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Thoughts on Board Certification from Amy E. West, Ph.D., ABPP


Dr. West is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Psychology, and Psychiatry & the Behavioral Sciences, and Director of the Child Clinical and Pediatric Psychology Internship at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Keck School of Medicine at USC.  Dr. West’s clinical and research interests focus on psychosocial treatment outcome and mechanisms of treatment response in pediatric mood and anxiety disorders, and the effectiveness of interventions in underserved, ethnic minority populations. She has been funded by NIMH, PCORI, SAMHSA, CA DHHS, and multiple private foundations for her research in these areas. Dr. West is the primary developer of child and family-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CFF-CBT) – also called RAINBOW therapy -- for children 7-13 with bipolar spectrum disorders, an evidence-based treatment published in Oxford University Press's "Treatments That Work" series.

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What motivated you to become board certified in clinical child/pediatric psychology?

Board certification was something I had intended to pursue do for years but it always ended up on the back burner. As I continued to meet milestones in my career (e.g., Full Professor) and take on more and more leadership positions and responsibilities, it became increasingly clear to me how important it was to demonstrate and model excellence in my area of practice.


What advice would you give candidates in pursuing board certification in clinical child/pediatric psychology?

Do not be intimidated by the process, or underestimate your contributions to the field, whatever your stage of career! Our field is complex and highly specialized; Board certification is a process that encourages a high level of excellence across various domains of practice.  I imagine it will only continue to grow as a means of identifying expertise and specialty in this area, as well as being something that employers, promotions committees, and others look towards for distinguishing candidates.


Do you think obtaining your Board Certification in Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology has influenced your professional work/how?

I am much more conscious of the need to maintain ongoing (and evolving!) competence across the important domains of practice in child and adolescent psychology. The field has changed significantly since I trained almost 20 years ago. Board certification was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my accomplishments as well as identify areas for continued growth.


How do you advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion as a Board-Certified Child/Pediatric Specialist?

I’m working on a paper reviewing the various ways in which the field can and needs to take action to be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. It’s caused me to reflect on how much dismantling and re-designing needs to occur across education, training, and professional experience in psychology. I’m committed to doing my part in bring awareness and being an agent of change with respect to creating a more inclusive and impactful profession for the next generation.

Thoughts on Board Certification by Omar Gudiño, Ph.D., ABPP


What was the primary reason that you decided to pursue board certification in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology?

My training and professional experiences have focused exclusively on clinical child and adolescent psychology and I am now responsible for training future child psychologists. I sought board certification as a way to demonstrate my training, commitment to, and competence in the specialty and to highlight the central role that clinical practice plays across my professional activities.

What did the certification process teach you about yourself and your practice?

The certification process provided multiple opportunities to reflect on my clinical practice and to evaluate how well my practice aligns with my aspirations. For example, I see issues of diversity and evidence-based practice with underserved populations as central to my identity as a researcher. However, delivering evidence-based and culturally-competent care are also important goals for my clinical practice. The certification process allowed me to examine how my research and clinical practice complement one another and required that I articulate exactly how I deliver evidence-based and culturally-competent care. Similar to reviewing video of my work early in my clinical training, engaging in this level of self-reflection and evaluation at this point in my career helped me identify ways to enhance my clinical practice while fostering my professional identity.

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

It has only been a few months since I completed the certification process, but having this credential has allowed me to easily communicate my competence in the specialty to others. This has been particularly useful for training and consulting activities and when establishing clinical-research collaborations. The ABPP credential clearly conveys my commitment to quality clinical practice with children and adolescents.


What was the most challenging/interesting/surprising aspect of the board certification process?

Distilling years of training and experience into a cohesive representation of who I am as a psychologist was both the most challenging and the most useful part of the certification process. Proceeding through the various stages of the certification process truly helped me develop a more integrated professional identity. Although I expected that the oral examination would be the most daunting aspect of the process, I found it to be a surprisingly enjoyable. It provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss my approach to child and adolescent psychology with knowledgeable colleagues.


What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in clinical child and adolescent psychology?

My advice is to start the process early and to focus on one stage of the process at a time. I took advantage of the ABPP early entry program and this provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate my commitment to clinical child and adolescent psychology early in my career. Although the certification process can take some time, focusing on the next stage of the process helped maintain my motivation and ensured that I completed the process in a timely manner. I would also remind candidates that the process is designed to demonstrate competence in the specialty. While one may be tempted to wait until one can present the “perfect” clinical practice sample, it is probably more useful to present a typical example, to be able to reflect on strengths and areas for improvement, and to understand who you are as a professional.

