August 23, 2017
Greetings AASP Members:
As part of the plan to address questions about the recently announced Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) credential and certification mark, we have prepared a more detailed explanation and rationale outlining the process followed and issues discussed by the Interim Certification Council (ICC) when deciding to select CMPC as the credential and certification mark for the updated certification program. First, a brief summary of the Job Task Analysis (JTA) will be outlined to provide the context for how the JTA was utilized by the ICC when making decisions related to the certification program, including the selection of CMPC as the new credential and certification mark. Second, definitions will be provided for the terms certification credential and certification mark to draw a clearer distinction from the professional title one may choose to use. Third, details regarding the process followed by the ICC will be explained to provide a more complete understanding of the decisions made by the ICC. Finally, the rationale and perceived benefits of the adoption and use of CMPC by certificants will be summarized. We have made significant efforts to outline the scope of this process and discussion in the most parsimonious manner possible.
Brief Summary and Utility of the Job Task Analysis
In 2015, AASP completed a JTA with a group 13 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with diverse personal and professional backgrounds who were working in sport and other performance settings to identify the domains of practice, tasks performed, and knowledge required for effective performance as a professional in sport psychology (for a complete summary, see the JTA Final Report prepared by Rosen & Lipkins, 2016). For the purposes of the JTA, the job of a sport psychology professional was defined as follows: Applied sport psychology professionals help clients develop and use mental, life, and self-regulatory skills to optimize involvement, enjoyment, performance, and personal development. Through a formal process known as role delineation, the SMEs identified 6 domains of practice (e.g., Goals, Outcome, and Planning), 21 tasks/discrete work activities (e.g., identify personal and systematic resources and barriers related to the achievement of goals and desired outcomes), and 38 underlying knowledge statements (e.g., intervention research and its application) related to the competent and effective practice of certification-level professionals in sport psychology. The results of the JTA established the specifications to be used for the item writing and examination construction phrases of the new certification exam. The JTA also guided the ICC's identification of the 8 Knowledge Areas (i.e., Sport Psychology Professional Ethics and Standards, Sport Psychology, Sport Science, Psychopathology, Helping Relationships, Research Methods and Statistics, Psychological Foundations of Behavior, and Diversity & Culture) within which applicants must complete the required coursework/educational experiences in the updated certification program. Thus, the JTA forms the foundation for the eligibility requirements that certificants must successfully complete to earn the new certification credential.
Definitions of Certification Credential and Certification Mark
A certification credential is a qualification or achievement earned by someone that indicates that the person is suitable for something. A certification mark is created by the owner of the mark and used only by authorized persons to signify that they have met the standards for certification. In the updated certification program, the ICC made the decision that "Certified Mental Performance Consultant" would be the certification credential earned by all certificants upon successfully completing all of the eligibility requirements as outlined in the Certification Program Policy Manual (to be released soon). The ICC now is working alongside the Certification Council to determine if the name of the certification credential needs to be revisited before the roll-out of the updated certification program. For this certification program, AASP would be the owner of the certification mark and would authorize certificants who successfully completed the eligibility requirements to use the mark to signify that they have done so. As outlined in the Policy Manual, certificants would be authorized to use "CMPC" and/or "Certified Mental Performance Consultant" as certification marks to display their certification credential. Certificants would be free to use the Certified Mental Performance Consultant credential as their professional title or choose another title that is legally and ethically appropriate based upon their training, knowledge, and experiences (e.g., Sport Psychologist, Mental Conditioning Coach, Mental Training Specialist).
Explanation of Decision-Making Process for New Certification Credential
During AASP's Spring 2017 Executive Board (E-Board) meeting this past April, members of the E-Board engaged in a discussion of the future of the sport psychology profession, strategic plan objectives related to refining/clarifying the professional identity of AASP members, and present and future positioning of the AASP brand. A portion of this discussion focused on the potential of the new certification program to impact the profession, address long-standing professional titling issues, and position AASP certification in the marketplace. The E-Board inquired about the ICC's plans to retain the CC-AASP credential or change to a different credential name in the updated certification program. To that point, the ICC had not engaged in any significant discussions about the certification credential, as the focus of discussions had been on enacting new policies for the certification program. There was general agreement by the E-Board that if a change to the certification credential was advantageous and warranted then it would make sense from a marketing and branding perspective for this to occur with the roll-out of the updated certification program.
During the discussion, Natalie Durand-Bush, AASP's Publications/Information Division Head, provided the E-Board with details regarding the adoption of the title "Mental Performance Consultant" (MPC) by the Canadian Sport Psychology Association (CSPA) to address use of title issues by its members. The CSPA adopted the MPC title in 2008 in response to the College of Psychologists of Ontario request for differentiation between members who met the CSPA membership requirements with those members who also were registered psychologists and clinically trained to diagnose and treat mental health issues. CSPA professional members and members of the sporting community (e.g., coaches, athletes) engaged in lengthy discussion regarding the selection of an appropriate title that did not infringe upon legally protected psychology-related terms and potentially confounding coaching-related terms. Natalie highlighted the extent to which the MPC title has been used and well-received in the sporting community at all levels in Canada for nearly 10 years. The E-Board debated the pros and cons of the MPC title and its use by certificants of the updated certification program. Given the successful impact of the use of the MPC title in the Canadian sporting community, the E-Board became enthusiastic about the possibility for the MPC title to have a similar impact in the U.S. and the potential for MPC to be a unifying title for those in North America who practice applied sport psychology as defined by the JTA. Based on this discussion and the belief that the MPC title could help resolve concerns sport psychology professionals have faced in the past regarding designation, the E-Board unanimously approved a recommendation to the ICC to consider adopting "Mental Performance Consultant" as the name for the certification credential in the updated certification program.
