The mission of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP) is to contribute to the development and maintenance of forensic psychology as a specialized field of study, research and practice. The goal of the AAFP mentorship program is to provide support and consultation to individuals seeking board certification by the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP). Candidates whose credentials have been accepted and who have passed the written examination of the ABFP application process will have the opportunity to have a mentor.
There are many ways to prepare for examination, and working with a mentor is optional. Candidates may choose to approach an experienced ABFP certified psychologist for guidance, form study groups with other candidates, and/or prepare for the board certification process in other ways. None of these efforts are antithetical to the involvement of a mentor; in fact, they should be considered complementary. Candidates should review carefully the Overview and Introduction to ABFP, which can be downloaded from the website of the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Many candidates may already have a colleague or mentor to assist them through the board certification process. However, if this is not the case, candidates may request a mentor after successfully passing the written examination. The AAFP board will then coordinate with the ABFP office to have a mentor assigned. Mentors are ABFP certified specialists in good standing who are familiar with the entire range of the board certification process. Mentors are active in forensic psychology practice or research.
Candidates may request that a specific individual be assigned as their mentor. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with the understanding that this may not always be possible. Attempts will be made to assign mentors who work in similar settings as the candidate, and who are in close geographical proximity to the candidate; however, this may not always be feasible. When a mentor is assigned, the candidate is provided this person’s name and contact information. It is then the candidate’s responsibility to contact the mentor. Candidates may request a different mentor if they perceive a potential conflict of interest (e.g., involvement on opposite sides in a current legal case) or at any time as they prepare for examination if they are not comfortable with the working relationship with the mentor. Reasonable efforts are made to grant such requests.
Mentors donate their time and are available to the candidate free of charge. Consequently, candidates must be cognizant of the fact that mentors have additional responsibilities, and that some restraint is advisable in making demands on their time. Within that context, mentors are expected to be available for consultation at reasonable intervals, provide information and suggestions, and give constructive feedback in a timely manner.
A mentor will not be assigned until the candidate has passed the written examination. A suggested reading list for the ABFP written examination is available from the ABPP website to help guide candidates’ study.
The mentor encourages the candidate to choose non-controversial practice samples that are representative of the candidate’s day-to-day work and that are sufficiently different from each other so as to reflect breadth in experience and practice. It may be beneficial for the mentor to review a sample of the candidate’s work in order to identify relative strengths and weaknesses. Under no circumstances may the candidate submit any work product to ABFP as a practice sample if it has been reviewed by the mentor. The choice of practice samples, and the accuracy and completeness thereof, are the sole responsibility of the candidate. Support from the mentor is no guarantee that independent reviewers will agree that the practice samples are acceptable.
Preparation for the oral examination can take many forms. Part of the mentor’s role is to dispel common myths or misperceptions about this part of the board certification process. For example, candidates should be reassured that the examination is conducted in a non-adversarial and respectful manner, that they may ask for clarification, and that the examiners are not there to “trick” him/her. The most important role for the mentor at this phase is to review the specific components of the oral examination and to suggest ways of preparing for them. If possible, using practice samples not submitted for the actual oral examination, the mentor may conduct a mock oral examination with the candidate. If geographic distances do not permit this to be done in person, this could be done at a professional meeting or by telephone or other technology.
Following acceptance of the practice samples and prior to the oral examination, candidates will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire regarding their mentorship experience. AAFP will keep this information confidential but may use it to improve the mentorship program in general or assign new mentors in the future.
Candidates remain solely responsible for monitoring their own progress toward ABFP certification, and involvement with a volunteer mentor is no guarantee of passing any of the individual steps along that process. Similarly, candidates are ultimately responsible for assuring an understanding of the ABFP application and examination process. The role of the mentor is purely facilitative. Neither the mentor nor AAFP or ABFP can be held responsible for the results of any candidate’s practice samples or oral examination.