This has been an incredible year of challenge and change for APA and the field of psychology. Perhaps the most far-reaching accomplishment is APA's development of its first-ever strategic plan (see October Monitor). Under the leadership of our CEO, Dr. Norman B. Anderson, the Board of Directors, Council of Representatives and APA staff developed a new mission and vision statement, along with three strategic goals for the next three to five years: Maximize APA's organizational effectiveness, expand psychology's role in advancing health and increase recognition of psychology as a science. APA's board and staff are now developing implementation strategies and outcome measures for these goals that will be rolled out in 2010.
Several aspects of the strategic plan require educating the public about psychology. If you ask people on the street, "What is a psychologist?" most people will either say they do not know or that we are mental health providers. Yet, psychologists do much more than provide mental health services—we consult with businesses, conduct basic science research, and apply our basic science in myriad ways, from designing airplane cockpits to understanding the forces that drive our economy. Yet many areas are dropping psychology from its name: neuroscience, developmental science. We need to develop a clear identity and brand psychology with the public.
In the public and political realms, many APA members want us to take a stand on policies that involve psychology: abortion, corporal punishment, same-sex marriage, death penalty, interrogations, etc. APA does this and should continue to do this, as long as we have psychological science to substantiate our policy statements. Without the scientific basis, taking a policy stand is simply in the public opinion realm, and we have members on both sides of these issues. I have met as many members on one side of an issue as on the other side. At the same time, we need to remember that only psychologists stand for our profession and discipline, and using APA to stand for other important social issues does not necessarily garner support from these other groups for psychology. It is time to stand just for psychology in our public policy efforts. We need to stand for psychological services and training, not just generic mental health issues.
There are several other accomplishments we should feel proud of this year:
• We held the Summit on the Future of Psychology Practice in May 2009 (http://www.apa.org/practice/leadership/summit.aspx or July Monitor), which helped us create a blueprint for the future of practice. Many of the ideas, such as integrated health care and the development of treatment guidelines, are part of the APA strategic plan. The summit was only the beginning, and "what happened in San Antonio cannot stay in San Antonio" if we are to implement these much-needed changes.
This year, we also held the Convention Within the Convention at the Toronto conference that included cutting-edge presentations by our leading psychologists and "speed mentoring" for our graduate students and early career psychologists.
Also at the convention we held the first "Community Day" with the National Institute on Mental Health and local Toronto HIV/AIDS organizations to give back to our convention city—and we'll host another Community Day and speed mentoring at the 2010 convention.
In addition, we developed a plan for psychologists to help end homelessness and we clearly defined psychological science as a basic STEM discipline, helping us solidify our position in federal funding and research. APA has also successfully advocated for psychological services and research as part of the federal health-care reform agenda.
Clearly, we have much more to do and our new strategic plan will provide a focus for moving APA and psychology into the 21st century. But it is time for me to say goodbye and thank you for this incredible honor to serve as your president.
Nonetheless, I want to continue to hear from you. Engage—get involved. This is YOUR APA. Contact me anytime by e-mail.
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