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Kristi S. Multhaup
Mark E. Faust
UNC at Charlotte
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
University of Missouri
Members-At-Large of the
Bob Cook (09-12)
Nancy Dess (09-12)
David Washburn (08-11)
Jeremy Wolfe (08-11)
Mark Bouton (07-10)
University of Vermont
Nora Newcombe (07-10)
Graduate Student Representative
Representative to APA Council
Randy Engle (10-12)
Emanuel Donchin (08-10)
University of South Florida
Janet Duchek (Awards)
Wash. U., St. Louis
Lisa Savage (Fellows)
John Wixted (Program)
Charles L. Brewer
Early Career Psychologist
California State U. at Fullerton
Report on the August 2009 Meeting
of the Council of Representatives
of the APA
Division 3 COR Representative
The following report borrows heavily from a summary of the Council’s actions prepared by Rhea Farberman, who is the Executive Director of the Monitor. As usual, the COR meeting, held in Toronto in conjunction with the 2009 APA Convention, ranged widely over the broad range of concerns that pertain to Psychology. This report will focus on those aspects of COR’s discussions and actions that bear most directly on the interests of Division 3.
Let me begin by noting that while this year I am still the sole representative of Division 3 on COR, I will be joined by Randy Engle at the February 2010 meeting as beginning with 2010 we again have two representatives on COR.
At its August meeting, the APA Council of Representatives received two reports which put psychology front and center on topical issues: global climate change and the debate on whether sexual orientation can be changed through therapy.
One report, the product of an APA Task Force on the Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change, chaired by Janet Swim, examined the implications of psychological science as we confront the impending climate change. The report presents an extensive and very thorough review of the psychological literature that is relevant in various ways to the issues related to climate change and recommends ways that psychology can help create public policies designed to protect the environment. The report concludes with a series of specific recommendations. We are now examining with the other divisions who join us in CASAP how these recommendations can be presented as action items to a forthcoming meeting of the Council of Representatives.
A second report, also based a review of the relevant published literature, found insufficient evidence in support of claims that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy. The report concluded that therapists should avoid telling their clients that they can change from gay to straight. After receiving the report, the council adopted a resolution on appropriate affirmative responses to sexual orientation distress and change efforts which grew out of the report findings.
The two reports can be found at
The global climate change report:
Sexual Orientation report
There were three major themes in the COR’s discussions, and actions, in the August meeting. The dire financial straits of the APA were clearly one major theme. The impact that Health Care reforms may have on the practice of Psychology was a second theme. The third were actions, and discussions, related to the adoption of APA’s Strategic Plan. I will touch on highlights related to each of these themes, with particular emphasis on what I perceive to be the domain of interest of our Division.
A. Budget issues.
Budget issues, and actions taken in reaction to the budgetary pressures we face, threaded through much of COR’s discussions. One of the Council’s tasks is to approve the APA budget, which this time reflected painfully the fact that reduced revenues, and reduced value of the APA portfolio, placed APA in danger of a major deficit. It is agreed by all concerned that deficits must be avoided and various actions to cut expenses were considered, and mostly approved, by COR. The cuts extended across a range of APA activities. Staff members have been laid off in the APA offices. Various events, such as the “Consolidated Meeting” have been cancelled and so on.
Within the context of the budget discussions the Council two specific membership oriented decisions. (a) Approved a suspension of the annual dues increase. Dues levels for all members and affiliates will remain at 2009 rates next year. At the same time (b) The COR voted to amend the bylaws to drop unpaid members if they haven't paid their dues after one year instead of the current two-year grace period. To become effective, this proposed change requires the approval of the full membership.
Another budget related item was of particular concern to the Divisions organized in CASAP. This was the proposed, and ultimately approved, reduction in the support that APA provides to the Archives of the History of Psychology (AHAP), maintained at the University of Akron, and directed by Dave Barker. There is a general agreement that AHAP is an excellent resource, of considerable value to any one who has an interest, and cares about, the history of Psychology. Indeed, the COR recognized the value of AHAP and in 2005 voted a recurring annual allocation of $60,000 from the APA budget to AHAP. The item was included in the budget of the Science Directorate.
In the course of the Science Directorate’s consideration of its response to the budget cuts, a reduction of 50% in the allocation to AHAP was proposed. Given that this cut was inconsistent with the specific action of COR, it required special approval by COR and this item reached the floor in the last few minutes of the August meeting. It is important to emphasize that the Science Directorate did not formally reduce the allocation prior to COR’s vote. The Directorate did take action to spread the annual allocation over the year, thus AHAP received less than it expected at the start of the current fiscal year. However, the cut was endorsed by the Board of Director under their NSC (No Sacred Cows) policy.
There was a very active debate on the COR floor when the item was discussed. The value of the archive was emphasized by many of the speakers. It was noted that the cut will damage the very purpose of the original allocation which was to assure that AHAP has the resources to make its collection readily available to scholars around the world. Others, on the Board’s side, argued that under the NSC policy, this cut is as unfortunate as most of the other cuts, and that there is no choice within the budget. In the end, the COR approved the Board’s motion. It is noteworthy that about a third of the COR voted against the Board on this motion. This suggests that the matter is not closed. I am sure CASAP, and the Division focused on the History of Psychology will bring the matter back at the February meeting of the COR.
