Before she won an award giving her an all-expenses-paid trip to the February 2009 APA Council of Representatives meeting, Rinad Beidas described herself as a "blank slate" when it came to APA governance.
"I didn't really know there was this huge governing body of APA until I applied for the award and actually won," says the fourth-year psychology doctoral student at Temple University.
Thanks to the award, sponsored by the Assembly of Scientist/Practitioner Psychologists, Beidas now knows that many of the decisions that guide APA and the psychology field are made by the council's 175 representatives from APA's divisions and state, provincial and territorial associations.
During the three-day meeting in Washington, D.C., Feb. 20–22, council representatives discussed APA's stance on prohibiting psychologists from participating in torture; a vision statement for on APA's strategic goals; and the need to draw more early career professionals into the association.
Beidas says she was impressed by the spirit of collaboration among the psychologists across so many different fields and the welcome she received. "Everybody was interested in each issue and everything that came up on the table," she says.
ASPP's board created the award last year to cultivate student interest in APA's governance, says ASPP chair Linda Sobell, PhD. "It takes a while to get an understanding of how it works," says Sobell, adding that she hopes more caucuses and APA divisions sponsor student observers.
At Temple, Beidas's concentration is cognitive behavior therapy and the treatment of child anxiety. Through her research, she's trying to help identify the best ways to train practitioners to use evidence-based practices. And as someone interested in policy, she wants to learn more about how APA can encourage a shift to more evidence-based practices among its members. Now that she's seen the council up close, Beidas says she also wants to get more involved in APA governance, perhaps by someday putting her own name forward as a division representative.
"I really encourage other students to find out what it's all about," she says. "This is really the future of our profession."
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