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What is ABPP?

Among psychologists, the letters ABPP signify board certification by the American Board for Professional Psychology (ABPP). For more than 60 years, American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) has provided board certification for psychologists through credential review and competency-based examination processes.  As such, the letters ABPP document the attainment of the highest level of recognition of competence within a psychological specialty.

The fundamental difference between licensure and board certification relates to the differences between general knowledge and training in psychology, specific knowledge of a specialty, and competence in the practice of that specialty.  Licensure provides basic assurance that a psychologist is sufficiently educated and knowledgeable to practice psychology in general.  However, may professions, among them medicine, law and psychology, have established methods to evaluate and recognize competence, considering that a professional may be generally well experienced but not necessarily knowledgeable or competent in the practice of a specialty.

Board certification of police psychologists is an outgrowth of this attention to competence and consumer protection.  It serves as one method for addressing competency to provide services in the field of police and public safety. 

As a way of serving the public and the profession, one of ABPP’s primary purposes is certifying specialists through competency-based examinations.  These examinations measure knowledge, assess professional decision-making and practice performance, and evaluates integrated assessment of practice-based skills and tasks. 

A key benefit of ABPP board certification of police psychologists is the identification of specialists who have demonstrated competence through an arduous examination by a board of their peers, as measured against established specialty standards and benchmarks.  This credentialing is identifiable as ABPPSP (American Board of Professional Psychology in Police and Public Safety Psychology).

For police chiefs and administrators, the benefits of utilizing board certified psychologists are:

Increased confidence.  ABPPSP board certification is assurance that a psychologist has obtained the required training and has undergone evaluation by his/her peers.

Specialty knowledge, skills, and experience.  ABPPSP certified psychologists have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and in-depth experience required for competent practice.

Board certification incrementally improves the quality of practice across the specialty.  Psychologists who choose not to pursue board certification still may be competent in the specialty of police psychology; however, only ABPPSP certified psychologists have demonstrated that competence to the satisfaction of their peers through a demanding series of examinations overseen by a nationally recognized certifying organization.

Nicoletti-Flater Associates currently has on staff, five ABPPSP certified psychologists:  Drs. John Nicoletti, Evan Axelrod, Jamie Brower, Joelle Kruml, and Debra Tasci.  Nicoletti-Flater Associates staff is proud to have been among the first psychologists in the Country to obtain this advanced certification.

**Information obtained and adapted from:

American Board of Professional Psychology. (2011).  Specialty Certification in Police and Public Safety Psychology [Brochure].  Chapel Hill, NC.

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