President's Column

I am incredibly honored to serve as the 2011 president of APA, the world’s largest organization of psychologists. APA strives to meet the needs of a broad range of psychologists, promote the profession of psychology and provide service to the public. The volunteers who constitute APA’s leadership work tirelessly with our staff to improve the operating practices and strategies for meeting these goals. We do not always agree, and must sometime have difficult dialogues about painful topics. Ultimately, though, our collective goal is to promote a thriving discipline.

I am entering my role at a time when psychology stands in a firm place in the world. APA finally has a strategic plan, with a clear mission statement, values and goals, all developed by your Council of Representatives. This is also a time when we are advocating for psychology’s identification as a core science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline. We have an improved, award-winning website. Our continuing-education programs are increasingly used by psychologists needing to keep abreast of our rapidly evolving field. Our accreditation program advances the science and practice of psychology through enhancement of quality education. Thousands of outcome studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of many modalities of psychotherapy. We are able to collaborate with other organizations to advocate for science, practice, education and the public interest. We have an expanded public education campaign that is helping the public to know that we are scientists, too. We continue to promote practice initiatives to improve access to quality psychological services for members of society. We have a world reknown publication department. These activities and accomplishments are only examples of the innumerable activities conducted by the staff and volunteer members of APA.

I have several concrete goals for this too-brief presidential year. First is to contribute to our discipline’s knowledge via my task forces on immigration; reducing discrimination and enhancing diversity; and addressing educational disparities. Second is promoting the Council of Representatives’ policies and projects on psychotherapy effectiveness and the development of guidelines for telepsychology. Third is to design a convention that will focus on applying our science and practice to the advancement of our society. (You can read more about these projects in Meet your 2011 president.)

We must also address other continuing challenges. The changing demographics of the United States mean that we must try harder to make cultural competency part of our discipline’s mainstream. We need to increase the numbers of psychologists of diverse backgrounds.

Thanks to over 24 months of advocacy with Congress and the White House by our government relations staff and by you, our members, the historic 2010 health-care reform legislation includes numerous provisions favorable to psychology in our roles as practitioners, educators and researchers. We must stay engaged in our advocacy to ensure that those provisions remain intact over time. We must solve the internship crisis because over 23 percent of our students are unable to find placements.

When we apply our psychological knowledge to address the grand challenges of society, not all members agree with the application or even the value of the science involved. Who gets to determine the policies in the APA? Historically, it has been those members who are willing to be active, involved and vocal.

So I invite and encourage you to continue your involvement in APA in whatever ways are meaningful for you. Over my three decades of work with APA, I have witnessed amazing and wonderful communications, negotiations and constructive solutions as a result of committed and engaged members. Even when our processes do not initially seem constructive, we find ways to get productive outcomes. The process works best, in my view, when communications are conducted with care and respect. The more diverse, varied and broad the voices and viewpoints at the decision-making tables, the more effective we will be as an organization, and the more our discipline will thrive.

I very much look forward to hearing from you and working together with you to achieve our shared goals.