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There Is Only One Psychology, No Specialties,

but Many Applications

Joseph D. Matarazzo Oregon Health Sciences University

ABSTRACT: The author offers and defends two asser- 2. Even if there were such bona fide specialties in
tions. The first is that students who today receive a PhD psychology recognized as such by significant others, I
degree via matriculation in a university department of know of no university departments of psychology that
psychology study the same principles, processes, and core today offer a predoctoral curriculum of graduate courses
content of the discipline regardless of the specific area of in psychology that is discernibly different, in terms of
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

application (e.g., experimental, clinical, health, social, or broad content, processes, and principles, for tomorrow's
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

industrial psychology) they are pursuing. Despite evolution would-be teachers, scientists, and practitioners of clinical,
and despite emotional statements one often hears to the experimental, social, industrial, or developmental psy-
contrary, the broad content, processes, and principles that chology.
are the essence and core that differentiate psychology from What proof have I to offer to substantiate such bald
physics, economics, history, and other cognate disciplines assertions? First, except for interdisciplinary curriculums
have remained the same since psychology first became a in the neurosciences or artificial intelligence and its re-
university discipline 100 years ago. The second assertion lated computer-based sciences, the discipline-specific core
is that although many psychologists believe there currently content of the predoctoral curriculum of courses in uni-
exist bona fide specialties in psychology, neither the versity departments of psychology for students in one so-
American Psychological Association nor most other so- called psychology predoctoral "specialty track" does not
cietally relevant institutions have accorded such specialties differ substantially from that for students in another spe-
de jure recognition. Although informal de facto recognition cialty track. For example, compare the graduate school
of specialties already exists, several other stages in the curriculum for a student in clinical psychology with that
evolution of a specialty must (and very likely will) occur for a student in experimental psychology. The popular
during the next decade before society accords specialties belief among many psychologists is that the predoctoral
in psychology more formal, quasi-legaL de jure recogni- curriculums of these two tracks in psychology have almost
tion. no commonality. In contrast, I believe that the faculties
of university departments of psychology offer a common
core of subject-matter content to their graduate students.
One message has been clear to anyone present at a meet- This content is similar not only across universities but
ing of the executive or similar committee of subsets of also within a single department of psychology for students
psychologists at an annual meeting of the American Psy- heading for careers in seemingly widely different fields of
chological Association (APA) during the past 40 years-- application of psychology. Furthermore, I believe that
namely, the belief voiced by some of these leaders of psy- these common subject matters (but not necessarily com-
chology that the curriculum of the predoctoral education mon courses) taken by predoctoral students of psychology
of the future clinical psychologist has been, is, and should across the nation do not differ from the core subject matter
remain vastly different from that of tomorrow's experi- studied in courses taken by psychology students from
mental psychologist, which, in turn, is different from that 1878 to 1892, when the discipline of psychology was first
of the future social or developmental or industrial psy- added to the country's university offerings.
chologist. Furthermore, such universally held beliefs re-
garding differing curriculums include the corollary belief
that the specialties in psychologyjust enumerated do cur-
Core Knowledge Is Transmitted in Textbooks,
rently exist and are formally accepted as such by others Not Teachers' Opinions
in society. The latter conviction provides validation for It is my assertion that each of the graduate students (and
the belief that different predoctoral curriculums for such undergraduate majors in each generation) in U.S. de-
specialties already exist in most of this country's univer- partments of psychology from 1890 to 1987 has taken
sity departments of psychology. courses in psychology (whether required or chosen in a
In opposition to such widely held beliefs, I wish to required number from a list of possible electives) that
make and defend two assertions: were in broad content, underlying processes, and prin-
1. There is currently not even one specialty in psy- ciples, namely, at their core, almost identical, even though
chology that meets the usual societal criteria utilized by such students matriculated during different epochs and
significant others for the recognition of a specialty in the in universities that were geographically widely separated.
professions. The exceptions to this relatively large commonality in

