Perspective on Practice

In my last column, I spoke of the challenges and opportunities practitioners face. To more adequately address those challenges and opportunities, the APA Practice Organization in June began a strategic planning process facilitated by Jay Younger of McKinley Marketing Inc., the same firm that is leading APA's strategic planning process. Members of the APA Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and senior practice staff are actively and enthusiastically involved in this process.

We have reaffirmed the Practice Organization's working mission statement: to advance, protect and defend the professional practice of psychology. Four themes describe our strategic approach:

  • We see ourselves as a powerful advocate for practitioners and the patients we serve.

  • We strive to provide a nurturing sense of community for all of our practitioners, whatever your practice setting.

  • We will provide member-centered resources to enhance your ability to practice your profession.

  • We will do that within an ethos of operational excellence.

Our new Practice Central at www.APApractice.org, the go-to resource for your practice needs, will offer practitioners myriad resources when the new APA and APAPO Web sites are relaunched early next year.

Our strategic planning initiative, an ongoing and fluid process wherein we will revisit major issues on a regular basis, is part of our approach to better meeting practitioners' needs. To date, we have identified a number of strategic issues for our "radar screen." Health-care marketplace realities that impede patient access to psychologists' care are prominent on that radar screen.

Other strategic issues include: a lack of full integration of behavioral health services in the general health-care delivery system; expanded practice opportunities and threats to scope of practice; rapid technological changes that may pose challenges for practitioners; self care for psychologists; changing demographics and the need for culturally competent skills; and the need for training programs that prepare psychologists for a variety of marketplaces both inside and outside the health services delivery system.

We are the experts in human behavior and have much to offer in assisting our society to more adequately address its concerns.

To inform our strategic planning process, we have completed an extensive practitioner survey that asked diverse practitioner members to tell us about their practice patterns and needs. The results from more than 3,000 practitioners provide us with considerable information about member demographics, professional interests and needs. We also conducted focus groups of practitioners, many from institutional, university counseling center, educational and public service settings, at APA's Annual Convention in August.

The results point to a clear challenge in building member awareness about what we do on behalf of professional psychology. It is clear that both advocacy and defense of the doctoral standard for psychologists are high on practitioners' priority lists. Valuable information has also been provided to inform us about the kinds of information and resources our members need. Stay tuned for a more thorough discussion of the survey results in my January Monitor column.

We have also convened teams of Practice Directorate staff members from across our departments around thematic issues such as reimbursement, member communications and marketing, and products and services. Additional teams will be assembled as we bring together the content expertise of our staff, in collaboration with our governance members, to collectively address strategic issues in an integrated way so that we can better serve our practitioners and the consumers of their services.

As always, I invite you to contact us about your concerns as we continue to fine-tune the practice agenda. We can be reached at (800) 374-2723 or by e-mail.