The ICC received the E-Board's recommendation in May and began discussing the pros and cons of changing the certification credential name and weighing the merits of MPC as the new credential. It is important to note that the ICC is well-versed in issues related to certification and professional titling given that it is composed of four former or current members/Chairs of the Certification Review Committee with over 20 years of combined service on the committee, four Fellows, both licensed and non-licensed professionals, a range of early to late career professionals, and an equal mix of academics and practitioners, many of whom have been reading about and discussing issues of certification as part of the initial Future of Certification Ad Hoc Committee (FCAHC) or the ICC for the better part of 6 years. Over a five-week period, the ICC engaged in a lengthy debate regarding the E-Board's recommendation during weekly conference calls and email correspondence, researched certification credentials used by other organizations (e.g., National Athletic Trainers' Association, National Board of Certified Counselors), sought legal counsel regarding the credential name and trademarking, requested feedback from and vetted the credential name with current APA Division 47 and CSPA leadership, received informal feedback from a small group of sport psychology practitioners, and reached back out to the E-Board for additional insight and input related to its MPC recommendation. The ICC examined several derivatives of the E-Board's MPC recommendation, considering the length of the credential name, "stickiness" of the credential, the extent to which the acronym "rolls off the tongue," etc. Ultimately, the ICC decided to unanimously approve "Certified Mental Performance Consultant" as the new certification credential and the use of "Certified Mental Performance Consultant" and "CMPC" as the certification marks. Prior to the ICC announcing the credential name change to the membership, the ICC followed the advice of current AASP President Angus Mugford and first announced the new certification credential to the Fellows to allow for their input given the historical significance of this potential change. After receiving overall positive support and feedback from the Fellows, the ICC announced the certification credential name change to the membership at the end of July.
Rationale and Benefits for Selection of New Certification Credential
The rationale for the ICC selecting "Certified Mental Performance Consultant" as the new certification credential is based largely on the rationale and perceived benefits provided by the CSPA related to its adoption of MPC:
- The term "Certified" captures a certain level of significance and prominence and denotes that there is a certification process in place to distinguish the credential from others in the marketplace (e.g., Performance Enhancement Consultant, Mental Skills Trainer, Mental Coach).
- The term "Mental" captures the essence of what professionals in the field of sport/performance psychology do and the focus of their work without infringing upon legally protected "psychology" terms (e.g., psychology, psychological, psychologist). The discussion about the legal use of "psychology" as a descriptor for this certification or what practitioners call themselves to clients goes far beyond the scope of the charge given to the ICC/CC by the AASP membership at the 2016 Business Meeting in Phoenix.
- The term "Performance" captures the necessity of addressing performance-related aspects when working as a professional in the field of sport/performance psychology. This term conveys the requirement that professionals need training in performance aspects and the ability to attend to these elements to work effectively in sport and other performance domains (e.g., performing arts, military). In addition, as previously mentioned SMEs from sport and other performance domains were selected by the FCAHC to complete the JTA to accurately reflect the work done by a full spectrum of professionals in our field. Thus, the use of the umbrella term "performance," which certainly includes sport (see Aoyagi et al., 2012 for a more complete discussion), is consistent with the scope of the JTA and broadens the work setting to include the domains where many AASP members and practitioners are already working. Further, the term reflects the fast-growing market for practitioners who work in settings other than sport and would help to position this certification and AASP as leaders in this profession into the future.
- The term "Consultant" captures the nature of the relationship and collaborative work between professionals in the field of sport/performance psychology and their clients (e.g., athletes, performing artists, military personnel). Further, this term does not encroach on the role of other members of integrated support teams/staff such as the Head Coach, Strength Coach, Athletic Trainer, etc. The term also distinguishes certificants from "life coaches," whose training and certification typically differs from that of professionals in our field.
An added benefit of the new certification credential is the ability to trademark the use of the credential, entitling AASP for the first time to be able to exercise legitimate control over the use of its certification mark in the marketplace. Thus, only those individuals who have been certified through the updated certification program would be able to legally use the trademarked professional title of "Certified Mental Performance Consultant," "CMPC," or "Mental Performance Consultant." AASP would be in the position to legally challenge non-certified individuals who chose to refer to themselves with any of these professional titles. Not only is this perceived to be strong benefit for those who earn this certification, trademarking the new certification credential also will strengthen the standing of the certification program with organizations such as the NCAA as well as professional leagues and teams who will now be able to easily identify certified professionals and have a good understanding of their training, knowledge, and experiences.
It is genuinely hoped that the above explanation and rationale provides greater context, promotes a clearer understanding, and provides additional transparency of the process followed and decisions made by the ICC with regard to the recently announced CMPC credential and certification mark. Next, AASP members will be invited to submit written feedback regarding the CMPC credential and certification mark. The call for comments will be announced in a separate email tomorrow.
Interim Certification Council (ICC)