On the good news side, I might note that the COR approved the creation of two new division journals: Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology (Div. 47, Exercise and Sport Psychology) and International Perspective in Psychology: Research, Practice and Consultation (Div. 52, International).
B. Health Care issues.
While the COR did not address directly the various aspects of the impending (one hopes) reforms to the US Health Care system, it was repeatedly noted that it is crucial that Psychology attend to the process and assure that the practice of Psychology as a Health Profession will not be damaged, and actually thrive, under the new system. It seems to be taken for granted as the discussions unfolded that Psychological Practice did not fare well during the transition to Managed Care, and it is with that transition in mind that much attention is paid to assuring the future of professional Psychology.
While this is an understandable, and in fact a highly commendable goal, there are some implications to the broad community of Psychologists that may require a watchful eye by those of us for whom Psychology is a scientific discipline, albeit one that generates much useful service to individuals and to society. The potential for conflict is illustrated by several COR agenda items that were concerned with the teaching of Psychopharmacology and the training of Psychologists who can prescribe.
Thus the COR voted to adopt as APA policy Guidelines Regarding Psychologists’ Involvement in Pharmacological Issues. The guidelines, developed by an APA Division 55 Task Force, are intended to provide a resource on optimal psychological practice in pharmacotherapy. They also provide information for psychologists with any level of involvement with psychotropic and other medication issues.
This laudable action was tied to a more worrisome item, namely the vote “to establish an APA "designation program" for education and training programs in psychopharmacology (as opposed to program accreditation). A designation program is seen as the right developmental step for psychopharmacology programs at this time and would be intended to provide quality assurance guidance for these programs.” The problem this item presents, from the perspective of the academic departments is that it implies yet another external entity asserting the right to inspect our programs, dictate the nature, structure and content of the program. From my personal perspective, the conflict is between the model of the University as a Community of Scholars, pursuing and disseminating knowledge, and the model of a Vocational School, geared to develop skills and document the skill to an external certifying agency.
A related trend is the emphasis on Licensure for Psychologists. This has, of course, been the rule in that those wishing to practice Clinical Psychology (in all its variants) require Licensure by their State’s Board. There are forces within the APA community who would like to extend Licensure for all of Psychology. I attended a session on Licensure at the convention. One of the speakers, who discussed the Licensure of I/O Psychologists, which he strongly advocated, went so far as to argue that every one who wishes to represent themselves as “Psychologists” should be licensed. I found that sentiment deeply offensive as I can not imagine why I, and all other members of Division 3 (or my departmental colleagues) require a State Board’s permission to call ourselves “Psychologists”.
Within that framework was an item on the COR Agenda that reported the development of a new “Model Licensure Act”. While the APA’s model is not binding on the states, it is influential. What is noteworthy about the proposed Model in its current version is that it proposes requiring two years of supervised practice as an intern and a post doc as a condition for the award of the PhD degree. The conversion of the Internship to a pre-doctoral requirement by the Committee on Accreditation in 1993 is already a nuisance for the doctoral programs. Extending the pre-doctoral hiatus to two years would worsen the situation. We need to remain watchful as this discussion unfolds, even though it seems remote from the interests of Experimental Psychologists.
C. Other items and the Strategic Plan.
I will mention two additional actions by the COR to which much attention was paid at the meeting.
In response to on-going concerns regarding Ethical Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and ethics and organizational demands, the Council directed the APA Ethics Committee to propose language that would clarify the psychologist’s obligations when such conflicts arise. After a public comment period this fall, the Ethics Committee will come forward with proposals in preparation for Council's February 2010 meeting.
The Council also voted to invite a non-voting delegate from each of the four National Ethnic Minority Psychological Associations to attend Council meetings for an additional three year period. Council additionally received the Report of the Presidential Working Group on the Representation of Diversity on the Council of Representatives and requested that it be referred to the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, the Committee on the Structure and Function of Council and the Policy and Planning Board. Council also reaffirmed its earlier votes in support of a Bylaw amendment to officially seat the four Ethic Minority Psychological Associations.
Finally, and probably of most long term significance the COR adopted a Strategic Plan for the APA. I am quoting this section directly from Rhea Farberman’s report.
For the first time in the association’s 117-year history, its activities will be guided by a strategic plan adopted by Council in August. The plan spells out goals and objectives for a three- to five-year time horizon.
“The development of APA’s first strategic plan represents our opportunity to transform the APA into a more efficient and effective organization for the 21st century," APA President James H. Bray, PhD, told the council. “CEO Norman Anderson and the APA staff are to be commended for this effort. This is the beginning of our efforts at transformational change.”
APA's strategic plan has three goals:
Goal 1: Maximize Organizational Effectiveness
Goal 2: Expand Psychology’s Role in Advancing Health
Goal 3: Increase Recognition of psychology as a science