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The Certification & Exam Process


Examination for Board Certification is designed to ensure that the candidate demonstrates specialty level competence in the specialty of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.  Specialty level standing is conceptualized as discriminately higher than the basic level of competence certified by state licensure, but within the reach of most experienced practitioners of professional psychology.  Board Certification is achieved by successful completion of an oral examination conducted by three or more members of an examination committee comprised of Board Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologists.  Candidates should expect the examination to cover core Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology content as well as their own area of practice.  Sensitivity to and knowledge of ethical, professional and legal issues and the ability to translate this awareness effectively into practice is also expected.


Stages of the Examination Process

Stage I    

Credentials Review:  The Board of Trustees of the ABPP sets and verifies minimum generic standards for candidacy.  The Board of Directors of ABCCAP sets and verifies minimum specialty standards for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.   If the candidate is found to meet both generic and specialty standards, Stage I is passed.


Stage II 

Practice Sample Review:  The Candidate’s three member Examination Committee reviews Practice Samples for substantive adequacy.  If they find that the sample is adequate for the oral examination, Stage II is passed.


Stage III 

Oral Examination: Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the same committee of three members who approves the Practice Sample conducts the Oral Examination.  The Oral Examination emphasizes the Candidate’s Practice Sample and awareness of current issues in professional psychology, professional experience, awareness of scientific basis of clinical child practice, clinical judgment, awareness of diversity issues and sensitivity to ethical, professional, and legal standards of practice.  Exams are routinely held at meetings sponsored by APA Division 53 (e.g., The National Conference on Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology; The Miami/Niagara Conference), APA Division 54 (The National Conference in Pediatric Psychology), and other national meetings (e.g., ABCT, APA).  Additionally, groups of examiners are geographically distributed throughout the country to minimize travel for candidates for examinations occurring at times other than those noted above.  The board is happy to work with you to schedule an exam at a convenient time and location, but please note that travel may be necessary for the oral exam.

Click HERE to view a helpful flowchart of the certification process.

Domains of Competency

Domains of Competency


The examination encompasses the following inter-related domains of professional competency.

Foundational Competencies (Required for All Candidates)

  • Relationships

  • Individual/cultural diversity

  • Ethical/legal standards

  • Professionalism

  • Reflective practice

  • Scientific knowledge/methods

  • Interdisciplinary systems

  • Evidence-based practice


Functional Competencies (Required for All Candidates)

  • Assessment

  • Intervention

  • Consultation


Additional Functional Competencies (Only Assessed if Candidate Practices in this Area)

  • Research/evaluation

  • Supervision

  • Teaching

  • Management/administration

  • Advocacy

The Application Process

Credentials Review (Stage I)

The Applicant submits the Application Form, fee, and credentials materials to the ABPP Central Office. The Central Office verifies the generic requirements including the degree, the license, and the internship.   The Central Office forwards the materials to ABCCAP for evaluation of specialty requirements.  If no decision can be reached, the Applicant may be asked for additional information.  Final specialty determination is sent to Central Office and the Applicant is so advised of the passage of Stage I.


Practice Samples (Stage II)

The Candidate then enters Stage II of the Examination Process, submits a fee for Stage II, and begins preparation of Practice Samples.  The practice samples must be received within 12 months.  Upon receipt of Practice Samples and the examination fee, ABCCAP, guided by the Candidate’s Professional Statement, selects a Chair for the Candidate’s Examination Committee and informs the Candidate.  The Candidate can disapprove for cause the selection within one week and request another selection.  Once appointed, the Chair works directly with the Candidate until the conclusion of the exam process.  The Chair selects two Board Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologists for the Examination Committee and informs the Candidate who can disapprove for cause either or both of the selections within one week.  Once appointed, Practice Samples are provided to committee members and the committee of three oversees Stage II and Stage III  of the examination.

Please refer to the appropriate Exam Manual for detailed instructions on preparing the Practice Sample.

The Practice Sample is considered to be the integral second stage of the examination process and will be reviewed by the Examination Committee according to specified criteria. Committee members work independently of each other and vote on acceptability according to the criteria.  The Chair also votes.

  1. If the Practice Sample meets the pass criterion (a minimum of two passing votes), the Candidate then proceeds to the oral portion (Stage III) of the examination.

  2. If the Practice Sample does not meet the pass criterion, materials are returned to the Candidate specifically detailing the reasons for the failure and the examination process is terminated.


In such an event, the Candidate may re-apply for the examination from the beginning of the second stage (Practice Samples).  A new Examination Committee, including a new Chair, will be assembled to review subsequent Practice Samples.


Both samples must include copies of all source documents and contextual statements containing:

  1. The rationale for the procedures used.

  2. A reflective comment on the Candidate’s own behavior in the sample.

  3. Any relevant events subsequent to the sample.


Candidates are encouraged to submit video samples that reflect their competence and expertise (typical rather than exemplary situations are expected) and which depict their interactive style with clients drawn from their typical practice.

Each Candidate will be asked “How did you handle the issue of confidentiality with your client when you decided to submit client material as part of your Practice Samples?”


Oral Examination (Stage III) 


To assure standardization of the examination process, the ABCCAP has established the following Stage III Oral Examination Day Schedule.  The general pace and sequence of topics provide flexible guidelines and may vary somewhat.


Within each segment there is room for variation according to the judgment of the examination committee.  Many topics will be inter-woven throughout the examination, related topics may enter into a given subject’s time period, and flexibility should be allowed if they are relevant to the discussion.  A topic may receive more cursory exploration in its scheduled time slot if it has been sufficiently covered earlier.

Application Process
Schedule of Oral Exam

Summary Schedule for Oral Examination


Refer to the Schedule Summary for Oral Examination Table in the Exam Manual that applies to you. This schedule requires that the examiners have viewed the videotapes and reviewed all the written materials in advance of the exam.

Ethics Vignettes


A file of prepared vignettes is maintained in ABPP Central Office for standardization of the Ethics segment of the Oral Examination. The Candidate has also submitted, in the Professional Statement, a non-identifying ethics quandary from his or her own professional experience.


During the Ethics segment of the Oral Examination, the Candidate will be given at least one standardized vignette to discuss.  The Examining Committee does not necessarily expect a “right” answer, but anticipates that the Candidate will present relevant options and demonstrate the ability to thoughtfully weigh them in the light of the APA ethics principles, professional practice standards and relevant statutes.  The Candidate will discuss his/her own vignette in the same manner.


At the conclusion of the Oral Examination, all copies of the Ethics vignettes are collected by the Chair and returned to ABPP Central Office.  The use of each vignette will be tracked so that in the case of a Candidate’s failure, new vignettes will be used for re-examination.  Examiners and Candidates will treat the vignettes as confidential.

Ethics Vignettes
Senior Psychologists

The Application Process: Senior Psychologist Option

Applicants that have been licensed at the independent doctoral level 15+ years may qualify for examination under the “Senior Psychologist” option.  If the candidate is currently listed in the National Register of Health Service Providers, which will serve as the source for information on education training and experience, the application process is simplified.


Please refer to the Exam Manual for additional details of the Senior Psychologist Option.

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