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The NADD Competency-Based Clinical Certification Program


Qualifications for a NADD-Clinical Certification (NADD-CC)

One (1) of the following is required:

Psychologist, Physician, Medical Doctors (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) Bachelor of Medicine /Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Mental Health Counselor, Marriage & Family Counselor, Addictions Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Physician’s Assistant, Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioner; Occupational Therapists (OT), Physical Therapist (PT), or other similar USA or Canadian equivalent clinical licensure or credentialing. Final determination of clinical equivalence and experience relevance resides with the NADD Competency-Based Certification Program.

In combination with:

The applicant must be able to thoroughly explain and demonstrate advanced expertise in at least one competency area and a general knowledge in the remaining competency as follows:

Ethical Behavior

Most disciplines, through their professional disciplinary association or governing body, have a Code of Ethics to which members are committed to follow. All applicants shall attest to following the ethical standards of their profession association as well as state, province, or national ethics and regulations. The applicant’s signatures in the Ethical Behavior section of the application form and in the Principles section of the application form are required and shall denote the candidate’s commitment to ethical behavior. Professional associations as discussed above must be recognized as an established, respected, and legitimate organization. Questions related to their standing will be determined by the NADD Competency-Based Certification Program if necessary.

Any disciplinary events, lawsuits past or pending, suspension of privileges from care facilities or professional organizations or any actions by state/province or other licensing body related to complaints or actions against a licensed individual must be reported and reviewed by the committee. 

NADD has established a process for receiving complaints regarding ethical behavior of people who have received this certification. (See "Complaints Against NADD-Certified Clinicians" below.)

Any intentional misrepresentations or falsehoods submitted by an applicant would be sufficient to deny certification as an unethical act.

NADD Membership

Clinicians seeking certification are required to be members of NADD at the time they apply for certification. Continued membership in NADD is required for the duration of the NADD clinical certification. A NADD organizational membership may satisfy this requirement if the clinician is an employee of the organization which has a NADD membership. NADD is the leading North American expert in providing professionals, educators, policy makers, and families with education, training, and information on mental health issues relating to persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In order to stay abreast of issues involved in service delivery and remain knowledgeable about best practices in the field, a clinician would need the benefits of a NADD membership. 


The application and supporting materials should be mailed to:

Application Check List

The following should be included in the application package:

Receipt of Application

When the application package is received at the NADD office, it will be reviewed to ascertain that all items in the Application Checklist have been included. The applicant will be informed of all missing or incomplete items and will be requested to provide the missing information.  

Once all items have been received, the application will be deemed to be complete and will be reviewed to determine whether the applicant meets the prerequisites for certification. 

Work Sample

Once the application has been reviewed and the applicant has been found to meet the prerequisites, the applicant will receive instructions to submit one work sample of a case that demonstrates clinical work with an individual who has a dual diagnosis. See Appendix C: Work Sample Guidelines. The work sample should be no more than five pages in length and should include these five competency areas:

  1. Formulation/conceptualization of clinical problem(s)

  2. Format for therapy or intervention

    • What were the goals/expected outcomes for treatment or intervention?

    • Other treatments that were considered and rejected.

    • Why the selected treatment was chosen and why the rejected treatments were rejected.

    • Were there modifications or adaptations of standard treatment protocol in order to meet the unique treatment needs of this individual? If so, briefly describe these modifications/adaptations.

  3. Landmark events or salient issues that arose during the course of treatment and how these were addressed within treatment.

  4. Reflection on issues within therapy and/or ethical concerns and/or issues relevant to cultural competency.

  5. How the clinical approach was informed by an understanding of intellectual disability or dual diagnosis.

Prior to submission of the work sample, the applicant should review the work sample to verify that the submitted content includes consideration of each of the targeted areas.

NADD will assign two examiners to review to work sample. The work sample will be reviewed to determine whether the candidate demonstrates competency in the five competency areas. If the work sample is found to be acceptable, the interview will be scheduled. The examiners may require submission of additional information - including, in some cases, resubmission of the work sample - before they approve scheduling of the interview.


The final component of the certification process is an interview, which may occur in person, at a NADD conference, via web-based video conferencing, or by telephone. The applicant shall be presented with a case vignette approximately 24-48 hours before the interview, about which he or she shall be asked to verbally offer his or her thoughts and reflections (i.e. provide a case formulation and treatment plan - case formulation is discussed in Appendix E). The interview is limited to one hour, and the applicant should prepare a vignette response of about ten minutes. The applicant must bring a copy of the work sample submitted in support of the application for Certification and a copy of the vignette provided by NADD for the interview to the interview. The same two examiners who reviewed the work sample will participate in the interview. The interview shall also include resolution of any questions raised during other parts of the application process. Interviews will generally follow the outline below. 

  1. Discussion of applicant’s training and experience in dual diagnosis

  2. Resolution of specific questions arising from application materials

  3. Discussion of clinical case summary submitted with application.  This discussion can include all the elements of the outline in Appendix C as well as:

    • Diagnostic process including medical rule out

    • Assessment approach and considerations

    • Psychotherapy considerations, approach, complications, and response

    • Positive Environment. Role of environment in clinical considerations and recommendations for changes 

  4. Discussion of case vignette presented just prior to interview

    • Applicant will be asked to present a case formulation

    • Applicant should be prepared to present a treatment plan 

    • Respond to questions about case formulation and treatment plan

      • These questions can cover any of the items in the outline in Appendix C

  5. Candidates can expect the interview to include additional topics or areas that are consistent with current practice. Some topics might include: self-determination, consumer decision-making/problem solving, person-centered planning, assessment, analog functional analysis of medication effects, etc.

  6. Review expectations, procedure, and timetable for certification process

Scoring and Evaluation

For both the work sample and interview, the applicant’s competence in each of the five competency areas (Positive Environments; Psychotherapy; Psychopharmacology; Ruling Out Medical Issues; and Assessment) will be evaluated using the following scale:

0 = No evidence of competence in this area of Best Practice

1 = Insufficient evidence of competence in this area of Best Practice

2 = Evidence of baseline competence in this area of Best Practice

3 = Evidence of a high level of competence in this area of Best Practice

Candidates are required to demonstrate at least a baseline level of knowledge (a score of at least 2) in all competency areas. In the event that the two examiners cannot agree upon whether the candidate achieved a passing score (2-3) or a failing score (0-1), the examiner from the same discipline as the candidate shall make the decision.

The candidate will receive a copy of his or her score sheets, which will provide feedback regarding perceived areas of competence. 


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