Feature

The steps APA will need to take to weather the current economic downturn and what the association wants to achieve in the next decade were major topics of discussion and decision-making at the February meeting of the APA Council of Representatives.

As a blueprint for the future, APA has undertaken its first-ever strategic planning process. That work, begun in 2007 with the help of a governance-based strategic planning work group, produced a new mission statement, adopted by council last year, and a vision statement adopted in February (see "A new vision").

"The strategic planning process is going to help APA be a stronger and more focused organization in the future," said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, who has worked closely with the Board of Directors, council and other governance groups on the process. "In this time of economic challenges for the nation and the association, we have to make sure that we are engaging in the activities that our members most value and where we can have the most impact for the discipline and society. Our new mission and vision statements, and the goals and objectives that will grow from them, will help us do just that."

The 2009 budget

The economic recession and its effect on APA was another major topic of discussion for the council. Anderson, APA Treasurer Paul Craig, PhD, and APA CFO Archie Turner each told the council that while APA's overall financial health is strong, based on its membership, publishing operation and real estate holdings, the economy is having a direct effect on APA's operating budget. In response, the association is taking very specific actions to cut 2009 spending to ensure a balanced budget.

"Like many organizations, APA's investment portfolio sustained serious losses in 2008," Turner said. "Those losses mean that we don't have the cushion we might have had in other years to cover a budget deficit. Consequently, we must have a balanced budget this year."

After broad discussion and in an effort to protect against the possibility of deficits in 2009, the council adopted a budget with approximately $12 million in spending cuts. They include governance activities, such as some meetings, the elimination of the board and council discretionary funds, cuts in spending on public education programs and a staff hiring freeze. Council also directed APA staff to closely monitor spending and revenues as the year continues and to take steps as necessary to ensure a break-even budget at year's end.

Action on 2008 petition resolution

After years of grappling with the difficult issues related to the role of psychologists in national security detention settings, the council moved to make the results of last fall's membership vote in support of a petition resolution official APA policy. The petition resolution prohibits psychologists from working in settings where people are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law or the U.S. Constitution. The only exceptions to this prohibition are in cases in which a psychologist is working directly for the person being detained, for an independent third party working to protect human rights or providing treatment to military personnel.

According to the association rules, action on a petition is not complete until the association's "next annual meeting" in August. However, the council voted to suspend that rule to complete action on the petition. The council also adopted a title for the petition, "Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security" in an effort to clarify the scope of the petition. The petition resolution is not intended to be applied broadly to jails, all detention centers or psychiatric hospitals.

In a related action, the council also received the report of the Presidential Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Petition Resolution and forwarded the report to relevant APA boards and committees for their review and action. The council also directed APA's Central Office to include information in its regular reports to the council and Board of Directors about steps taken to implement the petition resolution as proposed in the advisory group report.

In other actions, the council:

• Postponed action on proposals to reduce the costs of dues for some members including state, provincial and territorial association members, due to the restraints on the 2009 and 2010 budgets.

• Adopted updated Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings.

• Received the report of the Task Force for Increasing the Number of Quantitative Psychologists.

• Established a continuing Committee on Human Research.

• Received the final report of the Div. 19 (Military) and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues) Joint Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Experience.

A new vision

As part of APA's first-ever strategic planning process, council adopted the following vision statement for the association. The statement is intended to describe the type of organization APA aspires to be and the impact it hopes to make over a 20- to 30-year horizon.

APA VISION STATEMENT

The American Psychological Association aspires to excel as a valuable, effective and influential organization advancing psychology as a science, serving as:

A uniting force for the discipline;

The major catalyst for the stimulation, growth and dissemination of psychological science and practice;

The primary resource for all psychologists;

The premier innovator in the education, development, and training of psychological scientists, practitioners and educators;

The leading advocate for psychological knowledge and practice informing policymakers and the public to improve public policy and daily living;

A principal leader and global partner promoting psychological knowledge and methods to facilitate the resolution of personal, societal and global challenges in diverse, multicultural and international contexts; and

An effective champion of the application of psychology to promote human rights, health, well-being and dignity.