There are exciting developments in psychology around the globe. As part of our work to promote psychology and psychologists' work, APA participates in many international efforts. You may wonder why APA should devote time and resources to international affairs. APA works with psychology associations in other countries to create or enhance their organizations, helps develop professional and ethical standards, and publishes international psychologists' scholarly works. While we have much to contribute, we also have much to learn from our international colleagues. As APA's director of international affairs Merry Bullock says, "The best international collaboration is multidirectional: We enhance our own understanding of the science, practice and application of psychology as we learn about and from colleagues in other countries, cultures and languages."
Among the exciting developments in psychology are:
• International connections. We facilitate partnerships across the globe through personal interactions. Last spring, the APA Board of Directors and its Committee for International Relations in Psychology dined with Chilean officials at the residence of the Chilean ambassador to discuss collaborations. This summer, I represented APA at two international psychology meetings: the Interamerican Congress of Psychology (CIP) in Guatemala City and the European Congress of Psychology (ECP) in Oslo, Norway. The Interamerican Psychological Association (SIP) organizes CIP. Its members are from across the Americas, primarily Central and South America. The European Federation of Psychologists' Associations (EFPA) organizes the ECP. It includes associations from 35 countries across Europe representing over 220,000 psychologists.
• A psychologist as president. While in Norway, I met Dr. Vaira Vaike-Freiberga, who was a psychologist in Canada before being elected president of Latvia (1999–2007). Dr. Vaike-Freiberga used her leadership and psychology skills to negotiate Latvia into the European Union and NATO. That is certainly a great example of applying psychology in the public interest.
• Norwegian advances. In meetings with Tor Levin Hofgaard, president of the Norwegian Psychological Association, we learned that psychological practice has made major strides in the country, where 18 percent of all sick leave is taken due to psychological problems. Norwegian psychologists have equal treatment rights as physicians, except they cannot yet prescribe medications. Norwegian psychologists convinced their government to require psychotherapy for the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety and depression before medications can be used and to fund psychologists to work in primary care to provide psychological services, including work-leave assessments.
• Psychologists' training standards. The requirements for training to be a psychologist vary dramatically across the world, in terms of years and scope of training. For example, in Brazil, professional training as a clinical psychologist is similar to that of a U.S. master's degree, while the PhD is for academics and researchers. In the European Union, EFPA developed the "EuroPsy" to promote common standards for education and training, enabling psychologists to be recognized as having European-level qualifications in psychology. It is based on a six-year education and training in psychology that includes a year of supervised practice.
• Access to psychological services. In Central and South America, access to psychological services and developing a work force are central issues. Many countries have high poverty rates, and access to psychological and mental health services are limited. In Guatemala, Dr. Maria del Pilar Grazioso is among those who have led the way by developing psychology training programs to meet the country's mental health needs. Traditional psychotherapy is often expanded into group, school and community-level interventions.
We have great opportunities to learn from our colleagues across the globe and to learn how APA can implement its resolution to be an international learning partner.
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