Profile: Nadine Kaslow

An interview with 2014 APA President Nadine Kaslow on the international perspective of psychology.
Q1. How did your engagement in international psychology begin?

2014 APA President Nadine KaslowKaslow: I developed early on an appreciation for cultural competence and sensitivity before I knew what those words really meant. My mother worked in international family psychology, writing books, articles and travelling to different parts of the world. She often took her family along to places like Japan and South Africa. As a young child, we were also host family to international students for many years, which exposed me to people from different countries. These experiences led to my appreciation and value for global thinking. Last year, I attended the 13th European Congress of Psychology in Sweden. It was great to hear how others thought about cultural competency. It broadened my understanding of what problems others in the field encountered and what we could learn from each other. I believe we need to be equal with our international partners and work with each other.

Q2. You mentioned collaboration as a personal core value during your campaign, how can APA enhance its international efforts within its offices and programs?

Kaslow: APA can highlight the work of some of our members and programs who do really interesting international work in the Monitor or other program newsletters. At the APA convention, more people from other countries and cultures can be represented as speakers. At this year’s opening ceremony, we will have flags from all the countries of the psychology associations with which we have MOUs. We could better highlight our MOU partners because many people do not know about these growing international partnerships. Additionally, more funds are needed to enable APA senior leadership to travel to different countries to forge networks, similar to APA’s International Learning Partner Program in Cuba, which is building valuable collaborations. So much of international work is about relationships.

Q3. What future directions in graduate education do you envision as an avenue to integrate the international perspective or get students involved in the international arena?

Kaslow: This is a great question. In diversity classes, diversity is often talked about in a broad manner; however one form is international and global. I think ethics classes can better focus on engaging students to think internationally or globally, particularly from the viewpoints of other countries. College counseling centers often treat international students, which affords good exposure to working with people from different cultures. Many universities are forming international partnerships with study abroad programs and I believe we need more of such programs.

Q4. Your passion has led you to work with people with serious and persistent mental illness and their families, what are your thoughts about mental disorders and its role in the health care scene internationally?

Kaslow: It is absolutely critical. There are differences across treatment practices in many parts of the world. There are some areas that provide quality treatment and others that do not provide adequate treatment. Sustainable development depends on the quality of life of the people in nations. The more we can enhance people’s quality of life in the world, the better off we will be. I appreciate my involvement with the World Health Organization Mental Health Action Plan. It really highlights the fact that the need for Mental Health is an international issue, particularly mental health programs globally.

Q5. Do you have any advice for psychologists who are seeking to engage in international collaborations?

Kaslow: Relationships are so critically important in doing this type of work that I would begin with connections. Connect with other people already doing the work by looking for peer or interdisciplinary networks. Learn about what others are doing, be collaborative, develop your competence and share it. It is also important to become bi-culturally competent. You may find yourself in a culture that has values different from yours and needing to navigate that culture in a way that honors and respects both your values and belief systems, and other values and belief systems. It’s important to be respectful of people when engaging with a new culture, learning and valuing who they are and their environment. Remember in this work you will form friendships as well as collaborations.