Thoughts on Board Certification from Kurt Freeman, Ph.D., ABPP


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

Going through the process of board certification allowed for reflection on my identity as a professional and practitioner. It helped re-affirm my approach to practice and my comfort in knowing “who I am” as a clinician.


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

I completed this process largely for myself rather than for any potential professional or financial benefit. I’ve devoted my career to working with 


What was the most challenging/interesting/surprising aspect of the board certification process?

I found the oral examination process quite interesting. Having completed oral examinations that were quite daunting in the past, I was unsure what to expect from this one.  I was pleasantly surprised by the collegial approach to the process. Rather than feeling like an examination, I walked away appreciating how the process allowed me to articulate my style, thinking process, and ideas about practice in the realm of clinical child and adolescent psychology.


What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in clinical child and adolescent psychology?

As you are preparing your materials, trust who you are as a professional and practitioner. Truly select “usual performance” cases for the practice samples—reviewing those will be a valuable exercise in and of itself. Be comfortable articulating your views of practice as well as your justification for those views and practices.

children and families, and saw obtaining ABPP certification as an important component to demonstrating this commitment. What I’ve been most rewarded by is the accolades and acknowledgement from colleagues. While I didn’t obtain certification for those types of statements, it has been a pleasure to have so many acknowledge certification as a demonstration of my commitment to this field and as a testament to my expertise in it.


Thoughts on Board Certification from Yo Jackson, Ph.D., ABPP


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

I found the process of board certification to be very interesting and rewarding. The process of preparing for the exam required that I think critically about how I approach clinical work. It is not often that with busy schedules that one gets to really reflect on how one thinks about cases and it was a joy to have a reason to really analyze my approach, conceptualization, treatment techniques, and outcomes. Moreover, getting a chance to watch myself on tape helped me observe my treatment and assessment style in a somewhat detached way so that I could better see the interaction between me and my client and learn more about the therapeutic process. The process really reminded me of how important it is to take time to step back and really examine all of the factors impacting clients and helped me to see just how important it is to try and see the whole person and the variety of systems in a child’s life that influence presenting problems.



What have you found most valuable or rewarding about board certification (e.g., salary increase, referrals, colleagues, increased self esteem, learning, something else)?

Since I became board certified, I find that my consulting work has really grown. Experts in other fields are quickly appreciating the certification process for psychologists as many other disciplines have had a similar process for their experts for some time and recognize what it means to have this qualification. I find that having the certification makes it easier to communicate to other professionals what skills I bring to the table.


What was the most challenging/interesting/surprising aspect of the board certification process?

I think what was most surprising about the process was the in-person exam. I was expecting it to be challenging and it was, but in a good way. The examiners were friendly and well-prepared and they really challenged me to explain my treatment approach. I really enjoyed the challenge as it made me really have to think through all possible pros and cons of what I do as a professional and critically evaluate my work. It reminded me how important it is to be thorough with every client. The exam was actually quite collegial and gave me a chance to really test my thinking about clinical work.


What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in clinical child and adolescent psychology?

I think the best advice is to be prepared. The examiners take the exam process very seriously and have really taken the time to know the information you provide about your clients. Make sure you allow yourself sufficient time to gather your materials and try to think about why you did what you did from as many different perspectives as possible. Be able to defend your work knowing that no clinician is perfect and that there is always something you can learn or do better for the next client.

Thoughts on Board Certification from Lawrence Rubin, Ph.D., ABPP, LMHC, RPT-S 


My journey to certification as a Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist has been circuitous, wending its way from a long-ago college Child Life internship, to my current dual role as a clinician and educator.


Acquiring knowledge came easy; clinical skills and experience less so, and self awareness and maturity the most challenging of lifelong tasks.

Certification as a Diplomate seemed, at the time, the logical next step in my professional evolution. My initial attempt was met with failure, followed by a minimum mandatory self-imposed period of wound licking.

The experience, as do all good failures, provided me, in retrospect, with a renewed impetus for personal and professional self evaluation, and an unintended and unforeseen opportunity for growth.


In the ensuing year, I read voluminously, acquainted and re-acquainted myself with best practices both within the field of psychology as well as in related disciplines. I critically reviewed my own clinical casework in order to determine if it was, both in general and specifically, in accordance with best practices. Where I found it lacking, I revisited and revised my practices. Along similar lines, I reinvigorated my clinical teaching and supervision, which in turn, motivated my students and supervisees to push themselves harder and toward more evidence-based goals.


Acquiring ABCCAP certification a year later provided my students a model for determination, my community an additional resource for professional expertise, and validated the true significance of the endeavor for me.

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