Specialty Certifications for Mental Health Practitioners: A Cautionary Case Study

Gerald M. Rosen*, Jason J. Washburn, Scott O. Lilienfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental health professionals typically represent their competencies by earning a diploma and obtaining a state license to practice. Some practitioners choose to further represent their expertise by acquiring specialty certifications. We review the broader landscape of these certifications and provide a case study of a program that illustrates current problems with specialty certifications. Specifically, we demonstrate that an 8th grader with no prior mental health education or training can pass a test intended to assess expert levels of knowledge obtained from a workshop. Implications of these findings on the validity of specialty credentials and the public's trust in them are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Certification
  • Credentials
  • Criterion validity
  • Ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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