A momentous time in history

Ludy Benjamin's November article, "America's first black female psychologist," was an important and timely contribution given that November 2008 will go down in history as the date of an another momentous first for Americans. As Benjamin noted, 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of Inez Beverly Prosser's 1933 doctorate. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of Ruth Howard (Beckham)'s PhD, awarded in 1934 at the University of Minnesota. Howard's PhD variously appears as the first for an African-American woman because she completed her degree in a psychology department rather than in education, as Prosser did. Whether this distinction is important or not, what is important is that we are aware of Prosser, Howard and the dozens of other minority psychologists who labored to force the doors open for future generations. Knowledge of our history is essential for the success of any current attempts to make psychology inclusive and a force for positive social change.

Alexandra Rutherford, PhD

More science, please

Is APA more a guild for practitioners or an outlet for dissemination of research by academic psychologists? Since its founding, APA has had the most prestigious journals in psychological research. APA journals are among the most cited publications worldwide. But a cancer has been growing for decades that undermines APA's fidelity to research promoting instead the wonders of clinicians to "save the world." Not only is this embarrassing to empiricists, but it is inaccurate.

Apparently, APA accepts applications for membership from "clinicians" who are graduates from educational institutions without rigorous coursework. Hence, online and match-book "graduates" increasingly fill the ranks of APA, having zero understanding of rudimentary scientific method. If they can pay the money then they are members.

Unfortunately they also affect political stands by APA and the Monitor. APA appears increasingly to pander to clinicians and forget the scientists. The Monitor is testimony to this.

Christopher W. Williams, PhD
Valencia, Calif.

Editor's note: The Monitor strives to cover psychology's depth in both research and practice. Furthermore, no one can become a full APA member without a doctoral-level degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Board certification

In the last three Monitors (October, November and December), I counted 18 comments on current difficulties of private practice. The five leading complaints were about governmental policies, public reactions to psychology, insurance companies, our relationship with medicine and other mental health professions. This attitude without effective action can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. It seems that we need a still more solid professional standing. But we have the means for it, though not cleverly utilized.

Our profession created the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) as one mechanism to promote psychologists to superior levels of respectable excellence. Board Certification (being a Diplomate) proclaims higher levels of specialized expertise than mere licensure. The board-certified psychologist, like in medicine, becomes a distinguished practitioner and the profession shows the world its importance. Unfortunately, most psychologists do not take advantage of ABPP. APA's membership is about 90,000. Only about 2,500 have the ABPP or the ABPH Diploma, ABPP and ABPH (hypnosis) being the only two Boards affiliated with APA.

Psychologists who refuse ABPP ("What's the difference?") may be limiting their thinking. What would happen if the number of psychology Diplomates would double? Medicine would view us differently. So would the educated public which prefers board certified MDs for serious medical problems.

Independent practitioners and agencies related to accreditation may consider the value of APA-approved board certification and the higher status it will bring.

Daniel Araoz, EdD, ABPP, ABPH
Brookville, N.Y.

Cultivating true cultural awareness

As a first-year doctoral student in counseling psychology, I am enrolled in several classes that emphasize cultural awareness. Like many other graduate students in psychology, we are strongly encouraged to create experiences with individuals different from ourselves. However, there are not many opportunities in which we as students are able to actually study abroad, or oftentimes there are few resources (i.e., funding) to do so. After reading "Exploring the world: Expose your students to different cultures through service learning trips and foreign study programs" in the November Monitor, I was very impressed by the leadership and the initiative taken by Dr. Dan Sachau, Dr. Beverly Tatum, and Dr. Puncky Paul Heppner.

In class one reads about many different cultures and aspects to be aware of when counseling the culturally diverse. However, learning outside the classroom far exceeds the information provided in a book required for a course. Not only does Dr. Sachau take students on trips abroad to learn about different cultures, but while there, they complete service projects as well. When I think back, this is one of the very reasons why I began to pursue a career is psychology, to be able to provide outreach services.

Dr. Tatum stated, "We need to open doors for our students, so they can open doors for us." I am in complete agreement with her statement, and it is my belief that one's learning experience should be a collaborative effort on the part of the student and professor. I was pleased to read her statement because this is the embodiment of true leadership and willingness to advance others through educational opportunities. What I admire most is that Dr. Sachau, Dr. Tatum and Dr. Heppner have taken the responsibility to provide opportunities far beyond that of what a book can provide, to ensure that their students are truly culturally aware and knowledgeable about those different from themselves. These professors are to be commended for a job well done.

Tenille Gaines
Auburn, Ala.

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor, at the APA address. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for clarity or space.