From the CEO

An organization as large as APA can sometimes feel imposing and impersonal, with no clear way of connecting with or engaging others. That is where our divisions come in. Sixty-five years ago, when APA’s members worked primarily in university settings, the association merged with the American Association of Applied Psychology. The result was the world’s largest psychology organization — a title APA still holds today. A condition of the merger was the creation of a divisional structure that would reflect the primary and secondary interests of the combined memberships. After surveying members about their interests, APA created 19 divisions.

Today, APA has 54 divisions. (While the divisions are numbered to 56, the numbers 4 and 11 are not used.) In addition, there are 44 sections and 20 local chapters across divisions. The organizational structures and activities of these groups have expanded greatly over time. Divisions now have wide-ranging committees and task forces, full-scale publication programs, guidelines in their areas of expertise, grants and awards programs and stand-alone meetings. These activities are, for the most part, organized and run by hundreds of psychologist-volunteers, and it is through their group activities that division members form friendships and professional relationships that last a lifetime.

One of the best aspects of division membership is the sense of belonging it provides to members. We recently asked some APA members how they benefit from division membership. Here is what they said:

Dr. Gordon Herz told us that being involved in Div. 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) and Div. 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) provided a way for him to give back to colleagues and to the wider public in ways he never imagined were possible. “As a solo practitioner, Div. 42 membership enabled me to connect at the local and national levels, virtually and in real time for practice-building, to write articles I might not otherwise have written, to participate in governance on behalf of member colleagues, to promote the profession, and to form close friendships with people I otherwise likely would have not met.”

Student member Gloria Luong said she considers Div. 20 (Adult Development and Aging) to be her “home base” within APA. “I have been lucky enough to be recognized with awards from my division and presented with unique training opportunities (like studying abroad in Germany) that I never would have known about if not for my membership in this division.”

Dr. Aaron Rochlen, a past president of Div. 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity), said that division membership “translates into a better conference experience — as I know I always have a group of people to attend programs with and socialize!” 

To continue to foster the connections among APA members and divisions, this year, APA is building a social networking platform, APA Communities. Through this platform, members and affiliates of divisions who choose to will have a Communities space for social and professional networking. We envision the space supporting lively exchanges among members with links to interesting articles, videos and podcasts. The spaces can be used to further the work of divisions’ committees and task forces and to make arrangements for professional and social events. And, as more divisions are brought into the Communities platform, interdivisional conversations will be possible. Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), Div. 22 (Rehabilitation) and Div. 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse) will be the first to pilot test APA Communities, with other divisions to follow.

As part of the Communities effort, APA is extending enhanced Web-hosting services to divisions, which will include fresh page design and content management services. Take a look at Div. 35’s new site.

Want to learn more about our division outreach? Come to APA’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., Aug. 4–7, and stop by the division booth in the Convention Center or the division hospitality suite. Or attend the symposium “Finding a Home in APA: Connect, Network, Grow through Division Participation” on Aug. 5 from noon–12:50 pm. It could be the start of something wonderful.