Two proposed divisions address our changing world

Society for Technology and Psychology and Division of Entertainment Psychology cite rapid change in technology and culture, along with need for divisions for each

Organizers are currently shepherding four division proposals through APA’s approval process. In the April 2012 Division Dialogue, we introduced two of the contenders, and here we introduce the remaining two. With letters of intent filed and formal petitions in circulation, the organizers must engage the support of 1 percent of current APA members and fellows (at this time, slightly less than 750 signatures). If this goal is achieved, the petition is circulated to all divisions and members of council for comment and then presented to the council, where it must receive a two-thirds vote for approval as a candidate division.

Society for Technology and Psychology 

Marlene M. Maheu, PhD, interim president, is also executive director of Telemental Health Institute and a pioneer of telehealth. She predicts that if technology can allow psychologists to achieve the same or higher efficacy rates, then psychologists will adopt technology.

“Our [division’s] goal is not to keep things the same but to increase connectivity, effectiveness and efficiency without incurring all the time and energy needed using traditional approaches.

“We need a strong group of technology leaders to galvanize APA’s efforts towards technology adoption, not only within the association but through other behavioral disciplines, to serve as a focal point for psychologists," Maheu said. "Only by having a division devoted exclusively to technology can we get that type of energy.”

The core emphases of the proposed new division are to serve as a central point of contact and synergy for APA members interested in technology issues in psychology and to help increase the impact of APA through collaboration with other health and non-health-related disciplines.

Maheu sees psychologists, together with colleagues in different disciplines such as counseling and social work, as having some of the highest training, yet lowest pay, of any healthcare profession. Yet often the disciplines disagree when it comes to professional issues.

“If we could build coalitions with other disciplines, maybe on this one topic of technology we can all sit together at one table," she explains. "Technology is a platform and a cause to get us together”

The steering committee’s efforts are guided by a belief that the advancement of the profession of psychology in the 21st century may be in large part dependent upon the profession’s ability to organize itself in order to incorporate technologies into psychological practice, research, education and policy.

The website for the Society for Technology and Psychology includes links to the letter of intent and petition, as well as instructions for how to sign the petition. Members and fellows of APA who wish to sign the petition can do so online.

Dr. Maheu can be contacted by email.

The Society for Technology and Psychology can also be found on LinkedIn.

Division of Entertainment Psychology 

Mimi Amaral and Dave Schroerlucke are PsyD graduate students at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Together they are also leading an initiative to form a new Division of Entertainment Psychology.

Amaral developed the idea as an undergraduate. Her phone call to APA to find out what to do next prompted her decision to apply to graduate school. (The division proposal process requires the involvement of at least one APA member or fellow.) At CIIS, she met Schroerlucke, as well as Bryant L. Welch, JD, PhD. Richard Carolan, EdD, completes the roster of the four-member steering committee.

Schroerlucke, whose focus is performance psychology for elite athletes, cites the potential for the division’s work to benefit not only celebrities, but society as a whole. He proposes that "in some sense we are all actors and performers, constantly trying on different personas as we navigate the multiple roles and relationships in our lives. If we want to learn how best to move seamlessly among the various roles we play, why not learn from those who do it for a living?"

Amaral said that the future calls for such a division.

"We're looking at where society is going on a macro level. People are increasingly putting their lives on display through real-time social media like Facebook and Twitter," Amaral said. "Never before has the general populace had such an opportunity to 'live out loud' in this way. We are definitely entering uncharted territory.”

Amaral and Schroerlucke’s vision for the proposed division is focused both on society, as well as on the needs of entertainers and other celebrities. The two try to capture many nuances with this careful summary:

“The burgeoning popularity of social media, mobile applications, online gaming and reality television has prompted speculation that we are witnessing a transition from the 'information age' to the 'entertainment age.' The Division of Entertainment Psychology aspires to help the APA identify and examine emerging issues associated with this major sociocultural shift. The proposed division will also aim at offering a postdoctoral proficiency in Entertainment Psychology that emphasizes competency in working with the unique challenges and stressors faced by professional entertainers.”

While focused on this forward-focusing initiative, Amaral shared a candid overview: "We're not living in Mayberry anymore. Things have changed and there's no going back."

Amaral can be contacted by email and Schroerlucke can be contacted by email. Both plan to attend APA’s convention in 2013 to help promote the division.

Members and fellows of APA who wish to sign the petition can do so online.