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 893

Copyrisht 1987 by the American Psychological As..qg~ation, Inc. 0003-066X/87/$00.75
Vol. 42, No. 10, 893-903
curricular, discipline-specific, content offerings quite PhD program are listed in Matarazzo, 1983, p. 105.)
likely earlier reflected, and reflect today, little more than Consistent with my point regarding Table l, as a teaching
a local faculty member's idiosyncratic interest. faculty member in these two programs of study, I have
This viewpoint is not surprising inasmuch as it is been unable to discern a difference between them in the
by means of such a differentiated subject matter and its core psychological content, psychological processes, and
related core of knowledge that the faculties of disparately general principles covered.
located university departments transmit to students what Specifically, graduate students studying in these two
they believe is the common knowledge base of psychology tracks in my own university's PhD program of study in
(or mathematics, economics, physics, etc.). It is through psychology and in those of other universities either have
assimilating this core knowledge, and related discipline- taken essentially similar courses in the core subject areas
specific vocabulary, that students of psychology (or any (listed in Appendix A) or have studied similar material
discipline) adopt a common frame of reference that iden- in one or more courses offered under another title. The
tifies them as members of the same cultural subgroup. minimum core that constitutes a program of doctoral
Furthermore, in common with other fields, it is by ad- study in psychology (shown in Appendix A) was developed
ditions to and deletions from that core that psychology during the past decade by the Task Force on Education
is continuously defined and redefined. As specialization and Credentialing in Psychology (TFEC), which was es-
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evolves, that process determines how and in what direc- tablished in 1979 by the APA Council of Representatives.
tions psychology will be applied; however, the core of Appointed by the APA Council to TFEC were represen-
knowledge determines what will be applied in that evo- tatives of four constituencies with a vested interest in de-
lution. Study of any standard textbook in psychology will fining who is a psychologist. These four constituencies
quickly reveal that there have been large increases and were APA, the Council of Graduate Departments of Psy-
fundamental changes in the empirical and theoretical chology (COGDOP), the National Register of Health Ser-
knowledge base of psychology during the past century. vice Providers in Psychology (the National Register), and
The specific content of today's best-selling introductory the American Association of State Psychology (Licensing)
psychology textbook is obviously considerably different Boards (AASPB). Building on prior work done from 1975
from that of William James's (1890) The Principles of to 1979 by the National Register and AASPB, represen-
Psychology or Boring, Langfeld, and Weld's (1948) Foun- tatives of these four constituencies making up TFEC met
dations of Psychology introductory textbook. However, from 1979 to 1985 to hammer out criteria that would be
the chapter titles and the major themes in the subject acceptable to all four. Ultimately, three of the four reached
matter of the introductory and graduate textbooks that agreement. As formally approved in 1985 by APA's
have defined the parameters of the discipline for each Council of Representatives and shortly thereafter by the
succeeding generation have differed little from one an- National Register and AASPB, the subject matter shown
other during the past 100 years. In fact, the chapter titles in Appendix A constitutes the minimum graduate edu-
of William James's 1890 textbook differ little from their cational requirements I that must be met by a student
1987 counterparts. Support for this assertion is presented who seeks credentialing as the holder of a doctorate in
in Table 1, which lists the chapter rifles of the introductory psychology in any area of fee-for-service application or
psychology textbook published by William James in 1890, related consultation (i.e., clinical, counseling, experi-
by Angell in 1906, by Boring et al. in 1948, by Kimble, mental, social, etc.) that is governed by this country's
Garmezy, and Zigler in 1984, and by Zimbardo in 1985. state licensing laws.
Based on my earlier discussion of Table l, as well
APA Approves Minimum Doctoral as Istvan and Hatton's review (1987) of the subject matter
Requirements studied by predoctoral students matriculating in a "health
It is the material that is designated by chapter titles in psychology predoctoral track" in l 0 of the country's uni-
the introductory textbooks and that is elaborated and versities, I believe that with few exceptions, all of today's
refined from general content to specific application in
advanced, graduate-level textbooks that constitutes the This article was an invited Psi Chi Distinguished Lecture delivered during
the meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 24, 1986,
subject matter studied in depth in university-based doc-
Washington, DC. The article integrates and expands ideas and material
toral programs in psychology. My own experiences during previously published in disparate sources (Matarazzo, 1980, 1982, 1983,
the past three decades as chair of a graduate department 1987a, and 1987b). Preparation of this article was supported in part by
of psychology are consistent with the implications of what National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Grants HL20910, HL07332,
is shown in Table 1. Since 1957, our department has of- and NO l-HR-46016.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jo-
fered clinical training to over 200 interns and residents seph D. Matarazzo, Department of Medical Psychology, Oregon Health
in clinical psychology who have completed their PhD de- Sciences University, Portland, OR 97201.
gree at another university. Concurrently, in our capacity
as one of the basic science departments of our medical I Only the educational component of the formally ratified criteria
school, our department has graduated some 35 graduate of what constitutes a doctoral program in psychology is shown in Ap-
pendix A. In addition to that component, both AASPBand the National
students who took four to five years ofpredoctoral training Register require a number of administrative components; for example,
in experimental-physiological psychology in the depart- regional accreditation of the institution of higher education, a clearly
ment. (The actual courses and programs of study in our identifiable psychology faculty and psychology program, and so on.

894 October 1987 9 American Psychologist

psychologists who earned their PhD degree from a uni- listed in Appendix A, all programs requesting designation
versity department of psychology studied content or had as fulfilling the minimal requirements for a doctorate in
courses in all or almost all of the areas included in the psychology must include an advanced sequence and ap-
minimum core curriculum listed in Appendix A. The prenticeship experiences (Area 10) appropriate to the area
first two areas in Appendix A, research design and sta- of application of psychology that represents the student's
tistics, are not core psychology but involve tools and con- subsequent career goal; that is, courses and apprentice-
cepts that doctoral-level psychologists need and that have ships differentially germane to the (potentially licensable)
been in place in psychology for decades. The third and application of generic psychology to problems and pop-
fourth areas, measurement and history, also are discipline ulations subsumed by such rubrics as clinical, experi-
specific and have been in place in most programs for mental, and developmental psychology; neuropsychology;
years. The fifth area, ethics, was strongly recommended health psychology; and school psychology.
by APA several years ago in letters to the faculties of
departments of psychology not then offering such a COGDOP Rejects Minimal Doctoral
court. Requirements
Areas 6-9 in Appendix A are the core subject matter As indicated earlier, formal ratification of the minimum
areas of psychology that involved considerable discussion educational requirements (listed in Appendix A) by each
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This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

