From the President's Desk

Introducing Version 6.0 of the Application and Examination for Board Certification and the Diplomate Credential

Mark Lerner, Ph.D.
President, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Since the inception of The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, our literature has delineated a primary objective of the Academy, " establish a standard for professionals, across disciplines, who regularly work with survivors of traumatic events." Because this is a core objective of our association, a discussion concerning the mechanism that the Academy utilizes to award Board Certification and the Diplomate Credential seems warranted.

During the last year, the Academy's application and examination process has undergone a number of changes. And I am pleased to report that newly introduced Version 6.0 has been well received by professionals, from diverse fields, around the world! Our primary goal in developing 6.0 was to increase the validity of our evaluative tool for determining that an individual has achieved a standard and is qualified as a credentialed expert in traumatic stress.

Several members have written to the Academy's administrative offices suggesting that independent examinations be given to individuals in different professions. This would be a formidable task for an association that is comprised of professionals from over one hundred different specialties! Notwithstanding, the Administrative Board has resisted this option, maintaining the posture that professionals, across disciplines, must all be held to an established standard. This is particularly true for caregivers who promote themselves as experts in traumatic stress.

As indicated in our literature, membership in the Academy demonstrates a commitment to the field. It is the first step in a sequential process aimed at identifying genuine expertise. All new members, as well as members in good standing who have not already elected to pursue Board Certification, will receive a copy of Version 6.0.

The Academy defines an expert as an individual with extensive knowledge, experience and education related to the field of traumatic stress. This definition was adopted in part from Federal Rule 702, which stipulates that an individual may qualify as an expert in the eyes of the court by virtue of his/her knowledge, skill, experience, training or education. Version 6.0 requires candidates to write brief essays describing their experience in working with survivors of traumatic events as well as their education related to the field. Specific guidelines are offered to assist candidates in this endeavor. This information is evaluated in concert with supporting documentation. Finally, the applicant¹s performance on a multiple-choice examination enables the Academy to assess the applicant¹s knowledge of the literature.

The Academy developed an extensive question bank which is based directly on the literature related to the field of traumatic stress. Included in this cache are numerous questions created by candidates for Board Certification and the Diplomate Credential. Additionally, a list of content areas to be covered on the examination was generated. Ultimately, each of these areas was represented and assessed by related questions. Statistical analyses, including an item analysis, were conducted on all questions included in previous versions of the examination. In Version 6.0 considerable effort was given to developing and utilizing questions that incorporated practical situations faced by professionals across disciplines. Finally, members of the Academy's Board of Scientific & Professional Advisors were directly involved in the development of 6.0. Members were asked to provide input, across a number of dimensions. Additionally, suggestions from previous candidates for Board Certification were entertained and often utilized.

During the last year, representatives from insurance carriers and managed care companies frequently contacted our administrative offices to inquire whether a particular doctor was a credentialed expert with the Academy -- evidence that our voices are being heard and that The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress has established a recognized standard in the field. Ultimately, it is the aim of the Academy to have all qualified members demonstrate that they have achieved this standard, and are truly experts in traumatic stress.

Editor's Note: If you wish to receive a new copy of the Application and Examination for Board Certification and the Diplomate Credential (Version 6.0), please write, telephone or send E-mail to ( the Academy's administrative offices.

©1997 by The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, Inc.