From the CEO

Next month’s annual convention gives me the chance to interact with thousands of APA members. As I always do this time of year, I look forward to the meeting not only as a great opportunity to hear about advances in the discipline but because it’s my best opportunity to talk to members. Yet, it is impossible for me to interact with every attendee, not to mention those unable to attend.

How should APA best maintain a connection with its members and communicate its work to the larger public? Obviously, the explosion in communicating electronically, via email and the Web as well as more dynamic social media platforms, has changed the communications equation for all organizations, APA included.

For example, APA and psychologists have embraced social media, and its use is growing. In May, more than 100 psychologists participated in a “blog party” on APA’s Facebook page held to mark Mental Health Awareness Month. We now have more than 15,000 fans who follow APA news on Facebook. Collectively, there are more than 35,000 people following APA on all our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and that number is growing every day.

While APA’s use of social media is important for the discipline, it also raises the question of the relevance of professional membership organizations in a world in which people are connecting and exchanging information differently than they did a decade ago. Put another way, in the era of email and Web-based professional networking platforms, what unique value does APA bring its members?

The answer is a tremendous amount. Here are just a few examples:

  • Advocating on behalf of psychology. APA is psychology’s voice in Washington. We are your advocates for training, research and licensure issues and in the fight for access to quality behavioral and mental health services for all Americans. APA’s influence on Capitol Hill and in the federal agencies is real. It comes from the power of our numbers (154,000 members this year), the work of many members and staff as a resource to policymakers through testimony and Hill visits, and from a strong reputation as the conduit that brings the best data to public policy issues.
  • Shaping the future of the discipline. APA provides critical leadership in shaping psychology’s future. Our work advocating for research funding, on treatment guidelines, on standards for education and training, and on research and practice ethics are critical guidance for today’s cadre of professionals and for those in training.
  • Educating the public about the science base of psychology. As the umbrella organization for all of psychology, we are the best teacher of the many ways psychology can help people and improve society. We have communicated the value of psychological interventions for many years. We are now moving our public education activities to the next level — educating the public about the science that allows us to better understand behavior and track and measure which interventions work.
  • Providing access to the latest psychological research via multiple platforms and for multiple audiences. One size does not fit all when it comes to your information needs and how you prefer to access information. Only an organization with APA’s size and experience can deliver information products to you (and your students or clients) as varied as APA’s databases, the APA Monitor on Psychology, and books for children dealing with developmental issues. Whether your preferred method of reading is via print, the Web, an iPad or a smart phone, APA can deliver.

The task before us is keeping APA relevant in helping to address the daily challenges of psychologists — from the bench scientist to the health service provider, from the academic to the industrial/organizational consultant — while also embracing the benefits of social media. While we are at convention, let’s have a face-to-face conversation about what our members need from their association. Or, if you won’t be at the meeting, communicate with us via Facebook, LinkedIn, email, phone or even snail mail.

Your feedback is always welcome. Please email me.