(by representatives of the National Register and the AASPB of the four major independent constituencies, acting either
since 1975 and since 1979, when they were joined by individually or as a consortium, was the next step. At its
APA and COGDOP) before a consensus was achieved. February 1985 meeting in Washington, DC, the APA
However, my study of the reports of the prior national Council of Representatives formally adopted the require-
conferences beginning with Boulder reveals little change ments (in principle and without adding a mechanism for
in these current four recommended curricular content implementation) as APA's official policy of what consti-
areas (Areas 6-9) over the years (APA, 1947, pp. 545- tutes a doctoral program of study in psychology. (This
551; Raimy, 1950, p. 64). Nevertheless, even though ear- action by APA was a break from the tradition of learned
lier in the 1970s codification of what was meant by a societies in mathematics, economics, physics, history, etc.,
doctorate in psychology had been demanded by state none of which to date appear to have experienced internal
boards and the insurance industry, as well as by already or outside pressure to "codify" their doctor of phi-
licensed practitioners themselves, concessions were made losophy curriculums, even to the minimal extent that
by TFEC to local university control through these min- APA has. Put on hold at that February 1985 meeting of
imal criteria. The criteria were then formally adopted by the APA Council of Representatives were both the needed
APA in 1985. The concessions made by TFEC involved mechanisms for implementation and the decision as to
the broad wording (shown only in summary form in Ap- whether APA would proceed alone (or in a consortium
pendix A but elaborated in the following list) of these with AASPB, or the National Register, or COGDOP, or with
requisite four content areas (Areas 6-9) and the suggestion others) in the next step of actually inviting applications
that any of a number of actual course titles or equivalent from programs wishing to be designated as doctoral pro-
subject matter content in that area are qualifying. The grams in psychology and thus listed by APA (and others)
examples of qualifying courses or course content ham- in a publicly disseminated national roster of such pro-
mered out during the period 1979-1985 by the represen- grams.
tatives to the Joint APA, AASPB, National Register, and After APA ratified the criteria in February 1985, the
COGDOP Task Force (shown in parentheses in the follow- officers of the National Register voted in June 1985, as
ing list) are illustrative and, reinforcing my point that they had since 1975, that they would continue to use
there has been a consensus on the core content of psy- what were essentially the same criteria as their official
chology in every generation since 1890 (see Table 1), have definition of what constitutes a doctoral program in psy-
remained essentially unchanged in every Task Force draft chology. However, to acknowledge the strong opposition
from 1979 to 1985. The four content areas and qualifying to national codification of the curricular offerings in a
courses and subject matter are university's research (PhD) degree program expressed by
1. Biological bases (e.g., physiological psychology, some university psychology departments (i.e., "creden-
comparative psychology, neuropsychology, psychophar- tialing" via a system called "designation"), the APA
macology); Council of Representatives, at its August 1985 meeting,
2. Cognitive-affective bases (e.g., learning, memory, reopened and thus put on "temporary hold" any form
perception, cognition, thinking, motivation, emotion); of implementation of its February 1985 decision to offi-
3. Social bases (e.g., social psychology, cultural, cially adopt the criteria. Nevertheless, during that same
ethnic and group processes, sex roles, organizational be- week, the elected officers of the AASPB voted to affirm the
havior); and minimum criteria and joined officially with the National
4. Individual differences (e.g., personality theory, Register as a formal consortium, independent of APA for
human development, individual differences, abnormal the time being, for implementing with their own constit-
psychology, psychology of women, psychology of the uencies the national designation of doctoral programs
handicapped, psychology of the minority experience). meeting the criteria in Appendix A. Furthermore, AASPB
In addition to the nine required content offerings agreed to jointly publish the next edition of the list of

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 895

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896 October 1987 9 A m e r i c a n Psychologist

designated doctoral programs in psychology that the Na-
~0 tional Register had been publishing since 1975. However,
g) in a 1986 mail ballot, a majority of the heads of psy-
chology departments who represent their departments as
members of COGDOP voted that COGDOP not join any
(/) such consortium to serve as a national body to designate
(publicly list) universities whose curricular offerings con-

stitute a doctoral program in psychology as depicted in
O. Appendix A. The COGDOP vote was a rejection by a large
uJ majority of members of the minimal core proposed by
APA that already had been accepted by the APA Council
of Representatives, by AASPB, and by the National Reg-
I find COGDOP'S rejection of the criteria surprising
inasmuch as it is clear to me that all university depart-
ments of psychology now include the subject matter
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

~ shown in Appendix A in their PhD curriculum. 2 Fur-

thermore, as I have shown in Table l, such subject matter
has since 1890 distinguished what is studied by a graduate
student of psychology from the subject matter studied by
a graduate student of physics, economics, history, and so
on. In my opinion, the COGDOP vote was against outside
f,. ,6 N accreditation of any pathway to the 800-year-old univer-
sity-offered research and scholarship degree (the PhD)
and was not specifically directed to the substance of the
criteria in Appendix A. That is, | believe the faculty
members who cast their ballot in this COGDOP vote were
"~- ~ merely expressing the same personal values articulated
0_ ~ ~ 0,- by the academic subset of psychologists in the study of
~'~ c~_ psychology's "two cultures" by Kimble (1984) and were
CEc>" ,>, <~ m_~m not dealing with the readily discernible facts regarding
psychology's content (exemplified in Table 1). I also be-
.0o k. ~176
"-- '--
lieve that the 1986 COGDOP voters were not aware that
the m i n i m u m outside control by society "codified" in
the criteria was one of the necessary outcomes of decisions
L"Xl t'Xl t'Xl (Xl
made during the period 1947-1949 and anticipated dur-
ing that period by their own university teachers. That is,
at that time, APA and those faculty in post-World War
II psychology departments agreed to help develop mech-
..e. "6 = o - anisms for quality control as a condition of accepting
~" | -8o large sums of money from the Veterans Administration
~ o - >,~ ~ and U.S. Public Health Service (National Institute of
Mental Health) for the trainee stipends and new faculty
salaries required to begin to turn out the thousands of
clinical psychologists these government agencies predicted
Z ~- m ee 0~-

2 Psychology's academicians are conflicted in regard to the minimal

core shown in Appendix A, despite their rejection of it when they voted
collectively as members of COGDOP. Specifically, when invited to publicly
affirm that the doctoral psychology programs of study (clinical, social,
~_ =
I1~ experimental, cognitive,etc.) in their individual institutions do include
all the components listed here in Appendix A, the chairpersons of the
country's departments of psychology,including our most prestigious,
8 "o =
o 8 have in fact voluntarily listed their own psychologydepartment in the
~m annual, jointly published AASPa--NationalRegisteredition of Designated
._C'~E o Doctoral Programs in Psychology. I believethat they thus have helped
m m c ~ o E their graduates in all fields of psychologymeet potential later licensing
requirements by affu'mingthat their own department'sdoctoral program
includes the "requisites" of the common core shown in Appendix A
without, however, having to affirm that an actual mandated "list" of
such courses is what is offered.

