As with medical specialties, postdoctoral training and board certification provides assurance that the neuropsychologist you are working with has specialty training, appropriate experience, and has gone through a rigorous evaluation of their skills.
There is also a pediatric subspecialty neuropsychology board for those with expertise in treating and evaluating children and adolescents.
The Importance of Board Certification
Many state licensing boards allow psychologists to self-declare areas of expertise, without verifying that their training has been appropriate. Sadly, only four to five percent of all psychologists ever become board certified. Although neuropsychology is a specialty area approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the vast majority of practitioners who call themselves “neuropsychologists” are in fact, not board certified.
The ability to administer a measure identified as a “neuropsychological test” does not automatically mean that a mental health professional is capable of accurately interpreting the results. Neuropsychologists must know much more than how to administer tests and provide scores. Appropriately trained neuropsychologists have a specialized knowledge base acquired through years of education and hands on experience before they are qualified to provide a true neuropsychological evaluation. Board certification ensures that a practitioner has gone above and beyond typical psychological training to acquire expertise in brain-behavior relationships. Candidates must pass a rigorous examination process to determines their ability to interpret psychological tests within the context of brain dysfunction and ensuing behavioral or cognitive outcomes.
Requirements for Board Certification
Neuropsychologists become certified by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN), which is one branch of the credentialing body of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Board requirements are based on guidelines established in 1997 at a consensus conference (Houston Conference Guidelines) during which identified leaders determined the essential areas for education, training, and professional competency.
Based on these guidelines, neuropsychologists must have extensive knowledge in clinical psychology that includes interview and intervention strategies, psychopathology, human development, cognition and perception, and personality theories. Requisite skills include specialized neuropsychological assessment techniques, psychometrics and statistics, evidenced-based practice, knowledge of neurocognitive conditions, research methodologies, and an understanding of professional ethics and cultural or ethnic differences. In addition, neuropsychologists require foundational neurology knowledge, including neuroanatomy and neuropathology, as well as a basis in neuroimaging and other diagnostics.
The Board Certification Proces
The requirements for board certification can be completed in as little as three and as many as seven years. Candidates for board certification in neuropsychology first undergo an extensive credentialing process that assures they have received appropriate education, training and supervised clinical experiences. Currently, candidates must have completed a doctoral degree in psychology at a graduate school accredited by the American Psychological Association, completed a one-year internship through an APA accredited program, as well as two years of advanced post-doctoral training in neuropsychology through a full-time fellowship.
2. Examination Process
The examination itself consists of several parts. The written examination is very comprehensive and challenging, with only 60 to 70 percent overall passing rate. Next, the candidate is required to submit two recent clinical reports with very detailed documentation. These work samples are then carefully reviewed by three board-certified practitioners and rated on factors that demonstrate neuropsychological practice at the specialist level of competence. Finally, candidates complete an oral examination that evaluates the breadth and the depth of their professional knowledge and how they manage the various situations that arise in everyday practice. This includes being able to explain how they arrive at conceptual impressions and diagnostic conclusions, as well as a defense of their assessment methods, reasoning, and integration of current standards of care within their practice samples.
In addition to continuing education programs as required for state licensure, board certified practitioners must document their activities covering the various areas of professional competence every ten years in order to maintain their certification status.
Determining if a Neuropsychologist is Board Certified
As indicated above, just because a psychologist claims to specialize in neuropsychological practice does not necessarily mean they actually have the appropriate training and credentials to be designated as a specialist in Clinical Neuropsychology.
To check a person’s board certification status, ask them if they are board certified by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology and a member of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. The American Board of Professional Psychology also maintains a directory of board-certified practitioners, where you can look up the status of any provider.
In addition to his other credentials, Dr. Korman is certified by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology. He is also one of only eight neuropsychologists in Florida with subspecialty certification in Clinical Child Neuropsychology.
Other Credentialing Boards for Neuropsychologists
While board certification is not limited exclusively to ABPP, it is the most widely recognized certification body, currently credentialing doctoral-level psychologists in 15 specialties. It is also the only one recognized by the American Psychological Association, and the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN). Other neuropsychology boards include the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology (ABN) and the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology (AAPdN).