gists. Currently, there are only an estimated 3,000 board-certified psychologists in the United States.
Those seeking board certification in the area of clinical health psychology may specialize in any number of areas, including prevention, health promotion, public health, pain management, weight reduction, smoking cessation, and/or the psychological aspects of chronic illness. Board certification requires a degree from an APA-approved graduate program, plus licensure and two years of postdoctoral training or supervised experience in clinical health psychology. The elements of the certification process include review of qualifications, review of a work sample, an oral exam focused on the work sample and ethics, and endorsement by colleagues. Board-certified experts review the candidate and make a determination regarding certification. There are no competency sets or explicit standards used as criteria.
It has been difficult to interest health psychologists in applying for certification. Military psychologists constitute the one group that has promotion/salary incentives tied to certification. There are only an estimated 100 psychologists certified in this specialty.21
Graduate training Training in clinical health psychology during graduate study usually involves a number of additional required courses focused on this specialty, plus an advanced clinical placement working with medically ill individuals. This advanced placement follows basic training in core clinical skills. Graduate training in psychology at the doctoral level involves required and elective courses, complemented by supervised clinical experience. Other than limited didactic content on the biological bases of behavior, general students in these programs are usually not exposed to didactic or substantive experiential training related to chronic medical illnesses and the psychosocial aspects of care for persons with these illnesses.
Pre/postdoctoral internships A 1-year predoctoral internship is required for graduation from an APA-approved doctoral training program. Postdoctoral internships are optional, but are often the vehicle selected by recent graduates to obtain specialty training and the supervised experience necessary to apply for licensure.
To explore the nature of internship training related to cancer care, a request for information was circulated nationally by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers to its member programs. A total of 18 responses were received, most of which briefly summarized one program’s training activities. By and large, these internships appear to involve supervised clinical experience working with cancer patients and
21Personal communication, Douglas Tynan, PhD, Chair, Board of Clinical Health Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology, October 26, 2006.