Climate change, psychologists' involvement in torture and guidelines for pharmacotherapy were among the topics for discussion during APA's Council of Representatives meeting.
At its August meeting, the APA Council of Representatives received two reports that put psychology front and center on topical issues: global climate change and the debate on whether sexual orientation can be changed through therapy.
One report, the product of an APA Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change, examined how psychological science can be applied to encourage people to engage in environmentally sensitive behaviors. The report summarizes the psychological literature on climate change issues and recommends ways that psychology can help create public policies designed to protect the environment. (See Changing minds to prevent climate change).
A second report, also based on a review of the relevant published literature, found insufficient evidence for claims that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy and concluded that therapists should avoid telling their clients that they can change from gay to straight (see Insufficient evidence to support sexual-orientation change efforts). After receiving the report, the council adopted a resolution on appropriate affirmative responses to sexual orientation distress and change efforts that grew out of the report findings.
Both reports received national media coverage during the convention.
In other action, the council:
• Voted to adopt as APA policy the Guidelines Regarding Psychologists' Involvement in Pharmacological Issues. The guidelines, developed by an APA Div. 55 (American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy) Task Force, are intended to provide a resource to psychologists interested in optimal practice in relation to pharmacotherapy. They also provide information for psychologists with any level of involvement with psychotropic and other medication issues.
• Voted to adopt as APA policy a resolution that endorses the concept of recovery for people with serious mental illness.
• Approved a suspension of the annual dues increase. Dues for all members and affiliates will remain at 2009 levels next year.
• Voted to amend the bylaws to drop unpaid members if they haven't paid their dues after one year instead of the current two-year grace period. To become effective, this proposed change requires the approval of the full membership.
• Voted to establish an APA "designation program" for education and training programs in psychopharmacology (as opposed to program accreditation). A designation program is seen as the right developmental step for psychopharmacology programs at this time and will provide quality assurance guidance for these programs.
• In response to ongoing concerns regarding Ethical Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and ethics and organizational demands, the council directed the APA Ethics Committee to propose language that would clarify the psychologist's obligations when such conflicts arise. After a public comment period this fall, the Ethics Committee will come forward with proposals in preparation for council's February 2010 meeting.
• Voted to invite a non-voting delegate from each of the four national ethnic-minority psychological associations to attend council meetings for an additional three-year period. The council also received the "Report of the Presidential Working Group on the Representation of Diversity on the Council of Representatives" and requested that it be referred to the association's Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, Committee on the Structure and Function of Council, and the Policy and Planning Board. In addition, the council reaffirmed its earlier votes in support of a bylaw amendment to officially seat the four national ethnic-minority psychological associations.
• Approved the creation of two new division journals: Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology (Div. 47, Exercise and Sport Psychology) and International Perspective in Psychology: Research, Practice and Consultation (Div. 52, International).
• Approved a change in the timeline for APA presidential elections. The president-elect ballot will now be distributed to all voting members on Sept. 15 rather than Oct. 15.