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 897

were needed to treat both returning veterans and the an- cesses covered in such courses. Specific examples are
nually increasing numbers of patients in state hospitals handbooks with such seemingly different titles as "social
and clinics (APA, 1947; Raimy, 1950). psychology," "'clinical psychology, .... experimental psy-
Thus, in 1987 it is not difficult for me to assert the chology," and "child psychology," as well as advanced
following. First, whether or not psychologists agree to it textbooks with titles such as "learning and memory,"
by formal vote, there is only one subject matter in the "'development across the life span," "psychological as-
field of psychology. Second, anyone (including my fellow sessment," and "psychology of women and other minor-
members of COGDOP) wishing to identify this subject ities." I assert that each of these textbooks (a) includes
matter need merely look at the chapter headings and con- discussion of some of the same basic content, processes,
tents of the best undergraduate textbooks in psychology. and principles (Areas 6 through 9) that differentiate psy-
Third, the subject matter studied by all graduate students chology from other disciplines, but (b) changes only the
in a university department of psychology, no matter what locus and focus of application of this core knowledge. I
the students" career goals, includes exposure to, if not further assert that the broad content, core processes, and
study in depth of, this core subject matter. I believe that principles in the graduate courses that evolved from this
the content of Table 1 is robust support for my first as- common core of subject matter (listed in Appendix A)
sertion, namely, that from 1890 through 1987 there has during the past 100 years (see Table 1) have been essen-
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

been only a single, easily recognized subject matter of tially the same for all graduate students in departments
broad content, processes, and principles (Areas 6 through of psychology. They have remained the same even for
9 in Appendix A) that differentiates psychology from his- students whose ultimate goal was a career that required
tory, mathematics, economics, physics, and so on. Fur- an extra elective track of additional courses or appren-
thermore, despite the subject matter's differential appli- ticeship experiences (Area 10 in Appendix A) that em-
cation in graduate textbooks of social, experimental, phasize differential application of the common broad
clinical, and other fields of psychology, its broad content, content and principles to facilitate the student's later work
processes, and principles are the same for all doctor of in a specific area of psychology.
philosophy students heading for a career in psychology,
whether in clinical, experimental, social, or any other area The Minor Track in Psychology's Doctoral
of application of that psychology. As shown in Table 1 Curriculum
and Appendix A, it is a common content covering the Those who attended the 1949 Boulder Conference on
biophysiological systems of behavior; the social bases of Training in Clinical Psychology were the first leaders in
behavior; and individual differences in emotion, moti- psychology to deal in an organized fashion with the issue
vation, learning, memory, intelligence, and other cogni- of the minor field of study in the doctoral curriculum.
tive-affective bases of behavior. The consensus they reached on this issue was one they
This is the core knowledge all psychologists share, reaffirmed through the 1958 Miami Beach conference,
and it clearly differentiates those who earn a doctor of the 1965 Chicago conference, and the 1973 Vail confer-
philosophy degree via study in a university department ence (Matarazzo, 1983). That consensus was that, inas-
of psychology from those who earn one in a university much as the accumulated knowledge base of psychology
department of mathematics, economics, or history. Where had persuaded leaders in government and others (who
the graduate education and training of students in clinical generously funded psychology departments) that psy-
psychology differs from that of students in experimental chology in 1949 also had the potential to offer services
psychology is in Appendix A's Area 10, namely, in the to the public at taxpayer expense or as a fee-for-service
elective courses that later will better allow each student profession, the curriculum for the predoctoral student in
to apply that common, generic training in basic psy- psychology aiming for such a professional career of clin-
chology (Areas 6-9 in Appendix A) in different areas of ical application would need an additional element. Spe-
application (Area 10) that are associated with so-called cificaUy,such students would need to add to this common,
clinical, social, and experimental psychology, and so on. generic core of subject matter an additional track of re-
quired advanced courses (or courses chosen from a list
More Myth Versus Reality of electives) and apprenticeship experiences designed to
Furthermore, the rifles of the more than 40 APA divisions help differentially apply that common core of subject
(humanistic, experimental, history, industrial, clinical, matter to the particular clinical area (APA, 1947; Raimy,
developmental, health, etc.) strongly imply even finer dis- 1950).
tinctions in the predoctoral educational preparation of Despite appearances, this two-part 1949 decision at
graduate students heading for careers in psychology in Boulder was not a departure from what had been the rule
these areas. Because of their very names, these APA di- for all students in traditional doctoral education in de-
visions help perpetuate the myth that psychologists be- partments of psychology since 1890. Thus, as perusal of
longing to them differ in core educational background. the autobiographies (or obituaries) of the country's most
To further compound this confusion between myth and visible psychologists reveals, after studying essentially the
reality, even the rifles of the textbooks for advanced grad- same predoctoral core psychology content from t890 to
uate courses in psychology inadvertently imply vast dif- 1949, the graduate student of that period who wanted a
ferences in the basic principles and psychological pro- career in experimental psychology had taken a few elective

898 October 1987 9 American Psychologist

courses that would facilitate applying the core subject function [plus the followingclause that subsequentlywas added
matter and knowledge of psychology in basic research on in 1982 by vote of the Division 38 membership], and to the
behavior, such as courses in mathematics, biology, and analysis and improvement of the health care system and health
engineering. Likewise, the graduate student of the period policy formation (Matarazzo, 1980, p. 815, 1982, p. 4).
1890-1949 wishing to do research in and be a teacher of In my opinion, this initial working definition, to which
physiological psychology added to his or her graduate Division 38 members still appear to subscribe, states quite
psychology core courses a minor, elective track that con- clearly that health psychology is the application of the
sisted of neurology, neuroanatomy, physiology, and the common body of knowledge of psychology (listed here
like. In addition, pre-Second World War graduate stu- in Table l and Appendix A) to any of a number of venues
dents aiming for a career in developmental or child psy- in the arena of health. As new information is accumulated
chology added as their minor track a program that in- and psychologists add to and delete from the basic core
cluded, for example, elective courses in embryology, the of psychology, this continuing synthesis and resynthesis
home and family, and correlation and regression analyses, will determine what elements of the discipline of psy-
which better enabled them to apply the basic knowledge chology are applied. At the same time, the needs of society
of psychology to understanding child development. and advancements in psychology will coalesce to deter-
As the price for the massive influx of federal funds
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mine how and in what directions of potential specializa-

