Health Psychologist Certification and Licensing

As a health psychologist, chances are you’ll be both licensed and certified. Clinical health psychologists work directly with patients and must be state licensed. Requirements vary slightly from state to state, but the following is typical of the process: The first step is completion of an accredited doctoral level degree program that includes a required number of practicum hours. A year of post-doctoral residency is often required as well. Later stages include completion of a jurisprudence exam and a licensing exam. Some states may have additional requirements. Washington, for example, requires seven clock hours of training in AIDS.

The American Board of Clinical Health Psychology certifies clinical health psychologists. In order to meet eligibility requirements, you will need to complete a one year post-doctoral fellowship in health psychology or a two year APA/ CPA post-doctoral fellowship in psychology where at least half of the training is in the health psychology specialty. If your fellowship was not accredited, but was listed in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers Directory, you will need an additional year of clinical health psychology experience to be eligible for board certification.

Once you’ve met the eligibility requirements, you will fill out an application, submit practice samples, and complete an oral exam. You will be expected to demonstrate competency in five general domains outlined by The American Board of Professional Psychology. Your practice samples must show, for example, that you apply appropriate assessment and intervention techniques. Ethics, professional issues, and clinical case assessment are among the topics covered in the oral exam. You can find an exam manual on the ABPP site.

A health psychologist with fifteen years’ experience (and significant contributions to the field) can apply for Senior status. Clinical health psychologists may also choose to become members of Division 38 of the APA. The ABPP recommends this professional affiliation but does not hold it as a condition for certification.