Working in the field of psychology requires a great deal of commitment, including a doctoral degree, years of supervised experience and a passing score on a professional exam. Given the rigorous demands of preparing for this career path, it’s not surprising that there are a number of organizations and associations for established psychologists to join. As a student, you can often secure a discounted membership to these organizations and enjoy benefits such as networking and mentorship opportunities, educational information on published research, professional development tools and more. The American Psychological Association, which applies to all areas of the field, is a great place to start when considering membership opportunities. There are also specialized associations you could join to explore an area of interest further. Although you can’t become board certified yet, you can take the first steps into becoming an early member of a certification program.
The American Psychological Association’s Student Memberships
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest organization in the U.S. representing psychologists. Its 118,000 members include psychologists who work in clinical capacities, research, education and other areas of the field. Student memberships are classified as affiliate memberships, rather than full memberships, and are offered at discounted rates at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate students can also join the student-run American Psychological Association of Graduate Students organization. Student affiliate memberships include benefits and content tailored to your level of study, such as tools for exploring and preparing for different career paths in psychology.
Mental health issues are global. If you would rather join an international organization, the Association for Psychological Science offers student memberships that include access to research methodology resources, mentorship opportunities and award and grant funding.
Specialized Professional Organizations in Psychology
Many organizations and associations focus on different perspectives, techniques and specializations within the field of psychology. For aspiring school psychologists, the International School Psychologist Association offers non-voting memberships for students. There are student affiliate memberships available in the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, both of which apply psychological principles to workplace environments, though for different purposes.
There are organizations for a wide array of interests in psychology. The Psychonomic Society focuses on experimental research. For students with an interest in the spiritual aspects of psychology, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, a global organization that aims to promote “eco-spiritual transformation” and sustainability, might be of interest. If you’re interested in the field of behavior analysis, you can pursue a student membership with the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, which focuses on applying behavioral science to the practice of reducing suffering and improving wellbeing, allows for Value-Based Dues for student, affiliate and even professional memberships. If you have a particular interest in treating emotional disorders, you might benefit from a student membership with the multidisciplinary Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
You might also join organizations based on your personal background. The Association for Women in Psychology offers a student membership option, while the Association of Black Psychologists offers student memberships at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Psychology Specialization Certification Boards
In addition to joining professional organizations and associations as a member, you may also plan to pursue optional certification in your chosen specialty. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offers certification in 15 specialty areas, including forensic psychology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, geropsychology and psychoanalysis. Within the ABPP, the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology awards certification in the field of clinical neuropsychology as well as the pediatric clinical neuropsychology subspecialty.
Although the NBPP offers an Early Entry application for doctoral students, you won’t be eligible to attain board certification during your education. It isn’t until after you have met eligibility requirements that include earning a doctorate from an approved program, completing your post-doctoral experience requirements and acquiring a license that you can apply for certification. When you reach that point, you must also meet a separate set of criteria for your chosen specialty, provide practice samples that speak to your competency as a psychologist and complete an oral exam and, in some specialties, a written exam.
The benefits of applying for Early Entry membership at a discounted rate of $25 include a streamlined process of being able to add documentation of each criterion as you meet each requirement and showing prospective employers that you are serious about certification.