This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

to psychology departments, what the 1949 Boulder con- tion (including health) psychology will be applied by sci-
ference did that was a slight departure from this earlier entists and service providers.
(1890-1949) state of affairs was to loosely codify for the In sum, then, and as I show in Table 2, it is my belief
first time and for a subset of PhD students a few of these that in 1987, health psychology (item 13) is best described
electives (Area l0 in Appendix A) that had to be taken as generic psychology (Table 1 and Appendix A) applied
by a university psychology department graduate student in a particular area (health) by the discipline of psychol-
who wanted a career of professional service or research ogy's scientists and service providers. As repeatedly em-
(or both) in clinical psychology (APA, 1947; Raimy, phasized earlier, and as also depicted in Table 2, I hold
1950). Even with the difference in these "extras" in the this same view in relation to clinical, social, child, ex-
content of the minor track of study, I believe the material perimental, and industrial psychology, neuropsychology,
presented in Table 1 and Appendix A provides more than and other areas of psychology. That is, in 1987, social
ample evidence to support my first assertion, namely, psychology is little more (selections from Area 10, Ap-
that there is one psychology and one core subject matter pendix A) than generic psychology (Areas 6 through 9)
in psychology--one that is studied by all students who ethically applied to individuals and problems involving
receive a doctorate from a university department of psy- one or more social systems; child psychology is the same
chology. core of knowledge applied to children (a different Area
Different Applications Are Not Different t0); and industrial psychology is no more than the same
core psychology applied to clients and problems in in-
Specialties dustry (a different Area 10). Likewise, as also shown in
I stated at the outset my belief that in 1987 there are still Table 2, clinical, military, and consumer psychology are
no formally recognized postdoctoral specialties in psy- nothing more than the selections from a single body of
chology. My own field of health psychology provides a knowledge that, following selections from Area 10, are
good example. I sense that like me, many psychologists applied to problems encountered, respectively, in clinical,
working in health settings believe that health psychology military, or consumer settings. My point is that the PhD
is in 1987 still only a vibrant family of health-specific is in philosophy and represents study in depth in the sub-
applications of a common subject matter of generic psy- ject matter of generic psychology as differentiated from
chology, albeit one that has undergone rapid growth since history, mathematics, and other learned disciplines. There
the establishment within the APA in 1978 of a Division simply are not any university departments of psychology
of Health Psychology (Division 38). However, in my mind in the United States that grant a PhD in either psychology
(and, I believe, in the minds of most members of Division or any of its specific applications.
38), in 1987 the term health is an adjective that defines The views just expressed regarding health psychology
the arena in which the core knowledge in the science and and other areas for the application of psychology (clinical,
profession of psychology is applied and, thus, there is not social, etc.) do not mean I believe that there will not be
today a health psychology that differs from psychology bona fide specialties in psychology in the future. Such
proper. This view should not surprise most members of specialties, however, require some further developments
APA inasmuch as only in the years 1978-1979 did the within the discipline. In particular, psychologists must
members of Division 38 accept the following interim def- more clearly recognize the differences between limited
inition offered by the charter president of that Division: and expanded bodies of knowledge and the differences
Health psychologyis the aggregate of the specific educational, between the bodies of knowledge that relate to only a
scientific, and professional contributions of the discipline of proficiency and those that relate to a specialty. Once this
psychologyto the promotion and maintenance of health, the process is accomplished, it will help the profession move
prevention and treatment of illness, the identificationof etiologic from the current de facto recognition of specialties in
and diagnostic correlates of health, illness, and related dys- psychology--a recognition that today is supported only

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 899

Table 2
Relation of Application of Same Core Subject Matter of Psychology to Self-Identifying Adjective Used by
Psychologists Working in Various Settings, With Different Clients, or Different Issues
Helps others identify subsets of comparably
Applied in this setting, or to educated psychologists applying that generic
Core sul:~sct matter this client or issue psychology who identify themselves with this title

Generic psychology Industry Industrial/organizational psychologist

Bodily system Physiological (comparative) psychologist
Clinical setting Clinical psychologist
Experimental psych, lab Experimental psychologist
Child Child psychologist
Social group Social psychologist
Consumer Industrial/organizational psychologist
Military setting Military psychologist
School School psych~ogist
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

Personality study Personality or social psychologist

This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

Counseling setting Counseling psychologist

Philosophy Philosophical (humanistic) psychologist
Health Health psychologist
Brain and CNS Neuropsychologist
Legal setting Forensic psychologist
Etc. Etc.

