Senior Director's Column

December 2011: A Year in Review

Dr. Merry Bullock reflects on the past year's activities in the APA Office of International Affairs and looks ahead to the goals for 2012.

By Merry Bullock, PhD
Merry BullockLooking Back

Many people are surprised to hear that APA has more international members than any other psychology organization, including international ones. Many are also surprised to hear that APA has signed Memoranda of Understanding with 9 other national psychology organizations (3 in 2011 alone) to deepen information exchange and learn about each other’s best practices; or that APA’s President, Board members and staff routinely attend conferences around the world to represent APA and learn from colleague psychologists.

APA’s international activities, complemented by convention programming from APA’s international committee (CIRP), international division (52), and by its UN team working in collaboration with other organizations on the annual Psychology Day at the UN or on developing statements to address UN documents and challenges, don’t just allow for greater awareness of psychology around the world—they also augment the information, tools, and attitudes necessary to become more aware of the needs and perspectives of an increasingly diverse US population.

Beginning with the publication of its Resolution on Culture and Gender Awareness in International Psychology in 2004, and continuing with task force reports and policy statements on issues from immigration to telehealth to parental custody to treatment protocols, APA’s policies and guidelines are increasingly called on to be relevant for those in the US who have lived under conditions of war, poverty, hunger, violence or displacement, or who are from an increasingly diverse array of cultures. Collaborating with colleagues from around the world and encouraging APA’s leadership to be more globally engaged highlights the relevance of international perspectives for addressing local challenges.

Looking Ahead

2012 will begin as another banner year for international activities, as APA sponsors a delegation to visit Cuba as part of Professional Abroad’s study programs. The delegation will meet with Cuban psychology colleagues in universities and health settings, and with government and NGO agencies and services. Later in the year, a highlight of the APA convention will be the “Presidents’ Initiative” – where presidents of all national psychology associations have been invited to join APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson at the Orlando convention and to share experiences and perspectives on psychology in multidisciplinary settings, and on psychology as a health profession. APA will also begin a number of activities with its MOU partners, including convention symposia (how associations address psychologists’ care), symposia at international meetings (on psychology associations and health reform, and on international exchange programs). In this newsletter, standard features such as “Collaborate!” and “Psychology in Action” will become regular features, as will “Global Views” in which we will engage APA’s international affiliates and members in discussion of what they see as pressing opportunities and challenges for psychology. We welcome each of you, Psychology International readers, to contribute to this dialogue. Let us ask hard questions, let us have lively discussions, and let us work together for a responsible, global psychology. Season’s greetings!