No. OBCP specialists have a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Our board, for example, is comprised of members with degrees in counseling psychology, in clinical psychology and I-O psychology. Each of them is focused on helping clients understand the root causes of organizational and business problems and developing practical solutions for them.
Our specialists work in a variety of settings: consulting firms, private and public sector organizations and in academia. Every person provides internal or external consultation although their exact clientele will vary. Clients may be members of the specialist’s own organization, belong to outside organizations or be individual working people.
See the ABOBCP Specialty Definition web page for a complete list. We categorize practice types into about a dozen categories and provide examples of the more specific types of consulting under each.
Besides reviewing the Specialty Definition list, the most important consideration is how you spend the majority of your professional time. Many psychologists who apply for our specialty certification have discovered that their work has evolved from providing counseling or psychotherapy to primarily dealing with issues of individual job fit and effectiveness, team performance or organizational success, among others. The focus will be on such things as assessing and developing work skills and attitudes, providing job training, enhancing productive behavior in teams or determining the causes of organizational dysfunctions and creating solutions for them. Or, a specialist may now be a manager or director who is responsible for leadership of a department or entire organization. These psychologists will have greater accountability for overall organizational management and employee performance than would be true for a clinical supervisor or mentor. They face many of the same issues that managers in other organizations do.
As described above, many ABOBCP members become gradually involved in consulting after completing their graduate studies in another psychology specialty. Often, they educate themselves in the concepts and practices of leadership, organizations and consulting through individual reading, attending conferences or training programs, peer coaching and membership in local or national associations such as the Society for Consulting Psychology (APA Division 13) or the Society of Psychologists in Management (SPIM). We take those different career paths into account during the application and exam processes. Our main interest as a board is that practitioners provide thoughtful, appropriate consulting based on sound principles.
Psychologists who have been involved in consulting for more than 15 years may qualify for examination under this model. The option allows for choosing 2 professional areas of practice rather than 3 because the person may have developed a substantial but somewhat narrower practice than someone who is earlier in their career.
An exam committee depends on practice samples provided by a candidate to understand the nature of their consulting and how they approach it. We ask for detailed but anonymous examples of the person’s typical work that illustrate the types of consulting issues they face, their approach to determining what to do, and the professional foundations for the decisions they make and the techniques they use. The committee members review the samples in depth and have a conversation with the candidate about each one to assure that they fully understand how the psychologist provides consultation. As with other ABPP specialties, the exam final decision is pass/fail rather than another type of grading or ranking.