by the American Board of Professional Psychology by which to honor or support such requests, APA, acting
(ABPP), but as yet not by APA, the National Register, through the Committee on Standards of Providers of Psy-
AASPB,and related important constituencies0to de jure chological Services (cosPoPS) of its Board of Professional
recognition of psychology specialties by these and other Affairs (BPA), established in 1978 a Task Force on Spe-
relevant and powerful constituencies in society. cialty Criteria (TFSC) to fill this void. After five years of
Proficiencies and De Facto Versus De Jure work (in August 1983), TFSC produced the Manual for
Specialties the Identification and Continued Recognition of Profi-
ciencies and New Specialties in Psychology (Sales et al.,
Throughout these remarks I have offered my opinion that 1983). With this manual, TFSC tried to provide the steps
there exist no bona fide specialties in psychology today. American psychology could take toward identifying and
However, I acknowledge that my disagreement with many thus helping APA officially recognize the first bona fide
in psychology regarding whether clinical neuropsychology, specialties in psychology. Beginning with APA's help in
health psychology, clinical psychology, or any of the other the establishment of the American Board of Professional
six special areas of psychology recognized by ABPP al- Psychology in 1947, the profession of psychology through
ready have achieved the status of a specialty may be more ABPP has recognized special areas for the professional
semantic than substantive. In previous writings (Mata- practice of psychology (i.e., clinical, counseling, industrial
razzo, 1965, 1977, 1983), I also have offered the opinion and school; and since 1984 clinical neuropsychology and
that no such specialties in psychology are either well es- forensic psychology). However, despite an APA system to
tablished or widely accepted by significant others in so- accredit such university and internship programs, which
ciety. That opinion has stimulated considerable healthy also has been in operation since 1947 (APA, 1947), no
counterarguments. It is based on such realities as that one of these six areas of application has ever been officially
only in 1983 did the APA (through its Subcommittee on acknowledged by APA to be a specialty, inasmuch as no
Specialization) begin the process through which it even- criteria for such designation or credentialing have ever
tually would publish the steps a division of APA, or an- been ratified by APA (Sales, 1985).
other subset of psychologists, should take to apply for the I am aware that some constituencies within the APA
designation of the professional activities of its members governance structure believe that APA already officially
as a bona fide specialty within psychology (Sales, Bricklin, recognizes four types of specialists within psychology.
& Hall, 1983, 1984). Nevertheless, this surmised recognition by APA is a result
Sales (1985) and Sales et al. ( 1983, pp. 6-8) reported of a quirk of dissonance as well as professional legerde-
that for many years APA has received requests from a main resulting from APA's accreditation practices dating
number of constituencies of psychologists (i.e., forensic back to 1947 (APA, 1947). It also is related to the fact
psychology, psychoanalysis, and several divisions of APA) that in 1981, APA published Specialty Guidelines for the
to have their subfield officially declared a bona fide spe- Delivery of Services (APA, 1981), which defined guidelines
cialty of psychology. Acknowledging that it had no criteria for recognizing providers and service delivery units in

900 October 1987 o American Psychologist

four distinct areas: clinical, counseling, industrial/orga- underscore my point, in its just revised General Guide-
nizational, and school psychology. However, in none of linesfor Providers of Psychological Services (APA, 1987),
the criteria or guidelines used in the APA accreditation APA downgraded the 1977 "standards" for providers of
process from 1947 to the present is there a process by psychological services to "guidelines."
which to identify, according to specific APA criteria, who Isolated legislative and judicial actions since 1947
is or is not a specialist in one of these four areas. Fur- also have helped these four special areas of application
thermore, although the Specialty Guidelines provide (plus two recent others) in their evolution into what one
considerable detail as to what requirements a service de- day will be more widely acknowledged bona fide spe-
livery unit must meet to qualify as a "specialty providing cialties in psychology. The steps through which members
site," they make almost no mention of the specific qual- of a discipline proceed as they move from membership
ifications that must be met by a "psychologist working in a parent organization to self-identification as members
in these specialty units" who asserts that he or she is a of a new specialty and then to formal recognition by so-
specialist (as would thus be defined by APA) in any of ciety as members of such a specialty are listed in Appendix
these fields. Likewise, almost no mention regarding such B (and are discussed in more detail in Matarazzo, 1983,
specific qualifications is made in the 1987 companion pp. 89-94). Despite the current exploration by BPA of
document (APA, 1987) to this 1981 set of guidelines for APA's options regarding how to formally recognize a spe-
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

service units. The reason for this omission is simple: Other cialty in psychology, a much-needed step for clarifying
committees within APA, and particularly the relevant such an ambiguous situation for all parties was the TFSC's
Subcommittee on Specialization (SOS) chaired by Sales, publication of the earlier mentioned 1983 manual (Sales
were (and remain today) unable to discern a consensus et al., 1983). Specifically, in that (on hold, but still very
among APA members regarding the specific and differ- useful) manual, Sales et al. made a distinction between a
ential indexes by which APA could formally identify and "proficiency" and a "specialty" (i.e., the distinction in
promulgate criteria for designating a specialty in psy- the progress of evolution shown in Appendix B between
chology. The net result in all this confusion is that, fol- Stage 1 and Stages 4-15). This seemingly semantic (but
lowing five years (1981-1986) of frustrating work trying critical) distinction offered by Sales et al. will do much
to develop such criteria, at its spring 1986 meeting, the to help clear up the differences of opinion among psy-
SOS put on hold its further work on explicating the cri- chologists, and between APA and some of its divisions
teria for a specialty in psychology. Instead, with this input, that represent professional psychologists, on what is and
APA's Board of Professional Affairs (BPA), the parent what is not a specialty in psychology. According to Sales
board of SOS, began discussing during 1987 a series of et al., recognition of a proficiency in psychology, such as
options by which psychology could and will formally rec- expertise in relaxation training, competent neuropsycho-
ognize specialties within psychology. These options were logical assessment, or vocational guidance assessment,
as follows: (a) APA itselfwould develop and then continue minimally requires the identification of substantial
to provide the mechanism for recognizing psychology knowledge and skills related to one of the following four
specialties, (b) APA would ask an outside group (such as relatively unique components: (a) the client population,
ABPP) to take on that responsibility by itself, (c) APA (b) the services rendered, (c) the problems addressed; and
would foster the development of a new and also indepen- (d) the settings and services that form the foundation of
dent American Board of Psychological Specialties (just the specialty. In contrast, recognition of a bona fide spe-
as in 1947 APA funded and thus fostered the development cialty of psychology (e.g., clinical, health, school, or
of ABPP), or (d) other alternatives. counseling) minimally requires the identification of sub-
As I hope the preceding description of the continuing stantial knowledge and skills related to each of these four
dissonance within APA helps clarify, the weight of the components (Sales et al., 1983, p. 129). Thus, because of
evidence is persuasive that, except for its ethics code, APA this debate and informed opinion within the national or-
(as psychology's official national organization) today has ganization, APA appears to have made progress in pro-
no cTiteria for identifyingwithin its own membership who mulgating the just listed criteria that an area of application
is and who is not a specialist in psychology. APA does, needs to meet for it to be officially recognized by APA as
however, continue to recognize the four special areas of a specialty in psychology. If agreement on the criteria and
clinical, counseling, industrial/organizational, and school process is reached by the constituencies currently involved
psychology, which it helped highlight as specialties (i.e., APA acting alone or APA in concert with ABPP and
through its funding of the development of ABPP in 1947. others), it will be much easier for a special area, such as
APA acknowledged the existence of these areas, via the health psychology, to do a self-study (relative to Stages
back door, by (a) the listing over many years of such ABPP 1-10 in Appendix B), apply to APA or ABPP and others
diplomates in its annual directory of APA Members, (b) for specialty designation (Stage 11), and if approved, better
its accreditation of doctoral programs of study (plus rel- continue its evolution with this newly won, public en-
evant internships) in such areas, (c) its publication of the dorsement (through Stages 12-15 and beyond).
1981 Specialty Guidelines for the Delivery of Services Sales (1985) and Sales et al. (1983, 1984) do not
(APA, 1981) in these four areas of application, and (d) deny, any more than I have throughout this article, the
its 1977 promulgation of a set of formal Standards for reality that some psychologists already believe their area
Providers of Psychological Services (APA, 1977). As if to has achieved a generally acknowledged specialty status

