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Police & Public Safety Psychology


Formal Specialty Definition: 

Police & Public Safety Psychology is concerned with assisting law enforcement and other public safety personnel and agencies in carrying out their missions and society functions with optimal effectiveness, safety, health, and conformity to laws and ethics.  It consists of the application of the science and profession of psychology in four primary domains of practice: assessment, clinical intervention, operational support, and organizational consultation.


Competent practice in Police & Public Safety Psychology requires, at a minimum, distinctive knowledge of the following:


  • essential functions of police and public safety organizations and personnel,

  • working conditions unique to their respective positions,

  • common and novel stressors inherent in public safety work,

  • normal and abnormal adaptation to occupational stress and trauma,

  • research pertinent to resilience and recovery in public safety personnel, and

  • the unique aspects of confidentiality and testimonial privilege when providing services to public safety personnel and/or agencies.

Specialized knowledge beyond this foundation is needed for practice within each of the four domains.


Overview of Organization and Goals:

Police & Public Safety Psychology Specialty Presentation 2022


Police & Public Safety Psychology Bylaws

Levels of Specialty Training: 

Specialty training in Police & Public Safety Psychology is intended to follow broad and general training in clinical or counseling psychology.  Consequently, eligibility for ABPPSP board certification occurs only at the post-licensure stage.

Four levels of training--exposure, experience, emphasis, and major area of study--can be offered at the doctoral, internship, and post-licensure stages. At the post-doctoral fellowship stage, only exposure and major area of study are appropriate levels of training.


Specialty Board Certification: 

Board certification in Police & Public Safety Psychology is provided by the American Board of Police & Public Safety Psychology (ABPPSP), a specialty board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).  For details, go to


Sources of Specialty Recognition: 

American Psychological Association, Commission on Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (see


Police and Public Safety Specialty Council Membership: 

The Specialty Council of Police & Public Safety Psychology (aka Council of Organizations in Police Psychology) is governed by representatives from the following entities:


  • American Board of Police & Public Safety Psychology

  • American Academy of Police & Public Safety Psychology

  • American Psychological Association, Division 18, Police & Public Safety Section

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Psychological Services Section

  • Society for Police & Criminal Psychology

Specialty Related Web Links: 


Education and Training Guidelines:



Shauna M. Laughna, Ph.D., ABPP


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