At its meeting during APA's Annual Convention July 31–Aug. 4, the Council of Representatives took historic action in two areas: adopting measures to promote quality in multiple levels of psychology education and revising certain elements of APA governance to make it more effective.

In the realm of education, the council adopted three measures to strengthen psychology teaching and training across the continuum of psychology education. At the undergraduate level, the council adopted revised guidelines for the psychology major, updating those APA adopted in 2006. The new guidelines build on the success of the original set but now include new teaching tools as well as student learning and benchmarking measures.

At the graduate level, the council adopted a resolution on accreditation for programs that prepare psychologists to provide health services. The APA policy now states that to practice as an independent health service psychologist, candidates must graduate from an APA/Canadian Psychological Association accredited doctoral program and internship (or programs accredited by an accrediting body that is recognized by the U.S. secretary of education for the accreditation of education and training programs that prepare students for entry into professional practice). The resolution gives unaccredited graduate programs five years to become accredited and allows seven years for internship programs to gain accreditation. (This policy will not affect students currently in the pipeline and allows for grandparenting of those graduates from unaccredited programs who are now licensed providers.)

"Accreditation is the process by which health professions ensure quality in education and training for students and the public," said Cynthia Belar, PhD, APA executive director for education. "This requirement puts psychology on the same plane as other health provider professions and adds to psychology's credibility within the health-care marketplace."

At the professional development and continuing education level, the council adopted a resolution that details and codifies quality standards, including a call for evidence-based continuing-education methods and program content. (For more information on the council's action, see "Speaking of Education".)

Good Governance actions

Following a three-year period of assessment, research and engagement with members, the council voted to approve most of the changes recommended by the association's Good Governance Project. The project was formed to increase the alignment of the association's governance with APA's strategic plan, to enhance nimbleness of governance and to increase member engagement.

The changes endorsed by the council will focus its time and expertise on the mission-focused issues that confront the discipline, according to GGP project leaders. (See sidebar for more information.)

Psychologists' work in national security settings

The council also adopted a resolution that reconciles APA's policies against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and those related to psychologists' work in national security settings.

The new APA resolution does not create new policy but makes existing policy in the area more internally consistent and comprehensive. This reconciled policy rescinds the report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) and retains the association's 2006 policy concerning torture and the 2008 member petition on psychologists' work in national security settings.

"APA's policies in this area and the reconciled policy document are all grounded in the principle that torture is always a violation of human rights and a violation of the APA Ethics Code," said Kathleen Dockett, EdD, one of five members of the member-initiated task force that created the consolidated document.

Other action

In other action, the council:

  • Recognized sleep psychology and police and public safety psychology as specialties in professional psychology.
  • Approved continuing recognition of counseling psychology and school psychology as specialties in professional psychology.
  • Extended for one year recognition of biofeedback: applied psychophysiology as a proficiency in professional psychology.
  • Extended for one year recognition of clinical psychology as a specialty in professional psychology.
  • Adopted guidelines for the practice of telepsychology.
  • Adopted revised standards for educational and psychological testing.
  • Adopted guidelines for psychological practice with older adults.
  • Adopted a resolution on counseling in HIV-testing programs.
  • Approved a 2014 budget plan including a spring revenue estimate of $111 million as outlined to serve as the revenue framework for the development of the 2014 budget.
  • Elected 146 APA members to fellow status.

Also during the meeting, the Raymond D. Fowler Award for Outstanding Contributions to APA was presented to Diane Halpern, PhD. Halpern, a former APA president, has served on numerous APA governance groups. She is a nationally recognized educator and scientist conducting research in such areas as sex differences in cognitive ability, gender issues in the workplace and critical thinking. The Fowler award is given annually to recognize a member who has had a significant and enduring impact on APA and its mission.