Meet a Board Certified Psychologist

Sylvia Marotta-Walters, PhD, ABPP

Counseling Psychology


Q. What motivated you to seek board certification?

I first thought of getting board certified in order to facilitate getting licensed in another state. As I investigated the process, it became much more of a professional development experience that helped shape my future as a counseling psychologist. I never did apply for licensure in the other state but the board certification and its opportunity for professional development is still invaluable.

Q. What did you learn about yourself and your practice while doing board certification?


I hadn’t realized until I began creating the practice sample how much of my worldview was congruent with Counseling Psychology’s focus on enhancing healthy development for those with whom we work, regardless of the presence or absence of a mental illness, and on the interweaving of diversity issues through the lifespan in all of my work roles – academic, researcher, practitioner.

Q. What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in Counseling Psychology?


If I were preparing for board certification today, I would focus on the collegial aspect of each step of the process. From the initial credential review, through the practice sample review, and the final oral examination, each step was an opportunity to connect with colleagues who had been through the process. I think when I went through I was most anxious about the oral examination, but while that was challenging, it was also very collegial and the thoroughness with which the exam team worked with the materials I provided made the process interesting as well as challenging.

Q. What have you found most valuable or rewarding about board certification?

I’ve been working with the American Board of Counseling Psychology since shortly after I became board certified. I’ve developed relationships with other counseling psychologists who have roles that are quite different from mine, yet we are all working from that developmental framework I spoke about earlier. Though there are many roles among the colleagues I’ve worked with, we share that commitment to enhancing human development whether we are in a counseling center or an academic role or a private practice. More recently I’ve served on the ABPP Board of Trustees, and have gotten to know and work with colleagues from the other specialties all of whom share a commitment to excellence in providing psychological services and to protecting the public as we serve them.

Mary Ann Covey, PhD, ABPP

Counseling Psychology


Dr. Covey graduated from Texas A&M University and has been working at the Student Counseling Service at Texas A&M University since 1992.  She is a Past President of the Association of Counseling Center Training Agencies (ACCTA), was one of the hosts of The Counseling Psychology Conference in Atlanta, 2014, is currently a Co-chair of APA Programs.  Her areas of interests include training, women’s issues, multicultural counseling, and working with student athletes.

Q. What motivated you to seek board certification?

Dr. Ted Stachowiak had spoked about the value of board certification for many years at our center before I actively engaged in the process.  He did a wonderful job talking about how board certification was important at any stage of one’s career to ensure competence and support the specialization of counseling psychology.

Q. What did you learn about yourself and your practice while doing board certification?

Since I did the Senior Option, it was a chance to slow down and reflect on the course of my career.  It quickly became obvious to me that I have made choices that strongly reflect my counseling psychology values.  I also saw a clear picture of how my world view, impacted my theoretical orientation, which informed my practice.  Lastly, I became aware of how congruent my personal belief system was with my professional practice.

Q. What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in Counseling Psychology?

After you become a candidate, you will submit a Practice Sample (self-study and a case study). After the Practice Sample is approved, you will take the Oral Examination.

The Practice Sample writing process was something that took a lot of reflection and time.  I imagine I could have done it faster, but it wouldn’t have been as meaningful for me.  I would stress to be sure you follow the guidelines the board provides as structure and if you are not clear regarding what competency is being asked, clarify this at the beginning of the process.  The more clarity you can receive prior to writing, the easier the process will be for you.  I found the Oral Examination process respectful, collegial and challenging.  I felt very prepared due to having wonderful mentors on my staff as well as the professionals associated with the APBB process.  I would highly recommend you search for a mentor to help you in this process.

Q. What have you found most valuable or rewarding about board certification?

By far the most valuable and rewarding part of receiving Board Certification was the validation of my own professional competence.  It provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate my commitment for higher standards and excellence.  I felt a great sense of achievement and accomplishment. 


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