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

4 Scopus citations


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. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-549
Number of pages5
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


  • certification
  • credentials
  • criterion validity
  • ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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