Board Certification in Forensic Psychology - What Is It and Why Does it Matter?


In this article, we’re going to go over some of the most important things to know about board certification, what the requirements for obtaining certification are, what benefits certification provides to the professional, and how it differs from a state-issued license.


What Is Board Certification?


You may have heard of the term board-certified psychologist. However, you might be wondering what the title actually means and what it implies. Simply put, board certification represents the process by which a psychologist demonstrates expert knowledge or mastery in their field of expertise through oral, written, and/or practical examination. Being a board-certified psychologist is a significant achievement that not all doctors have. It indicates that the doctor is an expert in their field of specialty, as well as that they meet a higher standard and possess expert knowledge.


What Is the Difference Between Being Licensed and Board Certified?


Every psychologist in the US must be licensed in order to provide clinical or psychological services. After completing the necessary education, licensure examination, internship, and supervised licensure hours, a psychologist must seek licensure in order to begin working.


Whereas having a license is a general requirement for any psychologist, becoming board-certified is specific to one’s specialty choice. This means that there is a different board for each specialty or subspecialty. While being licensed by the state is mandatory, obtaining board certification is a voluntary process, meaning that a professional can choose whether they would like to become board-certified or not. Aside from the previously mentioned requirements, a psychologist will also need to have extensive experience in the field of specialty they intend on getting board-certified in.


Board Certification for Forensic Psychologists


The American Board of Forensic Psychology, also referred to as the Forensic Board or ABFP, is associated with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). It was established in 1978 and is dedicated to protecting consumers who use forensic psychology services. Any professional that becomes certified by the American Board of Forensic Psychology also becomes a member of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology.


The status of a board-certified forensic psychologist is awarded to professionals who complete and satisfy all the requirements for Specialty Board Certification in Forensic Psychology. The requirements for becoming a board-certified forensic psychologist are as follows:


  1. Completion of the ABPP’s credential review process, which establishes that the applicant qualifies and meets the general eligibility requirements

  2. Completion of the ABPP’s specialty-specific credential review process, both written and oral examination, successful submission of practice samples, and vote by the Board to accept the individual as a member

  3. Absence of what is considered by the Board as serious ethical misconduct, unlawful behavior, or anything else that’s incompatible with the high competence standards of the Board

What Are the Benefits of Getting Board-Certified as a Forensic Psychologist?


Being a board-certified forensic psychologist has many benefits. First and foremost, it distinguishes you on the job market, meaning a forensic psychologist that has been certified by the Board will find it easier to get a well-paid job or succeed with their own practice. The certification also indicates expertise in this particular specialty, which sets you apart from other forensic psychologists. Additionally, any professionals who work at the Public Health Service or the Department of Defense get a specialty pay bonus each month.


Having a board certification also facilitates license mobility in most US states, and many hospitals or health insurance companies will ask a doctor about board certification when applying for privileges or applying to be a part of their networks. Of additional importance is the fact that mental health service consumers have been increasingly asking for board-certified professionals. These individuals can use the ABPP online search tool to see which psychologists are or are not board certified.


By getting certified by the Board, a forensic psychologist will have access to online resources for referrals and networking, and they’ll also be able to receive promotion and tenure from some academic medical settings. The American Board of Professional Psychology certification is recognized by judicial statutes and regulations in some jurisdictions as the standard for forensic psychologists in terms of professional competence.


If you want to look up board-certified forensic psychologists by the state of licensure and their area of focus, you can do so by clicking on this link.


Conclusion


In summary, a license is the minimum requirement a professional must have in order to be able to practice psychology in the United States, regardless of their specialty or subspecialty. However, professionals can choose to become board-certified by the appropriate Board in order to gain the distinctive title of specialist.


This specialty-specific and rigorous process consists of numerous examinations, both written and oral, and the professional must have all necessary requirements in order to be able to apply for board certification. Of course, this lengthy and complicated process comes with great rewards, including having the title of a board-certified psychologist, being distinguished from others on the job market, and even gaining access to special resources.


For more information on board certification in forensic psychology, please do not hesitate to contact us at Benjamin.Silber@Psychological-Evaluations.com.


References


About Board Certification. (n.d.). Certification Matters. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.certificationmatters.org/about/


Certification Benefits. (n.d.). American Board of Professional Psychology. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://abpp.org/Applicant-Information/Benefits-of-Board-Certification.aspx


The Difference Between Licensure and Board Certification. (n.d.). American Board of Physician Specialties. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.abpsus.org/licensure-board-certification/


Forensic Psychology. (n.d.). American Board of Professional Psychology. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://abpp.org/Applicant-Information/Specialty-Boards/Forensic-Psychology.aspx


The American Board of Forensic Psychology, Inc. (2021, May 2). Overview and Introduction to ABFP. American Board of Professional Psychology. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://abpp.org/BlankSite/media/Forensic-Psychology-Documents/ABFP-Overview-Intro-to-ABFP-2-5-2021.pdf


Authored by:

Nina M Benjamin Silber


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