evidence for the ways in which you utilize or contribute to the current science base by dressing one of the two following points: (a) Discuss the evidence base that informs your practice, including how you determine if your activities as a Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologist are effective; or (b) describe your own current clinical research activities and how these inform your practice.


3. Discuss your current assessment, intervention, consultation and/or supervision, and teaching/ management activities (the latter only if applicable), as well as both the theoretical and empirical basis for these activities. Include a description of your professional theoretical framework and a discussion of how and which researchers and theorists in the field have influenced you. Address ways that your theoretical model informs your attitude toward individual and cultural diversity considerations, the impact of your model on assessment, intervention, consultation/supervision, and teaching/management activities (the latter only if applicable).


4. Provide specific examples of awareness of individual and cultural diversity as pertinent to your scholarship, assessments, interventions, consultation/supervision, teaching/management (the latter only if applicable), and interpersonal interactions.


5. Describe in one or two paragraphs a challenging ethical dilemma encountered in your work as a Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologist. Address what aspects of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct it related to, and how you handled the dilemma. If applicable, address diversity considerations that arose in resolving this dilemma.


6. Indicate that no ethical or legal action has taken place since your admission to candidacy. Therefore, please submit the following Written Documents:


a. Three (3) copies of a written case conceptualization including relevant history and assessment WITH ALL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION APPROPRIATELY DISGUISED. The candidate must include a sample copy of a consent form that he/she asked the client to sign (the Board does not and should not receive the signed consent that would have identifying information about the client).


b. Three (3) copies of an audiotape (or CD/DVD) of one session of high quality sound.


c. Three (3) copies of the brief Professional Statement.


d. Three (3) copies of an up-to-date recent curriculum vitae.




The Senior Option is intended to recognize the sustained contributions of applicants who have practiced Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology for 15 years or more after licensure as a psychologist. Therefore, the required written documents for the Senior Option should contain the following:


a. Three (3) copies of an updated curriculum vitae.


b. Three (3) copies of your Professional Statement.


c. Three (3) copies of one or more of the following:


i. Publications (articles or books) or professional presentations that have been influential in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge and expertise; or


ii. Description of a clinical research project that has been influential in behavioral and cognitive psychology along with a statement regarding how it have been influential; or


iii. Description of teaching/training/workshop/administrative activities that have been influential in behavioral and cognitive psychology along with a statement regarding how they have been influential.


iv. A traditional practice sample (content as described above) may also be submitted. In preparing the updated CV and Professional Statement, the candidate submitting the Written Documents for the Senior Option should provide and highlight evidence demonstrating his or her sustained and quality professional practice and involvement in behavioral and cognitive psychology over a period of at least 15 years post licensure.






The ABBCP board is responsible for reviewing candidacy material and establishing examination committees. A chairperson and two additional examiners are selected to comprise the three-person examination committee. Examinations are regularly scheduled in conjunction with (immediately before, during, or immediately after) the annual convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (formerly known as the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy). This allows for periodic examinations throughout North America, in a manner that is convenient for attendees of the ABCT convention. Examinations may also be scheduled at other times and locations that are convenient to both candidate and examiners. Upon approval of the Practice Sample the candidate completes the Oral Exam Registration online (with fee of $450.00). This registration initiates scheduling the oral examination with places and date mutually agreed upon by the candidate and the ABBCP.




The ABBCP examination is conducted by a committee of three Board Certified examiners. An attempt will always be made to have at least one examiner represent the candidate's specific area (i.e., Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, or Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Candidates, however, should potentially expect to be examined in areas outside of their own practice of cognitive-behavioral assessment and intervention. Board certification implies certain knowledge in areas outside of one’s own usual practice of psychology.




The ABBCP examination is designed to judge specialty level competence in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology. The examination consists of review of the candidate’s practice sample, an in-vivo interview, general issues in the area of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and professional standards. The exam covers six interrelated areas:


1. Assessment: Whereas it is understood that assessment can take many forms, the committee will look for signs that the assessment is appropriate for the problem(s) presented. Behavioral-cognitive and traditional assessments may be interrelated, if appropriate to the problem. The board recognizes that assessments are often reactive and therapeutic in their own right, which is taken into account during the examination.


2. Constructive Interventions: The committee will look for signs that the intervention(s) selected are appropriate, based on the nature of the problem and/or results of the assessment.


3. Science Base and Application: It is assumed that the behavioral and cognitive psychologist is continually aware of scientific and scholarly developments in order to infuse his or her practice with up-to-date, valid, and reliable data. Part of the examination, therefore, will ascertain whether the Candidate can present and critically discuss issues in contemporary behavioral and cognitive psychology.


4. Consultation and Supervision: This competency area is an important part of many specialists’ practice and when it is, the specialist should be competent in these practice activities.


5. Ethics and Legal Foundations: A behavioral and cognitive psychologist is expected to be aware of (a) ethical principles as adopted by the profession, and (b) the implications of these principles in practice, including the responsibility of practicing within legal guidelines and in the best interests of society and the client/patient.


6. Understanding of, and Sensitivity to, Diversity issues: The candidate is expected to understand the scope and limitations of our knowledge of how behavioral and cognitive principles apply to individuals from diverse backgrounds and life contexts. The influence of race, gender, gender identity, ethnic background, socio-economic background and sexual orientation in case conceptualization and treatment are particularly relevant. The candidate is expected to demonstrate awareness of his or her own privileges and limitations based on these diverse factors.


7. Professional Identification: A board certified psychologist is expected to identify with the profession by appropriate memberships and activities and will be aware of current issues and problems involved in the development of a creative and responsible profession.




The Examination Chair is responsible for coordinating the attendance of an actual client/patient/patient, or a supervisee who will be interviewed by the candidate. If an actual client/patient participates, the candidate is expected to conduct an interview to gather sufficient information to develop a case conceptualization and treatment recommendations to be provided to a referring psychologist (who may also be present for this portion of the exam). It is more frequently the case that the in-vivo examination is in the form of consultation with another mental health professional who will briefly present a case and the candidate will then interview the supervisee in order to gain sufficient understanding to develop a case conceptualization and offer treatment recommendations. The supervisee is not being questioned as to the appropriateness of his or her treatment, but rather the candidate is expected to be providing the supervisee with expert opinion about cognitive and behavioral treatment.




The examination will last approximately 3 ¼ hours at a time and place of mutual convenience of the examiners and candidate. All materials should have been submitted to, and reviewed by, the examiners in advance of the oral examination. The exam format will be approximately as follows:




1. Committee meets and organizes (15)


2. Committee chair greets candidate, introduces other committee members, and describes procedures (10)


3. Review of candidate's professional statement and practice sample (30)


4. In-vivo interview (30)


5. Review of candidate’s in-vivo interview (30)


6. Review of ethical, professional, and legal standards and guidelines (20)


7. Review of current trends and issues in behavioral and cognitive psychology (30)


8. Examination wrap-up discussion, questions, further information candidate wishes to present and Practice Samples returned. (30)


Total: 3 hours, 15 minutes




In nearly all cases the oral examination is the same for candidates who take the senior option. However, when it is clear that senior candidates have demonstrated publicly their clinical expertise (e.g., the candidate has a series of training tapes available in which they conduct treatment), the in-vivo portion of the examination may be waived and questioning would focus on the candidate’s practice sample and the body of work presented that qualified the candidate for the senior option. The option to waive the in-vivo portion of the examination is conditioned solely on the judgment of the examination committee and is made once all members of the committee have reviewed the practice sample.



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