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 901

(Stages 11-15). To address such perceptions, Sales et al. no bona fide specialties (such as myself and Sechrest,
(1983, p. 129; Sales, 1985) extended their insightful dis- 1985) and those arguing that there are (many of my col-
tinction between a proficiency and a specialty for the dis- leagues in clinical psychology, in health psychology, and
cipline of psychology and articulated an important ad- in neuropsychology) will find, to their relief, that they are
ditional dimension to the 15 stages in the sociology of a and have been in substantial agreement. The history of
profession I outlined in Appendix B. Specifically, Sales clinical psychology, health psychology, and neuropsy-
et al. discussed two quite different ways by which spe- chology (and, I might add, experimental, social, physio-
cialization in psychology is acknowledged: de facto and logical, or industrial/organizational psychology) leaves
de jure. For Sales et al., de facto specialization is the result little question in my mind that each area for the potential,
of the informal process of self-identification following self- fee-for-service postdoctoral application of generic psy-
selection of a delimited sphere of professional practice chology has developed some unique proficiencies and also
that involves a special client area, set of skills and services, that, by 1987, each thus has achieved, along with its rec-
problems addressed, and settings for professional services. ognition as a research specialty, a fair amount of de facto
I have depicted in Table 2, and in Stages 1-10 in Appendix recognition as a postdoctoral professional specialty. If this
B, some of the elements associated with de facto special- is true, then my earlier arguments on this issue may soon
ization. In contrast, de jure specialization involves a more be replaced by an argument over a narrower and possibly
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

formal, quasi-legalistic or official legislative process of less difficult question. This question is, which of psyo
certification, licensure, or related recognition indicating chology's professional health service areas of postdoctoral
that a practitioner is a specialist (Stages 11-15 and beyond application, currently perceived (de facto) by our disci-
in Appendix B). pline via the back door to be a specialty, is in 1987 also
Psychology clearly has been moving toward de jure a societally recognized (de jure) professional specialty ac-
recognition of specialists through the establishment of cording to the criteria listed in Appendix B and described
such bodies as the ABPP (Stage 10). However, with few in general terms for all professions by Matarazzo (1983)
exceptions, none of the 51 (state and District of Columbia) and Sales et al. (1983)? Continuing experience and debate
licensing boards and few if any state and no federal laws will no doubt make it easier for the protagonists to reach
yet define and thereby officially codify the differential cri- a consensus on the answer to this better defined and ar-
teria for identifying who is a specialist within the discipline ticulated question.
of psychology. These latter steps quite likely should follow The data presented in Tables I and 2 and Appendixes
when the APA, following its 1986 instruction to its Ed- A and B leave no question in my mind that, as of today,
ucation and Training Board, completes the current pro- there is only one psychology, many applications, but no
cess of study of mechanisms for formally accrediting the specialties formally recognized as such by significant oth-
quality of postdoctoral training programs in areas of ap- ers outside the discipline.
plication (e.g., clinical, counseling, school, clinical neu-
ropsychology, and so on). Once a few of the nation's post- REFERENCES
doctoral training programs also have been accredited by American Psychological Association, Committee on Training in Clinical
APA (Stage 11 in Appendix B) and thus, through APA's Psychology. (1947). Recommended graduate training program in
current recognition by a governmentally sanctioned ac- clinical psychology, American Psychologist, 2. 539-558.
crediting body obtain the same formal status as have pre- American Psychological Association. (1977). Standards for providers of
psychological services. Washington, DC: Author.
doctoral programs, practitioners' full acceptance by so- American Psychological Association. ( 1981 ). Specialty guidelines for the
ciety as de jure specialists in psychology will not be long delivery of services. American Psychologist, 36, 639-681.
in coming. Such de jure recognition should follow rela- American Psychological Association. (1987). General guidelines for
tively easily, because psychology has already met some of providers of psychological services. American Psychologist, 42, 712-
the requirements associated with Stages 12-15 in Ap- 723.
Angell, J. R. (1906). Psychology. New York: Henry Holt.
pendix B. Fortunately, to aid in the first 11 stages of this Boring, E. G., Langfeld, H. S., & Weld, H. P. (1948). Foundations of
process, APA has distributed a manual (Sales et al., 1983) psychology. New York: Wiley.
that contains the steps and the criteria to be followed by Istvan, J., & Hatton, D. C. (1987). Curricula of graduate training pro-
subsets of psychologists (e.g., clinical neuropsychologists) grams in health psychology. In G. C. Stone, S. M. Weiss, J. D. Ma-
tarazzo, N. E. Miller, J. Rodin, C. D. Belar, M. J. Follick, & J. E.
who wish to have their area of application of generic psy- Singer (Eds.), Health psychology: A discipline and a profession (pp.
chology officially recognized as a specialty of psychology 425-448). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
as defined by the parent discipline itself. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York: Henry Holt.
Although these new terms have been presented here Kimble, G. A. (1984). Psychoiogy's two cultures. American Psychologist,
only in capsule form, it appears that much of the recent 39, 833-839.
Kimble, G. A., Garmezy, N., & Zigier, E. (1984). Psychology. New York:
debate over whether clinical neuropsychology and health Wiley.
psychology are or are not now specialties revolves around Matarazzo, J. D. (1965). A postdoctoral residency program in clinical
the differing frames of reference of each of the protago- psychology. American Psychologist, 20, 432--439.
nists. Now that the distinctions between proficiency and Matarazzo, J. D. (1977). Higher education, professional accreditation,
and licensure. American Psychologist, 32, 856-859.
specialty, and de facto and de jure specialties, have been Matarazzo, J. D. (1980). Behavioral health and behavioral medicine:
clarified by a subcommittee of the BPA, it is quite likely Frontiers for a new health psychology. American Psychologist, 35,
that the proponents of the position that there are today 807-817.

