Sara Nixon

It’s hard to believe that I’m already writing my finalcolumn for TAN as your SoAP President. It’s been an immensely rewarding task steering the SoAP ship for the past twelve months. I’ve learned a lot and I have appreciated the opportunity enormously. The future, for sure, is always uncertain, but as Abraham Lincoln implies, as an organization we are likely to be better off being proactive rather than reactive. Perhaps the biggest challenges we’ve faced during the past twelve months have been trying to regain our Certificateof Proficiencyin the Treatment of Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders and ensuring the success of our mid-year conference, the Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction (CPA).

As you are probably aware, through consistent and concerted efforts, letters, phone calls, and in-person meetings by several of us in our Division we were able to get the Certificae reinstated. This was a very satisfying accomplishment, but the joy is short-lived, since the reality is that it returned something that we felt already belonged to us. The challenge now lies in sustaining it and ensuring that we keep it active and playing an even more significat role than it has done in the past. One important reason why we will need to increase its visibility is that healthcare reforms (e.g., greater enforcement of the parity law and expansion of coverage for millions of previously uninsured Americans) mean the demand for well-trained addiction specialists will be greater than ever.

picture of dawn on a smartphoneSomewhat surprising was that when we had the Certificate in place, not many of us in SoAP or other psychologists decided to obtain or maintain it, and little attention was paid to it even among our own members. In the six years from 2005 through 2010, for example, only 48 psychologists obtained the Certificte —an average of 8 per year. Now we have it reinstated, it will behoove our Society to establish the reasons why this was the case and why now it will be different. For instance, many states do not recognize the Certifcate as an acceptable and legitimate credential, not because it is below par compared to other credentials, but simply because most have never heard of it and don’t know anything about it. To exert more leverage and increase status of our Certificate,I believe our Society needs to take a more committed stance to ensuring its growth and prominence. To achieve this goal, I have asked the Board to approve a new standing “Credentialing Oversight Committee”

to provide closer ongoing monitoring of the Certificte, its relation to addiction practice standards in the field, as well as progress toward establishing an American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in addiction (see below). As part of this Committee’s responsibilities, it will be necessary to increase and maintain visibility of the Certificateand communicate its value to other psychologists, especially the APA Divisions who were supportive of us in our attempts to regain the Certifcate (Divisions 12, 28, 31, 56).

Another broader question we need to consider is whether we wish to continue to be recognized as a “proficincy” and continue with our Certificate, or whether we want addiction to be recognized as a “specialty.” We cannot be designated as both. If we opt for the latter, it would enable us to obtain an American Board of Professional Psychology (“ABPP”) certifiction in Addiction and enable psychologists to become “Board Certifiedin Addiction Psychology.” I believe our fild and profession is deserving of the added credibility and status that “Board Certification” confers. The sleep disorders fieldhas been able to obtain specialty status and an ABPP. Given the far greater public health and safety burden caused by addiction, we in addiction psychology should be able to obtain specialty status and an ABPP. Under the auspices of APA, however, we cannot do both. This is a pity, as it would be optimal to have degrees of specialization (e.g., minimum standard provided by the Certificate; higher specialization via ABPP) available to those that wish to gain them. I am in favor of addiction being recognized as a specialty and in us pursing the ABPP. It will cost us several thousand dollars and 2-3 years to achieve, but I believe it will be worth it and doing so fitswell with our mission.

Notable too this year has been the increased success of our Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction (CPA) Conference, held once again in Atlanta, GA, in February/March. It was gratifying to see the increase in attendance and so many students, post-docs, and early career psychologists present and presenting, along with such high quality keynote speakers, workshops, and symposia. We have gained valuable experience in doing these two consecutive conferences and have gathered considerable momentum. We want to capitalize on these gains. As most conference organizers know, it is important to take, and commit to, a longer-term view and plan (e.g., 3-5 years) in order to realize greater strategic efficincies and ultimate impact. Consequently, I have asked the Board to consider a longer-term commitment to the CPA (e.g., 3-5 years) that will lead us to greater efficiencies and help build greater momentum as we invest more of ourselves into the process. I see this step as an important commitment that fts squarely with our broad mission in research, education, and practice, and represents appropriate use of our financial and human resources.

As we move forward in these areas, we will need to be proactive and decide as a Society what we wish our future to look like. The sale to APA of our journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, brought in considerable capital with an agreement for a continued annual dividend, but this income will end several years hence. Consequently, we will need to diversify our revenue streams. One potential possibility for alternative revenue could be through strengthening and expanding our CPA conference. Our Society may have to consider opting for greater independence from APA to do so, and deciding to expand our educational reach beyond psychologists to other professions and offer CEUs to include other professions such as frontline addiction counselors and social workers who conduct the majority of the direct addiction service provision in the United States. This expansion would take a shift in, and broadening of, the CPA emphasis to include a greater array of attractive practical elements for enhancing clinical and recovery support services. I believe this approach could be a way to expose more clinicians to high quality, cutting edge, clinical and translational research, and also for clinicians to interface with researchers and highlight and sensitize researchers to the complexity of clinical realities. We will need to think differently and be creative.

To end, I wish to thank the Society of Addiction Psychology for the privilege of serving as your President. It has been a great honor for me to do so. I am grateful for the support of the member-ship, the Executive Committee, and the volunteers that allow SoAP to function. I look forward to assisting our incoming President Alan Budney during his term. We have an outstanding curriculum for the APA conference in August and I hope to see many of you in Washington, DC

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