Senior director's column

SENIOR DIRECTOR'S COLUMN: Welcome to Spring

Part of the GOALS initiative is to expand the informational resources available - to become a “one stop” portal with links to the rest of the world of psychology. Another informational function is to disseminate information about global policies, guidelines, and resources.

By Merry Bullock, PhD

Spring is traditionally a time for new beginnings, and this spring is no exception in the Office of International Affairs at APA. We welcome a new staff member, Amena Hassan, as the International Communications Manager. Amena has been with APA for close to 5 years, and will use her web and writing skills to help bring you an updated Psychology International and expanded web resources.

Our expanded staff is part of the new international GOALS initiative. Since the announcement of GOALS, some members have wondered why APA should have an international initiative, assuming that this means APA is intending to become an international organization. This is a query that bears discussion. The most direct answer is that this is not GOALS’ intent -- although many APA members and affiliates live outside the US, APA itself is not an international organization. Rather, the intent of GOALS is to anticipate and serve those of its members’ needs that are international in scope.

One of these needs, expressed by queries to the OIA from members and affiliates, is for more comprehensive information on psychology around the world. For example, members want to know about conferences, workshops, summer schools and collaboration opportunities outside the US; they want to know how to go about obtaining education and training outside the US and whether this will be recognized in the US; they want to know how to find out information about psychology outside the US and in other languages. They also want to know how to be culturally sensitive -- as hosts to colleagues who visit the US, as colleagues to those who are living the US, or as psychologists who work in an increasingly internationally diverse society. The Office of International Affairs attempts to provide this information in its directories, website, and newsletters. Part of the GOALS initiative is to expand the informational resources available - to become a “one stop” portal with links to the rest of the world of psychology. Another informational function is to disseminate information about global policies, guidelines and resources, such as the recently released IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (pdf) or the recently developed International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) policy on national recognition of psychology as a science-based, autonomous profession.

In addition to serving its members directly, APA also represents its members’ interests in a variety of ways through advocacy, and through the community of professional associations. Domestically, APA works to ensure that there is a steady funding stream for psychological science, that regulations pertaining to psychologists are fair and equitable, and that there are opportunities for the voice of psychology in the development and implementation of social, health, educational and other programs. As a member of the community of professional associations, APA works in collaboration with fellow associations to share information and to address pan-disciplinary issues (such as access to information, openness in scientific exchange, or educational initiatives). Internationally, APA interacts with its fellow national psychology associations, to share best practices or address mutual issues of education, capacity building or professional mobility. When asked, APA also provides information to international organizations concerned with a global perspective on issues that can be informed by psychology.

The Office of International Affairs provides staff support for APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology - the group charged by APA with promoting an international perspective, facilitating international exchange and interaction, overseeing APA’s activities in promoting psychology in the UN, and anticipating policy issues that might be of interest to APA and its members. The members of CIRP collectively possess broad expertise and experience in international collaboration and action, and, together with members of APA’s international division and the international sections and committees of other divisions and groups, work to guide APA’s international directions.

Please let CIRP and the Office of International Affairs hear from you as GOALS progresses. Ψ