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Matarazzo, J. D. (1982). Behavioral health's challenge to academic, sci- Raimy, V. (1950). Training in clinical psychology New York: Prentice-
entitle, and professional psychology. American Psychologist, 37, 1- Hall.
14. Sales, B. (1985). Specialization: Past history and future alternatives.
Matarazzo, J. D. (1983). Education and training in health psychology: Clinical Psychologist, 38(3), 48-52.
Boulder or bolder. Health Psychology,, 2, 73-113. Sales, B., Brieklin, P., & Hall, J. (1983). Manual for the identification
Matarazzo, J. D. (1987a). Postdoctoral education and training of pro- and continued recognition of proficiencies and new specialties in psy-
viders in health psychology. In G. C. Stone, S. M. Weiss, J. D. Ma- chology (August 1, 1983 Draft). Washington, DC: American Psycho-
tarazzo, N. E. Miller, J. Rodin, C. D. Belar, M. J. Follick, & J. E. logical Association.
Singer (Eds.), Health psychology: A discipline and a profession (pp. Sales, B., Bricklin, P., & Hall, J. (1984). Speciafization in psychology.
371-388). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Principles (November 1984 Draft). Washington, DC: American Psy-
Matarazzo, J. D. (1987b). Relationships of health psychology to other chological Association.
segments of psychology. In G. C. Stone, S. M. Weiss, J. D. Matarazzo, Sechrest, L. B. (1985, Winter). Specialization? Who needs it? Clinical
N. E. Miller, J. Rodin, C. D. Belar, M. J. Follick, & J. E. Singer (Eds.), Psychologist, 38(i), 1-3.
Health psychology:A discipline and a profession (pp. 41-59). Chicago, Zimbardo, P. G. (1985). Psychology and life. Glenview, IL: Scott,
IL: University of Chicago Press. Foresman.

Appendix A
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

Minimum Graduate Educational Requirements for Credentialing as the Holder of a Doctorate From a Psychology
Department or Unit Nationally Designated as a Doctoral Program in Psychology
1. Research design and methodology 10. An advanced sequence of studies appropriate to each
2. Statistics graduate's later career track (e.g., an advanced re-
3. Psychological measurement (psychometrics) search or professionally applied apprenticeship ex-
4. History and systems of psychology perience and additional relevant courses in biology,
5. Scientific and professional ethics and standards neurosciences, chemistry, genetics, systems theory,
6. Biological bases of behavior computer sciences, mathematics, epidemiology, de-
7. Cognitive-affective bases of behavior mography, anthropology, sociology, management
8. Social bases of behavior science, psychotherapy, linguistics, engineering)
9. Individual differences

Appendix B
The Sociology of the Evolution of New Professions: Who Sanctions a New Specialty or Profession?
1. Discipline-specific new knowledge or a proficiency 10. Leaders in the discipline establish a national specialty
emerges in parent guild, profession, or discipline. board and begin formal certification (of self and new
2. A few members of parent discipline begin to apply members) as specialists in this discipline.
this proficiency and resulting new knowledge. I I. Concurrently, formal accreditation of the educational
3. Referrals are made specifically to such a self-defined and training programs in this new specialty is as-
individual by members of the parent discipline. signed to a qualified national association of such spe-
4. New guild-type educational programs within uni- cialists by a government-sponsored (or other soci-
versities or professional schools begin to teach that etally sanctioned national) accrediting body.
proficiency and in turn facilitate development of re- 12. For health practitioners, formal hospital and medical
lated proficiencies. staffrecognition of practitioners in this new specialty
5. Local and national professional member associations Occurs.
emerge as this new knowledge and these new profi- 13. For scientists, funding of trainee stipends and re-
ciencies accumulate. search grants by National Institutes of Health-Na-
6. A few academic or professional school units or de- tional Institute of Mental Health study sections and
partments are formally organized adminstratively training committees occurs as acknowledgment of
independent of parent department. recognition of this new discipline.
7. Self-certification and related standard setting are be- 14. Appropriate legislation is passed leading to both un-
gun by practitioners graduated by such faculties, fol- disputed acceptance by state and federal courts of
lowed by informal, national peer accreditation of individuals as expert witnesses in this new specialty
these new academic programs. and third-party reimbursement for health services
8. New scientific and professional journals are published delivered by such specialists.
specifically in this newly emerging area. 15. Legislation is passed for state licensure as a specialist
9. Formal university or professional school postdoctoral in that subarea of the parent discipline, in contrast
training is offered around the growing numbers of to licensure as a generic practitioner as currently
well-established proficiencies for specialized appli- practiced by most of the 50 states and the District of
cations with clients and problems different from those Columbia for professionals in psychology, medicine,
seen by the parent discipline. dentistry, and law.

October 1987 9 American Psychologist 903